GAdv Fright Fest report 10/23/2005

Associated parks:

First commnet: The lines were insane! Even with the Q-Bot, few rides were taken from noon on. Things bode ill from teh start as we got there about 11:30 and the parking lot was spilling past Superman already. A Dance exhibition and a big Jewish event added to the crowds we were going to see.

Purchased the expensive Qbot and reserved Kingda Ka for the first time ever on the ride and saw a time of 1:35. Went to see Superstition and then got on Looping Starship (I thought it was SBNO for the past 3 years!) and walked around to the Hayride to see if we could reserve it, but it wouldn't let us until 6:45.

Kingda Ka was delayed for an hour with the Qbot and broke down for another 45 mins while we were in line. Crowds were getting angry, but I saw that a sensor was reporting an open restraint on one side and the repair guys had to clean and tighten and recheck the sensors. The QBot line was out the gate by the time they actually got the trains moved so the repair guys could tighten the sensor and we finally got on by 3:30. Yeah, it was worth it despite the cold weather. Surprisingly, the coldest and hardest wind was coming back over the speed hill. Still awesome, and the hill seems to add a lot compared to Top Thrill Dragster. Of course, leaving the line we saw the QBot line go back past the corner where the secndary runoff line for the regular line goes, and the station was overloaded, so QBotters were waiting at least an extra hour beyond that point, and the regular line went past the bathrooms!

After that, a lunch break and we checked out Dead Man's Party. I like the music mix and choreography and I think they did a much better job than SFNE's good mix. SFNE's show suffered from bad sound distortion on some songs when I saw it, and the mix was better here. The fireworks were a surprise and a nice touch.

After this we wnadered over to try to get the Hyyride at 5:45, and the Qbotters were lining up already. At 6, when we realized it would wait until 6:45 to let us queue up, we tried to head over to the 3D Clownhouse that was supposed ot open at 6 so we could try seeing how the walkthroughs here were. By 6:30, it was obvious the doors weren't opening yet, so back to the Hayride and we got in for 7:10. It was decent this year (a few steps up from past pathetic years), but 5 hours for the line by 7pm was crazy, especially since the lines would close at 9pm!

We headed over to Horror Hollow, going through the Cemetary. The Cemetary scare zone was okay, but the gravestones with the pneumatic bodies never went off. Seemed like a waste of money to set up and I couldn't see any triggers to see them. The ghouls were doing a nice job. We waited over an hour for the walkthrough. The inflatable gate was pretty cool, but the rest of the walkthrough only had a few good elements. Not bad, but too many dead areas in between. The ghoul who was scaring people in the line was great and deserved the money he earned that night. Lots of laughs and scares.

The park was closing so I dropped off the QBot and was able to get to the Funhouse just before they closed the line. Wow...that was....short. Maybe 5 rooms with only 3 clowns inside (but the others may have already left for the night). THe paint jab wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that great.

Overall, I was impressed with the decorations and hte Dead Man's Party show, but there are some serious problems with the park during FF.

Staffing is always an issue that is brought up, but I want to note that security needs to have far, far more people. Ops are going to be limited for FF, and I expect it, but when the Hayride let into the Batman stadium to open the inside queue, I saw a massive stream of people just jumping over by the doorway and a sole poor security guard doing what he could by the door itself, but the laughable rope barriers just had tons of people letting in others or their 20+ friends get in with them.

Once I got into the Qbot area, I noticed there were no guards checking you had a Qbot for your party, so I could imagine people sneaking in that way and hopping into the line right as peopel exited the stadium.

Seeing as this is the worst line for the FF events, and it's increasingly grown every single year as far back as I can remember, I don't understand why they couldn't plan enough guard spots and hire enough people to cover this. It doesn't feel safe and the usually somewhat scary crowds get really unruly here. They can't pretend the 3 hour+ lines haven't been there since at least when Brutal Planet was there (1999?). Thecrowds grow every year, though, so I guess they're quite happy having less than minimal staff for even security.

The Halloween stuff is not bad, but they seem caught between having non-scary daytime stuff for kids and adult scares at night. Not bad, but only after 7pm? Even on Sundays when the park closes at 9? Saturdays they're only open until 11, so 4 hours would get you to only a small portion of the events unless you lined up really early for the Hayride or you had the QBot. Dead Man's Party was the only thing that happened before 7pm (not counting the hypnotist that wasn't running this day). Such short hours only increase the lines and the angry mob mentality on the lines when they move so slowly.

Some of the shows could be adaptable for the daytime if needed. Like the funhouse that was indoors. The tiger show and dolphin show themed for Halloween only happened once after 7pm. I guess they want you to visit more than once during the month, but there must be some things that could have been done to spread it our better.

The Walkthroughs I managed to get through were ok, but not great. I also realize that since Brutal Planet's second (and last) year there, there were no walkthroughs since then. The area in Horror Hollow was not bad, but the area seemed too open. No constricting or claustrophobic areas with flats or anything to give the actors places to hide or surprise folks. Scares seemed mostly limited to the front of the group and in a camp area, the actors had to run a lot to get to the public.

At least the Hayride was improved by the actors being able to hide until the cart came past and the spider area was a nice touch. Seemed to be too much open space, but that happens a lot anyway if you can't plan the area too far in advance or budgeting is too low for the area. Still, the actors did a good job and good set direction. The funhouse was too small and did not have enough people. It was a nice try, but the area could have worked with some room dividers to compress the space. Even some automatic gimmicks would have helped here.

I realize the parking situation is impossible to fix due to Jackson township and the bridge to the highway is only one lane going towards the Turnpike, but there has to be a better way to guide people out from there so the chance of accidents would be less.

I have to end with the comparison to SFNE since it's nearby and should have a much lower budget, but also smaller crowds, I'm guessing. While they only have 2 walkthroughs, there are more shows to spread out throughout the day, using gimmicks like a hanging and a beheading (which I know was at GAdv in the past) and even a puppet show for the kids. These are things I think GAdv could add that would make the day more impressive for people focussing on the Halloween themed stuff, and noting which ones are kid friendly and which may not be would help. The smaller music shows are nice, but some variety would be nice.

Opening up the scare areas after say 5pm and marking those areas as danger zones earlier in the day would help greatly in spreading out the lines (unless people wanted to go through something more than once). I think the Funhouse at SFNE opened at 3pm (but was a slightly extra charge) and the Qbot allowed you to go through the mazes once with a special card, but the staffing would be an issue and the arguments against QBot users already would be worse. Nightmare Island opened up after 5pm and the Trail opened up after 7pm. The staggered hours meant you could go without the Qbot and do all three haunted areas before the park closed and that is great if you can only make it once.

I really can't be that severe with them as it's obvious they are trying, with the exception that they really do need to bump up security and staff where possible.

Only the indoor stuff would be able to open early as it doesn't get dark until around 7ish. At least it did not get dark until after 7 on the 15th when I was there. Who wants to walk through a maze or do a hayride where you can see most of the stuff that is supposed to be hidden in the darkness?

The Gallows is over by the Runaway Train and Super TeePee (fears the beavis and butthead jokes to come). *** Edited 10/24/2005 5:12:07 PM UTC by dragonoffrost***

Watch the tram car please....
The Gallows had a different setup than I saw for SFNE, but the show was only running after 7pm as well.

While I understand it is better after dark, some things you can do during the day that would ease lines. The New Nightmare (which was down) and the Funhouse houses are indoors and could have opened early. The outdoor stuff could work starting at 5-ish with fog and lots of flats to create darkened areas to walk through. It worked amazingly well in a lot of ways.

I guess I can't complain too much as it's included with the normal day price, but if they charged extra to do a night-only event with a full load of houses and scare zones, I wouldn't complain. It works great for Universal studios and I hear the same for Knott's and a few other places.

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