Today was the first day of Fright Fest, and Joe and I made sure we were there. We arrived fairly early, and the second parking lot was beginning to fill in. From the lot I saw a giant inflatable gorilla standing on top of Sky Trek Tower. There are silhouettes inside the windows to make it look like there are people stuck in there.
Upon entering, we saw the pool in front of Columbia Carousel was dyed blood red, and the grounds were littered with skeletons and headstones. It was still too early in the day for the monsters and scary characters to come out yet.
We headed into Seven Sins Cemetery, formerly Orleans Place. Condor, renamed The Birds, had a giant line, and I couldn’t believe the line for Superman. The area is decorated with mausoleums, each bearing the names of one of the seven deadly sins. We proceeded through Mardi Gras, skipping Ragin’ Cajun again because of the line.
We arrived at East River Crawler, now renamed Monster Mash. We got in the short line for the ride, and when the ride was operating, we heard the Misfits version of "Monster Mash," much to Joe’s delight. At the front of the line there was a box with a masked creature inside, and it’s mouth and eyes moved as a monologue was delivered. It was saying funny things about to beware of the spiders and ghosts in his house, how they’re really scary, and then saying, well, maybe not so scary. It gave us a good laugh before we rode.
We continued on to see how Batman’s line was. The outside of Gotham City was full of people. We ended up riding Whirligig instead, and it was actually a fast, nice rush. Skipping V2, we made our way to Necropolis, the Haunted City of the Dead. This walk-through haunted area lies behind Logger’s Run and Yankee Clipper, and nears the Wilderness Theater. We figured going in at daytime would better help us find our way through when it got dark.
Some really ugly and creepy creatures follow people around, and we even saw people who turned back after getting scared by some of the first monsters. I like the tree people, who blend in so well that unless you know they’re there, you’re going to get the crap scared out of you.
There were some animatronics, like a zombie puking into a waste drum labeled "inedible." There were several scenes set up in the center of Necropolis, like a corpse wedding and a gruesome butcher shop. At one point, employees will take your picture sitting at a table with some card-playing rubber skeletons. Next to that, a baby doll sits in a bedroom with its head spinning, and a monster clown doll springs from the bed. The Mausoleum of Terror was located near the end, and we were debating if we should try that or Studio 13, which recreates famous horror movie scenes. We decided to save the Mausoleum for another time, and we headed to Southwest Scare-itory for the house.
Exiting the path, there really weren’t many characters to scare you on your way out. We were let out by Monster Mash, and we headed toward Area 51, formerly Yukon Territory. We rode Fiddler’s Fling, now called Space Command. There were bodies and body parts strewn along the walls of the ride, as if the people had been flung from their cars.
We passed through the area now over-run by aliens, and we crossed the bride known as the Illinois Trollway to Hometown Square to cut to Southwest Scare-itory. Studio 13 is located behind the building facades and arcades, with the entrance and line being where Trailblazer once stood, in the area dubbed Tinsletown Terror. Famous scenes from movies like "Scream," "Friday the 13th," "Saw" and "Psycho" were recreated, with pitch black hallways leading you from one room to the next. Being in the middle of a larger group made it not as terrifying, but I’d say it was worth my five bucks.
Getting out, we saw the lines for Raging Bull and Giant Drop were full, and we heard a commotion coming from the Mission Stage, where I ate a live cockroach last Fright Fest. The Human Freak Show was concluding, but we saw the two entertainers allow people to staple dollar bills to their fronts, backs, arms and even faces. One girl had a $20 bill, and one guy let her staple it between his eyes on his forehead. Even I felt a slight cringe.
After the show, heading out of Southwest Scare-itory, we noticed a show was letting in for the Mistress of Mesmerism in the Southwest Amphitheater. Our park map explained this was a hypnosis show, and Joe and I were game to see what it was about.
Susan Rosen, the Mistress of Mesmerism, began by explaining what hypnosis is, that it’s all within the person being hypnotized. She began by having the audience close their eyes, sit straight and rest their hands on their thighs. Then she talked calmly while some soft, Pure Moods-type of music played. After about 12 minutes or so, she ended her audience hypnosis, and we could see some people in the audience had found hypnotic sleep. It didn’t really work for Joe or me.
Then she began taking volunteers, beginning with 20 and replacing members throughout her act. She simply would shake someone’s hand and pull them over, and they’d fall asleep onto the next person’s shoulder. While in their sleep, she would tell people what they would feel or think when the awoke. One kid was told he liked to steal shoes, but he couldn’t get caught with them or he’d be in trouble. Totally oblivious to the real world, he took shoes from sleeping people, and he would stuff them in his shirt. When he was snapped out of his trance, he had no idea why he had everyone’s shoes under his shirt.
Some people were given what they thought were wedgies just from the snap of a finger. The men were told that each time she scratched her fingernail on them, they would get a cut. She would give them kiddie Band Aids and they’d put them wherever she scratched them. They would then wear them for the next hour.
One guy was paired with someone’s giant Scuby Doo doll, and he was told it was the most beautiful woman in the world. He began making out with the doll, eventually placing it straddling his lap. The audience got such a kick out of it, and he wouldn’t let her go. The doll was removed before he was awakened. He had this look on his face like, Hey, where’d she go? Everyone also had a key word that would make them do crazy things in the end, like the doll-kissing guy. He was told he was Britney Spears, and he was given a microphone and began singing "Baby One More Time" and rubbing his stomach and dancing in a Britney-type way.
The kid with the shoes wound up hollering "Who’s your daddy?" while slapping his behind. Nobody who participated was safe. Joe and I could have bought a copy of the show we had just seen, but the DVD was $40. That’s a little outrageous.
Utterly thrilled and mesmerized in our own right, we headed to Hometown Square, which really had no major changes this year. Whizzer was a long wait, so we rode Hometown Fun Machine. In line, Joe saw someone knew from the neighborhood, and they were talking about people they knew and what they did at Fright Fest so far. Every year we see people we know, and this adds to the list.
We were scrambled up, so we headed back by Demon. The line was full, but there was another haunted walk-through called Rise of the Demon. Located next to the coaster, a group would travel through a path haunted by creatures who scare you from behind the fences and again in the more open areas. The girls behind us screamed so loud and so much it was funny, especially near the end. The Demon himself follows the group to the exit, and he’s really sick looking. Luckily, we weren’t shaken up so much that we couldn’t eat. We ate some chicken fingers, and we made our way to the Necropolis again to digest.
By now, it was dark. The ambiance was much more intense in the night, especially with the fog machines and eerie lighting. After a definitely better walk-through than during the day, we headed into Mardi Gras and rode Big Easy Balloons. Now the creatures were out, like crazy killer clowns with knives, bullhorns and chainsaws. After the smooth ride, we rode Columbia Carousel, and we were entertained watching the creature in front of the ride as it rose up from a crouching position and screamed about Fright Fest and how it’s their night.
As the night was getting later, we had just a little while before we were going to leave. We rode Superstition, which was just boarding as we entered. Formerly Space Shuttle America, Superstition is a video of a computer-designed roller coaster hosted by Elvira. The rooms before the ride have open umbrellas, broken mirrors and the like to add to the name. But the video really is pretty cool, even if it is tough to simulate several-hundred-foot falls. When the ride let out, we noticed the Pictorium was loading people in for the 3-D film, "The Haunted Castle." We figured we’d end our day with the movie.
Basically, a mother dies and her son is sent to this mansion where an evil creature in the fireplace offers him rock star fame in exchange for his soul. He realizes his mother signed the same offer, and she was a famous singer, but not forever. He throws the book in the fire in the end, and the mansion blows up. I couldn’t tell if the kid lived or died, though, and it wasn’t a movie I’d want to see again to find out. The visuals weren’t bad, but in all it seemed like a typical moral dilemma story line.
We left ahead of the traffic, so we had no problem getting out. We did so much and covered a lot of ground even though we only rode seven rides. I realized that we didn’t ride a single roller coaster today. The closest we came was on the coaster simulator, Superstition. There’s a first time for everything.
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