So Saturday October 24, 2015 I took my daughter to her fist Fright Fest at six Flags, this as my first Fright Fest as well, however not our first time at the park as we go often and this year got Season Passes and went multiple times over the Summer. I did not take my photography camera with me although next year I probably will, just to get better photos for the review of everything. As I go over everything I will review the following for the park:
- Decorations - 7/10
- Thrills (Rides) - 8/10
- Chills (Haunted Houses/Attractions) - 9/10
- Games - 5/10
- Cleanliness - 2/10
- Food Services - 5/10
- Other (Other things about the park that should be noted.)
The park has some good aspects and some rather not appealing ones for this festivity and overall for the rest of the season and I’m going to detail all of those within this post, and include some of the images from the park. Upon entering the park you can see that they’ve tried to decorate things on the inside in a frightening yet not overwhelming manner in the main area, I am assuming this is to give people the Halloween experience; but not to overwhelm young children at the gates, who might be frightened of these things. My daughter really loved the fountain they had at the gate, pictured here – with the skeletons and “blood” flowing through it, and throughout the day I saw only two young children get scared of it. So they have done okay there with children, however I feel one thing the overall experienced lacked was childrens attractions especially at night. We’ll touch on that more later though as right now, we’re only discussing the decoration. They go all out in some areas as far as decorating goes it seems, there were skeletons in the water everywhere, it was colored red in a majority of places giving it the appearance of running red with blood, there were spiderwebs and fake spiders, rope netting hanging off of things, skeletons, grim reapers, a stand with flesh and guts and bones, I mean there was plenty to see in many areas. Then in others they had nothing but rope strings hanging off of fences. Over on the far side of the park they have a ride called the Highland Fling, it is next to The Boss and there is a large area there with some trees and a lot of empty space, it was empty. The only decoration being this strung rope on the fences, there was a perfect tree to hang skeletons in, or ghosts from, they could have done something with the pillars in front of The Boss ride; or even the extremely long line area for The Boss ride. And there was nothing done there, throughout the park several places were like this where something could have gone to add to the experience and the area was not capitalized on, that would even have been a perfect spot for something for children to see since that ride does have a lower height restriction than others, so as they came off they could have had something to add to the experience. So while they do an amazing job of decorating most the place I do feel like they lose some of that in not exploiting the full potential of all areas of the park to be decorated. Especially with how crowded it gets during Fright Fest. During normal park days we barely waited in lines on any of the rides and usually rode them two or three times in a row, during Fright Fest this isn’t possible due to the high influx of park guests. So I really wanted to see more done to give people more to look at, touch, and get involved in other than the rides and haunted houses. Decoration wise they get a solid 7 out of 10 from me.
As for the rides, they had a majority of them open which is great since that is what a lot of people came for and during the day it is all that is available since a majority of their haunts do not open until after 1800. The rides were all fantastic, we have our favorites mainly being Batman, The Boss, and The Ninja. One thing I do have to comment on here is that during Fright Fest the ride operators really were not bothering to follow some of the safety guidelines, my daughter is 8 years old and a solid 52 inches. The height requirement for Batman is 54
inches, and she rode it 3 times. The height requirement for Mr. Freeze is the same, she was not allowed to ride it they pulled her off and checked her. However another young man who had been standing by here in line and was at her height, his head did not go higher than hers when they stood tall as she had asked him to stand so she could see; was allowed to ride. The only difference between my child and this one was probably 20 pounds, as you can see in many of the pictures posted here she is athletic and she is muscular but slim. He was not pulled out, and he was not measured. We waited until the ride came back and I pointed this out to one of the ride operators and as he walked out we watched him go by their measuring stick, he did not reach the 54 inch requirement against it either there was a good 1,5 inch gap between the top of his head and the green marking. So while the rides are great, the operators in some areas are not doing their jobs, or they are discriminating in who they choose to enforce on. I have no issue with my child being pulled for being too short, however if that is the case do not allow someone of the same height to ride just because of their weight being greater than hers. Rides do not have weight requirements, they have height ones, and a child should not get by with bending on that just because they are out of shape, or obese in some cases; while a healthy child is pulled out and does not understand why they were and someone else wasn’t. Because my own daughter stood there and said “He’s the same big as me and he got to go.” And all I could say was, “Yes we’ll discuss it later.” Because I had no intention of calling another child “fat” or unhealthy in front of a group of people. And for those going, “If you know she is not tall enough, why did you try to ride?” For the same reason a lot of people do, at that age my parents snuck me on everything by using a tall pony tail on my head – and no one is enforcing/paying attention so why not? I know I can get away with it, I know the restraints function correctly, and I feel confident in my child’s safety on the ride, most of you would do it to, let’s not lie here. All of their rides though are satisfactory, the one thing I didn’t like were the long lines, I remember coming as a child and they would have 4 cars running on the rides to have everything going smoother and the rides are built for that kind of staging, however the most I saw on any at Fright Fest the one time of a year they need those extra cars was 3, and on the majority of the rides they were only running 2. They run 2 on a normal day, with barely any guests every having to wait for them, so on a day they know the park is going to be filled to the brim with people it makes you wonder why they didn’t load more and get them queued better to handle the additional influx of guests, cut down on the lines, and increase the guests satisfaction. So for the rides due to their operators issues and lack of solid and streamlined height enforcement, I got the rides a solid 8 out of 10.
Fright Fest though isn’t all about the rides and the thrills, it is marketed as being all about the chills; the haunted houses, the roaming creatures, etc. So lets talk about those now, as far as the haunted houses go they go all out these are terrifying for younger guests, teenagers, or adults who aren’t prepared or just super vigilant enough to notice what is coming before it does. My daughter wanted to go down their haunted attraction Insanity Alley very first, she had seen it earlier by The Batman and been determined to go in it first. So we did, and halfway through got led out a side door by a park worker because she was terrified. This is a child who loves being scared and plays Five Nights at Freddy’s all the time and loves the shock of it. They do hair, makeup, full visual and audio effects, lighting these are excellent for anyone wanting to get scared. The other haunted house they had nearby Camp Killamore also excellent, the others were great as well, but out of all of them we liked these the least, because they were truly terrifying the most. Which makes them the best haunted attractions. Also
good to mention were Voided Vision and The Slaughter House. The latter was a great experience going through it wasn’t too loud, until right at the end when you get frightened by the noises form the butchers within, not going to give too many details on these haunts or their specifics as that would ruin the surprise. Voided Vision also boasts a terrifying ending for people as well, one thing I did not see, and possibly because we did not go to it’s area, not entirely sure was the Zombie Paintball, I had been told about this by a friend who visited last year and while we did see a Zombie Alley kind of area, we did not see a paintball course for them. We actually did not see that many frightening creatures wandering the park, we saw clowns, a troll, a couple white masked musicians, my daughter thought she saw a zombie, but by the time we’d gone towards where she saw it, there wasn’t one there only another one of the haunted attractions. Children do go into the park at a disadvantage, there aren’t that many children’s attractions for them, they have a hay bale maze, and that seems about it. They do give you the ability to buy a “No Boo” light for $5.00 which is supposed to keep the wandering frights from scaring them, however I noticed due to it having the same color pattern as all the other glow toys they sell, it was being ignored a lot by park attractions. In the future it would probably be to the parks benefit to make it orange, or another color that is solid and differentiates from their other glowing toys so that their employees can better distinguish it from those items. My daughter was carrying hers with it on and a masked chain man carrying fright walked right up to us and she flipped and latched on to me, they apologized; but come on, you’re not making it easy on your employees to have fun and enhance peoples experience by not implementing something a bit better distinguishable for them. In addition with the few attractions/frights for children available it makes it a bit difficult to enjoy much in the park at night with them; I live in a small town 2 hours from St. Louis and even here we have smaller kid friendly haunted houses, can it be that difficult to throw two or three of those in for Six Flags? It would give parents more of a reason to stay longer and spend more of their money in your park in food, games, and toys with the kids, as well as throwing you the extra $5-$15 bucks to get into the kids attractions as well. Marketing opportunity there. The frights overall get a solid 9 out of 10, they are getting docked the 1 point purely for not having more for the younger children to do and see, they deserve less frightening kiddo frights just as much as the adults deserve to be terrified.
We spent a bit of time playing the games in the park, like most games in these kinds of places we are well aware that many of them are made so that only a certain number of individuals win each day and they only win when the park determines they do. However on others they are simpler and require only skill such as the dart throwing games where you pop balloons. This is where we won our zombie dogs, the prizes they had at the games were mainly normal park prizes – but as is the case with our zombie dogs they also had special prizes for the mood of the festivities. Mainly these prizes were zombie themed we saw zombie dogs, zombie tweety, zombie bugs bunny,
zombie robots; many zombies and some spiders; not much else in the way of Halloween items, in addition they hadn’t really themed any of the games for Halloween either. They could have done orange and black balloons or orange and purple or black and purple on those games, possibly painted the tires for the football throws or simply made wooden covers for them, etc. I feel this falls under decorations in a way, however it was one more aspect to add they could have done to really put things over the top. One thing that I really disliked about the games though was at one of the climbing ladders game they had out several of the large dogs. Dogs at one point they had actually told my daughter they would never have any of again, back in July they said this, however they did have them now. The complaint is not over them suddenly having the dog though it is because the dog was filthy, and they had it sitting there as one of the main prizes for this game while it was covered in dirt, looking as thought it had literally been dropped and dragged through the mud, then sat there for kids to try and win. In addition we had to trade out our zombie dogs right away because less than 5 feet from the booth my daughter noticed hrs had torn seams and mine had a hole in it so we had to go through their dogs until they found ones not falling apart. The games were average though and they really just get a solid 5 out of 10 from me for being the same old variety same games same spots every year; and having prizes that had torn seams and dirty prizes in many areas.
The cleanliness of the park is one of the main areas that leaves something to be desired, a lot to be desired actually since the bathrooms were absolutely disgusting, as far as we could tell no one was cleaning them throughout the day. I saw someone in them at one point and all they did was sweep the floor and leave, there are no janitorial services it appears. In addition to this while they do empty the trash cans periodically throughout the day people were throwing trash down in places and it was not being cleaned up. No one cleans any of the food service tables either there is always something sticky on them and the seats around them, and not once this Summer and especially during Fright Fest have I ever seen someone cleaning the tables inside or outside of the food venues other than at the end of the day towards closing. Due to this I give the parks cleanliness a 2 out of 10, because honestly with one more person in each area they could’ve easily kept these places cleaned and maintained especially on such a high traffic day.
Food services around the park much like the cleaning services need more staff, every single food vendor had lines out the door or snaked out around the building all day. We waited in line for 25 minutes behind two people who got 2 refills, 1 funnel cake, and 3 hot chocolates. It took someone 25 minutes to get those 6 things done; then another 10 to get me a funnel cake off a shelf refill my bottle, and hand me a hot chocolate. This happened throughout the day, it took excessive amounts of time to get everything in the park, then we wanted a bucket of popcorn; however ended up not getting one because the lines were extremely long and they would have only 2 people in these stands working when they had twice as many registers. The food however was great, we had funnel cake, pizza from their pizza place, hot chocolate, a turkey leg, waffle fries, and a meatball sub; and all of it was excellent; even if it took us ages to get it. So overall the food services get a solid 5 out of 10 from me.
The rest of the park was overall Six Flags it is what you expect in addition to everything above though I do have some criticism, the first being the no bags and the scam they are trying to run with the lockers. When I was younger the rides had shelves such as are still present on the Screaming Eagle. Now they try to get you to pay for a locker to stick your things in, if you’re lucky like me and have to carry medications if you’re going to be out all day you can get a medical tag and take the bag on the ride with you and then the ride operators have to hold them for you or place it somewhere safe and endure no one takes it. If however you’re just someone with a kid who has to carry things for them, or the mother carrying they’re purse to hold and buy things, or need a bag for some other reason then they want you to pay $1 for ride or $5 for multiple rides on almost all of the big coasters and the smaller attractions as well. So on top of paying the ticket or pass price for the park, buying food and drink, and any toys or games, they also want to rip you off on a locker. To top this off they pay someone to stand there all day telling you to store your bags so let’s do some math here. They are open from 1030 to 2000 on a normal day during the Summer, this is 9.5 hours so:
($8.25 x 9.5) x 5= $391.87
I use 5 because I guarantee all Summer they have had people at the bottom of a minimum of 5 of the rides permanently to tell you to put your bags in a locker. That is assuming that they are making minimum wage, which some of these people probably are not they have employees who have worked there for several seasons, and in that time it is highly likely a few of them have made more than that. Now if you go to Lowes and do some price checking on materials with the wages from one day of these people standing around they could have a set of shelves on every ride, and if they have room for one of those cup holders they conveniently place for their cups, then they have plenty of room for a shelf. Instead they try to pull a quick one on you and get more of your money from you with the entire locker scheme, which is a little bit ridiculous. This is one big issue I have with the park this year, and in addition on one of the rides they tried to tell us at one point we could not sit the stuffed animals we had won in the park down with my medical bag and couldn’t take them on the ride. I told them they could call a manager to tell me that or we would be doing it and they relented; but seriously. Why have prizes to be won if they will not be permitted to be left at the rides when won…do you expect people to run to their cars with every little thing they win? That is a high and ridiculous expectation to hold people to, if you’re going to sell it, or allow it to be won there; then you should also hold it somewhere the way you have a holding program for shopping items you should also for prizes then.
We also encountered an annoyance during the day on several rides they had them running and individuals riding them, however closed the front of them until those lines of people went through so they could re-arrange the chains on the staging areas and lengthen them, I watched this occur on Batman and on the Ninja during the day and was a bit disappointed they would do something like that, rather than just ask people to move into the correct lanes and chain it off. It created more lines and disgruntled park guests.
Overall we had a good day with a few minor hiccups, and enjoyed Fright Fest overall. In the future will we go again possibly, although I’d rather just go on a normal operating day and not deal with the lines, the frankly shitty service in the food places, and the crush of people everywhere. But for what it was Fright Fest was overall okay. I think the park management, advertising, and public relations department need to really re-evaluate things for next year and the years to come, because while Fright Fest is a unique experience in Missouri, there are others people could easily choose to go to over this one, especially with how it seems to go down hill in ratings on Trip Advisor every year.