Went to Fright Fest tonight thinking it would be fairly quiet, and it was. The longest line was for Chupacabra at about 15 mins. Everything else was fairly wide open — except for the Apocalypse overhaul, which was about an hour due to single-train operation. Overall, the night felt like a warm-up — largely reinforcing the point that these kinds of events work best when there's a sizable crowd of guests to scare. While it was nice to breeze through the mazes without having to deal with people, the event felt deflated as the result.
Vault 666: Same as last year, only I recall there being a more elaborate opening scene last year. This maze feels the most home-made of them I all, I found. Very basic sets, no effects, unenthused monsters with little makeup. Cheesy fun, but very low-budget.
Toyz 3D: I thought this was one of the better mazes last year, and this year was the same. It really is all down to the effect of the 3D glasses though as without them, it's pretty basic. Actors were fairly unenthused, but the disorientation factor is what elevates it.
Reds Revenge: Too well-lit inside for it to be creepy. It's well done (like walking through a Rainforest Cafe with the lights off), but mediocre monsters and a botched opening sequence made the whole thing a bit sad. It does get darker later on, but the early scenes were way lighter than I remember from last year.
Chupacabra: Best use of lights and fog, but that's kind of it. Tight turns made for some better monster jumps, but it's still a pretty irrational narrative that seems to end prematurely.
Aftermath: Same as last year: great set, but not much else. The monsters seemed bored, but there were maybe 15 people in the maze at the time we went through it, so it's understandable.
Willoughby's Resurrected: Good set pieces, but because it was so empty, the monsters were just hanging out and chatting. Same as last year but without the 45 minute wait we had to deal with last time.
Garden of Darkness: Ironically, this was the maze with the most potential this year. Exact same set up as last time (camouflage nets with people behind them), but we were literally the only group in the maze, so it actually did feel like a maze. That was somewhat scary, but the monsters kept telling us which way to go.
Shadows of Evil: We didn't even get through this. It's the Apocalypse line with two fedora wearing guys outside. We noticed there were as many people walking out of the first switchback as there were walking in. Once you enter, there's some black netting with someone yelling "boo" from behind it, and then you hit the regular Apocalypse queue line. About 60 or so people were just standing there, not moving at all. A staff member said the ride was only running one train and so the wait time would be about an hour. From what we could tell, the black netting was the main overlay highlight, so we just bailed on going through rest — which is the point everyone else was leaving.
Scare Zones: The one by TC was decent (just lots of fog and lighting), populated by some cool stilt-walkers, but every other scare zone we walked through was very poor. Barely any fog, and maybe one or two monsters snorting at people and texting between snorts.
Rides: Rode a few of the "dark rides" but it didn't really make that much of a difference we found. Full Thröttle looked good bathed in lasers, but the ride was down all night.
Overall: Disappointing, but largely due to the lack of crowds which really gave the talent very little to work with. It was almost as if SFMM replaced all of their usual monsters with high school kids for the night as many were clearly preoccupied with other stuff. I assume the park anticipated a low turnout as there wasn't much in the way of fog or effects in general. Chances are that much of this will be quite different with a full park (indeed, my experience last year was very different yet they've changed nothing at all about the mazes). We'll probably go back on a weekend to see how things differs when there's a bit more life in the place.