This past Friday was the Haunt VIP Media event at California's Great America and the red carpet was rolled out! Lets start by talking about the new Pavilion, where we were treated like very important people! We were greeted by several CGA PR employees getting into the fun of Haunt by dressing up in full makeup and wardrobe. We were then walked over to the new Pavilion, which was decked out in Halloween garb. The band new 18,000 sq ft. facility has a beautiful floor to ceiling fireplace, soda machine lined walls, and satellite bars. The most interesting thing about the decorations, aside from some balloons and tablecloths, was they were mostly light and projection based. A pretty smooth move when you want to keep the overhead cost of decorating private parties/corporate events low, while keeping the look of the effect high priced.
The park as a whole looked to boast new sound and LED lighting effects. The new black light LEDs were strung around the park as well as color changing LED lighting in every lamp post. They really helped to fill in those gaps where CGA didn't look to have any Haunt theming (aka, the very back of the park). You'll probably only notice the many subtle improvements like these if you've been attending the last 3 or 4 years or so, but if you have, you know it's well deserved. The Haunt has really stepped up, and for Gold Pass members its free. That's a great value. Couple it with free parking, and discounts on food and merchandise. What's not to love?
Let's talk about the Haunts! I'll do my best to give a review without spoiling anything.
Toy Factory: The oldest Haunt at CGA shows its face again this year and its just as popular. For a maze that was introduced to CGA in 2009, it sure had a lot of people waiting to get inside its creepy walls where maniacal factory workers and disturbing toys await you. The maze includes a Skeleton Key room this year, however it feels a bit disjointed from the rest of the maze. Unlike other key rooms that start at the beginning of the maze, this one takes part somewhere in the middle of its footprint. We felt like maybe we missed the key room, but someone flagged us down midway through the factory and to be honest, it was kind of distracting. It definitely takes you out of your element, but the scare actor in the key room helps corral you back into "their world".
Roadkill Roadhouse: ROADHOUSE! This 2014 maze is back and just as bloody as ever. The Roadkill Roadhouse has plenty of live stock to provide you with something delectable to eat, although its not your typical feast of porterhouse steaks, and baby back ribs... Well, maybe it is, but rest assured it's probably going to be the freshest HUMAN baby back ribs you will ever have the privilege of tasting! They've upped the gross factor this year, and if you have a Skeleton Key I suggest using it. I'm not one to suffer from a weak constitute, but something about the key room made me gag. Consider yourself warned!
Cornstalkers: The horror of hay fever returns to CGA Haunt again this year. There's a cult of evil scarecrows want your blood and body parts for their... Well, I'm not too sure why they want these things, but they're pissed and they're not gonna take it any more! This maze uses cornstalks (duh), hay bales, and various debris and abandoned vehicles to fill its twists and turns while creating a creepy atmosphere and plenty of scare opportunities. Let's call them missed opportunities, though. While making my way through this returning haunt I found myself wondering where all the scare actors went. Were they on break? Did they pass out from too much Benadryl? In actuality, I found myself asking this very same question through out the Haunt as a whole (but more on that later). This maze includes a skeleton key room that lies heavy on the acting of its show runner and is probably the best part of this maze. Cornstalkers has a lot of potential, potential I feel is wasted on such a long foot print.
Dia De Los Muertos: This maze has detail, size, length.... What more could a girl want, right?! Dia De Los Muertos is beautiful from head to toe, whisking you away to the jungle world of El Chupacabra where, "sacrificial blood rains down from the sky and the screams of La Llorona echo around you." The maze boasts some of the more detailed sets out of the Haunt and is covered in black light 3-d paint. More D's equal fun, right?! or so I've heard from women at the bars downtown. But even with its beautiful attention to detail and immersing sets I couldn't help but wonder again, where were all the scare actors? I probably made it 2/3rds of the way through before I saw a scare actor. That is a long time to go without any interaction. It felt strangely awkward walking through the maze without a scare for so long. Even after I came across my first scare actor, I didn't find another until towards the end. I felt like I was walking through a dark ride that broke down. This maze also has TONS of potential to deliver some high quality scares, but the lack of scare actors really hurts this one.
Madame Marie's Massacre Manor: The Massacre Manor made its way back to this years Haunt line up and it is well deserved. This maze was the first of the new generation of mazes developed at CGA back in 2012, and has set the bar (IMO) for new Haunt attractions.Madame Marie has perfected the art of Voodooism and it shows. The maze has a great Skeleton key room that really sets the tone of the haunt. The maze is staffed beautifully and with doing so, provides plenty of scares among its beautiful sets, twists, and turns. Unless CGA has something more up their sleeves for next year for this space, I can see the Manor returning again for a 5th year. Maybe CGA could take a page from Knott's Scary Farm's "VooDoo - Order of the Serpent" and make it a bigger version of itself? One can dream.
Wax Museum Chamber of Horror: Miss Lizzie invited us to look over her collection of the most feared villains, murderers, criminals and miscreants imaginable. This maze is beautiful inside and out. The font facade of the museum is picturesque, with its bright lights and colourful hand painted posters reflecting off the nearby water. The craftsmanship that has gone into this maze is great, but its not just the attention and love going into it that help make it a cut above most of the others. The scare actors, wardrobe, and make up departments make it all come to life (pun intended). I found it hard to tell which was statute and which was scare actor. The scares were awesome. It takes a lot to make me pop (giggity), and this maze got me for the 2nd year in a row!
Zombie High: Dont be tardy, especially if you have a biting fetish! Having grown up watching Saved by the Bell I was hoping my neck would get some nibble time with Kelly Kapowsk, but instead it like an episode of the Walking Dead. This maze has a great layout. Its long, its strong, and its down to get its Zombie on. Great sets, great props, and really great scare actors! Make your way through the school's science class, gym, fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo room, and hallways all while trying to dodge zombie bites and keeping your body parts your own. Zombie High is still a great maze, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it again next year. If I had any constructive criticism to say about the maze is it needs more snap bracelets and MC Hammer pants!
Insanatarium: The new maze of the year is Insanatarium. You're invited to take a tour of this wicked treatment facility with the head Superintendent. Every one who poses a threat to your well being is safely behind bars, so why be afraid, right? This maze is an awesome addition to CGA's Haunt! Long gone is the footprint for Carn-evil in the Rue Le Dodge and in its place is an extensive and elaborate haunt. With mazes like Massacre Manor, and the Wax Museum, its no surprise the new maze turned out as well as it did. The production crews should be given a huge pat on the back. Insanatarium's Skeleton Key room is unique and inventive. Hopefully in the next week, the key room scare actors can get their script down so they can really sell it.
All in all, I think this years Haunt at CGA is a big improvement over the last couple of years. The real stars of the Haunt are the production crews and the scare actors, who like Knotts Scary Farm, thrive when they're off leash and free to interact with the guests. Also, PACING! CGA has done a great job eliminating the traffic jam problem that plagued the mazes over the last couple of years. They've really improved their timing. Long gone are the single file lines of people almost stepping on the backs of each others shoes, and in its place is a well paced number of people let in at a time. This may account for longer wait times, but IMO is well worth it. Scare actors get to spend a little more time getting in place so they can get in your face to sell the part! Get a Fright Lane pass if you can afford it. With its new improved LED lighting systems, the mazes feel darker, utilizing the LEDs to create creepy highlights throughout the mazes and park. My only gripe would be the amount of staffing they have at the moment. CGA is a big park and would probably benefit from hiring 25-30% more scare actors to fill in those gaps in the mazes and the park itself. I did notice a lot of non scare employees this year. Perhaps security and park cleanliness were higher on the hiring agenda this year. That part shows, as the park was immaculately clean, and the ride queues had less to no graffiti.
Thank you, CGA for inviting TPR to such a great event, and thanks TPR for sending me to cover it! Happy Haunting!
so new, so shiny
ticket pick up!
do not pass go, do not collect $200
spiders? I hate spiders!
this is healthy, right?
their little faces are saying, EAT ME! i obliged
I see red...
I hear lift chains starting
the pavilion area has such a great backside view of FD
fire! fire! fire!
it's pumpkininny! points if you get that reference
scare actors are loose!
i wish this park stayed open this late throughout the season
everyone is getting in the spirit at CGA!
the fog has started
the only time im in church
dark the halls with
its worth a shot!
had to get a ride in before the lines started!
my buddy just got back from touring Japan, so I stuck him on a coaster!
we like it in the back
excuse me while i take a picture, i realize you're trying to exit...
seems harmless with a name like that
can I ring the doorbell?
sad pumpkin is sad
beautiful set production
vote for your favorite haunt
nighttime falls across the land
smile and world smiles with you
please let there be a taco guy in here somewhere
are you the taco guy?
have any of you seen my tacos?
what manor of massacre is this?
um.. you're gonna need a bandaid
no thanks, i already had taco bell
nice parking job, butthead
hay fever land!
the room on the left looks safe
mark always wanted to be a farmer, but i dont think its the same crop
demon in the distance
shake a leg
child labor anyone?
look at that shaft
all are welcome
prom dumpster baby?
this one time in jazz camp...
she must be a red head
definitely a red head
such a beautiful facade
everyone likes a little head now and then
first drink is on me
new maze goodness!
insanitarium's silk screens hide the maze from the queue
silk screen numero 2
this is an old school facebook wall, complete with picture posts
bunks and bunks and bunks and bunks
reminds me of my sisters room
apparently it was a heavy flow day
gold pass is soooo worth it!
good night sweet prince, until next time
Last edited by robbalvey on Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:11 am.
^Agreed. It looks pretty impressive. Maybe other Cedar Fair parks are upping their game when it comes to Haunts. KI's looks pretty good, too, and I've heard that Dorney's, which used to be pretty bad, has improved.
It seems like hte seasonal park haunt events ahve really stepped up their game over the years, the pictures from everyone I've seen (Kings Island, Cedar Point, CGA etc.) have all been really impressive. I'm nto sure how good all of the mazes really are since I've never been through them but the events look great atleast.
robbalvey wrote:Wow! Great pics! Looks like CGA has put on a pretty good haunt this year!
Thanks, Robb. It really is a great event for a local park. The way the new mazes look really shows the passion they have for this special season. I can't wait to see what they do next year!
Domm wrote:Nice report Queef!! I had a pretty good trip there on Sunday as well
Thanks! I'm really happy with what they've done this year. It's worth multiple trips if you have the gold pass when you consider the options of rides and haunts available. I''m going to do each maze again, a night at a time. Why not? The pass pays for itself!
Mr.Peabody wrote:Are Platinum Pass holders able to attend this event? I'd like to check it out when we make our trip to California.
I believe so, but you have to show your pass to Guest Services first. That's how it was for me the passed two years when I held a Platinum pass and visited Knotts during non Haunt days. Its different for Knotts during Haunt, as they offer a separate season pass for Scary Farm. CGA Haunt is included with Gold or higher.
gisco wrote:What rides are open? Do they just have a select few?
The only rides not open on our visit were the rides in Planet Snoopy, and water park area. All the flat rides were running. I would recommend going straight to Gold Striker since their operations are fast. Then hit Flight Deck, and take in the haunts going counter clock wise through the park. The one thing missing from the park this year that I miss are the scare zones on the bridges in the park. It feels a bit empty in those spaces for me.
Last edited by laqueefa on Thu Oct 08, 2015 2:37 am.
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