Sunday, October 2, 2011

Halloween Haunt 2011 opening night review

I went to CGA's Halloween Haunt on opening night. It was great to be back! Certainly a lot more crowded than opening night last year. Nobody was waiting for the rides, all the lines were for the mazes.

I finally caught the opening ceremony, after missing it last year. It was very well done, especially with the Overlord rising almost to the top of the Carousel.

Lots of noticeable improvements throughout. The most obvious one being Slaughterhouse: Annihilation (more on that later), but also some surprising ones (you can hardly recognize Underworld Alley now, lots of new additions). Black Widow's Cavern seemed to have more monsters this time.

Speaking of the scare zones, I have to say that I felt they were a bit underwhelming. The Dead Man's Cove "expansion" is barely noticeable, and the Gauntlet is just...there. Also, having the bridge by Firefall empty is just awkward, it was better to have a mediocre scare zone (Witch Doctor's) than none at all. However, last year the scare zones improved as the month progressed, so I'll reserve further judgment, and classify them as a work in progress. They're still fun to walk through, I was just expecting more. On the bright side, Underworld Alley and Dead Man's Cove have some excellent new theme songs, exactly the type of quality you would expect from the CGA crew. Please release these songs (along with Slaughterhouse's new song) for download!

I didn't see any of the shows, but I happened to pass by Blood Drums (looked pretty good) and the Freak Show (same ol', same ol').

On to the mazes...listed in order from best to worst.

Slaughterhouse: Annihilation (x2 walk throughs): Well, they did it. After being the worst maze (in my opinion) last year, I can say without a doubt that the redone version is now the best maze in the park. Excellent, and very, very dark and mature (gone is the quirky Mcdonalds ending). Navigating your way through squirming (how did they do that?), hanging body bags? Disturbingly awesome! Taking a cue from Toy Factory's ending? It's all here. Great soundtrack as well. I noticed maybe two or three scenes left over from the original Slaughterhouse, but other than that, everything is new. I like the new line entrance scene as well ("Help us" in blood). Also with the new line location, you can see a bunch of old Whizzer footers.

Carnevil (x2): Not much different here, but it doesn't need it! Lot of monsters in here. I've realized that the song is much better when you're listening to it in it's proper context. I wish CGA would release the alternate lyrics version that plays while you're inside the maze ("We'll deep fry anything!").

Toy Factory (x2): With the new Slaughterhouse, and the stellar Carnevil, Toy Factory's fallen a bit behind. Don't get me wrong, it's still one of the best mazes in the park, but I just wish there was something new in here, because there really isn't. The ending is still as forceful as ever, and the song still stays in your head forever.

Cornstalkers (x2): New sound effects, and many new branching paths. I was disappointed in the truck part though, the horn's gotten very quiet.

Club Blood (x2): The old exit is now the new entrance, and the new exit is the old entrance. As a result, you're walking through the maze in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, they didn't change the order of the scenes from last year, and now the story doesn't work as well. The vampire-infested backrooms of the club are now the first things you see, and the actual club with the dancers is at the end. Is it bad that I think the best part of this maze is being in the Pictorium? I was looking up most of the time, the height of that ceiling never ceases to amaze me. One of the emergency exits in the maze was slightly open, so I took a quick peek while walking by, and I could see some of the theater seating. Highlight of the maze.

and last, and certainly least...

Werewolf's Canyon (x1): If Cedar Fair was going to be around next year, I'd say this maze would be the next to be redone. There was barely any monsters here, and the maze is too long for it's own good. Although, the guy with the gigantic werewolf mask was great.

Haunt 2011 is pretty damn good. The new Slaughterhouse alone makes me want to say that this year is better than 2010, but the fact that we're missing a scare zone keeps me from saying that with confidence. I think it's on par with last year, and that's a very good thing!

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