Sunday, September 30, 2012

Halloween Haunt 2012 opening night review

Talk about a busy opening night. Attendance was easily doubled compared to opening night last year, which can only be a good thing for the park. This time, CGA prepared for the lines by setting up a maze of queue ropes for each maze on opening day, and yes, you have to walk through all of them (Beware of the line Nazis!)

Toy Factory's queue was nearly half full by 9 p.m. and Massacre Manor was nearly full. Although, for some reason, Club Blood was nearly empty all night (possibly because it's gotten even harder to find).

Being the first night, there were a lot of glitches. The songs for Cornstalkers, Toy Factory and Dead Man's Cove were off for a while, and I even saw a mechanic fixing some electrical box about halfway through Club Blood.

Also because it was the first night, scare zones were pretty much non-existent, especially Dead Man's Cove. Underworld Alley is still my favorite.

Here are my rankings of the mazes, from best to worst, based on opening night experience. A few shake-ups in my rankings from last year:

Carnevil (x2): Even though I didn't notice anything different, this is still a top-notch maze. "It's not a porcupine, it's the human pincushion!" The fog was turned up a little too high, I kept tripping over a doll on the floor. The second time I went through it, I accidentally exploited a major layout flaw and skipped more than a quarter of the maze and got right to the end. I made a left during a curtain part instead of going straight. I guess there should have been a blackout at that spot.

Club Blood Re-Vamp'd (x2): My vote for most improved maze of the year. Scares, enthusiastic actors (drunk guy and the Silent Hill nurse were awesome!) and it's no longer backwards. While the inside portion hasn't changed much, you can hardly recognize the outside, and yes, the dancers are still there, now on ground level! The new entrance finally makes use of the long-forgotten exit(?) path behind Star Tower. It also has a new entrance sign, "Club Bloid" is gone. Got a great glimpse of the red Pictorium seats, and the lights were on in the projection booth. Also, my theory was correct, the finish is exactly where I thought it would be.

Madame Marie's Massacre Manor (x2): Easily the most detailed maze of the bunch, and by far, which is really saying a lot. Love the song, it's creepy and catchy, can't wait until it's available for streaming. I will admit, the first time I went through it, I was a tad disappointed. It doesn't really have an "it" part (i.e. Toy Factory's ending, body bags in Slaughterhouse). I also got the impression that they were out of ideas; you will see scenes ripped straight out of Carnevil, Toy Factory and Slaughterhouse. But going through it again changed my perspective, and I found a lot more little things that I didn't notice before, like a TV looping a clip of zombies, and a working piano. The entrance facade is interesting, even though it doesn't completely hide the "Massacre Shed," it's the effort that counts. Also, I have a theory that the doors to the facade are actually the Pictorium's. The inside of them look very similar to what I remember from Club Blood's entrance last year. It also makes sense, seeing that those doors are now gone from the Pictorium this year.

Cornstalkers (x1): This is where the rankings get tough, as the rest of them could tie for the #4 spot. Nothing drastically different here, although it now features more trucks. Hearing the scarecrows rustle in the vines never gets old.

Slaughterhouse Annihilation (x2): My #1 maze of last year has slipped a bit. Maybe it was because of the traffic jam throughout the whole maze during the first walk through. But that wasn't the case during the second time, there just weren't that many actors. Like Carnevil, the fog was a little too much, hiding a lot of the scenery. This is still a grotesquely awesome maze, I just found myself a little disappointed. On the bright side, you can get some amazing scenes of Gold Striker's new structure while waiting in line!

Toy Factory (x1): What happened? Maybe it was because I only went once, but I felt something lacking in the Factory this year. It didn't help that the beginning outside portion has been completely eliminated, rendering the already-short maze even shorter. And again, way, way too much fog. At least the "squishy" ending is back and more forceful than ever, although I doubt it will be for much longer due to the crowds.

Werewolf Canyon (x1): I feel bad about putting this last on my list once again, because I really did feel that it was improved. But the painfully long portions of nothing still plague this maze. One stand out part was the werewolves materializing out of the thick fog.

I didn't put Black Widow's Cavern on this list, because I don't consider it a "maze." I went once on it, while the actors were a bit sparse, the heavy fog was great.

Like last year, I didn't watch any shows, but the empty and dark Great America Theater was really obvious. I did see a little of the Ghostly Glow Party while riding Ghost Gliders, it looked nice. The Freak Show is hidden this year at the Kidzville stage, and I didn't even know it was back until I looked at the Haunt guide when I got home.

Rode Demon (much better at night), Grizzly (waited a bit too long for it), Drop Tower (hooray, cabin #2 is back!) and Flying Eagles ... I mean, Ghost Gliders. I'm proud to say that I got my first snap, although nothing spectacular, I did feel it, and it did scare me. I also got some crazy height this time, which was pretty nerve-racking.

Random notes:

- Saw a lot of people with Fright Lane passes, especially for Massacre Manor.

- Spongebob was open, which I don't think it ever has been during Haunt.

- For opening night, the lines for some of the rides were pretty long.

- Too many strobe lights!

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