Saturday, September 28, 2013

Halloween Haunt 2013 opening night review

Many thanks to CGA for inviting me to the Media/VIP event for Halloween Haunt's opening night. The food was great, and Madame Marie's interaction with us was hilarious!

In addition to the dinner, being VIPs we were given a one-time use front of the line pass (which we later used for Dia de los Muertos), two pairs of 3D glasses and Gold Striker ERT.

After my brother and I checked in and entered the park, we ran into CGA's Roger and Ryan, who told us that Gold Striker was open. It was truly a walk on, no line whatsoever, and I was told to sit wherever I wanted. I chose row 12, which gives great airtime going down the first drop. With the exception of a few people riding in the front, the entire train was empty, a pretty surreal experience.

Using our VIP passes, the security guard let us into the area that was blocked off to the public. We headed over to Madame Marie's Voodoo Chophouse.

Once we watched the opening ceremony, we dashed to the back of the park, which is always a great idea. Toy Factory, Zombie High and Cornstalkers all had less than two minute waits.

I say this every year, but it's true: This was the busiest opening night I've been to.

As with every opening night, some missteps are to be expected. I was disappointed in the music this year, which is always a high point. With the exception of Toy Factory, Carnevil and Werewolf Canyon, none of the mazes have their songs playing in the queue. This was most noticable with Madame Marie's Massacre Manor. That great, creepy song only played inside the maze, and the line only had the generic heavy metal music that played throughout the park. Underworld Alley's song was too quiet, and Dead Man's Cove's song is gone completely.

Some thoughts on the mazes, ranked from best to worst:

Dia de los Muertos (x2): This maze stood out above the rest, and after waiting 45 minutes the first time (which was worth it), it was a no-brainer to use my front of the line pass the second time. The level of detail is outstanding. Also, I think this is the first maze to have an elevated section, where you walk up a ramp and look down to the next part. The Club Blood bar scene makes a comeback, complete with a dancer and a new coat of paint. For me, the highlight of the maze was the jungle room. While I enjoyed Club Blood's remake last year, Dia de los Muertos is an excellent replacement. The 3D was a little blurry, but it didn't detract from the great experience I had with this maze. Also, I'm looking forward to streaming the song if Thomas Tissot uploads it.

Carnevil (x1): The oldest maze, but still one of the best. Great song, detailed rooms and lots of enthusiasm from the actors, even though it seemed a little understaffed.

Madame Marie's Massacre Manor (x1): A year later and I still can't get over how much detail this maze has. Solid maze all around.

Cornstalkers (x2): I enjoyed Cornstalkers' new look. The three different paths at the beginning add a new twist that isn't seen on any other maze, even if they aren't staffed. The maze is a little shorter, but I think it's for the better.

Werewolf Canyon (x1): Well, look who has moved up in the ranks! While this maze has nothing new, the actors really made the maze with their enthusiasm. Who would've thought Werewolf Canyon would be the most staffed maze in the park?

Zombie High (x2): The second of the new mazes this year, and unfortunately it was just OK. Visiting the park the Sunday before opening night, I saw many props stacked outside the newly-built shed, and I thought there was no way they would finish the maze in time for opening night. Turns out I was right. The facade they put on the shed looks painfully unfinished, and I noticed one wall of the maze was essentially bare plywood with a few drops of "blood" on it. At times, this maze felt like Slaughterhouse with the lights turned on. Overall, though, Zombie High had a good amount of detail, and I enjoyed the dance floor and the monster on springs. Chairs from the Pictorium were used for the theater portion of the maze.

Slaughterhouse (x1): Haunt's newly revamped maze in 2011 now looks outdated and simple, due to the immensely detailed Madame Marie's and Dia de los Muertos. It wasn't bad (the "song" fits perfect and adds so much more atmosphere to the maze). At least it kept its "squishy" part, unlike the next and last maze...

Toy Factory (x1): First maze of the night, and everything was going great. The actors were in character, the new rooms gave the maze a fresh feel, the song was catchy and annoying as always ... and then we got to the end. One of the best parts of any maze, the inflatable walls, has been removed, instead replaced with stacks of boxes. My guess is that it was removed to help capacity. Besides this, the maze was good, but the feeling of disappointment I felt leaving Toy Factory makes it end up at the bottom of this list.

New in 2013, Fun House Express in the Action Theater is a great addition to Haunt. It's being shown in the left side of the theater, which means Happy Feet is done for the season.

For the scare zones, Gauntlet was by far the best.

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