Monday, September 28, 2015

Haunt 2015 #1 - Great America's Haunt

Haunt #1: Great America’s Haunt

  Alright Haunt fans, if you are reading this then you must be interested in reading my crazy thoughts on these great events in late September and October.  While I hope to catch a couple more this year, I doubt I’ll be able to see as many as last year, time and money are disappearing quickly.   But I can’t complain, got two more planned, and hoping to go catch the USS Hornet too.  But we’ll see.


  I wanted to take Anne to her first theme park haunt last weekend and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was the original plan.  But when I saw Great America’s Haunt was just an additional 10 dollars more ($29.99 when you buy 2 for Friday and Sunday nights through the 16th) I couldn’t resist.  We didn’t do the Skeleton Key or the Fright Lane…and I’m glad I didn’t.  You’ll see why.


  We arrived to the event to see the pumpkins and the fire launch returning from last year.  Our plan was to hit Gold Striker first, so we stood next to the rope stop and waited…and waited…and waited.  Surprisingly, the crowds didn’t really materialize during that 45 minute wait.

  At about 6:55, the witch (possibly from Wizard of Oz) and some monkey followers took to the top floor of the carousel.  We could clearly hear the whoops from the monkeys, but what the witch was saying…I have no clue.  I think she was giving some descriptions of the mazes, but I’m not really sure, but I did see her mouth moving.  Weird that there weren’t any speakers closer to the rope stop.  This was definitely disappointing compared to the zombie run that happened last year.  The witch stopped talking, then the rope drop, then the running.


  Before I get into the haunts and the scare zones, let me tell you most of the adult rides were open for the party.  But the cool thing for this first Sunday of the haunt, there was no lines.  In 5 hours, we did the following: went on Gold Striker 4 times, Flight Deck 3 times, Grizzly 2 times, Drop Zone 2 times, Psycho Mouse, Vortex, and Psycho Mouse.  For Gold Striker and Flight Deck, we didn’t even get back in line, just saw an empty seat and went again.  The price of admission was redeemed by rides alone.  Now I know the coming weeks aren’t going to be like this, but Sunday night, it was awesome.


  The thing about Great America Haunt is the kids, and there are a lot of them.  Even though it is not recommended for kids under 13 and “whoosies”, there seems to be a lot of families at this event.  This year, they were selling pumpkin necklaces for $3 that lit up and kept the monsters away…at least I think that was the goal.  In my opinion, I think it was a beacon for the monsters to attack.  The necklaces were not allowed to be turned on in the mazes, which makes me wonder how the monsters were able to see them.  Out on the main walk ways, we saw monsters (especially the witch) walking after children with the necklaces on.  Very strange, and quite humorous for us watching.  Wonder how many kids didn’t sleep that night?


  While the sun was still going down, we went into Roadkill – Road House.  In all honesty, I didn’t see a damn thing in this haunt.  We got so lost that we kept being told to go the other way by the exit keepers, and some of the scareactors had to show us away.  It was so dark that the whole maze was a waste.  I have no idea what I was looking at, it was terrible.  Last year, it was bad, this year…wasn’t worth my time.


  Massacre Manor was a fun maze and really well themed.  The maze is a walk through of a house.  You go through rooms (dining room, bedrooms, living rooms, hallways with pictures, etc).  In the bedroom, I asked the lady if I could take a nap, and she actually said it was okay.  Then she led me to a chair and had me sit down.  She got angry at Anne when she kicked a skull out of the sacred circle.  The lady flipped over cards and then gave me one….It was death and she ran a finger over her neck.  We left that room and went through some gardening areas only to find ourselves with a lady and a body.  She asked us which one of us would be losing their soul first, and Anne so kindly pointed to me.  She waved a light over me and then gave my soul to Madame Marie’s…I asked for it back…guess it’s Madame Marie’s now.  So not cool. 


  So they took the opening from last year and made it into a scare zone.  The RV they used is up front with cars behind it.  If you’ve been to Great America, there’s this cave of ivy on the way to Drop Zone, they filled the cave with smoke, cars and zombies.  The atmosphere of the zone was awesome, but the area needed more people…which was a common issue with this haunt.


  Not a fan of this maze, last year or this year.  They did try to make it more of a corn maze this year by having multiple pathways, they just didn’t have enough people to man the maze.  There were some good scares, just too many open areas with nobody in them.  The outhouses from last year were replaced by these really weird boxes.  Anne thought we were supposed to look in them, and I still wonder if we were supposed to.  Very strange, smelly maze.

QUICK THOUGHT: At the point, Anne wasn’t impressed.  She said once you go through one, you’ve been through them all.  Luckily the best ones were still to come.


  I think of all the mazes, we had the most fun in this one.  The music is so freaking catchy and we found ourselves dancing our way through the maze.  Not sure what the monsters thought of these two crazy people dancing, but we didn’t care.  I have to say the Angry Angry Hippo was pretty cool.  And there was a doll room that a lady did a really good voice and kind of freaked me out.  Then there was the Shark Man who looked like a big doll.  Great haunt, only one we did twice…sadly, we didn’t get to vote for it to be the best, but it was a close third.


  This maze is pretty cool.  My problem with this one: not enough people working it.  They should have zombies walking around everywhere.  I love how each “room” is a classroom and is really decorated well.  The walk ways are walled off by stacked desks or something else you would see in a school.  There’s the chemistry room, locker room, prom, library, etc.  In one room, a guy jumps down on bungees, I turned to Anne and said watch this, she was impressed.  We waited the longest for this haunt, maybe 10 minutes, so it’s very popular.

  On a sidenote, they tried to do the “picture” thing in the queue, but the picture booths were away from the actual line so the workers were begging the people to come over and take their picture.  Very strange.  Could have been fixed with some roped walkways that led you straight into the picture booths and then continued to the line, instead of off the beaten path…”hey little boy, want to get your picture taken?”


  My favorite haunt of last year, I was excited to show Anne this one.  Unfortunately, the maze was knocked down a couple of steps.  First, the wax creatures were much smaller than the humans, so the humans were easy to see.  Plus their skin gave them away.  Another way to tell is when the wax creatures were missing from their post.  Where’s Swamp Thing?  Oh, why is here standing over there?  Really weird and disappointing.  Got to see Jack the Ripper, that was cool.  And the mannequins in the back rooms weren’t moving at all.  Sad to see this one pushed aside, it was really awesome last year.


  This one is easy to miss.  You have to walk off the beaten path to see this zone, it’s a loop around the Snoopy kid zone, but there’s nothing back there to do, just walk through the clown infested area.  But it’s definitely worth it.  Tons of clowns doing creepy things.  There was one clown just standing off the path staring at you as he slowly sharpens his knife.  Another one had a huge hammer and would chase you.  One had bubbles and when you said anything he would make this loud noise that would scare the crap out of you.  I even watched a couple of the clowns chase the security people, which was awesome.  That shows you how slow it was, the scareactors were scaring the security staff!!! 

  There was also a sideshow stage with a fire dancer.  We watched for a little bit, then moved on.


  While Lockdown wasn’t scary or creepy, I thought it was placed nicely right outside the Insanitarium maze.  Why don’t they do this more?  Have scare zones themed to the mazes so it’s one big environment?  The scare zones had lots of huge boxes, fog, and mental patients running around.  One patient even recognized my Shining shirt, which was pretty cool.


  Anne voted this one the most frightening, and I would have to agree with her.  You enter the Insanitarium by the way of the doctor’s office.  Then you walk through a very clean Mental Hospital with patients walking around looking crazy.  Some had needles, others just stared at you.  About half way through, the hospital changes and you start seeing blood and destruction.  You go through the same exact rooms that you went through the first time, but everything is destroyed.  And the mental patients are ready to kill.  It was a haunt with a story, and I thought that was pretty cool.  Anne and I got freaked out when a loud noise was played a guy jumped out, well played.  I think the final scene should have been the hospital burned down with smoke and dead bodies.  That would have been complete…but the Scare Zone outside wouldn’t have made since.


  YOU HAVE TO BUY THE $1 3D GLASSES, it’s a must.  If you don’t it’s just another maze with people scaring you.  With those glasses, you are transported to a world of beauty and life.  If there was ever an artistic maze, this would be it.  When I first experienced one of these mazes, I was stopped in my tracks, Anne did just that.  The maze is so beautiful you really just look at the environment and ignore the actors, unless they enhance the maze, which some did.  I’ll never forget watching Anne try to kick these flowers on the ground because they looked like they were above the ground.   We turned one corner and there was tons of flowers on the wall and I heard “oh wow.”  At the very end, she went up to the worker to tell him great job, and one of those bungee guys jumped down and said thanks, lol.  We would have done it again, but it hurts the head when there’s so much to look at.


  I think Great America’s Haunt is one of the best in Northern California.  It’s a great way to see the park at night, some great haunts, and it’s easy to see the rides they have.  I think the park is in transition, and I’m not sure it’s worth a full day.  But for the haunt party…check it out.  As you get closer to Halloween, the Fright Pass will be needed.  For last weekend, it wasn’t.  This weekend…you might start thinking about it.  I’ll be interested to hear what the skeleton key rooms are this year, so if you read this, please let me know.  Or listen to the Season Pass, I’m sure Doug will have some information.  Until next time…