Six Flags and Universal Studios are locked in an arms race waged with blood, guts and gore as the national theme park chains divvy up the biggest names in Hollywood horror to fill their annual Halloween events with brand-name slashers, psychopaths and serial killers.
Six Flags Fright Fest is stealing a page from Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights playbook this Halloween season by introducing a pair of haunted mazes based on major horror movie franchises.
SEE ALSO: Halloween and Christmas are the new summer at theme parks
Six Flags is rolling out new haunted mazes this Halloween based on “Saw X” in Los Angeles (Magic Mountain), Chicago (Great America), New Jersey (Great Adventure) and Atlanta (Over Georgia) and “The Conjuring” at Magic Mountain and Great Adventure.
Six Flags announced the Fright Fest mazes based on the Hollywood horror heavyweights just as Universal unveiled plans to build a year-round horror theme park in Las Vegas to capitalize on the success of annual Halloween Horror Nights events at its theme parks in California and Florida.
Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights has long dominated the bloody battle royale for the best haunted theme park attraction in Southern California with a stellar lineup of mazes based on well-known Hollywood intellectual properties like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story” and “Halloween.”
Magic Mountain quietly unveiled the Conjuring haunted maze last week and plans to open the Saw X maze next week. The latest film in the Saw franchise debuts in theaters on Friday, Sept. 29. Magic Mountain kicked off Fright Fest on Sept. 8 without either of the marquee mazes.
Six Flags has partnered with the filmmakers behind the horror franchises to create the two new Fright Fest mazes and is already working with Warner Bros. Entertainment and Lionsgate Entertainment on 2024 mazes based on other intellectual properties, according to Six Flags officials.
SEE ALSO: Six Flags Fright Fest turns terrifying slider monsters into a jaw-dropping show
In addition to the $2 billion Conjuring franchise, the Warner Bros. catalog reads like the greatest hits of horror with titles like “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th,” “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” — all former Universal mazes.
Lionsgate is a horror powerhouse with several films like “Hostel,” “The Cabin in the Woods,” “My Bloody Valentine” and “House of 1,000 Corpses” that have already been turned into Universal mazes. Universal has tapped Lionsgate’s $1 billion Saw franchise for several mazes.
The first annual Hallomania Smackdown won’t go into the record books as a particularly memorable event, but years from now we may look back on Halloween 2023 as the initial volley in an ever-escalating fight for haunt supremacy between Six Flags and Universal Studios theme parks.
I walked through the Conjuring maze several times on opening night and was impressed — and relieved.
Magic Mountain has done a masterful job recreating scenes from the Conjuring films with detailed sets, distinctive characters and a robust backstory — all essential elements if Six Flags hopes to compete with the Hollywood expertise on display every Halloween season down freeway at Universal Studios.
I was relieved because attention to detail has not always been Magic Mountain’s strong suit when it comes to Fright Fest — the perennial third place finisher in the Southern California theme park market behind Universal Studios Hollywood and Knott’s Berry Farm.
The Conjuring haunted house at Magic Mountain opens with a detailed living room scene based on stills from the film provided by Warner Bros. to the mazemakers. A crazed “scareactor” in street clothes rants to the group entering the maze to beware of all the objects in the room — especially the doll in the locked curio case.
“Don’t touch anything in here,” he screams.
Just then, a samurai suit of armor along the wall stirs to life and stalks the visitors until they flee the room.
A long hallway filled with locked doors and spinning crucifixes draws visitors toward a female scareactor that suddenly disappears as we approach. The scare is paid off when she appears again behind a portrait hanging on the wall with a triggered bone-chilling scream.
An audio-animatronic girl laying in a bed delivers a particularly effective fright in a child’s bedroom with a scareactor that slips into a closet filled with clothes — the only way out of the room. The crying girl is waiting for us in the closet that stretches on for 25 feet.
SEE ALSO: Knott’s Scary Farm rolls out Black Carpet for Hollywood celebrity premiere
The half-dozen scenes in the Conjuring maze are well executed, but they felt more like a proof of concept than a full haunted experience.
The average Horror Nights maze at Universal typically includes 15 to 25 masterfully rendered scenes that quickly transition from one to the other.
Six Flags stuffed the Conjuring maze at Magic Mountain with a lot of filler — long pathways lined with black-painted plywood and bed sheet walls with zero scareactors or scares. That’s unforgivable in a Hollywood horror blockbuster maze — and easily fixed.
Magic Mountain can outfit scareactors dressed just like the samurai warrior, haunted hallway woman and the girl in the closet to fill the scare-free pathways just after each scene to create the illusion they are still stalking us.
A long, winding pathway through the lathe and plaster walls of the Conjuring home where Magic Mountain only had one scareactor terrorizing us could easily be filled with a second and even a third identically outfitted person.
Licensing rights for the Conjuring and Saw mazes naturally add to the costs — but Six Flags shouldn’t skimp on the scares even if the budgets are going to remain focused in year one on the marquee scenes.
The good news is Six Flags has set the bar high in the places where it matters most — storytelling, talent and set design. The blanks will get filled in over time.
It will be interesting to see how the Saw X maze shapes up next week — and what future horror franchises will be heading to Six Flags Fright Fest in the years to come. I’ll be watching and I’m sure Universal will be too.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss your specific needs. Our team is ready and eager to provide you with tailored solutions that align with your firm’s goals and enhance your digital marketing efforts. We look forward to helping you grow your law practice online.
Blog Post Writing
We do well-researched, timely, and engaging blog posts that resonate with your clientele, positioning you as a thought leader in your domain.
Beyond articles and content for blogs, we delve into comprehensive content pieces like eBooks, and case studies, tailored to showcase your expertise.
Website Content Writing: First impressions matter. Our content ensures your website reflects the professionalism, dedication, and expertise you bring to the table.
Social Media Management
In today’s interconnected world, your online presence extends to social platforms. We help you navigate this terrain, ensuring your voice is consistently represented and heard.
WordPress Website Maintenance
Your digital office should be as polished and functional as your physical one. We ensure your WordPress site remains updated, secure, and user-friendly.
For more information, ad placements in our attorney blog network, article requests, social media management, or listings on our top 10 attorney sites, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.