Just got back from Haunt, second to opening day (10/1/11). Let's say, this is the longest I've ever spent in a theme park, about 12.5 hours. For a first weekend, Haunt was really awesome (well, when isn't Haunt awesome?). Well, starting off, I did a day time visit to get some rides in since I knew I would be focusing on mazes. Let's start off with the day time.
The park was pretty much dead today, could walk right onto your favorite ride. ABW met us out at the park for the 'day time' operation. For some reason, we were lucky enough to have several 'breakdown' sessions happen to us. One happened right after we got off Psycho Mouse and the other 2 happened as soon as we stepped into the Flight Deck station. Not really too much more to report on during the day, other than it was just a nice relaxing day to just ride and have mini ERT-like sessions on a couple rides.
Now, onto Haunt! Being as I was already out at the park it makes enough sense to do their "Boofet" special they always run, basically an 'all you can eat' picnic in the front pavilion. After eating, we get a 'pre scare' followed by what we had today, a 20-minute early entry into Haunt and early access to Club Blood and CarnEvil. Only downfall was that the staff inside wasn't aware of the VIP and thanks to our friendly Gauntlet supervisor, 'Nibbler' he was able to relay the message and in we went! CarnEvil was good, felt a lot longer than I remembered though nothing was altered in it. Much like last year, CarnEvil was well done, and the actors were pretty well enthusiastic tonight. I still have the CarnEvil song in my head now! "Come and try your luck at a wonderful game!..." Followed by that, the now have the Overlord speech behind the carousel on the stage, which I think is a far better place than on top of the restrooms. His massive height however did surprise me as afterwards, he was about my height roaming the park
After that, it was the 'bull-run' into the rest of the park. My next haunt was Slaughter House: Annihilation. A complete opposite of how Slaughter House has been last few years. Gone is the 'chaotic noise' and just sheer chaos and in is the ominous humming ambiance with some heartbeats, and manufacturing facility sounds. Really, I found this much more fitting and in the end the maze was far more enjoyable. Yes, it is quite gross but that's what Slaughter House is all about! The maze as we all know is completely revamped though there are some elements that were reused. I honestly have no problem with that, still works for me. Due to getting to the maze in a timely manner, wait time was minimal, about a 2-3 group wait. Also while waiting, look in the Whizzer pond, some great views of the remains of Whizzer! Oh yea, there's some nice surprises in probably the 3rd scene though I only experienced it once out of both visits in SH:A as there wasn't much.....force?
Followed by that, it was time to head to one of my favorite mazes, Toy Factory. But before that, it was time to check out the modified Underworld Alley. It is amazing how throwing in some music (possibly another CGA custom, hope for a new soundtrack release soon), some entry signs, and some grave stones and bam! much better atmosphere. However, talent seemed a bit thin tonight, maybe there will be some more roaming around in the next few weeks.
Now, to Toy Factory ("Here in the Toy Factory..."). We had probably a 5-6 group wait before we were in. Good maze as always (Hey, I rhymed!), catchy theme. The ending felt more forceful this time around due to the lack of people ahead of me. This is one of the key things I'd like to bring up in general. People running the maze entrance did an excellent job letting in groups in at a timely fashion but not letting in groups too close. There is nothing worse than 'walking in a huge line' to get through the maze. I'd rather have a chance to explore the maze and not have the group ahead of me take all the scares away.
Next on the list was Cornstalkers, which now we're about 40 minutes into the night and this maze has no people in line. CS is one of those mazes that's best when you're by yourself (or with a really small group, like of 2 people) and when it's fully dark. However, it seemed to be lacking some talent-wise, not enough monsters. Still it builds up the suspense when you're on the backside of Grizzly and the branching paths are great for ditching your friends/whoever you're with.
Now off to Black Widows Cavern. Log rides are always fun in the dark, right? Throw in some characters, spiders, sensory effects and you've got yourself a fine haunted attraction. However, from a talent standpoint, I can see this being frustrating, being hard to scare guests due to the faster pace of the ride. Still some great scares though and great effects. You don't really feel like you're zipping through a bunch of plywood tunnels.
Werewolf Canyon - possibly the longest wait, slowest-moving line. Unfortunately, a good handful of the talent didn't seem to be that motivated or they just happened to totally bypass us rather than try to scare us...which to me felt like I was just walking through a decorated Rapids exit queue. I will say that some of the strobe areas did throw me off, navigation-wise and was quite disorienting. Also, see if you can spot some Camp Gonnagetcha Easter eggs in there...I found 2 so far - inverted car playing the Summer Camp song and some bulls eye targets.
Last but not least, Club Blood. This was just weird. Cool maze but was just...backwards...literally! This was probably done to keep Slaughter House's line and CB's line from merging. It felt awkward entering the 'back-stage' section of the night club, showing what's going on, then enter the night club scene where things look normal. Still some good stuff in there however.
Now onto the rest of the scare zones I have not mentioned.
Deadmans Cove: Forsaken Souls was the revamped zone this year. Don't go looking for props but do expect a much larger cast and some nice background music to fit the theme. The area spreads from behind the Snoopy shop over to the KidZville Bridge and just a little bit before Delirium. While this makes up for the missing scare zone, it was awkward crossing the other bridge with nothing at all.
Gauntlet: This zone got my vote tonight. Plenty of talent, theming, and enthusiastic talent. The nice use of lighting and fog make it hard to tell if it's a regular GP or a clown or freak heading right towards you. I also think this helps, having a maze to accompany the scarezone, giving the area a nice 'complete' feel.
CarnEvil: 9/10 - 3 visits
SlaughterHouse: Annihilation: 9/10 (suspended Dead bodies want smoosh-smoosh!) - 2 visits
Toy Factory: 9/10 (For some reason, not sure why but after 2 years, I still love this maze...maybe due to nostalgia purposes, the theme, etc.) - 2 visits
Black Widows Cavern: 8/10 - 2 rides
Werewolf Canyon: 7/10 (hopefully stronger talent will change this in the coming weeks) - 1 visit, excessively long lines tonight!
Cornstalkers: 8/10 - 1 visit.
Crowd levels were mixed, overall pretty busy for a first weekend. Some mazes were walk right up, some 10-minute wait, some 30 minute, some even more. Demon was deserted as well as some of the other rides in the evening. I just rode Flight Deck and Demon during Haunt so I can focus on Haunt itself. Now, Photos!!