I’m somewhat of an anomaly around Halloween—I don’t normally like scary things. The candy part of the holiday, of course, I’m into. But I go extra lengths to avoid watching scary movies or putting myself in frightening situations. Yet, I have a bit of a weak spot when it comes to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America.
My fiancé, Dan, and a couple of our friends talked me into going to Fright Fest. It was a warm day out, and the evening was sure to be just as nice, they said. Wouldn’t it be thrilling to ride roller coasters at night? And watch the sun set as we creep up to Viper’s giant summit? I love roller coasters, and dusk is my favorite time of day, so it didn’t take much for them to convince me. Besides, they said, it probably won’t even be that scary. Just some dry ice, chainsaw noises and people running around with fake blood—no big deal. That is where they were wrong.
Fright Fest was completely terrifying, and a huge deal. But I was even more shocked than I was scared to realize that I was loving every second of it. My adrenaline was already pumping so hard after the roller coasters, that the scary parts propelled my good time, and my shrieks kept getting louder and louder.
We went straight to the Viper in the middle of the park when we got there (wooden coasters are the best), and let’s just say we didn’t mosey over there. Demonic looking creatures were roaming around the entrance of Six Flags, where crowds were big enough that we didn’t attract their specific attention, but I was anxious to get past them to the relative safety of a ride. We heard that Nox, the demon overlord of Fright Fest, was back—and he’s able to move freely since he’s memorized the park map.
Once we got to Viper, the lines were much shorter than they normally are during the day (clearly the faint of heart are weeded out for Fright Fest). Viper becomes Viper: Snakes on a Train during Fright Fest. The story goes that a Colonel had been breeding snakes for his special elixir for years, and left the feeding of the snakes to his son and daughter while he went away. The kids, Edward and Elizabeth, read the recipe for the food wrong, and the snakes grew too big too fast. The kids were never seen again, but the snakes roam the roller coaster that mimics their movements. When we were in line, we heard rumors about snakes falling into people’s laps during the ride. At least I think it was a rumor. It wasn’t fully dark yet when we got into the cars, but it was still hard to see if there were indeed snakes in the car before we loaded in. As we ascended the 10-story climb, we could see the fright fog rising up over the park. We knew that soon we wouldn’t be able to see the creatures emerging from the mist until they were practically upon us (if they were real, that is), but we focused on the coaster and avoiding any of the falling snakes allegedly on the loose.
We went next to nearby Demon, one of our friend Blake’s favorites. He loves the upside-down twist in the middle, and the fact that its name didn’t need to be altered or changed for the Halloween festivities. But the demons that allegedly inhabit the pit below the roller coaster—the one that is filled with lost loose change and innocent sunglasses during daylight hours—scream particularly loud after nightfall.
Our other friend who was with us, Ephraim, talked us into forking out the extra fee to go through one of Fright Fest’s mazes. He’s a sucker for ghost stories, so he picked Manslaughter Manor, a building that has allegedly been haunted since its construction. Ghosts were lurking around nearly every turn, and some of them would sneak up behind our group and scare some screams out of us. We also saw a couple of the ghost children, which were the most haunting for me.
It was completely dark by the time we came out of Manslaughter Manor, and it seemed like more creatures had started roaming. Some revved their chainsaws at us, and others laughed maniacally. I knew that none of them would really hurt me, but secretly strategized the whole time to make sure I was never in the back or front of our group, just in case.
Dan wanted to ride the Boo Line next to give our feet a little break from walking and get an expedited tour of the rest of the frights throughout the park. We saw a little bit of everything from the train: deranged lumberjacks, possessed clowns, shuffling zombies and more. Some were jumping onto the train! (Or were they there the whole time?) We decided to call it a night after the train and headed for the exit, but with all the undead dodging, that was a lot easier said than done.
We could go back every night this season and have new thrills each time. There are three other mazes we didn’t see, half a dozen other rides, five shows we didn’t have time to go to, not to mention several Scare Zones we didn’t explore. But we left that night feeling satisfyingly terrified, which means that Fright Fest was a success. I wonder if we’ll still be able to elude Nox next time?
There are countless ways to experience the best of Chicago during the winter mon...