This past weekend, Scare Zone paid a visit to Fright Fair Scream Park at Pierce College, in Woodland Hills, California.
This event has been going on for several years now (we first attended in in 2006). During the day, it’s the “Harvest Festival,” which has a pumpkin patch, carousel, and some other rides for kids. There’s also an “adventure corn maze,” which takes a sinister turn when it gets dark.
After dark, the Harvest Festival turns into “Fright Fair,” offering two mazes (one brand new this year) and the Creatures of the Corn haunted trail. Here’s our review of all three attractions.
Factory of Nightmares (maze): This is your typical haunted house, with the usual generic-type scares and themes, placed within black plywood walls and behind a barn-style facade. The back story has something to do with an abandoned toy factory that has been overtaken by insane doctors. (Yeah, we don’t get it, either.) It’s possible we misunderstood the actor who was telling the story, as he was so “in character” that it was hard to make out what he was saying.
The entrance is incredibly dark and a bit claustrophobic, which would be a great opportunity for a major scare–if there were one. Unfortunately, it was a missed opportunity. The remainder of the maze takes you into a “elevator” and then down a lot of corridors that pass through a haunted mansion, a dot room, a clown room, a toxic waste dump. . . and, well, you get the idea. The monsters had a lot of energy and were giving it their best. We were very impressed by a monster who crawled down a hallway in a full back bend, a very disconcerting visual. And at one point, we had a severed leg thrown at us–it was the first time we’d experienced a projectile scare in a haunt.
Overall, we had a good time in Factory of Nightmares. There were several good scares, and the actors were really into it. However, the lack of a consistent or coherent theme detracted from the experience, and there were several missed opportunities for terror.
Our rating: 3 skulls
Insane Reaction (maze; new for 2010): This attraction is entirely outdoors and is an actual maze–you really do have to find your way out. Unfortunately, it took us only 1 minute and 30 seconds do so. It basically consists of a giant square with rows of metal fencing inside, and a few monsters wearing bloody t-shirts yelling at you to “GET OUT!” as you make your way through the maze. There was nothing at all scary about this maze. It was a complete waste of time and money in our opinion. Even the girl working the line told us it wasn’t scary. Of course, we never listen. But now we know. And so do you. Stay away!
Our rating: Buried skull
Creatures of the Corn (haunted trail): A dark trail of terror winds through towering stalks of corn. There are no lights on this trail, but given the light pollution in the city of Los Angeles, and the lights from the rest of the Fright Fair (and the parking lot next to it), it’s still easy to see around you. But it’s just dark enough that you can barely make out the monsters lurking behind the corn stalks, which actually helps to build the suspense. Again, the monsters were really into it. Some made disturbing gurgling sounds or rustled the corn as we walked past. Some stood on the edge of the trail 10 yards ahead, and then quickly disappeared out of sight as we approached, only to scare us from behind. There are a couple of chainsaws in here as well. It’s really a fun experience, and it can be scary when they get the timing just right. We feel this attraction also has lost potential: the addition of some scary sounds and/or fog machines could really add to the suspense and also conceal the monsters’ hiding spots. Still, it’s a fun stroll in the dark on a fall evening.
Our rating: 3 skulls
Fright Fair Scream Park is open select nights from 7 pm to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. It’s $25 for all three attractions, but we highly recommend you skip Insane Reaction and save that $5 for a funnel cake or something. Fright Fair is located at the corner of De Soto and Victory in Woodland Hills.