Be very afraid.
Actually, don’t be–to take your kids to the Six Flags Fright Fest, that is. Aside from a few “premium attractions” for which you’ll pay extra, almost everything happening at Fright Fest is strictly G or PG-rated. From dancing with zombies to trick-or-treating to walking the catwalk in a costume parade to taking in her first haunted house, our five-year-old daughter had a spooktacular time there last weekend.
And she didn’t come home with any nightmares.
She Is Dallas Info: The Six Flags Fright Fest is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through October 30. Tickets are cheaper if you buy online before you go. Online prices range from $36.99 to $46.99. At the gate, tickets range from $36.99 to $56.99 (but you can enter to win free tickets). For more information, check out the Fright Fest page–and prepare to have a ghoulishly good time! Six Flags is located at 2201 Road to Six Flags in Arlington. You can also follow Six Flags Over Texas Facebook or Six Flags Over Texas Twitter for update information.
What to expect during Fright Fest? Six Flags is “decorated” for the season, which means the occasional inflatable ghoul, drapey spirit, headstone, or cobwebbing. It’s nothing you wouldn’t see at, say, Target, or around your local neighborhood, and it’s easily avoided if your kid is extra-sensitive. So are the zombie and ghoul entertainers who are clustered in the Silver Star Carousel stage area (with one or two near the entrance and a few by the kids’ stage near Looney Tunes Land). All the Six Flags spooks are friendly
rather than menacing, and some may be quite familiar (Grandpa Munster made an appearance!). No one tried to harvest anyone’s brains. Or did they?
Kidding! Their makeup is cool if you don’t mind a mild amount of gore (red lines or stains rather than 3D gobs), but once again, they’re easily avoided.
For completely tot-friendly Halloween fun, visit Looney Tunes Land, now turned into “Looney TunesSpooky Town.” There’s a cute little trick-or-treat maze where kids can get candy and meet characters in Halloween costumes (the scariest you’ll see is Bugs Bunny in a vampire cloak). There’s also a “Scary-oke” stage with zombie hosts, but the rest of the rides and attractions in Six Flags’ kid-friendliest area are operating as normal.
In fact in the majority of the park you wouldn’t even know it’s October, and if Halloween’s not your thing there is plenty of ordinary fun to be had. However, be aware that all the entertainment and shows have been changed to seasonal themes. This means that the street dance parties are led by zombies and the dance performances are done by a fabulous gang of Michael Jackson-channeling ghouls, but it’s all in good fun. Think more silly than scary–plus, they dole out so much candy that even the shyest kids had no problem scrambling for Skittles and Starburst.
The music is a mix of your typical pop favorites with a bunch of Halloween-ish music thrown in. You’ll hear “Thriller” more times than you can count, both during the shows and piped through loudspeakers throughout the park.
The more formal entertainment is also Halloween-themed. “Arania’s Nightmare,” for example, is a special effect-heavy drama that seems built around pop culture faves like “Monster Mash” and “Love Potion No. 9.” The storyline is a bit grim–a woman who’s murdered her past 13 husbands is on the lookout for #14, and her friend helps her conjure up zombie men from the dead. But with all the lights, singing, and dance numbers, the story’s a little hard to follow for kids, and sitting toward the back of the theater minimizes the effect of the costumes and makeup, lighting, and noise. If you’re concerned, though, skip it–chances are the kids would rather be riding the roller coasters anyways.
If you’d like to venture into one of the special haunted attractions, Skullduggery–the pirate-themed haunted area–is the best bet for kids. It’s the only premium Fright Fest attraction that doesn’t come with an age warning, and we took our five-year-old through it without resultant nightmares.
Skullduggery gives more thrills than frights, but some kids might find it scary–so use your discretion. In the entrance, hanged (and otherwise unfortunate) pirate skeletons abound, which could lead to an awkward convo if you’re stuck waiting in line for a while. Fortunately, there are plenty of distractions: Aaaah, a zombie pirate over there! works every time.
Once you’re inside the haunted area, the fun begins. Undead pirates (similar to the zombies you’ll see around the park) hide and jump out at you, so there’s a startle effect, and you might get stared at, “chased” slowly, or politely encouraged to stay behind and become dinner. But in the end, it’s just acting; the actors aren’t allowed to touch you, and seem good at recognizing when you have a just-this-side-of-screaming-and-running-away kid with you. Plus, it’s easy for parents to notice–or even guess–when a pirate might be about to sneak out of the shadows. Warning our daughter that zombies were lurking around the corner didn’t spoil her fun, and limited the terror factor.
There’s one tunnel with dim light and menacing music that kids might find particularly threatening, and ours briefly entertained the idea of leaving. We were able to persuade her to keep going–her arms firmly gripped around Daddy’s neck, of course–but if your kids suddenly freak, don’t worry. There are uniformed, fully living park employees wandering through the maze and ready to escort you out if need be.
SkullDuggery is a fairly short walk-through, and its lower cost ($6 per person) and tendency toward fun scare rather than terror make it a good choice for kids who want some haunting but aren’t ready for the big leagues.
Those would be one of the three other main Fright Fest attractions: Dead End . . . Blood Alley, Cadaver Hall Asylum, and Cirkus Berzerkus. As if the names weren’t clues enough, the Fright Fest brochure and signs around the park indicate that these attractions are probably not appropriate for under-16’s, so be forewarned if you have younger kids (or you’re not big on horror yourself!). Fortunately it’s not like you can stumble in accidentally; these attractions require separately purchased tickets.
One last thing: costumes are welcome and even encouraged for kids. In fact, there’s a costume catwalk several times a day for the under-10 crowd (with plenty of candy, of course), hosted by the same zombies who helm the rest of the entertainment.
Fright Fest’s daytime events and shows are good fun for all ages, and it’s easy to change the level of spookiness based on your family’s needs. In the end, those crazy coasters are much more likely to get your kids’ pulses racing with terror than any of the family-oriented Halloween events at Six Flags this month.