It’s become an annual Halloween tradition for amusement parks to offer special scary events from late September all the way to the holiday itself. Six Flags New England runs an excellent one. We’re taken my kids twice and they love the extra attractions, particularly the teenagers, who are more interested in the interactions with the zombies and other creatures than in rides also available.
I interviewed Jennifer McGrath, Communications Manager for Six Flags New England, about how the park puts together their program. The answers were enlightening. For instance, I had no idea it takes 11 make-up artists on duty or that so much effort went into changing the events from year to year.
GeekDad: When did Six Flags start doing this? How has it grown in that time?
Jennifer McGrath: Six Flags New England has been celebrating Fright Fest for well over a decade. Each year our team is committed to providing new haunts and changes throughout the park. It is important for scare-tactics to change annually to ensure we provide a fresh product each season for our guests. Throughout the past several years, our property has added more zones, haunts, shows and performers than ever before. We are committed to investing in our Fright Fest product annually, and the 2016 Fright Fest season is planned to be the biggest and scariest yet. Enter into New England’s largest haunt attraction if you dare…
GD: Where do you acquire the actors for the “scare” areas?
JM: Our Fright Fest performers or “scare-cters” we like to call them are the best in the business. We have a rigorous audition process to ensure the 250+ performer we hire are willing and able to scare our guests. Each performer is required to read a monologue while showcasing several different scary voices and screams. We also ensure our performers are able to be creative with their body language, and showcase this through our “Zombie Crawl”. Performers get to run, scream, shout, and act like a zombie both vocally and visually. Once our performer is hired, they continue through a lengthy training process called “ghoul school”, which provides them the successful tactics and strategies to scare. We also find that majority of our performers return year after year and polish their skills each and every season through experience.
GD: What goes into putting the Fright Fest together, logistically? Any temporary structures? Hiring new make-up people to help everyone get dressed? Finding costumes?
JM: All of that? None? Believe it or not, we are thinking about Fright Fest all year long. Our Shows Team visits conventions, Halloween showcases, exhibits and vendors throughout the year as they research the latest in haunts, props and design. At the park we have some structures that stay up all year round however they are out of sight from guests view. However, once we start preparing for Fright Fest, it takes several departments to work in conjunction to ensure all sets, lighting, electronics, sensors and music run seamlessly together.
When it comes to transforming our performers, there is a lot involved nightly prior to them stepping into position. We average about 11 makeup artists a night that transform over 250 performers. It is imperative that we provide high quality makeup, costumes and props to ensure the best possible scare for our guests. Many of our makeup artists have been with us for several years and are committed to creating the ultimate scare-cter. Our makeup artist provide movie quality makeup and utilize several strategies (airbrush, prosthetics, masks…)
GD: What tends to prove the most popular area of Fright Fest? Is it different among age groups?
JM: All of our Fright Fest attractions are VERY popular. With have over 20 attractions and there is something for every member within the family. It is important for us to provide a wide range of scare for our guests to ensure everyone at the park has a good time. We offer shows for kids, families and for those who are looking for something more extreme and scream worthy. We find that throughout the day the majority of guests are kids and families. However as the sun goes down and the moon comes up, the demographic changes to 13+ who are ready to SCREAM.
Six Flags New England Fright Fest tickets are available at their website or at the door. There’s also a deal where 2017 season passes can be purchased now and they includes admission for the remainder of this year to the park.