So I went to FN Friday night and overall it was a really good night and was an improvement on last years, but there is still something missing for me, which I'll explain in detail through my review below (which may also contain some small spoilers about the mazes)
Myself and a small group of friends arrived at about 5:30, where there was already quite a crowd gathered around the front of the park. At about 5:40 they dropped the rope and allowed people to move up Main Street and head towards the Rival. The popularity of Rivals was insane, and had the longest queue out of everything all night (Until rides closed). This was great to see, however I felt like it detracted from the atmosphere during the opening show for the night. The opening show I thought was really good, and that truck down Main Street with the fire was awesome. However, the crowds used to be massive down the whole street in previous years, but this year it wasn't (Largely due to Rivals, so I wont judge this). But, they didn't have all the scare actors run crazy through the crowds like in previous years. They really only had the actors who were on Main Street during the night, which wasn't that many really. I am still disappointed they dont have even more actors chasing people up and down the street and other areas of the park. There always used to be actors scaring people in the queues, and everywhere you looked there would be actors.
We made our way through the 'Evil Within' Precinct, which honestly was a bit disappointing. After how amazing the maze was a couple years ago (And I know a precinct wont have the same impact as the mazes), but it was just two actors, who weren't that scary, and an even narrower path because of the fences in place. Last years precinct here, despite its simplicity, every time I walked through it, I got scared. The outfits were very cool and detailed however.
We then made our way to the Halloween Maze. This was one of favourite maze of the night, mainly due to the large amount of jump scares and the detail throughout the maze. The actors were never in positions I expected them to be (Which was something I noticed in both the new mazes this year, so massive well done to the team there), and would manage to scare the whole group and not just the centre couple of people. The scene that had me on edge the most was the one with all the sheets hanging up because (The way they did the lighting) you couldn't tell where the actor was and there were so many places for them to jump out. It was very simple but very effective. I was very surprised about how many Michaels there were, and it seemed like that is all there was. There were a couple of other types of actors throughout, but not many. So I feel like that was a missed opportunity where there could've been even more actors for even more scares. Overall the maze was really good, but compared to some previous years, doesn't quite compete with the mazes they've done. And despite the maze sharing a building, the maze didn't seem overly short, mainly due to the sets being quite small in some parts.
Overall I'd give the maze a 7.5/10
We then went to the From Dusk Till Dawn Maze. The maze was almost the exact same as last year (Some of the actors positions or characters used might have varied), which was a shame, because it just isnt scary. I jumped a couple of times, but the majority of the time it just felt like I was at a night club. The maze does start out with it being like a night club and ending as if it had been terrorised, but there was so much potential to add some great scars throughout. Because it used one whole building, some of the sets were massive, and there would only be one scare actor in there. Why didn't they have multiple coming from every angle running towards the groups passing through. Could've made for some great scares, especially with the amount of smoke there was. The best parts of the maze were those smaller spaces because the actors were able to scare you then. I really hope what ever maze does there next year they use full advantage of the large shed, and they put a maze that is well detailed, with large sets with large scares.
Overall I'd give the maze a 4/10
We then went to SDSC which had a reasonable queue (Probably about 40 minutes)
Afterwards we past Gothic Hall, which was completely pointless. You wouldn't have even known it was a precinct if you didn't have a map. It was a small booth/cart, which was playing music. No DJ, no band, nothing. Just pre-recorded tracks. Come on Movie World.
We then passed down Main Street, which did now have a reasonable amount of actors (It was about 8pm). The costumes were really good, and the people chained up really scared a lot of people. But it still wasn't the same FN that I remember from a couple of years ago. There used to be constant screams and running around, but it felt like there wasn't that. Around the fountain was much better as there were larger crowds here, more smoke and tonnes of actors chasing, hiding and scaring.
We then made our way back to the mazes to take on the Jigsaw Maze. This was the maze I was most nervous for, but also had the highest anticipation/expectations for. I was aware that MW only had to previous movies and the trailer to go off, but I was interested to see how they went with that. Firstly, it was a good maze, a reasonable amount of scares, and some well detailed spaces, but overall, it didnt meet those expectations (Please note there will be a couple spoilers here). First walking in and Billy the Puppet came in on his tri-cycle, looked at you funny, and that was it. A bit, meh, really. Walking through there were scenes with the people captured with the bucket style things on their heads attached the wall. And one seen made it seem like one was being killed as 'sparks' flew off the saw as it made contact with the bucket. The biggest jump for me (because I didnt see it coming at all) was the pig headed character jumping out and the loud sound of a pig squealing. The strobe effect tunnel always freak me out because it messes with your vision and throws you off for the next scene, but there wasn't an actor there to do. Instead a plain black wall corridor. No scares, nothing. Why when there was already little space, are these 'dead spaces' being made. Surely a scare actor or two could be placed behind these walls. And even though I thought it had finished, there was one more actor with a chainsaw chasing you out.
I will give the designers some credit because it must've been hard to design a maze only based off a trailer, which doesn't give overly much away. But some more terrorising scenes were the people are being attacked, chased, just something would've been good. Rather than this disconnection of, oh these people have been captured, oh thats the character who has done this work, and here is some other stuff. There were some good scares, but I feel like they could've done more with it. I hope next year they spend some time adding/improving this maze and taking it to its full potential. We criticised the park for the original Wyrmwood maze a couple years ago, and when it returned last year, they actually improved it and made it a great maze.
Overall I'd give the maze a 6/10
It was about 9pm at this point, so we made our way to the Conjuring 2 Maze. This was my favourite last year, and remained my favourite this year. I love the build up there is in the queue before actually entering the maze. The posters, street lights and music are all great touches and really add to the experience. Once again, the maze had some great set designs, with things we haven't really seen before (And unfortunately didn't really see in the new mazes this year). There were some real great scares throughout too, which is what makes it such a great maze.
Overall I'd give the maze a 8.5/10
After this we decided to leave because we had done all the mazes pretty quickly, and weren't bothered about the 'party' at the end.
It may have come across pretty critical, and in some areas I have been, but that is only because I know the potential Fright Nights has, and this year and last year MW haven't done that. I definitely enjoyed this year more than last year probably because they didnt have tonnes of extra things going on, and instead focused on the scares and entertainment. Despite missing out and on watching it, having a major show in the Stunt Driver arena is great to see. I am going to assume that the massive focus on Rivals this year has effected the budget of FN, and what they did was really good, but I didnt walk away scared. Once I exited a maze it was like I was back at Movie World just at night with a couple things going on, which really isnt what you want FN to feel like. I do hope next year they can nail the mazes because the team can do some awesome stuff as we saw with the Wolf Creek 2 and Evil With Mazes (They were freaking awesome and you walked away scared but amazed). The first year of the precincts (2015) was awesome because there were so much detail in them, and the popular franchises had recognisable characters/elements, but this year they fell flat.
Overall I did have a really good night and was scared and always love the effort the team puts into this event (Probably a lot more than we realise), but I think it should be taken to the next level. Invest more money, have more actors and more elaborate maze scenes.
I'm giving this years event a 7.5/10