Fearfest takes over Paramount Canada's Wonderland
Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012 15:07
Canada's Wonderland is usually associated with summer fun. Each October, however, the park morphs into a dimly lit destination of Halloween horrors.
Visitors entering the park are greeted under dimly lit if not pitch-black skies, with minimal strobe lighting, simulated smoke, spooky sounds fizzling out of the speakers and multiple actors roaming the park doing everything from surprising one from behind on rollerblades to taunting visitors with chains and motioning for them to follow.
Fearfest is comprised of four main segments: The Curse of Sleepy Hollow, MTV Rockin' Scare, Backlot Blood Bath and most of the usual Wonderland rides which remain open for the event. Apart from new labels such as 'Haunted Thunder Run' as opposed to simply 'Thunder Run,' the rides are no different from the usual summer mainstays.
In addition to the scary surroundings and the unexpectedly different experience of riding coasters in the dark as opposed to the day, Wonderland offers nine new attractions specifically crafted for a Halloween audience.
The Curse of Sleepy Hollow is comprised of Cornstalkers, Massacre Manor and Blood Shed. Each of these events feeds on one another's fear and culminate together to form a single chilling narrative.
Cornstalkers is the first in this series of nerve-racking walkthroughs. The scene is set as the Van Tassel farmstead fields which have been abandoned and overgrown for over two centuries. The event is basically a creepy corn maze in which not only scarecrows, but monster scarecrows have taken over and are intent on the visitors leaving.
This leads into the Van Tassel homestead, also abandoned for 200 years after the headless horseman visited the family. Massacre Manor is till haunted by its 'undead' inhabitants. Visitors are encouraged to "Get out of [their] house!" and are menacingly escorted out on the way to the exit.
Next is Blood Shed, the family barn which is haunted by rabid animals and evil deceased farmhands. Visitors walk through a winding mess of body parts and bloody bits. At one point, fake plastic crickets cover the walls and ground to the point where one is walking and crunching with the magnified chirping sound resonating out of every speaker. All three Van Tassel events are very similar yet uniquely startling nonetheless.
MTV's Rockin' Scare is probably the equivalent of a funhouse in this horror haven offering Total Request Live Dead, a 'concert' of mood music including tracks by Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie and The Un-real World of 'The Osburns', a mock-open house of this freaky Osbourne family.
Backlot Blood Bath includes a director's cut, film showings and a movie set. Legends of the Lost is possibly the freakiest attraction at the park. It walks you through some of scariest scenes horror films have created, from an eerie jungle to a forest full of skeletons to an enclosing tunnel which becomes shorter and narrower as you travel its dark corridors. At one point visitors are led through the dark woods while actors approach them as lost souls and the strobe lighting keeps wavering in and out.
This comes to a head where one only catches snapshots of what is in front of them and begins to feel as if they are walking in some sort of upsetting dream or experiencing a trance-like fit.
Funhouse Express and Superstition are mini movies designed with movement in mind. Viewers sit in moving chairs while the action on screen corresponds with their inflicted motions. Funhouse presents a crazy clown and his wacky roller coaster while Superstition's ride is hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Finally, Slaughter Street Fear Zone is the filming of a chase sequence gone horribly wrong with a cars, carnage, smoke and fire walkthrough. The authenticity of this event is truly astounding - especially since viewers are obviously aware of its inherent construction.
For Fearfest, the park opens several eateries, the arcade, select prize games and several shops where you can buy light-up devil ears, skull mugs and other Fearfest paraphernalia. All kiddie rides remain closed as this attraction is not intended for children.
Fearfest is fun and fright all rolled into one theme park. If you enjoy Canada's Wonderland's day job then you will equally appreciate its moonlighting madness.
Fearfest runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights until Oct. 29. For more information visit http://www3.paramountparks.com/canadaswonderland/index.cfm.