By Christopher Vitale
Campus Ministry organized a trip to Six Flags America last Friday night for Fright Fest, the theme park’s annual Halloween event. Over the course of several days in the Pryzbyla Center, students were able to secure discounted tickets to the horror-themed Halloween spectacular for $20.
Ticket prices covered both the park entrance fee as well as the transportation to and from the event. Compared to the typical ticket cost of around $50 to $60 per individual, Campus Ministry’s $20 offer substantially lessened the financial blow to students.
On Friday evening, eager students formed a long line tapering around Caldwell Hall’s perimeters before cramming into “The House” to sign in before departing Friday to the amusement park. At about 7 p.m., four to five bus loads of students loaded into school buses en route to Woodmore, Maryland — Six Flags America’s home, located 40 minutes away from campus.
Upon passing through the security gates and into the spookily decorated, colonial-style “Main Street” area at the entrance, attendees quickly grabbed park maps and dispersed out into various Halloween-inspired and rollercoaster-rimmed branches of the amusement park. Students maintained a quick pace as they navigated the night, since Campus Ministry could manage to allot two and a half hours to spend in the park.
Although, this was not particularly troubling for most visitors, as Six Flags was minimally attended at the time, despite it being the last weekend before Halloween with ideal autumn weather and a refreshing breeze. Normally, these conditions would lead to dreadfully long lines and an inability to move rapidly about. Fright Fest’s itinerary offered a host of haunting activities for visitors to engage with. For those possessing the bravery to stomach supernatural jump-scares and gory images, Six Flags offers numerous themed haunted houses that visitors can explore for an extra fee of $22. The houses around the park included such horror-infused destinations as the “Voodoo Curse,” “The Crypt,” and “Total Damnation.”
For those who’s wallets were much too thin for excessive spending, the nine thrilling roller coasters and various small rides provided more than sufficient entertainment. Six Flags America’s hallmark attraction — Superman: Ride of Steel — proved to be the most alluring ride to students. It features a preliminary 205-foot drop, followed by speedy twists and turns before culminating its two-minute duration with a screeching halt.
“I really enjoyed the roller coasters, especially the Superman, since it has a really high drop. I wish we could have had more time to enjoy it,” remarked sophomore Estefania Vila, a Catholic University foreign exchange student from Barcelona.
Students who did not pay the extra fee did not miss out on the terror of Fright Fest either, as scary characters were not exclusive to the haunted houses. Adorned with masks and makeup, actors seeped into the streets of designated scare zones, chasing terrified visitors with chainsaws and blaring noise-makers. Generously, they did so at no monetary expense to the passerby. Each scare zone carried some sort of frightening theme, such as “Ghost Town,” “Zombieville,” or “Carn-Evil.”
Once 10:30 p.m. struck, students — dizzy from riding roller coasters back to back — stumbled to the buses and departed for Catholic University, but not before thanking campus ministers for a fun, Halloween-inspired Friday night out.
“I’m so glad campus ministry provided us with this opportunity to go to Six Flags, especially at the low cost of the tickets,” said freshman student Annie Crean. “The weather was perfect and the park wasn’t too crowded so we were able to get on every ride we wanted to, sometimes even more than once!”
Fright Fest will operate until November 3 on select nights from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. before reopening in September 2020. In the meantime, Six Flags’s annual “Holiday In the Park” event will run from November 23 through the end of December.