As I mentioned in a previous post, for their sophomore year Fright Nights has invested a considerable amount of time and money into expanding the original maze (already the best from 2011) and doing a new self-guided flashlight tour in the mansion itself. Here is feedback on both attractions:
Walk with the Spirits Flashlight Tour (35min)
This is a spin on the original flashlight tour. Instead of having a tour guide walking you through the mansion, it is entirely self-guided with an audio headset telling you history about each room along with stories about various encounters. They did a good job setting the ambiance by turning off all the lights and letting you explore on your own. There may not be any actors that will jump out in your face, but there is definitely a subtle psychological effect that I don't want to spoil. I would recommend looking through every nook and cranny, and definitely peering into all the windows. This sets the tone for the main event...
Curse of Sarah Winchester Resurrection (40min)
I have done just about every single haunt attraction within 50 miles for the past several years, and this is the single best maze I have ever been to, period. I would be surprised if there is another one in California at this caliber.
The maze is really designed for you to take your time and absorb the atmosphere. In fact, there are some areas that have no actors at all and are purely designed for ambiance, telling a story, and building suspense. The quality of the props and atmospheric design is beyond any other attraction I have ever been to. I would recommend taking your time, looking at all the intricate details.
As for scares, there really is no shortage here. I don't want to ruin anything, but I will say that there is a huge variety in what you will experience and a ton of surprises. I am glad that the seance room is back (where writing starts appearing on the walls) but the overwhelming majority of the maze is brand new. We're talking double the length of the previous year, double the number of actors, and giant new props.
Fright Nights is the new benchmark to which all other haunt events will be compared. I would be shocked if anything else in 2012 comes close to this, so if you have to pick just a single "haunt" event to go to this year, this is it. I would try to go early to avoid long lines, but to help with the wait they do have food trucks, snack shops, live music, and a bar this year.
Again, incredible event and congratulations to everyone involved for putting this together. The anticipation is already building for 2013, where Fright Nights will coincide with the release of a Hollywood movie about (and filmed in) the Winchester Mystery House.