As hundreds of clowns, monsters, zombies and ghouls were “unleashed” into the park, Six Flags Magic Mountain’s 27th annual Fright Fest had officially begun.
There’s nowhere to hide as more than 500 “scare actors” don classic monster makeup and costumes, leaping out at anyone who comes in their path.
“I’ve always wanted to do it, and I just took a leap,” first-time scare actor Mark Aragon said, adding that he’s excited to play the part. “I just want to see people’s expressions.”
While it’s the first year for some, others are seasoned veterans, like Cole Potter’s character, Tweak, who’s going on his ninth year at Fright Fest.
“It’s fun, and it’s not like anything else — you can’t yell at people in real life,” he said, adding that his job is basically to “run after families and scare the poop out of them.”
Halloween has always been Potter’s favorite holiday. “We used to go make haunted houses at my buddy’s house and chase kids down the street.”
Tweak is makeup artist Ashley Aldridge’s favorite character as it is a lot more in-depth than others, she said.
“I like this character the best, just because Cole designed the costume himself, so it’s a lot more detailed than the other costumes, which helps bring the look together,” she added.
It’s Aldridge’s seventh year at Fright Fest, and she said it takes a lot of patience and glue to create these monsters’ looks.
“It’s crazy, and it’s messy, but once you get used to the chaos, it becomes a lot of fun,” Aldridge said.
Each monster takes about 45 minutes as each layer is made up of multiple pieces, including foam chins, noses and cheeks that are glued on, then covered in makeup.
“No two characters are alike — everybody is unique and individually done to their personality and characters,” said Sue Carpenter, the park’s communications manager.
“My favorite is after we’re done here, walking out into the park, watching them in action and seeing our makeup come to life,” Aldridge added.
“In here, Cole is just Cole — he’s being annoying and won’t stop talking,” she added, jokingly, “but out there, he’s an evil, rude clown that chases people down. It’s kind of cool to watch that shift and see how they perform in the makeup, because once they’re in it, they feel it … they flip a switch.”
Characters like this are what prosthetic designer Scott Ramp said he enjoys most about the process.
“I like watching the transformation of the actors,” said Ramp, who is also the owner of The Scream Team. “(Tweak) had played numerous characters, then he created that character based off of some of the stuff that we had talked about. When we have an actor that really goes to town and falls in love with it, I love it … because if they get creative, then I want to get creative, too.”
Ramp began working with Fright Fest when it debuted in 2007, and with a license plate that reads “31OCT,” Ramp lives and breathes Halloween.
“I usually take a couple of days off at the beginning of November, then I start again,” he added. “I have to make all of these by hand — every single prosthetic … No matter how big it is, if it’s a little wound or a full face, it takes about seven hours’ worth of work. There’s about 3,000 prosthetics for (each) night … which means I’m working all year, making those.”
“This is my favorite time of year,” added Connie Lujan, a spokeswoman for the park. “The prosthetics are just what really makes it. Our makeup really stands out — we take a lot of pride in that.”
The festivities are set to continue on select days through Nov. 3 as the park comes alive with terrifying attractions after the sun goes down.
Guests can explore six different mazes, some are classics that have returned, such as “Willoughby’s Resurrected” and “Red’s Revenge,” while others are originals reimagined, like “Vault 666 Unlocked.”
“The mazes are unbelievable, and every single maze is different,” Carpenter said. “We change them up every year and put a little twist on them, so nobody is expecting it.”
In addition, six scare zones are located throughout the park and include a new stage show, “Sliders of the Night,” a slide or die show where ghouls compete, join the “Voodoo Nights” bands and DJs and “High Sierra Hypnotist” comics.
“Once 7 (p.m.) hits, the entire park goes dark, and it’s scares galore,” Carpenter added. “There’s no place to hide and no place to run.”
For more information on ticket prices and schedules, visit sixflags.com/magicmountain.