Cedar Fair Entertainment
Review by: Lance
Today I’ve got a brief review of SCarowinds to report. Bottom line, as a one of the better theme park haunts in “The South” outside of Florida, SCarowinds is still a must see. That said, I’m going to start out with the bad news first. In the past SCarowinds has typically made sure to offer 2-3 new haunts in their list of 8 rotating haunted mazes and usually at least one new or modified scare zone. I’m not quite sure why, but SCarowinds chose to put all their eggs into one basket this year and only offered one single new haunted maze for 2011, called FURY.
The storyline is simple, company named Fury Industries has created a drug cocktail to transform an ordinary person into an incredible super solider, stronger, faster, better… you get the idea. I get the silent nod to Captain America here as well, but to be bluntly honest, FURY stands out as possibly the worst new haunt I’ve seen at SCarowinds in years, which is a shame as it replaced the popular Slaughterhouse.
On the way in you’ll pass through neat looking queue portals with video screens, fog and lighting effects that show off just how great the Fury cocktail really works on their test subject. By the time you get past the final portal in the queue, your looking around for a can of Fury energy drink yourself. This is where things fall apart, as the queue turns bland for the next 15 minutes of your wait, and as soon as you enter the lab… it’s apparent something disastrous has gone wrong and you feel like you just missed an important part of the story. It’s like running to the restroom at the movie theater, only to come back and find out that you missed the major plot turning point of the movie… and your confused for the rest of the experience. That’s what entering FURY feels like, so one additional pre-show video just outside or even a brief pre-show performance in the first room would be helpful. Unfortunately everything goes downhill from here.
The rest of the maze takes you through a twisted series of pathways through the Fury Industry’s labs, where the staff have been apparently maimed by one of their own creations. I say apparently, because the walls are lined with human sized alien abduction style glass chambers, all seemly to have an occupant silently sleeping inside. No sign of who or what caused the fuss to the dead and dying lab workers all around you.
From here things get more confusing: longer empty hallways and ramps where someone was let loose with the blacklight paint, putting odd things on the walls, a painted glowing missile sitting in a pit, and an increasing series of basketball sized solitary giant freaking eyeballs stuck to the walls and ceiling that made no sense at all. (What do giant eyeballs and missiles have to do with anything?) By the end, when you finally come into contact with a couple of giant odd looking blacklit glowing cartoonish mechanical freak creatures (with human heads… with eyeballs in place mind you). They’re behind steel cages… where they can’t get to you, and make loud electrical shock noises when the mechanical arms touch a metal wall. They’re meant to be frightening, but even my two boys (7 and 9) looked at them and laughed at their cartoon like nature and asked, “What are those?!”
Clearly, this is an example of Sci-Fi gone wrong… and while I try never to be too critical of an event like this based on a single haunt, SCarowinds promoted this haunt as if this single new addition was going to be the best thing in the entire park for years to come, and not the giant mistake that it is.
Now that I’m through beating up FURY for the night, lets focus on what is great at SCarowinds… damn near everything else! There is the always fun Defex, where you take a trip through a defunct toy factory where chaos reigns. Then there is the return of Camp Killauee, in an all new and improved location, tucked away behind Afterburn. The more remote forested location is a big improvements for this maze, which was already good fun last year. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s just something missing here that could make Camp Killauee go from good to great.
Speaking of great… Cornstalkers is back again, running you through the very twisted and fog filled corn field maze. The scareactors here are great, as they even scared me a couple of times this year. Across the way from here is the venerable Dead Inn… which really is in need of replacement as possibly the oldest maze left. The haunted hotel theme seems to rely more on creepy atmosphere and old furniture than true scares.
Tucked away in the forest behind Nighthawk is The Asylum… probably the greatest maze in Scarowinds history still. Large in size, intense in both scares and gore makes this your one must see maze every season. Improving once again is Silver Scream Cinema, hidden away inside the structure of the Hurler coaster. Enter the movie theater fašade and into a realm full of all your worst nightmares come to life. While it gets better every year, like camp Killauee, there is just some missing element here that could make it go from good to great.
And last off… we have Last Laff in 3D… the seemingly mandatory “clown maze” of the season. For what it is… it’s ok, but just not scary to me in the slightest, and the addition of the 3D glasses to little to help. To me these cheap 3D add-ons always seem to put up barrier between me and the maze itself, making everything even less real.
Beyond the eight haunts, you can also wander through the park’s three scare zones, but they are so small far away from each other that it’s possible to wander through the park and actually miss them entirely if you tried. And I’m not sure who was casting these, but there seemed to be a 2 to 1 female to male scaractors in all three zones this year when I passed through which just struck me as odd. I like the overall theme of Freeding Frenzy, but I think it needs to be bigger and more intense. The Cemetery is back around the fountain as usual, has a great amount of fog, props and scaractors, but the biggest thing that hurts it is that you can skip it entirely and never even see it. The pathways should be rerouted to gmake going through there manditory, or perhaps just turn it into a proper haunt of it’s own. Speaking of which… why has Carowinds never tried to enclose the bumper cars and turn them into a haunt? Knott’s has had great success with a similar sized space over the years, and I’d love to see this space used at Carowinds in the future for a maze as well instead of as a temporary home some video games. Finally… The Playground… not scary… not fun… just odd. I’m hoping his one goes away entirely next year.
So in addition to 2-3 new mazes in 2012, I think the park really needs to ramp up their Scare Zones so that virtually no place is safe anymore. Five or Six scare zones, each loaded with about 50% more scaractors than they have now would be incredible… and where are the sliders? I saw NO sliders this year for some reason… they were always popular the last couple of years, bring them back! And one more request before I go… SCarowinds needs their own annual staple show somewhere in the park… a SCarowinds version of The Hanging would be an incredible hit with the crowd I think, so please find somewhere to make this happen. If you build it... they will come...