My favourite time of year has finally arrived, and there are scare events and mazes everywhere! We were lucky enough this year to have managed to get down to Thorpe Park for their passholders preview.
It was a beautiful day, and really quiet on park meaning we managed to squeeze in all the rides before the mazes opened, we grabbed some lunch and then skipped along to our first scare maze of the year.
Saw Alive. I can’t get excited about this maze anymore although I totally love the films. It’s more like a scene walk through, there’s very little in the way of jump scares and sometimes it’s a bit too rushed or dark and you walk through rooms without actually seeing anything. The rooms which do have actors in have become so predictable, you spot the actor as you walk in and then can almost time them to when they move. Glad we got it done first.
Onto The Big Top. I enjoy this maze, but there were very few actors this year, I’m not sure whether we just hit a poor run through or not. Alton Towers used to have Carnival of Screams which used to be brilliant, but it used to be full of clowns everywhere you turned. The ending was good, but at some point we are going to have to come up with some better endings that being chased with a chainsaw…..
Next up was one of the new mazes for this year, Living Nightmare. I had to spend a few minutes before hand trying to explain the walking dead quickly to my friend. If you’re familiar with Fright Nights, the maze is in the same bit of building as Cabin In The Woods used to be. I was slightly disappointed in the batching area to still the the Cabin theme on the walls. You are collected by Negan and taken to kneel down infront of a car (like in the series) he shouts a bit and then sends you on your way.
You are lead through the maze and taken onto a bus, which was massively underused. Took me back to Field of 1000 Screams over at Alton, which provided one of the best bus scenes I’ve ever been on. There wasn’t even an actor on the bus.
The ending was ok, but we caught up with the group infront (more reason to have actors on the bus to hold us back until they’d left), we were stopped by a guy with a gun and another holding a zombie on a leash. It was basically a run for your life because we are about to set this zombie on you scenario. Good, but again batching is an issue.
Platform 15. This is was the clear winner this year, they’ve really added a lot since it’s debut in 2016. I jumped out of my skin in the first few minutes from just a loud bang on the walk to the first scene. Only downside to this part is that if you are towards the back of the group, you can’t hear what the actor is saying at the front it’s not quiet enough for a walk and talk.
There’s lot’s of walking as you seem to go right around the edge of the park, but the actors do a great job of being generally just creepy, they will stand and stare at you as you walk by, which adds to the suspense of waiting for one of them to jump out of nowhere. The addition of the little hut was great, and the dark tunnel at the end was much better than last year. It felt really claustrophobic in there, and there was a excellent mix of suspense and jump scares.
Last maze of the day, Sanctum. I’m not sure you can class this as a scare maze, should have been more of a scare zone maybe. The return to scripted actors was good, but again they are too quiet even though they are clearly shouting, there’s too much else going on around to really hear what’s happening. Also there were very little instructions as to when you should be stopped and listening and when you need to move along. Seriously lacking an ending, I was followed out by some woman telling me she wanted to eat my fingers and toes, but generally people were strolling out like they were on an afternoon walk. Not inspiring for the people still waiting to get in, we want to see people falling over themselves to get out, it’s all about getting people nervous before they enter.
All in all though, it was a great day on park. Super quiet and we barely had to queue for anything, we will return in a couple of weeks for round 2 and we WERE going to buy a fast track for the mazes to make the day run a little smoother, but not at these prices. What a joke! Sort it out Merlin, it’s not funny anymore.