When The Walking Dead was announced to be invading the island I wasn’t its biggest fan, and I did make myself vocal in a couple of ways. As more and more information got released, I started to come round to the idea and it was beginning to win me over. With this in mind, I was both dubious and excited to go to Fright Nights.
First thing you notice is that there is a lot more theming dotted around the parks, with some really random bits in some really random places. As you enter over the bridge, some really great pieces of theming are placed on either side and really get you excited for everything. It was nice seeing it around the park too and it definitely helped build on the already electric atmosphere.
Not going to lie, I probably picked the busiest weekend to visit, so queues weren’t friendly, but ultimate fastrack helped ease those worries on the rides. The coasters were on fine form, even if my fat legs needed a bit of help to close the restraint on Colossus, and rides in the dark are always a highlight for the coaster nerd inside me. Gotta love a night ride on Stealth. The mazes/scare attractions were the main reason for visiting though, so I should probably review them. I didn’t do Containment though, so don’t expect a review from that.
The Walking Dead – Sanctum. Oh My God! What the hell was that! Other than looking incredibly pretty it doesn’t do anything else. It’s a bit lacking in the scare department. Also what are the actors supposed to be? Are they human or walkers? In my run, one minute the actors were walkers the next they were human. Each actor was changing between the two and it just felt confused. I did this both during the day and at night and I must say the day run was far superior to the night run. Not only can you fully admire the amount of work gone into making this scare zone (Lets call it what it actually is) The actors did however make us laugh with their adult humour. Being asked if I liked four fingers or a fist had the whole group howling in laughter as well as me turning red. This attraction has no finale. It just ends. This is one of the weakest scare attractions Thorpe Park have done in years, but one of the better themed they have done.
Saw Alive – Previously I had said that this maze was getting better the older it got, but on my run it wasn’t great. It could just be that because I’ve done it so many times, I know whats coming, but there is usually a surprise somewhere in this that makes me go, oh, that’s different or that was good. But this time there wasn’t. It felt a bit flat. The maze was obviously on a throughput crusade as they skipped the safety briefing and the preshow. We were rushed into the maze. I think that if they could skip the photo they would have. Once in there it was the usual routine. One big thing I did notice was a real lack of actors in their on my runs. I think there was five in total. One in the bathroom, Two in the freezer, one in the mausoleum and one in the strobe ending. It just didn’t have its usual intensity and just felt a bit boring compared to previous years.
The Walking Dead – Living Nightmare – I only did this once and that was because all the queues were insane. Fastrack alone reached 45 minutes. The one time I did do this I could kind of see what the fuss was about, but it had some issues. First was the size of our group. We had a group of about 15, which is way too big for a scare maze in my opinion. The second issue is more a personal preference, but zombies just aren’t scary any more. None of the zombies scared me in any way. It felt like I was just walking around a set for the programme with some extras trying to have a laugh. The penultimate scene is by far the best scene in this entire attraction. Walking through the bus with the mannequins with the banging genuinely sets up a tense vibe and, being at the front and exiting the bus first, having a gun held at your head made me swear. That one tiny scene is incredible and genuinely gave me a fright. Then we get to the finale and it just falls flat again for me. I’m sure for many people, being chased by a zombie is a running/screaming moment but for me it was a tiny bit lazy. I think it would have worked better if there wasn’t just the one zombie! It wasn’t terrible, but just some small things could have been done to heighten the fear.
Platform 15 – Wow guys. This is 200% better than last year (but lets face facts, that isn’t that hard to do). The new scenes really add to it and really do wonders for it. They are pretty with some brilliant acting. The middle bit of this maze is now its highlight, where as last year it was its worse bit. So kudos for that. The bit between the safety briefing and the train is also getting better with some new effects and a new story, which dramatically improve it. The tunnel however is still a bit shit. I fully understand that they can’t really do much there given its location but it now really lacks an ending and I think this attraction needs a bit of a spectacle for is finale as it builds and builds and then just ends. But the tunnel doesn’t ruin the rest of the attraction so its not too big an issue. I’m just very happy that so much time and effort has been put into this and its become something quite wonderful.
The Big Top – Without doubt THE best maze of the night. Its bonkers, its crazy, its confusing and had some wonderful scares. It has elements of everything and its just amazing. Its had a few changes from last year, but they are changes for the better. The addition of a mirror maze is very clever. You go from utter confusion to slowed down confusion in the space of seconds and it takes some time to adjust to it, by which time your already out and back into chaos. Its simple yet brilliantly themed and the actors in here are just brilliant. At one point one of the actors was running around with a giant cuddly doughnut on his head and tickling peoples while saying he was the doughnut clown. It was just so random. The scares are very good too. Having an actor come screaming at me from behind in the mirror maze made me let out a small scream I must admit. Its just a wonderful maze that i’ve watched and experienced get better and better as each year comes.
It’s nice that Fright Nights keeps updating and changing and I think, ignoring Sanctum, it was quite a good year for the park. I do think some small changes need to be made, especially the way the maze tickets and fastrack tickets are handled as the queues are stupid busy. More roaming actors would also be very appreciated. I think if Thorpe Park continue of this path they could reclaim the top spot for the best Halloween event at a theme park from Alton Towers!