When Thorpe Park announced their Fright Nights Fearstival line up, I was underwhelmed, I won’t lie. Nothing really appealed to me and I wasn’t going to actually go, but after some blackmail and bribery in the form of food, I decided to go and boy was I wrong! I didn’t do Screamplexx so there won’t be a mention about it I’m afraid. Let’s start with the mazes shall we.
Now in its 5th year, Platform 15 received quite a number of changes with the most notable being its route reverse. This new route, along with a different story and new ending really breathed some fresh air into the attraction. The actors really are what make this maze as they do try their hardest to really utilise where they scare and from the screams from the groups behind, they obviously work. We did notice a couple of issues though. The social distancing in the tunnel is not enforced or explained. It wasn’t until the day after that I found out there were actually markers. They are the cross beams used to hold the tunnel up. It just would have felt a bit more comfortable in these COVID times to know that. The second very slight issue we had was the batching. Yes it was timed But once you set off there is nothing to stop groups catching up with each other and this did happen twice in one run. Obviously this isn’t the parks fault as they can’t control how fast people walk, but I thought it was worth mentioning so people knew. The maze also kind of used its history and some parts I don’t think new people to the maze would fully understand in terms of story. We do also want to mention that other members of PSG also visited and had different experiences in this maze with some have flawless runs and others having bad runs. Platform 15 has never really been Thorpe Parks strongest maze and it is beginning to feel a bit tired, even with the new changes but fair play to Thorpe for putting such effort in to make it totally different to previous years and if this is its final year it’s leaving on good terms.
Roots of Evil
I went into this maze with very low expectations. I heard rumbles that it wasn’t overly great or scary and given it was using the same area as Blair Witch (which we previously reviewed and weren’t fans of) you can understand my skepticism. The queue line actor really helped build the story of the maze. He explained that he lost his crew and that you were being sent in to get them back. The opening scene in the maze also built on the story and explained more about the plant side. There then comes this moment before you enter the woods where it felt empty and it really makes you think the maze is going to be crap because of how very low budget it felt. There were two actors here. One army like person who asked for the password and then another person who guided you into the hedges essentially. When you do enter it’s creepy as hell. There’s enough lighting to keep it dark but seeable. You don’t know what’s a prop or an actor. Everything works better than I was expecting and I got some really great scares which even made me scream like a girl. The actors do use the vegetation to its advantage. Bigger groups may struggle to get the scare towards the back of their groups as they seem very front focused as this was experienced by another PSG member. Now, the only thing that even slightly let this maze down was it’s ending. I couldn’t help but feel like it didn’t really have one, but at the same time you knew it was ending. The scene they have at the end isn’t as climactic as the attraction could have. Yes they have gone COVID safe, which is great and works for this year, but if the maze were to return next year with less strict safety measures in place, we’d love to see a big ending to this. One thing we did think was how terrifying The Crows would be in Roots of Evil.
Speaking of The Crows let’s move to these roamers. They are terrifying. The costumes are menacing and the actors are fully aware of it and will just stalk their victims. Was mentioned I’d love to see a scare maze featuring them as it would be horrible in a good way. It’s just a shame that wherever they appeared, crowds would gather, but everyone kept distanced (except on the Sunday when they had unruly guests.
The Swarm Invasion
You have no idea how excited I was when I heard that Swarm Island was finally going to have a themed scare zone. On the island itself there was about 5/6 actors at any one time so it felt bare but the actors there really were convincing. The hybrid soldiers were scary intense. At one point i saw one cornering a fellow actor by the container and was really shouting at them. Another nice touch by an actor is whenever she was near the fence and the The Swarm went by she would duck behind the supports as if trying to hide from it. It was a small touch that worked so well. We’d love to see this zone return but maybe with a bit more, somehow.
The Howling at Lycanthorpe High
As horrible as I feel saying this, this was probably the weakest area. The actors just prowled around and then did a small dance every now and then. I did have a couple of fun, if small, interactions with the actors though. I can fully appreciate the idea they had introducing another school but with Amity High being so established the were were always going to have their work cut out for them. The actors did their best which is all that matters.
This has become one of my all time favourite things Thorpe have had at Fright Nights. It’s just fun. Its got a spooky vibe with it being vampires and the interactions between the actors and guests is always great fun. The zone works with the area and for me it just gets better each year.
The Fearstival Arena
The first thing you will notice when you enter the Fearstival arena is the sheer size of the cast. There is a good 10/15 actors in this area each of whom have different stories and different ways of interacting with guests. There’s a real mix of menacing and cheeky. The fire show at every quarter past the hour is great fun. It is a fire show so it can be tempermental but it’s never usually broken long and it is so worth watching. They also tell stories of the characters throughout the night and it really works to build the atmosphere of the area. It’s such a simple area but it works so well.
Creek Freak Unchained
Considering Creek Freak Massacre only established the Buckwheats last year, they have become such a huge part of Fright Nights. The maze was so intense and so scary that when they announced a zone in place of the maze due to COVID I had the mind set of this could go either way. Luckily it swung so far into the positive side and I think I can say that, to me, this is the best scare zone any uk theme park have introduced at Halloween. It was intense, hilarious and terrifying all rolled into one area. The actors were on top form the whole night and really went for it while maintaining social distancing. We’d honestly love it to come back next year along with the sawmill and basically turn Old Town into a Buckwheats area with a zone and maze.
Overall Thorpe might not have the strongest mazes but their scare zones really bring Halloween to life and give the island a huge spooky vibe. Obviously Covid has made them make changes and what they have done works so well at Thorpe. Next year will be one to watch for the park as I think it could come back in a huge way and I’m excited as hell to see what they do.