On Wednesday the 26th of October I ventured out into the darkness of the night to Wakefield to see what horrors awaited me at Yorkshire Scare Grounds Scream Park. Needless to say, I was not disappointed in scares, interaction, atmosphere and value for money!
Upon arrival after driving down the aptly named ‘Hell Lane’ (!) we immediately started queuing for what turned out to be - the Ghost of Madam Sonia Belben. This was a short sit down attraction, which incorporated a speech from a dummy slash ‘undead mystic of the night’ with a projected face (a feature you will recognise if you have previously visited any of the Dungeons). It was interesting enough - most importantly everyone present were all kept on edge -which was mainly down to the presence of roaming actors, which I thought was a huge improvement in creating tense atmosphere in comparison to the previous night at Spooky World. Before and after listening to the ghost’s speech there was a little bit of comedy relief from the actors present, for example a witch type character who flailed a decapitated head over the crowd, ‘spattering’ them with blood, and another was a man in a pig mask who continually snuck up behind people and snorted near their ears. He got me eventually, & throughout the entirety of Yorkshire Scare Grounds, it was extremely amusing just to observe actors, waiting for people to realise that they were looming over their shoulders.
Jack’s Twisted Fun House I have to say was the best feature of the entire attraction -primarily for scares. This was a winding fun-house style maze where creepy clowns and jesters wandered in and out of the shadows of the set, sometimes even joining our group! (I distinctly remember at the end when the back of our group became separated, leaving me at the back, a clown got hold of me, saying “Don’t go! Don’t go! Stay with us!”).
Jack’s Twisted Fun House is certainly a well dressed & lit maze, the set was impressive, and there were ample amounts of actors for each section of the Fun House we ventured through - enough to thoroughly get at the amount of people that were sent through. All in all I thought this maze had a good structure – it didn’t feel like it ended abruptly – and also the timing and interaction was very good – something I noticed a lot of attractions seem to have a real problem dealing with when there are large volumes of people. One of the best mazes I have visited this season, & also possibly the best circus themed maze.
After bursting out the opposite end of Jack’s Twisted Fun House, our group immediately trekked on down the path, directed by a sign which said ‘Haunted Attractions this way’, which leads me onto the next good feature of Yorkshire Scare Grounds. What I thought really helped with continuity of keeping visitors’ hearts racing was the presence of actors while moving between attractions. The one I best remember was the ambush I both screamed and ran away at – a man who emerged from behind a bush wielding a roaring ‘chainsaw’ that brushed my arm, and didn’t stop attacking our group until we all fled to the beginning of the Wiccan Wood trail!
Wiccan Wood was in my opinion, the best of all of the sets – as it was a lengthy walk through a real, eerie dark forest, with only the light from a torch held by the elected group leader to navigate our way. It was very Blair Witch-esque and left the entire group silent in anticipation for what might lie ahead. I thought it was ingenious and well thought out how much there was to be revealed with the torchlight on the floor of the forest – pentagrams & other spiritual markings markings, blood and body parts – really made for a tense, gritty, realistic horror film feel. There were not many scares here apart from a few scattered actors hidden behind trees, but if there had been more scares in the following mazes & parts to follow this, I doubt it would need any additional scare factor.
At the end of the Wiccan Wood we reached the Mine Shaft, a low ceiling maze in the theme of a mine shaft as you may have guessed. Mine Shaft did have a couple of scares within (for example the actor near what seemed to be the middle of the route that lashed out in his cage and flung himself nearly over the sides to claw at passing visitors, which was quite alarming) but perhaps could have done with a few more in between? The set didn’t seem to hold its own like the Wiccan Wood, and could have used a few more actors dotted about to maintain tension, but it certainly wasn’t a bad experience – it made for a very interesting walk to say the least.
After we exited the Mine Shaft, we continued along another long, darkened woody route to the vibrantly lit Sunnyfield Cemetery where the ominous Sebastian St. John stood waiting by the gates at the head of the line of groups. Sunnyfield Cemetery was an outdoor strobe maze that was surprisingly quite good for scares, better than the Mine Shaft; however there wasn’t much of an element of surprise here as all actors were clearly visible with the brightly coloured lights. Still, it was not understaffed and the actors worked very efficiently in scaring people despite the light conditions.
All of the mazes here were extensive and generally just really well done & thought out. Despite there not being many scares along the route of the Wiccan Wood it still proved to be able to hold its own with atmosphere & set alone. In terms of value for money, I cannot fault Yorkshire Scare Grounds. To say most of the time in large scale scare attractions is spent waiting for entry to mazes, the time in-between was utilised ingeniously with long, winding routes and genuinely unnerving character interaction. This was one of the top attractions I visited this season, without a doubt - Fearmasters created a truly immersive & promising attraction, and I anticipate eagerly what they have in store next.