On Monday 24th October we set out to the self proclaimed UK’s No. 1 theme park to attend for the first time, Alton Towers’ Halloween event, Scarefest. Overall I thought this was a really good day out, however had the typical pitfalls of what comprises a visit to Alton Towers – terrible queues, not much value for money and so forth. But as someone who has been visiting for years, that is exactly what you come to expect of the place.
Being a Halloween enthusiast, I decided to go in costume this year. This is something I absolutely would not recommend during the day before Halloween itself, as there was very little presence of people in costume during the daytime, and being in costume garnered a lot of unwanted attention. There seems to be a more relaxed atmosphere at night time, but unless you are with a group of friends in costume at the very least - don’t do it.
With that out of the way, Scarefest this year offered 3 scare mazes, a new ‘scare zone’ themed around zombies, some spooky stage shows during the day, scare rooms at the hotel (which I didn’t do this year, as prices were too steep) and the ability to stay in the park up until 9pm. It was an experience indeed to ride the rollercoasters in the dark for the first time!
Terror of the Towers was the first maze we visited, upon arrival of the park. This is the only ‘free’ scare maze at Scarefest, yet is undoubtedly the best of the event. My only irk with this is how Alton Towers allow guests to queue jump at the expense of an extra £5, after each and every one of us have probably spent in excess of £40 already just for entry! That aside, this was the longest of all mazes, & the most actor populated, with very lively actors at that, who seemed to be improvising most of their lines meaning no visit was quite like another. They also seemed to scare the group extremely well, regardless of where you were situated! The towers themselves are a very atmospheric setting, & some of the scenes during the maze were truly frightening indeed (especially the body bag room at night!).
Carnival of Screams was more disorientating and well, weird, than anything. I didn’t think it was a bad maze, but it could have used more actors in certain places (such as the dotted room). There was a feature in this maze, which in the London Tombs is referred to as the ‘Big Squeeze’, and the reason this sticks out in my mind was the fact it was horrifically tight & you had to really push to get through it. With me being at the front I found myself wondering if I had gone the right way! I think this maze would be better suited back in its original location outside the park near the hotels, as the setting underneath the Black Hole seemed more like a gym of some description, which worked better for the Boiler House.
Coming to the Boiler House - a lot of people were not impressed with this maze, and Alton Towers have confirmed that it will not be returning next year. Yet honestly, I thought it was quite good! Being at the front our group was picked on almost the entire way through. On reflection, though, there were only two actors with the exception of one woman who made an appearance about half way through, and actors did seem to focus more on the front of the group rather than giving more distributed scares. Next to Terror of the Towers, I thought the set for this maze was second best, albeit unusual in places, but this setting seemed to fit the theme of the maze better than the Carnival of Screams.
Zombies was not terrifying (unless you have a personal fear of zombies in which case it could well be), but I thought it was great fun and a really interesting addition to the event. Alton Towers should definitely bring this back, and possibly add some more about the park at Scarefest. The actors were enthusiastic, and it provided a nice in between attraction that was inkeeping with the Scarefest atmosphere, & never was the experience the same each time you went through! Because of its walk-through at your own pace nature people could just mill in and out as they pleased, and as many times as they liked. It was also very small which had the pros and cons of, that it couldn’t get too congested with queues but it was over in probably a minute or so, depending on how busy it was.
The worst part of this event was Th13teen After Dark, stipulated on the map to be an event similar in nature to the Zombies scare zone, where the queue of Th13teen would have actors milling about, interacting with guests. Our group was in the queue for Th13teen from 5pm until 6pm, in which absolutely nothing appeared except some green lights, and a fog machine that failed miserably due to high winds. There apparently had been some incidents with members of the public attacking actors which is a real shame; however I find it grating that this is still being advertised as an attraction when nothing is taking place.
Overall though, despite what criticisms I’ve made I thought this was a fantastic event and I really enjoyed being there. With this being an Alton Towers’ event I wasn’t expecting much from it besides queuing, yet it more than surpassed my expectations. So, I definitely would make a return visit.
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis,
Overall Rating: 9/10