08/10/2017 – Alton Towers: Scarefest

I’ve been a huge fan of Alton Towers’ Scarefest since I first went a few years back when The Sanctuary was still running – the set, story, and effects really dragged me into the experience and whilst it wasn’t inherently scary, it really had the atmosphere and creepiness necessary for a haunt to work for me: since then I’ve always made an effort to trek up to Stoke-On-Trent to drop in, and with Alton Towers boasting a brand new haunt as a pre-cursor to SW8, it would have been rude to not drop by this year!

 

Upon arrival, it was clear that Alton had really gone all out again: all signs had Scarefest branded signs, Main Street had been decked out with pumpkins, hearses, a huge Scarefest sign, and their signature children’s show characters performing on a stage right at the base.

 

Our first haunt, or rather, attraction, was House of Monsters. I’ve deliberately not called it a haunt as it is so much more than that: it’s immersive theatre, pantomime, escape room, magic show, and haunt all rolled into one – it’s easy to see why House of Monsters got such rave reviews from others last year! The characters are extremely engrossing and animated, making puns and (intended or not) double entendres throughout that had us absolutely doubled over at points! As you make your way through the attraction, you interact greatly with the characters who get you to do one or two tasks in order to get you to escape, which ends up in a fun little haunt with some scares that we really weren’t expecting (and definitely made all of us jump!); don’t worry though, it’s not an intense scare – the haunt part is very comical and very Scooby-Doo in nature (if you imagine Shaggy and Scooby being chased about by the bad guys in and out of rooms in corridors). I absolutely loved this attraction, so much that we bought an extra ticket and went through again! It’s definitely not the scariest attraction at Alton, but it definitely surpassed my expectations!

 

Our first haunt at Scarefest was Sub Species: The End Games. I thoroughly enjoyed myself in this last year, so I was excited to get back down into the labyrinthine haunt hidden deep in the basement of the towers. It very much started out the same as last year with a creepy introduction swiftly followed by actors grabbing you and dragging you through the maze; unfortunately, this year didn’t seem as chaotic as I remember it – it felt like there was a lack of actors in the labyrinth which definitely detracted from the chaos (but make no mistake, it was still insanity trying to find the exit without an actor pushing you in the right direction). Once you’re through the labyrinth, you’re treated to some incredible scenery and a corridor that’s pitch black before finally being chased out the exit. Still a strong haunt despite the lack of actors.

 

Our second haunt was Terror of the Towers, a gothic vampire haunt that snakes its way through the towers themselves. Whilst not the strongest attraction for scares, it definitely leaves its mark with theming, use of smells, and creepy actors: the strongest element was the strobe maze, as there were a number of lights working with each other to disorientate you as much as possible; having said that, the haunt requires everyone to go in a conga line and all the scares seem to happen to the front of the queue – I’d love to see the conga line scrapped seeing as it’s the least intense haunt at Scarefest and the only haunt there to actually implement it. Definitely a good introduction to haunts if you’ve not been to one before.

 

Our third haunt is Altonville Mine Tours which has received a more memorable name than last year, though it’s still very much the same attraction, albeit with an extra added scene. Out of all the “adult” haunts at Scarefest, this was definitely my favourite: everything had improved since last year and the run at ScareCon! The helmet this year had much better effects programmed into it, making some parts much more intense as the light bouncing off the fog really limited how much vision you actually got. Alongside this, the incredible detail to the theming both visually and aurally complimented each other perfectly to create an unpleasant atmosphere at times. The actors themselves were on top form too, as some jibbered on about nothing, whilst others said things to you early on in the haunt and actually remembered what they said when you met them again later! Another brilliant thing the actors did is completely invade your personal space to add to the creepiness that resides within. Unfortunately, I’m still not entirely sold on the finale: it’s a clever twist and I can appreciate that, but there’s nothing grand to it that says “this is the finale” and leads you on to think that there’s still more to come, when you actually find yourself outside. Definitely my favourite haunt at Alton Towers this year.

 

Our fourth and final haunt was the anticipated The Welcoming: Be Chosen. We had our tickets booked for as late as we could reasonably do before we travelled home at stupid o’clock, so it was nice and dark when we went through (for those that don’t know, it’s an outside attraction which means natural lighting may or may not affect the experience). All I can say is: wow! Whilst at an intensity level of maybe a smidge above Terror of the Towers, the theming is just incredible. From the moment you step into the haunt, you’re transported to a medieval celebration of Halloween, where paganistic characters dance and swoop as they celebrate: I loved the scarecrow beings (for want of a better description) and the person that dropped to the floor and started inscribing runes onto the ground in front of us, partially blocking the way – a great touch to add to the creepiness! I wasn’t a big fan of the hooded section as I’m not entirely sure what they were trying to portray here and the finale, however everything else felt like walking through a cinematic piece – definitely worth doing once it gets dark!

 

Alongside these attractions, there was also the Freak Show scarezone, which was rife with creepy takes on the classic circus shows (ringmaster, bearded lady, strong man, etc), all of whom use the billowing clouds of smoke to their complete advantage to hide and scare unsuspecting victims – definitely a great laugh when you’re making your way through!

 

Alton Towers have created another fantastic Scarefest, despite the few gripes I had with the attractions – I’m definitely glad that we added it to our lineup this year, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be back again next year!

 

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08/10/2017 – Alton Towers: Scarefest

24/10/2016 – Scarefest at Alton Towers

As we were driving by Stoke-On-Trent on the way back from our week of northern haunting, we decided to do a very quick 3 hour flying visit to Alton Towers seeing as there were so many positive reviews from friends: let me tell you that, straight off the bat, it was the best 3 hours I’ve had in the park.

 

Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers

With a rather long name (I’ll probably start referring to it as Skin Snatchers from now) that matches the length of the haunt, this sits where Molly Crowe was last year.

Upon entering the queue, western guitar slides and chords warble through the air in the queue. We got quite early tickets because the tickets we wanted weren’t available; damn our spontaneity (this is the reason why Terror of the Towers isn’t included in this review) and so the queue wasn’t very long, but the excitement and nervousness already began to build thanks to the high fencing, narrow queue, and flickering light bulbs in burnt out fixtures.

Our turn came and we were called forward. Three of the 10 of us received a helmet with a light fixture (sadly not me) and we were told to listen to the safety briefing by the creepy hillbilly handing out the helmets. Once this was over, we met his brother and our tour of the mines began…

With a very powerful storyline, you’re taken down into the depths of the Mines where the skin snatchers live, who take very little time in splitting you up and tormenting you throughout this 20 minute haunt.

Chaos literally rains down around you as sights, sounds and smells all intermingle with one another, with the skin snatchers taking full advantage of strobes, pitch black, and the boiler suit corridor to make you feel completely disorientated and uneasy from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. An incredibly strong attraction that rekindled my love for haunting once again!

 

Sub Species: The End Games

After surviving Sub Species: Operation Lockdown last year and missing out on the mazes due to arriving late, I finally managed to enter the labyrinth owned by the dwellers within, and I was not disappointed!

This incredible haunt is very fast paced and intense, and you will end up feeling completely lost and confused as the dwellers play with you, sending you down your own route through the first piece of the haunt, all of which was used in Operation Lockdown, but even surviving that didn’t help me navigate my way out!

Whilst not jump scary, the dwellers have absolutely no issue grabbing you and moving you about with reasonable force which I absolutely love in a haunt as it makes the whole experience a little more real, and it’s completely necessary for this haunt to be scary. After being chased out of the ending, I took a moment to stand there and just give a huge sigh of relief and reflect briefly on what happened. Definitely the stronger haunt in this review.

 

After blasting our way through the two haunts in 45 minutes or so, we also managed to get a ride on The Smiler and Nemesis, then decided to head home. A very short visit, but I was honestly blown away with how well Alton Towers had executed Scarefest from how easy it was to book our tickets through to how interactive and intimidating the actors were in the haunts, and how creepy the roaming actors were in the Forbidden Valley scare zone (can’t comment on the other scarezone(s) as we didn’t visit them): Scarefest is incredibly professional, and Thorpe Park definitely needs to ask these guys how to put on a halloween event, for sure!

 

One teeny-tiny gripe though: the scrapping of the extreme haunt run-throughs. I would have honestly leapt at the opportunity to do those! Bring them back next year? Please?

 

24/10/2016 – Scarefest at Alton Towers