30/10/2017 – Cursed

On the penultimate night of my Halloween tour, I found myself pretty close to home at the Wat Tyler Centre, hidden away in Basildon – a rather surprising location for a scream park given how far removed it is, though probably a positive thing given how much light pollution there is surrounding busy areas. Shivering like I had just walked into an industrial freezer, we queued up to enter the park and after a lengthy wait, made our way in and up to our first haunt: Toy Shop.

 

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The first thing we noticed about Toy Shop whilst we queued was the music: it was rather creepy and crept its way out of the entrance rather well. We were sent in as a small group and eventually got split up so it was just us two going through on our own, which we really appreciated. The story throughout was consistent, and each actor really helped carry the story in the way they portrayed their character and the make up – I really loved the Coraline inspired make up toward the end too! It was also great to see a claustrophobia chamber given a new spin on it with the use of teddy bears – I’ve seen all sorts of themes done this year, but I think this might have to be my favourite as I’ve never felt more uncomfortable getting up close with teddies before in my life. It was a decent length haunt given the footprint available, with theming that was rather unnerving at points, to the point where I found myself completely distracted – the actors got a handful of jumps from me!

 

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Next up we chose the Work Chop, a Sweeney Todd style attraction wherein you enter a shop that hides a dark secret. The set up for the story was brilliant, especially the rather well hidden secret entrance to the rest of the attraction: the vibe suddenly changed from a run down cafe to a rather dark and atmospheric industrial corridor with very monochromatic lighting that only helped create tension, though the icing on the cake was hearing my name call out from behind the walls! The scares were almost entirely sound based, though this really worked for this attraction as your line of vision was almost constantly obscured by material hanging from the ceiling, though when these thinned out, what was left was these beautifully creepy paintings all over the walls and, at the end, a brilliant effect where smoke entered the room at ground height before being sucked up into the air by a fan – something I’ve never seen before, but really adored!

 

Third up was Festevil: a freakshow themed attraction with some rather clever elements. I loved how brazen this attraction was, as the first element you encounter is a claustrophobia chamber with strobe lights which left me wondering what other elements we might experience given that most attractions hide claustrophobia chambers deep in the attraction. What we did experience was a rather disorientating trip through a freakshow meeting all the general characters you’d expect to meet, following routes that I am almost certain doubled over each other somehow through rooms filled with light cubes growing out of the walls, and passing through bars that stretch around you. It was a really bizarre and trippy experience that really blew me away.

 

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We decided that we should drop in on the Nag Inn for a bit of a break… yeah right. Cleverly themed around the seven deadly sins, we were taken on a narrative driven tour through a decrepit inn filled with plenty of creepy actors, tense moments, and lots and lots of scents. Whilst it lacked in jump scares, the beauty behind this attraction was very much the way the actors interacted with us as we went through.

 

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We moved onto Contaminated, Cursed’s zombie themed attraction. This had a very strong introduction and a lot of instructions for the first scene that were very confusing and distracted us so much that we almost tripped over the first piece of scenery, causing much hilarity. We were then chased through bales of hay, past fire torches, and through a brilliant hay maze which had multiple routes through! We then ended up running down a dirt path before slowing down to enter a darkened forest with a handful of zombies scattered about in, though the weirdest bit was how quiet this area was, given that we were still in a scream park. The scene in the church was incredibly creepy and extremely well executed – I won’t say much more than that. This haunt was surprisingly lengthy, to the point where the scene would change and we’d expect it to just taper out into an ending, but it never did – there were even points that we thought we had taken a wrong turn and ended up lost… until we bumped into a zombie. For a haunt as long as that, I was surprised that the story was not only detailed enough for there to be a reason behind our actions but also for the story to be absolutely consistent throughout: we were told to find the church, and we did end up inside the church. My only critique is that the zombies weren’t entirely threatening and were very few in numbers – otherwise, an extremely strong attraction.

 

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Finally, we chose Cell 13, an absolute nightmare of an attraction that was extremely intense and dizzying. There’s very little story line to the attraction, though it definitely doesn’t need it as the characters are very much maniacal and you’ve just got to survive. Sadly, this attraction suffered a little from actors being a little lifeless and missing a final scene with the electric chair, though otherwise the attraction was still great – I just never felt threatened by the characters.

 

On the whole, Cursed really stepped up to the plate as the original plans for the night had fallen through a few weeks before, and I’m 100% certain they outshone the other attraction with ease. Definitely need more lighting outside the haunts so you could actually see where you were going and signs or a map to point you in the direction of haunts as we almost missed Contaminated, but otherwise the atmosphere was very relaxed, the roaming actors really read people well and easily spotted the wimps, and the group sizes through each haunt and batching was perfection – I’m gutted I didn’t get to Cursed last year, given it’s a stones throw from my doorstep!

30/10/2017 – Cursed

15/10/2016 – Screamland

As the sun sets over Margate, Dreamland transforms into Screamland and all sorts of ghoulish creatures crawl out from their hiding places to cause havoc and mayhem!

Not only does Screamland boast 5 haunts that range from the camp and fun jump scares through to exceedingly creepy and disturbing themes, but the entire park gets a new overhaul, from the Screamland sign light show and Halloween themed music through to the smoke machine hiding the roaming actors, there was plenty to see and do whilst waiting for either the rides or the haunts, all of which simply added to the atmosphere!

 

The Final Cut presents… They Came From Outer Space

Our first haunt for the night was The Final Cut which had been re-themed from when we last entered at ScareCON earlier this year (read that review here).

The haunt’s intro has remained the same, though that’s definitely not a bad thing as it helps you feel like you’re really entering the movie.

Once you’ve entered the movie, it’s clear from the get-go that you’ve found yourself the star in your very own sci-fi/b-movie extravaganza, which pays homage to the greatest b-movies about, from Little Shop of Horrors to Tron. This was a great re-theme of a haunt with some fantastic props and scares that’ll make you jump into outer space!

 

Dead & Breakfast II – Murder Hotel

Next up, seeing as The Final Cut leads straight into it, is Dead & Breakfast II. Preceding the haunt was a series of 4 clips showing Fag Ash Lil in her attempt to find love on a rather suspicious sounding online dating website…

The haunt theming and story itself doesn’t look like it has changed much from the first Dead & Breakfast (read here), however this doesn’t detract from the experience at all – the theming is still incredibly detailed and the scares are still as surprising as they were the last time we entered the rotting seaside bed and breakfast. What has improved is the use of scents to immerse guests further, especially in one specific scene that made all of us recoil as we entered the room.

The finale is still incredibly clever and absolutely perfect: even though we knew what was coming, it was still a tense and jumpy experience!

 

The Bloody Mirror

Our third haunt for the night was The Bloody Mirror, a very basic haunt set within the mirror maze that exists in the park year round: based on this knowledge we weren’t expecting much from it, but in fact we were pleasantly surprised. The very basic theming kept us on our toes as we weaved our way through a very small number of scares in this disorientating haunt – a smoke machine and a well-placed laser would have gone down well in here.

This is a great place to start if you’re looking to try this kinda thing for the first time, otherwise it’s a bit of fun.

 

Festino’s Forgotten Funhouse – King of Clowns

This haunt has moved from a big top in the car park last year into a permanent building inside the park, giving it plenty of space to expand into something quite incredible!

Themed around clowns, guests will be utterly devoured in the bizarre acid trip of a haunt that uses some clever tricks to get some jumbo sized scares in this wild freakshow!

 

The Paradise Foundation

We saved this for last, despite the fact the queue was absolutely dead when we got there but after hearing what was said at ScareCON, we knew this had to be the last haunt we did.

We were not disappointed.

Based on what could possibly be a very real scenario, guests will enter the foundation and meet some rather disturbing characters who’ll transform you into the very best version of you using some very revolutionary but controversial operation practices.

This haunt is definitely not for the easily disturbed as the story is incredibly dark, with inspiration taken from goreno/grindhouse and psychological horror movies, which will shock you to the core as you take your tour through the foundation.

Not only are your eyes and ears spoiled rotten with stimuli, but your nose and even sense of touch is, especially as you draw closer and closer to the end – the finale will absolutely blow your mind and leave you wanting more. If there’s one haunt that is sure to disturb you this Halloween, it’s this one.

 

Overall, Screamland has set our expectations exceedingly high and we can’t stop talking about it, especially The Paradise Foundation!

15/10/2016 – Screamland