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.

 

DSC_0822

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!

 

DSC_0823

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.

 

DSC_0829

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.

 

DSC_0830

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.

 

DSC_0839

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

21/10/2016 – Yorkshire Scare Grounds

After a quick re-shuffle of haunts due to timings (I really didn’t plan this tour at all…) I found that we had a date missing a haunt, so we decided to sneak this one in!

We were put in a group of 12 and were sent on our way through the scare grounds…

 

House of Arachnia – Mutation

The first haunt on the tour played on the fear of spiders. The character setting the scene was rather quiet and the voice he put on made it hard to understand what the story was, but I figured it had something to do with spiders taking over a house due to all the cobwebs everywhere.

It was a very basic haunt with few characters, most of which didn’t make sense whilst in there, but the bedroom scene has a really neat little trick that was kinda cool.

What was disappointing was that all the scares were aimed at the first person in the queue, meaning we got nothing right at the back and we started to get bored.

 

Forest of Freaks

As the name suggests, this theme was freaks in a forest. The forest itself was perfect for these clowns to run around without being seen, and they did that extremely well, but as with the haunt above, all the scares were aimed at the front of the queue. By this point we were so bored at the back that we started making the rest of the group jump to entertain ourselves.

 

The Chapter – Order of the Raven

With a sinister feel, I found this long-ish haunt rather interesting: we were constantly ducking between indoor and outdoor scenes but as with all the other haunts at this attraction, all the scares were aimed at the front of the group.

On a more positive note, the Raven’s costume was really impressive!

 

Lockdown – They’re Out!

This is where the haunts seemed to pick up a bit more.

Greeted by a soldier, we were given a nice long intro story to the haunt that set the tone. From actors that were hidden in plain sight through to the zombies banging on the fences as we went passed, it was a disorientating and complete sensory overload that had us on edge: we especially liked the use of water in this haunt as well! The only issue I had was the zombie wearing glasses: it just kinda broke the illusion a little.

 

The Tomb – Afterlife

This was, by far, the strongest haunt there. Themed around Ancient Egypt, we were led into a tomb that’s protected by a curse that comes to life as you progress through this clever and innovative haunt! The scenery throughout was incredibly detailed and at points it was impossible to tell the difference between a prop and an actor, which played to our disadvantage in the strobe maze! The tomb corridor was the highlight of the haunt and the attraction!

 

The attraction started off rather weak but definitely improved as you went through. If you do decide to go, try and work it so that you’re at the front of the conga line to get the most scares, and toward the back if you’re jumpy.

 

Also, definitely have a photo taken in their photo booth, and take a look around the gift shop – one of the actors draws as a hobby and was selling some pictures when we went through, and I got this amazing picture of an evil blue critter that I absolutely love!

IMAG0236.jpg

21/10/2016 – Yorkshire Scare Grounds