Once again, sorry it’s late. I had good intentions to do this earlier but failed miserably (real life’s been kicking my butt!)
Anyways, on 30th October a friend and I hit up the London Bridge Experience and Tombs for “Phobophobia: The Freaks” after seeing pretty creepy photos EVERYWHERE in London for it. I had been aware of the London Bridge Experience for quite some time (as far back as when The London Dungeons was opposite it) but had never made any real effort to go, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity.
So! Phobophobia is the annual, week long, adult only experience that, whilst isn’t billed as an extreme haunt, is definitely billed as one (see the links above). I simply had to give this a go, and my accompanying friend (Russ) wants to get involved with more haunts after I talked his ears off about McKamey Manor. This year was split into two sections: a free-walk experience and a queued experience.
The experience began upon arrival. If you have been to the London Bridge Experience, you’ll know that you queue up in a tunnel that has cute little paintings of rats on the floor, as if they’re scuttling about. They also had the Phobophobia logo rotating on the wall of the tunnel opposite the queue, and had a few actors walking up and down the queue, some intimidating guests and others handing out/selling sweets and glowsticks, much to my annoyance. You’re entering an event that’s designed to be scary, why are you ruining it with glowsticks?!
Our turn quickly came. We handed in our tickets and joined an internal queue where we were penned in. As soon as our group reached 15, we were soon invited into the pre-show room, where a creepy ringmaster told us of his travelling freakshow and his cannibalistic freak family. We were made to crawl two abreast through a 200m long tunnel lit up with UV light that ended up being a u-turn around the first freak, who yelled abuse through the caged tunnel wall (“you have a nice arse” being the only one I remember)
we exited the tunnel and stood up, powerwalking through a darkened corridor a bit to catch up with the rest of the group who had hit somesort of medical room. I tried to get closer to the person on the operating table to see if he/she was real (she wasn’t) but I was soon “attacked” by a freak with a knife who simply pushed me away from the scenery.
Our tour continued through an outside setting, where silhouettes clawed at the walls whilst we ducked and weaved through dirty laundry hanging from washing lines at head height whilst strobes at eye-level blinded us.
Another scene appeared in front of us: somesort of death thing. We had no real idea what was going on here, but I guess the dead were coming back to life. What I do know is an actor launched herself into an upright position whilst in the coffin next to us; she was then shot and “killed” again. This was an unexpected scare that got everyone around us, but I couldn’t help but laugh and clap.
We continued through our tour and found ourselves in a tavern run by the family of freaks. Two rather attractive but tortured twins sat in the bar and warned us to either order a drink or they’ll call daddy. Daddy was called and all the lights went out. All of a sudden, the revving of a chainsaw was heard from where we came, a strobelight blared and daddy chased us out of the tavern.
The next part was, in my opinion, the best bit of the tour: the vortex tunnel. This baby was about 100m long and, I can’t be sure, but I think the bridge was either tilted a little, or tilted as you went along. Either way, everyone was holding on for dear life and all leaning in one direction. This is probably the only bit in the whole 40 minute experience that got everyone.
We were then taken down a flight of stairs and had our photo taken before being queued up for part 2 where we had to hold onto the person in front’s shoulders (I personally hate these kinda mazes).
This was probably the weakest bit of the whole thing, despite it lasting 20 minutes and made everyone scream. I also really don’t remember any of it as it had absolutely no storyline and was completely void of actors, though the detail in the props was fantastic.
Most of this part was dark, though this was ruined by the glowsticks everyone had bought. We basically walked through corridor after corridor of dismembered body parts that were at head height which was a little creepy when they “looked” at you.
The next bit was a jungle scene or something with zombie animatronics and a huge spider that just kinda flailed its front legs around.
After, we entered a corridor made of wood where a huge behemoth that didn’t look too unlike The Thing from Fantastic Four just kinda stood, staring. The corridors after were very twisty and claustrophobic.
The next scene was a graveyard which had a perfect scare opportunity for a sparker with an axe to attack us, but nothing happened.
To tie it loosely back in with the freakshow theme, they had a bit dedicated to the circus. It was cleverly done, with the room divided up into 16 squares with circus tent fabric dividing each square up, which added to the disorientation. This scene was completely under utilized – they totally could have had clowns or actors in there acting demented, but they only had a cot with a doll in it and nothing else.
The final scene was a butchers block with another chainsaw scare that lasted so long it became awkward. I shrugged at the actor when he failed to scare me and was rewarded by getting a chainsaw to the balls.
In my honest opinion, the scariest bit of this part of the experience was the lack of actors. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but none of it was scary: the scares were aimed at the front of the queue and repeated again at the back, there were a few claustrophobia chambers that were poorly executed (they came up to shoulder height and were so stiff they just became a nuisance), fake scares where props were placed behind walls so you saw them out the corners of your eyes (there were enough that I thought the one in the strobe room was gunna be real… nope).
I can kinda see why they wanted adults only, but the description of the event was extremely misleading. I guess if you’re absolutely brand new to boo haunts and have no idea what to expect from them, then this would be a good show, otherwise I’d say not to bother.
As a bonus, they had a reptile room where they had snakes of various sizes (from 2kg through to 30kg), an iguana, and something else. We spent about 45 minutes in there because the little snake I held wrapped itself around my neck and fell asleep on me, and I felt guilty for wanting to wake him up. This was definitely the highlight of the event.