13/05/2018 – Room Escape Southend: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

Room Escape Southend return once more with another elaborate theme to add to their ever growing list of horror themed escape rooms, and this one is no different! Transported to an Egyptian dig, our task is to find someone who went missing during an excavation of an ancient tomb where an evil curse has been unleashed and it’s down to us to save the rest of the planet from the evil Mummy!

Once more, the team have done an outstanding job in turning their room from a haunted apartment into an Egyptian wonderland in a short space of time, and it’s obvious how much effort has gone into this room from the moment you enter; however, unlike all the other rooms they’ve done, there’s one huge change they’ve made here: there are no padlocks anywhere – everything is done automatically, which is a huge step forward for the room as every other room we’ve been to has mainly used padlocks. Not only have the padlocks gone but the games are vastly different, with each game feeling more like The Crystal Maze or Jungle Run than what the rooms have been in the past, which has helped make this room feel fresh.

The ante has also been raised with the number of “rooms” or sections in this – there are a number of areas that you need to visit in order to be able to escape the room with some clues and pieces for some of the puzzles appearing randomly throughout the game. Whilst it’s not as mentally challenging as some of the other rooms, the puzzles require a more logical and mechanical approach and require plenty of teamwork, communication, and a solid leader for the puzzles to come together in time – this sounds pretty straight forward, but given that there are moments where you will be isolated from the group potentially in pitch black, this becomes tougher and tougher to remember!

I honestly was not expecting this room from Southend Room Escape, but I’m thrilled with it – with so many changes made to the way the room works, it really felt like a brand new experience altogether!

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13/05/2018 – Room Escape Southend: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

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

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!

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21/10/2016 – Yorkshire Scare Grounds