27/10/2017 – Screamland at Dreamland Margate

After an absolutely roaring success and being the surprise of the season last year, I returned to Screamland with high expectations from The Paradise Foundation, Final Cut, and Dead & Breakfast, and I was so utterly destroyed by what I experienced: from the lack of signs for any haunt even though they all looked identical (except for Final Cut and Dead & Breakfast), complete lack of atmosphere despite having a stage where they could have had live bands, operators that didn’t realise Fast Track existed despite seeing our wristbands and tickets, and roaming actors from The Paradise Foundation despite it’s lack of appearance, Screamland was very much a 101 in how not to run a scream park.

Final Cut was the same as last year except it was missing actors, and the actors we did come into contact with did nothing more than stand stock still then take a step toward us. It also missed the iconic ticket booth and food stall scenes which could have been powerful, but they were absolutely dead – instead we were given two glowsticks and were told that the aliens would want to take them from us for unknown reasons but none of the actors went for it: I’m still none the wiser in what they were for, but oh well. The redeeming feature is that it hadn’t been changed theme wise, and the finale was still in tact if a bit lifeless given that the actors have an air gun and sparker in the same scene.

Like Final Cut, Dead & Breakfast couldn’t even shine a light on what it was last year: the acting was exceptionally weak after meeting with Fag Ash Lil’s replacement, with one actor saying “help me” and “get out” in the exact same sentence – two phrases that really bug me when there’s no context at all. There was also a distinct lack of actors throughout – I think I maybe counted 5 or 6 as I passed through, all of which were lifeless and the least threatening actors I’ve come across. I was also appalled to find out that my two favourite scenes of last year, the boiler room and the finale, were completely unused despite having to walk through both scenes! Why would you stop using something that was absolutely brilliant and unflawed?!

 

My mouth soured by the destruction of two great haunts, we pushed on to Brotherhood, a hooded attraction where you like try to join some secret society or something? I’ve no idea, there wasn’t any explanation. We first had to put on this white hood that covered everything but your eyes for hygiene purposes (first time I’ve ever had to do this in a hooded attraction…) then we were given another hood. We then entered and were greeted by a series of bizarre and unnecessary noises such as a wolf howling and someone yelling “mommy!” as loud as possible as an attempt to scare but were just so ridiculous given the context (or what little context there was), which only frustrated me to the point where I considered removing the hood and asking an actor to escort me out of the attraction; I stuck with it though to see if it got any better, and it really didn’t – we took our hoods off and we were told that our sins had failed us (but wait I thought we were trying to join a secret society) and that we must continue our journey through a Goddamn pitch black section without a hood! I’ve never been bored in a haunt before, but now I have.

 

Punchinello’s Revenge was up next and I honestly had no hope for this at all given that their mirror maze haunt last year wasn’t overly great. Bar Punch right at the beginning who was at least a little amusing, the actors were exceptionally annoying and added nothing to the story except confusion as the crocodile looked like a swamp monster from Scooby Doo and the baby looked like a potato with a face carved into it.

 

Festinos Festival of Freaks actually had a semi decent intro, but soured by four of the worst attractions I’ve experienced this Halloween, I just couldn’t get into it. As soon as we made our way into the haunt itself, I got so lost that I almost went into an actors rat run, I saw two actors run into each other in the strobe maze (really?!), and the safety announcement, “don’t come in if you want to be scared!”, didn’t make sense – or was it foreshadowing? Who knows. The only saving grace in here was the strobes, and even that wasn’t enough to salvage anything.

 

The Prop Shop was probably the best attraction here and all that was was three shipping containers stuck together and decorated with props from last years haunts! The photo finale was also probably the closest I was to being scared too, but even the photographer had to ask us to pretend to be scared for the photo, so take that how you will.

 

We finally made it to the last haunt at Screamland: The Legend of Crank Jack. Honestly quite an impressive introduction given how poor the others were, and I loved the use of light when the secret door opened, but given that we had to crawl almost the entire length of the haunt as clowns popped their heads in through hatches, it went back to being Screamland level bollocks once again as we passed through about 15 rooms that looked identical – the only saving grace was that the actor flaps never shut enough, so we were able to see through into backstage areas, one of which had the computer running all the lights, “effects”, and music in just out of reach. We also saw the group ahead of us enter into an actors rat run and stood there for what felt like forever for no reason what so ever: even the actor in the room we were in asked us, barely in character, why we had stopped.

 

It was over, and I couldn’t be more relieved. Usually I try to give some constructive feedback on the attractions as I go through, but the only thing I can suggest is to not do Screamland again: it was very much a case of Dreamland biting off more than it can chew and going for quantity over quality, which has never ever ever worked anywhere ever. Had they focussed on Final Cut and Dead & Breakfast alone they might have come out somewhat decent, but this? This was an absolute shitshow. The only scary thing here was how much the tickets cost.

27/10/2017 – Screamland at Dreamland Margate