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Fright Nights 2019 – Thorpe Park

It’s another year, and as such another whole set of scare attractions and events to enjoy! This weekend saw the launch of Fright Night’s at Thorpe Park. We was happy to be in attendance on Saturday 28th, and among the first to experience this event in it’s true form. Fright Nights is an event often raved about by many theme park fans, and with the launch of a brand new scare attraction for 2019, dubbed the ‘resort’s scariest ever’ maze, what did we think?

Initial impressions of the event showed a much more organised system for 2019, with maze groups being double batched in many of the mazes, this meant queues moved faster, however it is clear there is still a huge mismanagement of Fastrack sales, where at times Fastrack queues were actually longer than the attraction’s main queue line. Unfortunately the park really lacked any form of Halloween feel for this years event, with  no park wide audio changes, except on a few rides. This meant a lot of the time the areas felt like a standard Thorpe Park day just on longer hours, there was a subtle halloween change of WWTP radio, however not enough to make a noticeable change of tone. The team behind Amity High are clearly very talented however the performance was detracted by a small stage area with no real surroundings, and at times felt like more of a cheap way to plug “Now TV” who were actively trying to encourage people to sign up to their subscription service. It’s no secret I detest this form of hard sale especially in the parks but this was especially noticable as it often clashed with the main attraction; It was felt that the show could benefit from just having a “Sponsored by NowTV” announcement at the start/end of the show, with the option to speak to NowTV rather than a hard sell street sales approach.

Onto the mazes. which have seen improvements for 2019. I am going to go from our least favourite to the best for the review.

5. The Walking Dead: Do or Die

Now before I get into this review, the first thing I am going to state is that the score from this review does not come from actor quality, the actors within the maze do an excellent job with the very limited resources they are given.

Do or Die returns for 2019, following a bland opening year, and while the maze has seen a number of small improvements, it continues to suffer from the same issues as 2018, with large open spaces with no actors, and horrible construction fences with black sheets on to cover the next corridor, except within the maze you can see under every corner before you reach it. Often we spotted what was going on ahead of us before we had even reached it. The indoor sections however were enjoyable – with some interesting setups.

In the same sense of 2018, the opening scene on the bus was the highlight of Do or Die, which otherwise is the maze I’d call the weakest from the event. Once we left the maze the entire group said we’d wasted 20 minutes (not long in Fright Nights wait times) waiting for it.

2.5/10

4.  The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare

Living Nightmare is known to often be the strongest maze in the lineup of Fright Nights, however having experienced the maze multiple times it unfortunately proved this year to be the 2nd weakest maze at the event.

The maze has not changed much except the shock ending has been replaced with a not seen before character in a dense area on the exit path, this then meant that the maze it’s self just came to a sudden end with no real ending. Actors within the maze appeared to be disengaged with the groups, including us walking in on them talking to each other before they realised we was there and “tried” to salvage it. On the first run through we also only received 1 actor in the entire strobe section.

There was some very good acting from other members of the cast, who rightfully deserve credit where it is due.

In the words of Negan (and Thorpe Park) – Living Nightmare needs to ‘get it’s s*** back’

4/10

3. Blair Witch

Blair Witch returns once again for 2019, the maze has improved from it’s initial form several years ago, which saw it run down a long bland path way. The maze begins around a setting near a tent, and there are 3 visible benches surrounding it, however we never approached the scene, instead being led out gradually by various props before being sent into the woods. The walkway into the woods proves slightly confusing with a 180 turn along a fence to begin, and with minimal actors in this area, before being led into the trees. The actors hidden within the trees do the very best they can with the space given with some of the group in front of me jumping at several points, however this is detracted a bit by the fact you are constantly being whipped in the face with real tree branches where the path has been cut very minimally. While I understand the maze is meant to be set in a woodland, the path could have been cleared slightly more to allow people to comfortably navigate the maze, often pushing the branches away detracted from the actors near by. The maze features a few very good sets. Blair Witch unfortunately in a similar vain to Living Nightmare and Do or Die however lacks a true “WOW” Finale and after the shed just comes to a halt very abruptly.

5/10

2. Creek Freak Massacre

On to this years newest addition, Creek Freak Massacre. The way to describe this is a cross over of Sub Species from Alton Towers, and Chop Shop at Tulleys Farm (Stay tuned for reviews from both events) but without the sheer intensity of either. It is clear Thorpe Park have spent the majority of this years event planning sorting Creek Freak Massacre. The initial first room , despite the need for a microphone is well executed, and the interactions in here really set the maze up for the rest of the event. As we progressed through the maze we encountered a number of blank spaces, but also several areas with a depth of actors, the interactions within the maze make it unpredictable and while it features multiple routes in places the layout is simple enough to understand. Theming in the maze is better than the previous aforementioned mazes which creates a better feel in the majority of the maze. The finale reminds myself of The Asylum from Thorpe Park’s earlier years.

7/10

1. Platform 15

Platform 15 remains by far the strongest maze of Fright Nights 2019,  growing every year. Platform 15 featured a large number of actors throughout, a creepily eerie atmosphere even in daylight, and the maze has seen a new finale added. The maze features a number of effects such as fire, and very clever uses of darkness to utilise and embrace the feeling of traveling down forbidden areas. Travelling along the pathway and through the village, the whole maze gives the feeling of a journey.

I also enjoyed receiving 2 different shows with both the introduction and finale proving different on my afternoon and evening run.

Platform 15 is the maze that saved Fright Nights 2019 for myself, and once again proved it is worthy of being the headline attraction.

8/10

Overall Fright nights is an event to visit if you are new to scare attractions, providing 2 strong mazes and several good introductory mazes for new starters. The mazes have seen some good improvements for 2019 and with progression and a few small tweaks could be pushed to go even further.

Things to be aware of: Fright Nights Mazes get very long queues with costly fastrack tickets, arrive early and prepare where you would like to go. Be sure to ride Stealth in the dark!

– Chris

What the team thought..

Christian:

The atmosphere around Thorpe Park for Fright Nights was virtually non-existent, there are a few areas that have had the odd skull or clown head dangling from a rope, or a white bin bag covered in fake blood hanging from some trees but apart from that there was no great theming or atmosphere.

It just felt like the park was open late & everything else was normally (apart from the additional maze attractions). The park really needed some proper roaming actors to go around the whole park & not just “High School Vampires” staying put in the Stealth Plaza.

Creak Freak Massacre:

Creak Freak Massacre is the new for 2019 maze at Thorpe Park which they are dubbing their “Most intense Maze in the history of Fright Nights”. Upon entering the area around Creak Freak you are greeted to the sound of screams & chainsaws revving before seeing people running out of the maze in fear. We entered the queue when it had an advertised queue of 45 mins but in total only spent around half an hour waiting.

It was hard to hear anything from the first actor who appeared to be telling us what we were in for but due to the noise inside we didn’t really have any idea what was coming. The maze was very well themed & had some great areas with well placed actors however it could have benefited from a few more. There was a bit of a “Sub Species” feel to it when at one point we were told to split up & take different routes as we entered the strobe section of the maze, this was probably the strongest part. This section was filled with actors & had a couple of areas with chainsaw wielding red necks to chase you through in between the strobes. Finally, you are then chased out by another chainsaw wielding red neck and the maze is over.

Overall Creak Freak Massacre is a decent maze for Thorpe Park & is a lot better than some of the other mazes they have on offer, we enjoyed it but didn’t feel it met Thorpe Park’s promise of “The most intense maze in the history of Fright Nights”.

Rating 7/10

Platform 15:

Platform 15 has been one of Thorpe Park stronger mazes in recent years and we were pleased to see it has returned again for Fright Nights 2019.

The beginning of the maze is the same as it has always been, on our run through we had a few more actors engaging as we strolled past the train & it was good to see fire being used again. We encountered a lot more actors as we made the walk round to the house before being jumped out on several occasions as we made our way to the tunnel.

The tunnel was dark & long as per normal however there were a lot more actors through out and just appeared out of nowhere in the dark which was excellent. We then reached the end of the tunnel & were held in a room with two actors in, this wasn’t the same ending as last year. A short little scene played out which has massively improved the ending of Platform 15.

Overall the maze is very similar to previous years but with the minor improvements to the ending & the amount of actors in our run through it is still one of the best mazes Thorpe Park have produced in recent years. It was probably our favourite run maze of Fright Nights 2019.

Rating 8/10

TWD: Living Nightmare:

The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare returns to Fright Nights for it’s 3rd season. Previously this maze has been very well themed & has featured a good number of actors scattered around making it a very good maze.

We decided to try Living Nightmare as our first maze of 2019 due to it normally being so popular. The beginning section with Negan is very much the same as previous years. You carry on the normal route through which felt like it seriously lacked actors on our first run through, there was the old walker appearing but once you were past that was it. We carried on through until we got to the strobe section, on our first run through there was only 1 actor in the whole section which was a let down, the second run through we walked through to find 2 actors completely out of character & having a chat before realising there were guests coming through the maze & then changed into character – not good!

The ending for this year has changed to include the Whisperers from the latest series. There are moments where a few actors appeared out of bushes with walker masks on however we were disappointed by the ending.

Living Nightmare this year was no-way near as good as it’s been in previous years, our group came out feeling rather let down. There were lots of dead spaces just walking through with no actors in & the ending was poor.

Rating 4/10

TWD: Do or Die:

The Walking Dead: Do or Die hasn’t really been on of Thorpe Park’s strongest mazes since it’s been part of the line-up, it’s been very hit & miss.

Well 2019 was no different for this Maze.

The bus scene at the very start is probably the best part of the whole maze, you come off of the bus to a very open area, and on our run through featured no actors at all making it feel like wasted space. There were some changes to the maze however which featured going through a container with two different paths (similar to how it was done in My Bloody Valentine), the next section was all outdoors again with a few actors but hardly any considering the space. We then had the bland fence dividers where you could see any actors coming before they got to you ruining the “Jump Scare” element. The second container was filled with smoke & featured some good moments of jump scares before the maze ended.

Do or Die is one of the weakest mazes of Thorpe Park’s line up, there was so much space but it was just dead space with no actors to be seen, the new sections give it a minor improvement but we were completely disappointed by this maze.

Rating 2/10

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