This review may include a few spoilers from films and the mazes! Readers beware…
With our Merlin Pass this year came the added bonus of attending the preview evening for Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights 2013. Last night James and I spent 3 and a half hours screaming our way through mazes of pure thrilling fun.
This was a preview event, therefore the number of tickets allocated may have been reduced compared to a regular day. (Pass holders still needed to book a free ticket online to attend). Therefore the park may be busier and queues more intolerable like last year. But I can categorically say this was 100% better than last year’s disaster.
I’ll now review each fright nights attraction in the order we partook in them;
Cabin in the Woods
This was the one I was most excited for, finally a maze that would work like an actual maze. You choose the route, you get lost, you can succeed. Well, kind of.
Location: Behind ‘X’. If coming from Colossus you will need to go around the left when you reach the blocked off path. The queue line is signposted with the open and close time / maze information.
Thorpe’s Scare Rating: 4 star
My Scare Rating: 4 star
On queuing the Zombie Redneck Family, the killers chosen in the film, entertain with a few scares but mostly Jeremy Kyle style slanging matches. Spitting, slurring, un-conditioned hair, it felt like Tuesday Morning on ITV. The scares were there for anyone prepared to turn their back to them. These actors were okay, kept us slightly more entertained as we approached the entrance, but weren’t particularly scary.
You enter through the cave which in the film is the border between the regular world and the ‘cabin’ world. This is still a part of the queue line (please, single middle aged men attending along, don’t think you can use this as an excuse to hold the shoulders of the 15 year old boy in front of you, pure creepy). But it isn’t long before you are greeted by a Thorpe worker. She quickly explains the usual spill about not touching them, they won’t hurt you, keep moving, but the extra detail of you chose which door you go through then shut the door behind you.
The great thing of this is you go in in your groups, two or three at a time. This will only flop if you are an unfortunate couple queuing behind a creepy middle aged man on his own, and then you are forced to take a stranger with you.
However our experience of the maze started the flop when groups start colliding with each other in rooms with multiple doors. We managed to lose creepy single guy but ended up tagged onto a group of about 8. The element of choosing your door lost as you follow behind other people.
If you are lucky you can find the control room, what you do there I do not know as we didn’t find it. And if you don’t find it expect a unfulfilling exit. No big scare, and a clear view of the props next door. (It was a little too obvious, makes me wonder if the control room was actually though there.) You walk through the entrance where others are being given the welcome talk, really cuts down the atmosphere.
The main thing though, the scares, were great. We saw doll face and pumpkin head people who were both really creepy. A guy waving a chain around. A guy outside the lift with a massive white afro who I may have accidently kicked (sorry!) and a guy covered in blood who really liked James.
In all, the variety of monsters was good, the chose your own path element needs to be worked on, but overall a fun maze.
We had done this once before when it was new, back when they had it open all year round and it wasn’t fright nights on our last visit.
Location: To the left of the Saw: The Ride entrance. This maze has it’s own purpose built building, queue line is built the same as Saw: The Ride’s cage.
Thorpe’s Scare Rating: 4 star
My Scare Rating: 5 star
The queue had no actor interaction. At one point a guy with a large cone to his mouth was shouting instructions to the cast of ‘extras’ at the edge of the queue, however you could only hear him when the cone was pointed at you and he spent the whole time waving it around so no one understood what was happening.
This is an old school maze, hands on shoulders and walking though in groups of 8. After the mandatory photo that no one buys were we lead into a security room with two loud mouth American police officers. “Backs against the wall now!” Walking in in a line meant I couldn’t fit my back against the wall and so was singled out the push the button to start the game. James’ laughter had him singled out too and was ultimately picked to lead our group. (Serves you right for laughing!)
This is a great maze. Scenes from the film are there before your eyes. Actors scream with terror, one poor girls had her foot mangled up in some device, and there are a fair few jumps. One section of this maze has strobe lighting and cages like the asylum. One actor lies above your heads and grabs at those underneath, I was crouching away from him as James at the front got stuck within the cages.
This is where the problem in my review lies. Neither of us could remember the end to this maze. Unfortunately it couldn’t have been that effective if it was so unforgettable however we did come out laughing.
The Blair Witch Project
We were going to do this before Saw but the Thorpe Park attendants informed us this wouldn’t open until it was dark enough. On our return the queue snaked back past the hot dog stand. No formal queue line set up.
Location: At the back of the park to the left of Burger King, opposite the Rocky Express.
Thorpe’s Scare Rating: 2 star
My Scare Rating: 1 star
This one was very different to the rest, I guess this is why it is referred to as a scare zone rather than a scare maze. To put it short, it is a walk in the dark. About 3 actors in black hoodies hide in the bushes, one actor stands still and cries for help. That is all. The 3 actors seemed to wait the same amount of time between scares as the girls behind us got the scare each time. At the exit you walk through a cabin with red handprints on the walls and then you leave…
I expect there was meant to be an actor in the cabin and it would probably be more scary if you weren’t walking through in a long line. It is okay, nice walk through the woods, but don’t expect scares.
My Bloody Valentine
I caught James by surprise by saying I wanted to do this next, this was the one advertised that we would get split up. But we had to go for it. We did Experiment 10 last year and were expecting a similar experience, and to be honest it was.
Location: The arena, to the right of ‘X’.
Thorpe’s Scare Rating: 5 star
My Scare Rating: 3 star
On joining the queue we approached a slow walking man grasping the railings. James hoped past him and I followed, he was an actor dressed as a Miner. Another was hidden among the queue freaking people out. This was the longest queue for us, but the actors helped pass the time. Two actresses crawled around on the arena seats screaming for each other and yelling at the miners to leave them alone. The miners would then chase the girls around until they were out of sight and would reappear elsewhere. It was a good build up.
At the front of the queue we were placed into a group of 10-12. We were told that this was a free walking maze, no shoulder holding woo! Then we were greeted by a very happy chappy in a helmet who introduced our ‘tour’ to the mines and explained who this Harry character was. This was good for the story and felt we had a reason for being inside this maze. Quickly this escalated to actors screaming “Harry is coming” and grabbing out at us.
We approached the same stopping point where last year we were picked off and put into cubicles (last year James and I still ended up together). This year as we approached a couple were refusing to let go of each other. The actor spent too long on them and the couple ahead of us, James and I, and a girl behind me all slipped past in a group of 5. (The girl behind us had her boyfriend ripped away from her.) This led to a less than usual experience as we ran past all the cubicles and another actor had to direct us through one cubicle and straight out the other side. We were then led to the crawling tunnel (same as The Passing last year) before continuing the scare maze.
The exit was mundane, not much jumped out on the final part of this maze and we walked out fine. The mix up at the cubicles meant a less than satisfactory experience as I still felt the safety of having James with me. This was billed as the scariest maze but I tend to disagree, perhaps if I’d seen the film it would have been more atmospheric.
The ultimate scare maze returns. The only maze without a horror movie theme, The Asylum speaks for itself.
Location: The Showcase, opposite the Ranger’s Carousel.
Thorpe’s Scare Rating: 4 star
My Scare Rating: 5 star
The queue line had two actresses dressed as Asylum patients to entertain us. One very young looking actress refused to pose for photos as others held up their phones, but suddenly changed her mind as she passed a small girl with her family. She was also messing with the Thorpe Park worker at the front of the queue. A second actress stayed at the front of the queue and acted as if no one else was there, climbing over fixtures, rolling around the floor and, as soon as we were being told instructions for the maze, scrapped the railings.
James and I were the last to join this group, however as we stepped up to the door we somehow became at the front! To be honest, I think James had this maze the best by being at the front. Every actress stopped him, one stood in front of him for ages with her arm in her mouth. (The previous group was too close to us). This maze is a holding shoulder one, which we decided must be because of the strobe lighting. I was beginning to worry about it toward the end and could not imagine how the actresses work in that environment.
The end was a let down for us, the added shower curtains on the final stretch was good to add anticipation. But then the final actor with the chainsaw appeared, he walked straight past us, and then we walked out. We lost the rest of the group, who knows what happened after that, but we had finished our route. But we were satisfied as the rest of the journey was brilliant.
We then had a chance to run around to Nemesis Inferno which is fabulous in the dark. The mist in the tunnel was so dense. I would love to go to Thorpe Park during a regular evening just for the rides.
Oh, I forgot to mention this. That is because I cannot be sure it existed on Friday Night.
The only thing that may have been You’re Next actors were three friends walking past the Saw queue line in animal masks, one had an over the head horse mask. The other two I don’t remember. I know guests shouldn’t have been wearing masks, but perhaps these three friends were? Anyhow, if this was meant to promote Lionsgate’s latest horror it really didn’t work. Perhaps contain these actors in one place? It is a little disappointing that Thorpe choose the You’re Next characters as the main image in the publicity but there was no presence by them at all.
So in conclusion, my favourite was Saw as this had a bit of everything (despite shoulder holding). Cabin in the Woods could be better but as the first maze with options to your route I am excited for what could come in the future. Blair Witch lost the atmosphere as too many were going through together. My Bloody Valentine was just Experiment 10 without the big finale. And The Asylum is epic as always! It is worth a visit this year, but be aware the queues can be horrendous. I can’t wait to see what Thorpe does next!