Scarefest returned to Alton Towers Resort this weekend promising a whole range of Halloween entertainment from family frights to extreme scares. With a brand new scare maze, new family maze, and a new scare zone joining this year’s line-up alongside the return of some Scarefest classics TowersTimes takes a look at all 2016’s event has to offer.
The newest scare maze to join the Scarefest line-up is Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers. Set in the now disused mines of Altonville guests are taken deep into the mineshafts to discover the truth behind the stories that it was once home to a family of outcasts who harboured a dark secret. Right from the entrance of the attraction the high level of attention to detail is clearly evident and all throughout there is an impressive amount of theming which means you are fully immersed in the maze. The route you take is filled with a mix of rooms and tight corridors all of which combine to help build the suspense and give the actors plenty of scope to interact with both the guests and the sets within the maze. All of the actors give very theatrical and convincing performances from the first characters you encounter at the mine entrance, right through to the final scenes of the maze. Many of the characters are very hands on as they deliver the scares, something which for many people adds to the intensity. Perhaps one of the most interesting features is the use of helmet mounted lights which are given to three guests in each group. Using technology provided by Haunted Lantern these lights are remotely controlled so that at various points throughout the maze they flicker or are turned off completely adding to the sense of tension, and anticipation about where the next scare will come from. It is clear that Alton Towers Resort’s newest maze is one with a very good concept which has been well executed and further builds on the excellent additions made to last year’s line-up.
Another excellent addition to this year’s event is House of Monsters. The family maze is set in the former Wobble World building and sees guests join a monster hunting vlogger on his quest to discover the truth about residents of a disused house. Using a room by room walkthrough format (similar to that used in Shrek’s Adventure and The Dungeons), guests make their way through a series of rooms, each one occupied by one of the residents of the house. Each room is its own mini show and also includes interactive tasks which guests need to complete in order to be able to progress through the attraction. All of the rooms within House of Monsters are themed to an incredibly high level of detail and all of the actors within give lively and well balanced performances meaning there is the perfect balance of fun and mild scares all the way through. Every element of the maze is equally as strong as the other meaning there are no real weak areas evident. At approximately 25-30 minutes long it is also a substantial length of time for an attraction of its type and this, combined with all the other elements means it is easily one of the best attractions to have ever been included in Scarefest.
Returning for another year is classic scare maze Terror of the Towers: What Lies Within, and last year’s new maze Sub Species: The End Games. Both mazes have retained the same basic storylines with some minor tweaks being made to the interior structure of each maze. Terror of the Towers has seen the removal of the overhead bridge from the chapel scene and this room is now all on ground level with some raised platforms for the actors to utilise to move from one area of the room to another. Sub Species: The End Games has had one of the two endings removed with just the chainsaw ending being used for this year. Whilst it is a shame in some respects that the more theatrical of the two endings has been lost, this has allowed for the area where guests exit the maze to be much more open with just low barriers instead of the high metal fencing seen last year. This allows for guests to observe others exiting the maze and see an interesting mix of reactions to the ending. Both mazes have retained the excellent performances from all of the actors, with Sub Species: The End Games in particular seeming to have increased the intensity compared to last year. Across all three scare mazes it is evident that the high production values seen last year have been maintained and as a result the Resort have an incredibly strong line-up of mazes.
Alongside the mazes the Resort also have two scare zones. Returning from last year and located in Forbidden Valley Dark Apocalypse once again sees the area infested with zombies infected with a deadly virus and this year has had a small amount of new theming elements added. New for 2016 and located on the path between Spinball Whizzer and X-Sector is Freak Show. Featuring an array of circus themed set pieces and brightly costumed freaks, the Resort’s newest scare zone provides a good mix of fun and frights. Both zones help to create the ideal eerie atmosphere after the sun sets.
No Scarefest would be complete without a selection of family entertainment which takes place throughout the day. As guests enter at the start of the day the Alton Ancestors have once again taken over Towers Street bringing their own unique dance routine as part of their regular flash mobs, and this year sees them perform a routine to a new mash-up of music. In between performances the Ancestors interact with guests as they enter the Resort helping to establish a fun and spooky atmosphere right from the start. From 2pm the Ancestors take up residence in Gloomy Wood meaning the area comes alive as guests are encouraged to join in and engage with the Ancestors as they pass through the area. The Freaky Four have also returned once more with a selection of shows on the Trick or Treat Stage located on the Front Lawn opposite the entrance to CBeebies Land. With regular performances throughout the day, Franklyn; Patch; Skelvin and Phil, along with a few friends provide fun a lively shows which are ideal for younger families to enjoy.
As is usual the Resort has been decorated with a whole host of suitable spooky decorations. Towers Street is adorned with bunting, pumpkins and scarecrows, and when darkness descends some of the Resort’s well known rides are lit up with suitably coloured lights all of which contribute to the Halloween atmosphere. The Halloween festivities aren’t just confined to the Theme Park. Over at the Resort hotels there’s a full programme of evening entertainment headlined by The Fabulous Scott Family with a brand new Scarefest show featuring a range of popular songs in two 45 minute sets each night.