Scarefest has returned to Alton Towers Resort for another year packed full of spooky fun, frights, and thrills. With a brand new scare maze – Project 42; the return of some previous favourites; new entertainment; and the first chance to experience Wicker Man in the dark, TowersTimes headed to the Resort for the opening day of Scarefest 2018 to discover everything this year’s event has to offer.

New for 2018 is Project 42. Located in the former Nemesis Sub Terra building in Forbidden Valley, the maze invites guests to take on the role of ‘valiant volunteers’ tasked with the job of entering the underground Phalanx compound to rescue the technician and find the cure to a deadly infection. The attraction features some incredibly detailed sets which completely transform the Nemesis Sub Terra building and sets up opportunities for the actors to achieve some good scares. One area of the attraction which could do with some improvement is the very start which relies on guests watching a short video, however, due to the small room this is shown in, anyone towards the back of the group may struggle to see what is shown. Whilst some runs on the event’s opening day were not the most intense, the maze definitely has the potential to improve as Scarefest goes on and increase in intensity.

Following its debut in 2017, The Welcoming: Be Chosen returns for a second year, once again inviting guests into the mysterious world of The Beornen. The maze has received a number of changes for 2018, including a reworked route which has seen the hooded section removed, and a number of other areas of the maze made to feel more confined or enclosed. The finale has also been reworked and achieves a much better and more consistent effect than last year. Throughout the maze the stunning sets and scenery once again help guests feel as if they really have been transported to a different world, and enhance the theatricality of the attraction. All of the elements combine to offer a more intense experience than in 2017, and one which will hopefully see the maze be well received by guests.

Also making a return are Sub Species: The End Games and Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers, both of which have become Scarefest staples. Now in its fourth year, Sub Species: The End Games has had a welcome refresh for 2018. The labyrinth section has been slightly expanded with the addition of new dead ends meaning it is possible to get genuinely lost! It has also received new theming in the first section, helping to enhance the atmosphere inside as well as keep it fresh for those guests who may have experienced the maze in previous years. Both endings have been retained, although there did seem to be some variation in the number of actors in each, but this is something which no doubt can be easily rectified. Altonville Mine Tours: Uncover the Legend of the Skin Snatchers has remained largely unchanged for its third year as part of the Scarefest line-up, with just a couple of minor changes made to help maintain the overall experience. As in the previous two years, the cast worked incredibly hard within the maze to ensure it remains a strong part of the line-up.

Making a welcome return to Scarefest is the family friendly attraction, House of Monsters. This year sees the addition of a new room featuring new characters Gill and Fred, as well as changes to the rooms featuring Skeleton John and Venom. These changes, alongside some consistently high quality performances, help to keep this excellent attraction fresh and the ideal experience for younger guests.

As well as the mazes, there’s also a range of family entertainment adding to the overall Scarefest atmosphere. The Freaky Fun Zone has returned to Fountain Square having previously been located on the lawns at the bottom of Towers Street. For 2018 the Freaky Four have become the Freaky Five with Franklyn; Phil; Skelvin; and Patch welcoming Gretyl the Witch to the gang to join in the spooktacular fun. Featuring a packed schedule of live shows, the Freaky Fun Zone provides a full range of fun and interactive shows throughout the day, ranging from game shows and storytelling, through to live music from the Freaky Funk Squad. Having the Freaky Fun Zone back in Fountain Square helps create a great Halloween atmosphere to that area of the theme park, something which has been missing in the years when the Fun Zone was moved to the bottom of Towers Street.

Of course no Scarefest would be complete without the Alton Ancestors who return with their unique dance routines and flash mobs throughout the day – in the morning at the bottom of Towers Street, then later on over in Gloomy Wood. Whilst 2018 doesn’t see any official scare zones, in a surprise move, some of the cast of Freak Show have made a comeback in the form of a travelling cast who appear in front of the Towers Ruins at several points during the afternoon and evening and provides some great interactions with guests, adding to the atmosphere in that area of the park. Also adding to the Scarefest atmosphere are the Ghost Pirates in Mutiny Bay, and Galactica Airways over in Forbidden Valley.

For the first time CBeebies Land is also joining in with the Halloween fun with the CBeebies Land Monster Ball. Performed daily at 1:30pm in Big Fun Show Time, the Monster Ball sees an impressive range of CBeebies Land characters, including Postman Pat; Ubercorn; Hey Duggee; Tree Fu Tom; Iggle Piggle and Upsie Daisy and more. With this seasonal addition to the live entertainment line-up in CBeebies Land, it means that Scarefest has something for all members of the family during the Halloween season.

With the Resort open until 9pm, Scarefest offers guests the opportunity to experience many of the theme park’s rides and attractions in the dark, including Wicker Man for the first time. The Resort’s first wooden rollercoaster has had additional lighting installed which, when combined with the flame effects on the Wicker Man structure, creates an extremely impressive sight with many guests simply standing and watching the ride throughout the evening.

As is usual, Towers Street has been adorned with a variety of decorations, including bunting, scarecrows and pumpkins, as well as the giant letters spelling out Scarefest at the bottom of Towers Street. The Scarefest hearse occupies its usual spot opposite the Resort Box Office, although it is a shame that only four of the Freaky Five feature wth new character Gretyl missing from the hearse. With her succesful debut, hopefully she will feature in future seasons. Across the park a variety of new audio also plays, helping to create a suitably spooky atmosphere.

Alton Towers have put together an impressive event for Scarefest 2018, building on the successes of previous years, as well as adding new elements to keep things fresh. Whilst there was the odd teething issue, there was nothing that couldn’t be easily ironed out as the event continues. It is great to see the attractions spread across the theme park, something which helps contribute to the creation of a good atmosphere, and an event where there is something for everyone to enjoy – from the youngest family member in CBeebies Land, right through to the more intense experiences of the Resort’s four scare mazes. It is a testament to the hard work of the Resort’s Entertainments and Operations Teams that the Resort have such an impressive event for 2018.

Are you planning a visit to Scarefest this Halloween season? Make sure you share your thoughts and join in the discussion over on the TowersTimes and SouthParks Forum. Alton Towers Resort from another point of view!

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