Scarefest 2018 saw the debut of brand new scare maze, Project 42. Inviting guests to become ‘valiant volunteers’ and assist in the search for the technician who holds the cure to a deadly virus, Project 42 was the latest addition to an already impressive scare maze line-up. TowersTimes were invited to take an exclusive behind the scenes look at Alton Towers Resort’s latest Scarefest maze.
Located in Forbidden Valley, Project 42 used the building which has previously been home to Nemesis Sub Terra. Constructing a scare maze within an existing ride building presented a series of unique challenges for the Resort, including how to work around the attraction machinery which is still housed in the building, and there being limited opportunities for actor runs within the maze. From the outside it would appear that not much has changed from the building’s previous incarnation, with just the addition of some temporary structures designed to have the appearance that they have been hastily constructed by Phalanx operatives to help contain the deadly virus. However, once inside, the building has been almost completely transformed using some fantastically detailed sets.
Guests started their Project 42 mission with a short pre-show consisting of a video briefing. Whilst this video does help to establish the storyline of the maze, being located in a narrow tent means that those who found themselves at the back of the group may have found it difficult to see and therefore missed this key part of the maze. Once briefed, guests then proceed down what was part of the queue line for Nemesis Sub Terra, which included a number of additional videos giving further information about the deadly virus, before going through the ‘decontamination’ area which led to the first section of the maze set within the ride building. Once inside, guests encounter several different sections of the Phalanx facility, from the armoury and animal testing areas, through to a series of laboratories, all of which are created using some highly detailed sets which pay attention to even the smallest details so guests really got the feeling they were in a working facility. The maze culminates in another area which has been constructed as a temporary extension to the existing ride building, which uses multiple levels in an attempt to make the guest feel that they have become the target of the Phalanx operatives. There was the option of placing an actor on one of the higher levels, however this was not utilised with the actors instead focusing on delivering the scares at ground level. Those who experienced Nemesis Sub Terra will recognise many areas of the attraction, including the lifts, end maze section, and of course the Nemesis Creature’s egg, all of which have been incorporated almost seamlessly into the maze.
The eagle eyed amongst the guests might have spotted just a few little Easter eggs within the maze with several references to the classic sci-fi novel and film, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, including appearances from Marvin the Paranoid Android, and a handy guide to the many uses of a towel. There are also some nods to former scare mazes within the detail of the set, with posters from The Sanctuary amongst those featured. There’s even a reference to Nemesis Sub Terra with the name of the deadly virus – B10: NST, using the former attraction’s initials.
Of course what really brings a scare maze to life are the actors who lie within, and Project 42 features a suitably scary cast of characters, from Phalanx operatives to infected zombies. As with all of Alton Towers Resort’s scare mazes, careful attention to detail is evident in the actors’ costume and make-up, with special effects used to create the varying degrees of infection. All of the actors gave some strong performances throughout the Scarefest 2018 run, however it was a shame that there weren’t more of them within the maze as, at times, some areas felt empty through not having an actor there, meaning the maze was unable to create the intensity it had the potential to. However, given the challenges and unique space the maze was set within, Project 42 proved to be a good addition to the 2018 Scarefest line-up, and has established a good foundation on which to build should the maze return for 2019’s event.