In the depths of Gloomy Wood, a collection of research looking at the reanimation of the dead had been left behind by a missing scientist inside an old haunted house. With the haunted house is striking back, guests needed to take up their blasters and prepare to Duel!
- Location: Gloomy Wood
- Manufacturer: Mack Rides
- Type: Interactive Dark Ride
- Cost: £3 million
- Track Length: 300m
- Max. Speed: Approx 5km/h
- Passengers per Car: 5
- Capacity: 1296 riders per hour
- Duration: 6 min 15 secs
- Opening Year: 2003 (5th April)
- Closing Year: 2022 (6th September)
Your journey began as you entered the old haunted house through the large front doors. The walls were lined with various dusty cobwebs and many paintings. Guests may just have suddenly felt like they were being watched…
As they entered the next room, the contorted floor was (until its last years of operation) raised and lowered in various areas giving the impression that the entire room was on a slope. The old dolls house was occupied by the ghost of a little girl called Emily Alton, the preserved hand on the mantelpiece occasional twitched, the pages of the various books would turn themselves and even the old rocking horse appeared to be rocking itself! Some guests even claimed to have seen the portraits which line the walls come to life…
Guests then proceeded into a dimly lit loading area, where five people were batched into a car. Once seated and the lapbars had lowered, the cars vanished under a curtain into the depths of the house. Time to Duel!
Each seat came equipped with a blaster and a scoreboard. Throughout the house, there were a plethora of green lights to shoot at to rack up your score. There were also several yellow lights throughout the course of the ride which would give riders a nice dosage of bonus points! Upon shooting a target it would momentarily turn red, becoming immune to being shot again.
Riders would be taken through various scenes including a dining hall, a swamp and graveyard and even a dizzying trommel tunnel! There would be a ghost, ghoul or even a giant spider lurking in the shadows around every corner, so guests would have to keep their eyes peeled. There was also a well hidden on ride photo camera towards the end of the ride!
After braving their journey and duelling against the undead, riders would disembark from the ride car in a separate unloading area and make their way down the exit ramp, past yet more peculiar paintings and the on-ride photo shop, before emerging into the Spooks R Us shop and back out into the clearing of Gloomy Woods.
Alongside the Runaway Mine Train, the Haunted House was a brand new attraction to open its doors in 1992. This year saw a huge development for the park, introducing the two brand new rides as well as two brand new areas in the form of Katanga Canyon and Gloomy Woods, where the Haunted House resided.
Throughout development, the Haunted House consistently proved to be a huge technological innovation. Unlike other dark ride transit systems, the Haunted House worked on a conveyor type system to which the cars didn’t stop to load and unload people. This system was created to remove the element of lost surprise that was given away by clearly being able to see the ride car ahead of you.
When the press event for the Haunted House came around, it was discovered that the ride wouldn’t be able to run due to needing new parts from German based manufacturer, MACK Rides. With twenty minutes until the broadcast went live, John Wardley came up with the idea of dressing staff members as undertakers and having them sat in the ride car along with passengers in order to continuously reset each ride car’s computer for the system to work. This worked much better than Wardley had hoped, with the news crews commenting it was a nice touch without even realising the truth purpose of the undertakers!
The Haunted House remained an iconic attraction ten years on after its opening into 2002, however it soon became apparent that change was coming for 2003. Brand new props were brought in, a brand new storyline was introduced and ride vehicles were installed with blasters and scoreboards. Duel – The Haunted House Strikes Back, was born!
Duel also underwent seasonal changes during the Scarefest season of 2008. The blasters and targets were turned off, and live actors were placed at regular intervals around the ride, creating Duel: Live. In 2010, Duel: Live was changed and became Skelvin’s Haunted Adventure, based around the friendly Scarefest mascot, Skelvin.
Over the 2017/18 closed season, Duel was subject to some refurbishment works as part of the Resort’s Towers Loving Care programme. On the attraction’s exterior, the ivy was cleared from the façade, whilst the crypt also saw a new resident added. The queue-line saw the addition of some moving portraits which replace the TV screens which used to play the backstory to the ride. Much of the ride was also repainted with neon and UV paint, which was complemented with UV lighting. Duel also received a new soundtrack, composed in-house by the Resort.
Throughout the 2022 season, rumours started to circulate that the ride would receive an extensive overhaul for 2023. On 23rd August 2022, a sign appeared in the attraction’s exit stating “06 + 09 = The Duel is over. This is my house.” This was interpreted to mean that the attraction would close for the final time on 6th September 2022.
Sure enough, on 7th September people woke up to the news that the property had been repossessed, with signs appearing around Duel stating as much along with the message: “Strictly no unwanted visitors. Due to unnatural displays in the area.” Similar also appeared on the Resort’s app and website.
Eventually, in January 2023, it was announced that Duel would be replaced by The Curse at Alton Manor.