On Saturday we visited Thorpe Park for the famous ‘Fright Nights’ Halloween event. Having visited for the past 3-4 years we were under no illusion as to what to expect. Thorpe Park operate Fright Night’s (their busiest period) as a very profit focused event selling the spectacle with the use of licenses from large film companies such as AMC & Universal. This year, the event made use of the TV series ‘The Walking Dead’ and had 2 feature scare mazes based around the series. Thorpe Park have previously produced some spectacular and frightening scare attractions, however, the quality of the overall scare experiences based on the past few years leaves a lot to be desired.
The main gripe with Thorpe Park is their pure financial greed which really leaves a sour taste in the mouth year after year. Having paid a fair chunk for an entry ticket, you almost certainly have to pay £44 for the 5 maze fast track ticket to guarantee entry to all mazes. Add on your £7 for parking, food & drink throughout the day and you have spent comfortably over £100. So was it all bad? Mostly. The mazes had some excellent elements and some offered an enjoyable experience, but, as per the past few years for Thorpe Park it’s simply about getting as many people through each attraction as quickly as possible. This really hinders the scare experience as you are ferried (like cattle) in groups of up to 20 people through the attraction. Below you’ll find our review for each maze…
The Walking Dead – Sanctum
Our Rating: 3/10
This was the first maze of the night and MUST be done in darkness to have the desired impact. The initial theming and facade were in-keeping with The Walking Dead theme but the overall production of this attraction was very ordinary. The whole layout has been constructed using heras fencing and sheeting which for Thorpe Park is a very cost effective way of theming. The scares were fairly obvious and there was no narrative what so ever. From a story line, we had no idea why we were there and what we were supposed to be doing which was disappointing. The attraction was also fairly short and really left us wondering why we bothered paying the average £8-10 fast track fee. Not a great start.
The Big Top
Our Rating: 6/10
Next up we worked our way around to The Big Top which actually turned out to be a solid attraction! The freeform element of this maze really worked as we were often going around in loops trying to find our way out. The actors seemed to be on point as they tormented our group throughout. The theming was excellent and the sound track suited perfectly. Although there were the numerous jump scares, the mood was certainly more crazy than frightening which was the intended result. A few tweaks and this could be a really scary attraction!
Saw – The Maze
Our Rating: 2/10
Based on the film, Saw, was the third maze of the night and one we’ve visited on numerous occasions. The layout and theming was exactly the same as i’d always remembered. As our huge group of about 15 people entered, there was no real enthusiasm shown by any of the actors (most of which looked about 16). I’m not sure if Thorpe Park are struggling to find good actors or just don’t want to pay for them but most of the attractions were filled with younger actors who really didn’t put on a very good show. We knew exactly what was going to happen in each room and generally the overall experience wasn’t great. I would certainly avoid paying for fast track on this one if you can! Poor effort.
Our Rating: 8/10
Platform 15 was probably the highlight of the mazes this year. We were led by a fantastic actor who actually gave us some narrative to the maze (unlike the other mazes). Some of the effects used along the way were fairly unique and did genuinely scare us! Although there isn’t much content in terms of construction, the maze does last a fair amount of time and has some great suspense seens in the pitch black! Out of all the mazes, this was by far the best on the night.
The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare
Our Rating: 7/10
The final maze of the night was The Walking Dead – Living Nightmare. After a long wait (even though we’d fast tracked) due to some idiots getting physical with some of the actors inside, we were ushered into a very long and claustrophobic corridor. The corridor was packed full of people queuing to get into the actual attraction which was uncomfortable. With a group of about 8 kids aged roughly 10-11 years old behind us shouting inappropriate things at the Thorpe Park staff member notifying us of the health & safety info, we were led into the first room which was acted out like a scene from the walking dead. From this point the maze was a supposed free form maze but I really struggled to deviate anywhere but the main passage through. There were some great scenes and solid scares throughout. I particularly like the school bus prop. My only gripe with the attraction was that I wished it was just that bit longer. Overall, a solid attraction.
How Bad Were The Queues?
Without the 5 maze fast track we wouldn’t have managed to do all the rides and mazes. Value for money is terrible for the fast tracks but it’s the only way to maximize your day!
Overall, Thorpe Park could really do better if they payed more attention to the customer experience througout the attractions and Fright Night’s in general. To do this they’d have to sacrifice some of their hard earned cash so the chances of Fright Night’s improving in the near future is fairly slim. Final assessment: Don’t Waste Your Money! Go to an independent local scare attraction where you’ll get a much more organic and authentic experience for a lot less money!