Like other scare fanatics, we were very excited when Screamfest announced it would be returning for 2018 with a brand new attraction ‘Insomnia’. We always look forward to Screamfest as geographically, it’s the closest scream park to us located just down the road in Tatenhill (near Burton-Upon-Trent). Screamfest is known for offering a great selection of scare attractions, live entertainment, excellent food options and 2018 was no different!
We visited Screamfest on the preview / launch night – Thursday 11th October and made our way through the National Adventure Farm entrance straight through to the first maze of the night – ‘Freak Out’. The impressive façade of Freak Out makes use of some powerful UV lights and does a fine job covering the marquee in which Freak Out is constructed in. After a short queue we were sent through the entrance in a relatively small group, we noticed the staff were very precise in the timings between groups (which makes for a better experience for everyone). Freak Out is unique in that you have multiple routes to follow and choices of which doors you wish to enter for example ‘Nasty Clown’ or ‘Nice Clown’, ‘Boys Door’ or ‘Girls Door’. The choice of route and multiple doors creates a frantic and tense feeling as you walk deeper and deeper into the wild and terrifying circus themed maze. With so many unique theming elements and actor positions, scares were coming at us from all angles. The actors inside Freak Out were full with energy and did everything in their power to terrorise us! We really don’t want to give many spoilers away but overall we thought Freak Out was absolutely superb. In terms of originality and actual scares, Freak Out has it all! It was one of the most intense mazes we’ve visited in recent memory and certainly this Halloween season! The guys at Screamfest have truly perfected this attraction and we feel it wouldn’t be out of place at any of the world’s leading theme parks or haunts. Well done Screamfest, Freak Out was fantastic and we’d love to come back and do it again and again. (A quick side note, there were 2 elderly ladies that entered in the group in front and I have to put in a special mention as they exited the maze with huge grins and a sigh of relief. Well done ladies.)
Following straight on, we walked around to Dia De Los Muertos – The Day Of The Dead themed attraction. Unfortunately we missed out on this attraction last year so were curious as to what it could offer. The trailer ride at the start of the attraction adds something different and we were impressed with elements of the theming along the way. As we disembarked the trailer and entered the main body (through the corn fields) we were welcomed by a couple of actors with impressive Spanish / Mexican accents! At times the attraction had some less exciting sections without actors but generally, Dia De Los Muertos was highly original and featured excellent theming and narrative. The attraction also seemed to last for a long time and provided a number of genuinely frightening scares along the way. For originality and unique theming, Dia De Los Muertos is certainly worth experiencing.
Our next maze was ‘Demonica’ – but were we brave enough to step through the portal and risk our soul in the realm of Demonica? Yes. We actually loved the façade which featured a striking fire effect. After a short queue our group was placed into a rather small and claustrophobic holding room by the legendary Gerry Cannell (a well-known and highly respected Screamfest & Alton Towers scare actor). Unfortunately we missed the narrative / setup of Demonica, the audio was slightly muffled and due to loud noises and other people in the group talking, we couldn’t quite make out what was actually going on. As the door of the holding room opened, it was our turn to enter the maze, unfortunately the timings were very off as a group in the next holding room were also exiting. This lead to a giant group of around 20-25 people which completely ruined the experience. As we made our way around the attraction we could see the majority of the actors attempting to scare people ahead of us before resetting their position. As a result, we knew exactly where each actor was located before their attempted scare. Hopefully this was a one off timing issue and Demonica has since been improved. Please let us know if your run through was a better experience than ours.
Following a short food break, we entered ‘Love Hurts’. Love Hurts is one of the most unique scare mazes we’ve experienced and we absolutely loved it when it was first launched a couple of years ago. Love Hurts offers an overload of the senses which really immerses you in the underbelly of a speed dating night come sewerage nightmare! After our run through at this year’s event we can safely say Love Hurts has been perfected and polished to an even better standard. The theming, level of detail and scares throughout were exceptional. The creatives at Screamfest have carefully considered ways and means of fine tuning Love Hurts and it has paid off. From the hilarious nightclub toilet intro right the way through to the intense climax; Love Hurts has everything you would want from a top level scare attraction!
The last attraction of the night was the brand new ‘Insomnia’. The concept of this attraction had so much potential but unfortunately a few teething problems on the opening night proved problematic during our run through. Insomnia is a scare maze based on a child’s nightmare and the terrifying demons that lurk within (think of the film Insidious)). During our run through it was a little chaotic with a camera team using a bright light to film promotional material and groups coming and going between scenes. We weren’t really sure where the attraction actually started and in most cases entered each scene after the main scare had happened. We really wanted to love Insomnia but on this occasion perhaps didn’t see the best of it. At times it felt more like a walk through Ikea on a busy Saturday afternoon than a scare attraction. However, we’re giving the guys at Screamfest the benefit of the doubt and we’re sure this was just an isolated first night batching issue. Let’s hope the potential of Insomnia is fulfilled for the remainder of the 2018 season because we firmly believe this could become one of Screamfest’s stand out mazes!
To conclude, it was clear from our visit that Screamfest have stepped up their game for 2018! The scream park offers a fantastic night of entertainment with all the mod cons you’d expect from a large scale theme park. Freak Out and Love Hurts certainly topped the bill for us on the night but all 5 attractions were solid and will easily scare the toughest of scare veterans! If you’re looking for a value for money night out this Halloween, look no further than Screamfest! We promise you won’t be disappointed. (We enjoyed Freak Out and Love Hurts that much we’re pencilling in another date to come back).