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The highs and lows of Scarefest 2020

What we thought of Alton Towers Scarefest 2020

Last week we headed to Alton Towers to experience in many ways a very different version of Scarefest. Apart from the obvious COVID-19 related changes, we also saw some new attractions and an all round changed atmosphere. Below I’ve highlighted what we thought really worked at Scarefest 2020 and a few things we think could be improved on. Let’s starts with the highs…

Scare Maze Groupings

One of the perhaps unintentional highlights of this year was the fact that you entered each Scare Attraction with your own small group and not with a larger group of strangers. This we thought was handled really well generally and this led to a much more intimate experience within the maze. This meant the actors could give you special attention and you had more time to take in and appreciate your surroundings. In particular the chainsaw section at the end of Toxic Junkyard really felt like you were surrounded by manic chainsaw wielding lunatics who bayed for your blood!

The Gardens

We’ve said it for a long time and finally the gardens have been brought to life this year with Whispering Souls. A spectacular use of lights and sounds to transform the gardens into a haunted sensory delight. We would however love to see this expanded in the future with live actors and some extra visuals.

Whispering Souls

Entertainment

We thought the entertainment offered on the lawn at the end of Towers Street was really fun and perfect for the whole family. The kids always love seeing the characters and it was great seeing them interact with those watching. We also thought that the use of ‘The Ancestors’ added an extra dimension to the show as they joined in during dances etc, which was pretty fun!

Night time rides!

It goes without saying but always one of the biggest highlights of Scarefest is riding in the dark. We think this adds an extra dimension to the rides with our favourite being Nemesis. We also think that Thirteen is an underrated night time ride which adds to it’s usually dark theme. We would love for Alton Towers to do more late night riding events.

Thrilling Scare Mazes

We really enjoyed the 3 Scare Mazes that we tried i.e. Toxic Junkyard, Altonville Mine Tours and The Attic, though we have a few comments that I’ll mention later. Each year the props and effects used are a cut above and the actors were again so committed to giving each guest a brilliant experience, including a special mention to the appearance of the hilarious ‘Grand Pappy’!

Toxic Junkyard

Now let’s move on to some of the lows…

Atmosphere

While overall we thought the park had a really fun atmosphere, the park doesn’t really come to life until the evening. This is partly because it’s when the park is dark but we thought Alton Towers could do more to immerse guests throughout the day, perhaps with more of a family friendly focus. In future years this could include a trick and treat trail and meet and greet opportunities. This year, that may not have been an option however. We would however love to see a return to actors being part of a ride overlay such as Duel and in the queue lines.

Theming

While the theming around the entrance and Towers Street area was great, the theming lessens as you head deeper into the park. We’d love to see more theming throughout the park, perhaps even with each area having its own twist. Again, this year not all this may have been possible but seeing Forbidden Valley and X-Sector with theme related trimmings would be fantastic.

And finally…

Let’s talk about ‘The Attic’

Prior to our visit, this was the maze that everyone was talking about and one we thought would be the highlight of our visit. Unfortunately it didn’t fully live up to expectations and I think this was due to a couple of contributing factors. Firstly, we felt that having guests leaving and entering the attraction in the same place really deflated the anticipation. When you enter a Scare Maze I think the mystery of entering and not seeing people leave, adds to the suspense and when you see people calmly exiting, you start to wonder whether the attraction is worth the wait, really spoiling the immersion. Finally, despite an excellent final sequence, stalked by a Devil like creature, the maze doesn’t feel like it has a finale. The end of the maze is someone guiding you away at a time when you expect a thrilling final scare. Don’t get me wrong, we both thought the theming and actors were amazing but some logistical matters need addressing in our opinion.

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Until next time.

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