In 2014 Thorpe Park invited guests to go backstage on a V.I.P tour of a maze of your choice, your be shown the longest route around the maze, be shown hidden items of theming and told the secrets of the maze. We booked to go behind the scenes in Studio 13 and Cabin in the woods. When you have your behind the scenes tour you are required to pre book them online and upon the start of your tour you will be given an ID card and a Thorpe Park V.I.P lanyard.
When working at FRIGHT NIGHTS actors can not work and hour and a half without taking a break due to the flashing lights and hot working conditions. The Park employees 150 actors in total with up to 26 actors in Studio 13 and 20 in Cabin In The Woods. Not every scaremaze has its own green room Studio 13 has its own that it shares with My Bloody Valentine and Saw ALIVE has its own green room and practice studio that it shares with Cabin In The Woods, The Blair Witch and the roaming actors.
If you can we would advise you to queue for Cabin In The Woods to start with. That way you shall see what happens when the actors are let loose to roam there way to the maze. All we can say is that a fence will not stop them getting to you! In every maze there are actor run throughs where they can get from one side of the maze to the other in a matter of seconds. The park is currently in the second year of a three year contract with lions gate to bring FRIGHT NIGHTS to the park. After the three years the park and lions gate with decide to extend it and change the lineup or return to Thorpe Park hosting it on there own. However the feedback from guests so far has found that the mazes have been more scarier due to the fact that they have watched the films and can relate to them a little better.
Cabin In The Woods:
We started our behind the scenes tour at Cabin in the woods a live action horror maze themed around the Cabin in the woods film where you choose what rooms you go into.
The tour begun with a brief history of the maze where we were told that the maze used to be home to the freak show 3D back in 2002. The maze featured 3D posters on the wall and required you to wear 3D glasses as you went around the maze. A couple of years later the maze’s theme was changed into Hellgate a horror maze themed around Vampires and women in big dresses. In 2010 the maze space was left unused due to high maintenance costs and in 2011 the maze was turned into the passing a paid for maze where guests had a bag placed over their head with a bluetooth headset in it telling the story of the maze.
We entered the maze via the entrance where we were told about the force field posters on the wall representing the force filed that can be seen in the movie where one of the guys try's to escape but can't due to a force field around the area. Before we entered he maze our V.I.P host spoke about the entrance and how the park wanted guests to choose what route they went around the maze and talked about the window at the front of the maze where actors can hide and scare you before you enter.
A few things in Cabin In The Woods have changed since last year such as the tree room which has been made smaller with a partition in the middle of the room this was due to actors chasing people in the room and people having panic attacks due to the doors only opening one way. In the bedroom a two way mirror has been added where actors can see you but you cant see them until the light comes on in the room. A section of queue line from X no way out can still be found in the maze just before you enter the tunnel room (this can only be seen from an actors point of view.)
To get the longest route of Cabin In The Woods you have to go through the forest which is the first door straight ahead of you, come out again and then go to the 4th door in the room. This will then take you via every room in the maze apart from 1 secret room which used to host the control room however this year the park have moved it to the room that used to be home to the spinning Barbie doll. To get to the new control room you must turn left after the second black out room.
In the control room if you press a button you must wait a pre set time period until that effect comes on. This is so that the room doesn't get pumped up with smoke effects and that the effects don't get over used. The three buttons in the control room control Smoke, Light and Sound effects in the living room (the first room you go into) you can also see peoples reactions via the TV screen on the wall. If you spend to much time in the control room an actor will come and grab you and move you along.
Previously hosted in the control room the area is now occupied by a wedding dress and a small jewellery box containing the creates in the maze. For example is a ball is in the box that symbolises that fornicus is in the maze. Also in the hidden room is the wolf head which used to be in the living room, the wolf head is home to tree effects. To set it off it requires you to be right up close to it and will set off one of three effects. Air, water or a sound effect. All of these are on a random cycle and are triggered by an infrared sensor.
In the middle of the maze Cabin In The Woods is home to a spinning tunnel featuring photos of the monsters in the maze spinning around you. However due to the tunnel causing a power cut it will be turned off for the rest of this year. The maze would need to be taken down to fix this issue.
Studio 13 is the directors latest and greatest creation previously known as The Asylum and The Freezer. The maze has been rethemed and is a great addition to the park. Our tour begun at the entrance of the maze where we could get photos outside of the theming where they talked about the previous themes of the maze. When Fright Nights started The Freezer had dead ends making it a proper maze however these proved to cause slow throughputs so they where taken out.
The maze lasts for around 8 minuets and doesn't require you to hold on to each other unlike Saw Alive. When the maze opened on the staff preview night the maze was introduced as a linear maze which means you have to hold onto each other, however this was changed half way through the staff preview night. This was changed due to slow throughputs and the maze getting better reactions. With up to 30 actors in the maze at one time the maze isn't low on the number of actors.
Thorpe Park have been working on building Studio 13 since the start of the season where the space was used for Brainiac LIVE back in April 2014, a new carpet was fitted in the attraction with Studio 13 in mind. Since the closure of Brainiac LIVE in April 2014 the park have been hard at work transforming the area into Studio 13. The maze is home to 5 strobe lights which light up the maze, back when the space was home to The Asylum it only used to have 3 strobe lights!
Making a triumphant return to the ending of the maze is the chainsaw. Whilst we were on our behind the scenes of the maze we went into the green room where we spotted lines marked out on the floor for 4 chainsaws. 1 for the roaming actors, 1 backup and 2 for Studio 13. However to use the chainsaw the actors are required to be trained hence why sometimes you might not have the chainsaw.
Whilst in the maze with the lights on you realise how much work goes into building the scaremaze and how much theming there really is which you cant see when the lights are off and strobe lights are going off. In the second room in the main section of the maze there is a chain link fence where an actor can go and throw around some props however in the space is lots of old lighting along with TV’s and chairs. This is supposed to be the start of the backstage tour of the studio before you go for your audition on set.
After the chain link fence is the makeup room which has a huge mirror with lights around it with a very realistic body in the chair. Actors in this scene call her Mindy “Say hello to Mindy!” This scene is covered with blood on the mirror and on the actors walking around pretending to do your makeup. On the table below the mirror is some makeup sets which contain real makeup.
Towards the end of the maze you go further behind the scenes with old movie props on shelfs such as creepy dolls, costumes, shoes and other old items that you could find on a movie set. The last scene before the chainsaw section is a scene where another body can be found on a bed. This body is complete with sponge like hands and face just in case an actor was to push you on the bed.
The final corridor took weeks to complete due to the posters everywhere on the wall showing the directors previous creations. At first it looks like just another corridor with no one at the end however when your halfway down a door opens from behind you and the chainsaw ending begins. Get ready to run the director is coming…