Fright Nights 2023 has begun and this year the park is back with a bang! This year's event feels more streamlined and is the highest quality we've ever seen the event. The shows feel very Westend and very polished and this year's costumes for new mazes are the highest quality we think we've ever seen at a Merlin Park! It can't be easy designing and making that many new costumes in a short space of time.
We started off our night on the bridge into the park where characters from Lucifiers Lair and Creatures Campus meet guests walking into the park. This was our first glimpse at the characters from Lucfiers Lair and the new school of Witches that have joined Amity and LycanThorpe. In the marquee, the event kicked off with more characters from Lucifiers Lair roaming around. When we say it was chaos we mean it in a good way! The evil monkeys were flying around as if they were in a production of Wicked in London, these instantly became a favourite of ours. The costumes and how they moved were amazing! This year's event was sponsored event by XXX a drink and Rimmel London who were also offering spooky makeovers in the tent.
A quick drink, Doughnut Time doughnuts and some spooky eyeliner later, it was time to experience this year's event!
This year sees a new terror released onto the island. New for 2023, The Toymaker is this year's minion of fear himself. Bringing with her toys that come to life in a brand new maze called Stitches.
New for 2023, Stitches is located outside Rush and Quantium and is themed to a Toy Shop run by an evil woman. This is the first time Thorpe Park has built a maze in this location for a long time so we had high hopes and inside the marquee we were amazed! Every inch of the maze was highly themed, props everywhere and you could hardly tell you were in a tent/marquee. The level of theming inside is exceptional! Featuring special effects such as lights turning off and on, disappearing characters, strobe lights and a bungee! This is the first time we've ever seen a bungee effect installed in a Merlin theme park and it made for a great impact scare. This is one maze you must do this Halloween. Our favourite part of the maze is in the middle where a full-height building has been installed, when you look at the tent you wouldn't expect to find something like that inside.
You're first greeted by a toy shop worker who talks about her grandma and her toy shop before being sent into the maze to experience the process behind toy making. If you don't make the cut you will be sent to the rejects room! Which just so happens to be the finale, and let us tell you. You don't want to be stuck in there for too long. Creepy dolls are located throughout the maze, even Barbie and Ken made an appearance! With a Stitches twist of course. Walking through the maze the attention to detail is outstanding, no inch of the maze wasn't themed. Our only criticism about the attraction was that some parts were too dark and we ended up wandering into staff corridors because we couldn't see where to go. The length of the maze is very long and offers the best value for money scare-wise. Some amazing scares and interactions within the maze, we can't wait to see this develop over the next few weeks and for it to come back next year.
New for 2023, Lucifiers Lair invites guests into an area that comes alive! This is one of our favourite scare zones and shows we've ever seen at Thorpe Park. Even when the area was half-empty last night the atmosphere was electric! Management has looked at past events and seen what works and what doesn't. The area has three different shows that are performed, we managed to catch two of them last night. The live band and the main fire show. Danger Goat are back with a Halloween twist, singing live music and interacting with the crowd.
Lucifiers Lair has quite a simple setup but it works well. The stage from Oktoberfest has remained but around the stage, lots of fire effects have been installed. Lighting up the Thorpe Park skyline these fire effects interact with the fire show that's performed daily. If you think you know what a fire show is, think again! Thorpe Park has gone back to the drawing board and has been possibly inspired by Nightmare Fuel at Universal Flordia. Management and creatives have created their version of Nightmare Fuel featuring dancing, fire, music and a great atmosphere. The song choices were amazing and the heat from the fire effects was appreciated on a cold night. The fire effects above the stage aren't the only fire effects, fire torches can be found throughout the area. These also interact with shows, going from small flames to bigger flames during performances.
There's a huge throne that Lucifer sits on on the opposite side of the path. Controlling his minions to rain terror on the island. The level of theming for this thrown is outstanding and it feels like this scare zone and area is really here to stay! Again, we loved this show and area! Can't wait to visit again and experience the other show we missed.
Creature Campus is a brand new show for 2023, located outside Stealth Creature Campus welcomes a new school and brings back fan favourites Amity High and LycanThorpe. Witches of Sorcerers Sorority is a brand new addition to the lineup for this year and to begin with, we weren't too sure how it would work. However, this year's show and characters are perfect! The stage setup is very different to anything we've ever seen before, bleachers have been installed in front of an old high school bus. This grandstand is used throughout the performance to dance on and it works well. You don't need to be close to see this year's performance. The story of where the witches have come from isn't explained, but the costumes for them are awesome!
The show begins with just Amity High and LycanThorpe dancing and having fun where the witches then appear from behind you and enter the show, causing mischief and taking control of the school. This 10-minute dance show is a great addition to the lineup and refreshes an old format. We can see how Thorpe Park might envision this area to change over the next few years introducing new schools. Some great costumes, dancing and music, we liked this year's show. We only wish it had some special effects in it, maybe fire or sparks coming out of the cauldron a the top of the bleachers instead of a smoke effect. Our only fear for this area and the show is that a lot of space is taken up by the bleachers and there is a lot of room to stand and watch the show. So on peak and busy days, you might have an issue finding room.
Survival Games is back for 2023, and this year the maze has seen some small changes! Before entering the maze you're now briefed in a different area to keep the front of the maze clear. After being briefed you then stood at the front of the maze where the actors ran out to grab you can take you into the cells.
You're told before you enter the maze the actors may touch you and in this year's version they do! This year's version of Survival Games is very hands-on and more extreme than last year's. Where we don't mind that, it might be good to have a lanyard you can wear in the maze to me you don't want to be touched and manhandled like we were. Inside the maze, a few doorways have been covered up to make the maze more one-way and to stop people from getting trapped for a long time. The characters inside also appear to have more props to use this year! However, the biggest change to the maze this year is the ending. The ending has now been changed to include a chainsaw runout. This is much more effective than an actor with a hammer, there's now more of a runout aspect when you're getting chased. We absolutely loved the maze this year, there were a few costume changes but nothing big and noteworthy.
The Crows Of Mawkin Meadow has had a major upgrade for 2023. With the Saw Alive queue line and boat now gone the space for this carezone has been doubled and the park is using every inch of this etra space. Scenes from some of the promo videos have now appeared in the scare zone. You now go through the barn and experience the crows and how the videos portrayed it happening. What we thought was quite clever was towards the end there was an actor that was half straw half human. Showing the process of being turned into a crow.
The layout of the maze is very confusing this year but the theming used throughout is fantastic. In the pitch black and with all the smoke machines going it can be quite hard to see where you're going. The Crows Of Mawkin Meadow have upgraded for 2023, are you brave enough to walk through?
Deaths Doors is back for 2023 and some changes have been made inside of the maze. New signs have been installed next to the doors to tell you what creature you might encounter in that doorway. This year new characters also feature inside the scare zone, we love the fact that the park can easily refresh the maze contents and you never know who and what you might experience within the attraction. Another change is a character greets you when you enter the maze and explains a bit of the back story of the attraction. This person then greets you halfway through again to ask how you getting on and leaves you to the demons of Death Doors. Last year we weren't 100% sure about this attraction but this year the zone appears to flow better and actors are very comfortable with their characters and roles. Going to miss Demon Santa though. Great costumes and scares, and did we mention it exits into Lucifer's Lair? Our only fear about it exiting into another scare zone and the show is it might get very busy on peak days.
Trailers has returned for another year of movies coming to life and have had some small changes done to the inside of the maze. The pre-show for the attraction has been changed slightly. The receptionist is taken over by the movies and you no longer wait in the cinema room to enter the maze. It's straight into the movies this year!
Throughout the maze, we were constantly surprised by jump scares and the strongest casts we've ever seen inside the maze. All the scenes inside remained the same with some scenes even having 2 or 3 actors on press night. Towards the end of the maze, some of the posters have been changed and have notes over them. In the final corridor scene, some clouds have been installed and the spark machines have been refilled ready for the spooky season. Trailers is always one of our favourite mazes but this year's cast is very talented and experienced. A firm favourite, but we would like to see some of the scenes inside changed for next year as the maze is now 3 years old.
This year's merchandise is one of our favourite merch lineups we've seen for Fright Nights over the years. The T-shirts, posters and hoodies are perfect. We love the LycanTHorpe and Aity High embroidered hoodie. We're big fans of the embroidered merch as it lasts longer. However, the only downside of this year's merchandise is that a lot of it seems very overpriced! Some items are cheaper than others but some of the hoodies are selling for £50 each! A great lineup but we'd like to see the pricing for these items reassessed. Of course, with the annual pass discount it's not too bad for the average guest it's very expensive.
We enjoyed this year's Fright Nights event! The quality of this year's event feels the highest we've ever seen it before. All of the actors look like they're enjoying it and we got so many jump scares in Stitches and Survival Games. There's so much to see and do at this year's Fright Nights event and we can't wait to go back through stitches again and to sit around and enjoy Lucifair's Lair scarezone and shows more.
This is the best Fright Nights line we've ever seen!
However Fright Nights wasn't the only thing that happened at the Fright Nights press night, the park also announced the name of the 2024 rollercoaster. Hyperia is set to make a mark on the park next year! No opening date has been announced for the rollercoaster but we've now got a logo and name for the ride. Posters for the new rollercoaster could be seen hanging from the bridge when leaving the park. Exciting times ahead.