On Wednesday 6th October, We were invited to experience Journey To Hell Freak Nights at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Unsure of what the event had in store for us, we cautiously made our way to Blackpool to check it out.
As we entered the park, we made our way to the Hub, an events space on the former site of the Wild Mouse coaster, we were directed to walk past an area filled with overturned cars, warning signs, and lots, and lots, of fire! Rock music played in the background hyping up the event. At the end of the path was a sign stating that we would be collected soon, we didn't have to wait here tonight but I am sure this will be the batching area for guests once the event opens to the public.
Once in the hub area, there was a short time to relax and discuss what we thought could happen to us tonight, as even people that had visited before when the event last ran in 2019, had no idea what would have changed.
As we tucked into a bite to eat and a quick drink we were interrupted by a news broadcast on the main stage. We were explained about a curse put on the ground on which the park stands and that the effects of the curse rears its head every 50 years and funnily enough, it is this year.
We were then shown a video explaining all of the rules of the event, no running, no photographs, etc. and told to leave the hub and go towards our first area.
The Legend of The River Caves
Our first experience was taking a ride on the river caves, a classic attraction at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with a spooky difference. Upon boarding the boat, one guest was given a helmet with a torch and the entirety of the ride, was with the lights off. Throughout our journey through the river caves, we were surprised by various actors within the ride, which was an effective set of scares and we almost sank the boat when one actor jumped out from around a corner sending all of us to leap to the left.
Thankfully, after some quick maneuvering, we kept upright and made our way back to the station. Initially expecting to exit how you always would we made our way to the traditional exit before being shown an open door, leading to an unknown area of the park, this lead us straight to the next section.
We entered the backstage area of the river caves and were instantly met by a demon, who mentioned we were all doomed and told us to continue down the path, delving deeper and deeper into the underbelly of the park.
Further down this tunnel, we met a soldier, who insulted our hygiene and instructed us that we need to go home and have a bath, however, decided to just send us to our doom instead. This next section featured several unexpected scares that sent several members of our group leaping into the air. We then made it to a batching area, ready to be sent into the next part of the tunnels.
Once let through the batching area, we enter a butcher's shop, a beautifully themed shop front, and a maniacal butcher who explained that everything we ate came from a butchered corpse in the room. The butcher then made us try some of the... delicacies from the corpse before sending us on our way.
We continued through the tunnels with lots more scares throughout, and made it back to another behind-the-scenes area of one of Blackpool Pleasure Beaches ride, after working out of location, we worked out it was none only than Wallace and Gromit. These areas actually fit in rather well with the tone of the night as were rather spooky and eerie. Eventually, we made it out into the open air and queued for our next experience.
The Pledge: Dark Magic
After a short wait, we made our way into the next experience, where we met a seamstress preparing the outfits for a big magic show! The seamstress measured us all out and had a look to see if any of us would make good parts for her next skin suit! We were with the seamstress for quite a while and she did a good job of trying to occupy us. Eventually, we were let through to the next area and sat down in a small theatre for the big show.
The show lasted between 5-10 minutes and was a nice little break from the frights, as this section wasn't particularly frightening but it was a good bit of audience participation chatting with the magician (who I sadly upstaged and I am now legally called Angelina). We were told to run out of the theatre and onto the next portion of the evening.
As we wandered out of the theatre we made our way to the food court area near infusion and was met by a man wearing oriental garments, he lead up to our next experience, Icon! However, as we entered the station and were about to step through the turnstiles, a blindfold was put into our hands. Bags were placed in lockers and humans were strapped into the ride, and an announcement was made to put on our blindfolds.
Icon is a great ride in itself but is a different experience completely blindfolded. You lose your senses so much and at points, I had no idea if I was just going around a corner or performing one of the several inversions. Obviously, it wasn't hugely scary but a good experience.
Another ride now, time to experience 'The Big One', in the dark! Not much to add on this one really, however, all the lights were off on the lift hill and when we entered the station. Still, a fun experience riding it in the dark, especially with no wait at all.
One of the last scares of the evening came as we entered the Chinese Puzzle Maze, and was met by several plague doctors. Unlike in the day, we were on a set route with no branching paths. Plague doctors appeared throughout and popped through various gaps in the maze. This was a fun experience but we think this could have done with some smoke and effects to enhance the experience even more.
Valley of Carnevil Freaks
As we walked out of the Chinese puzzle maze, our group was led into the Avalanche area of the park where a circus was in town! Several clowns throughout and were all up for a laugh but we think this could have done with some additional lighting and props, as there were a few circus props such as a wheel of death and a giant teddy bear covered in blood, but these weren't utilized or lit very well so could have been easily missed. A clown zone is always good fun but there was little to no scares as the area was just too open for that, which is where I think more props would have enhanced the experience dramatically!
Day of the Dead: Ghost Train
Walking back to the hub past the commemorative bricks, we heard the sound of partying and it looks like a day of the dead festival was happening! People dressed in traditional Mexican clothes with faces painted like skulls dancing the night away. They lead us into the queue for the ghost train and we got aboard.
This might have been our own fault, but when we say this was part of the lineup we begged and prayed that this would be like 'Duel: Live' that ran at Alton Towers many many years ago, sadly this wasn't the case, and was just a regular ride on the ghost train, however, since it's been a while since I last rode the Ghost Train, I enjoyed the new scenes but I think for the final stop on this tour around the pleasure beach fell a little flat.
Now that all our experience had been completed, we headed back into the Hub (dubbed as Devil's Gate during Journey to Hell Freak Nights), grabbed another drink, and reflected on the night's events. Overall we had a fantastic night at the event, especially during the first couple of experiences, these definitely set the bar high for the rest of the event which sadly, some of the areas couldn't quite live up to. It's not that they were bad areas, just didn't have that WOW factor of the previous sections.
I think if the event was reversed it would be so much more impactful as I think guests would be running from the River Caves back into the hub with a real adrenaline buzz and the event creeping up in intensity as the night progressed! I certainly wouldn't change anything, just tweak and adjust to make it even better!
We would like to thank Blackpool Pleasure Beach for inviting us to the event and seriously recommend you check it out. Journey to Hell Freak Nights runs on select nights from 8th - 31st October with tickets priced from £32.