At the start of October, we attended Alton Towers for the first day of Scarefest to see what the annual festivities had in store for us.
Although there wasn’t much change to the overall lineup this year there was a mysterious cult taking over around Mutiny Bay and a mysterious message going around that they want us to be welcomed.
Within the Towers the same lineup as last year: “Terror of the Towers: What Lies Within”, “Sub Species: The End Games”, “Altonville Mine Tours: Legend of the Skin Snatchers” and “House of Monsters” for those younger ones wanting a scare. Although these were the same mazes as last year there were some changes as we shall explain shortly.
First though, the event itself. As we entered the park and walked down Towers Street an emergency broadcast blurted out of the speakers, strangely… no one seemed panicked. We got our emergency survival kit (of course) but before we had time to gear up music started playing… Strangely everyone was gathering around and some ghostly apparitions were grooving to the beats. It was the Alton Ancestors, appearing for their yearly flash mob, we watched, we danced and were thoroughly pleased. Our only criticism was that the music choice could have been more Halloween focussed as the music choice was more pop music (Of course Despacito was in the mix) with some Halloween thrown in for good measure.
After that panic was over we headed down to the lawns and noticed the standard Trick or Treat doors and for this year the Skelvin Story Time stage has moved from Fountain Square to the bottom of Towers street moving all the family entertainment there this year. We feel that the stage could have stayed in its old location as it allowed the Halloween atmosphere to continue throughout the park.
After riding some rides to wake us up and a trip to the Rollercoaster Restaurant for a bite to eat it was time for our first scare maze, House of Monsters. Now, last year House of Monsters was, funnily enough, our favourite maze last year as it provided a breath of fresh air and although it wasn’t scary for us it did give us a laugh and we loved the storyline throughout. This year we were excited to see if anything has changed within the attraction.
House of Monsters:
We entered the attraction and were given the standard spiel, the Vlogger let us in the house and we were on our way. The first room was the same but still very enjoyable, Skelton John explained to us the situation we were in and sent us on our way to find Frankie. We were handed an item in the first room and sent to the second room. This room was also the exact same apart from some extra health and safety hazards by having to place bricks on the letters rather than stand on them. Once we got into the third room was when the changes started.
As we entered the greenhouse we were met by a giant man-eating plant (Think little shop of horrors) and were told that Venus (the plant) was very hungry and needed feeding. Lots of clever effects were used and we feel it was a much better scene compared to last years.
The wolf boy room was exactly the same however the actor playing Wolf Boy was much better, some might say he was “Fabulous” at least, that’s what the Scott family thought!
Once we got to the final room we were well and truly impressed, Another chance for this year was that in every room we were handed an item and we had to hand all of them in to Volta once we got into the final scene, rather than finding a mini Frankie we had to find his neck bolts, which made it a lot harder to find. Once Frankie was brought back he burst out with a very catchy song and we were let into the extended scare maze section of the attraction which was vastly improved.
Overall we thought House of Monsters was much more improved and was again one of our highlights for this year, there was one thing that beat it but I will reveal that later.
Terror Of The Towers: What Lies Within?
In its 9th year of the “What Lies Within?” iteration most of us know what lies within when you enter this scare maze and not much has changed this year, keeping a fairly similar route as last year this maze doesn’t really offer much in the way of excitement anymore… The maze seriously needs a change up in our opinion as we always come out with the same response “Well… That was TOTT”. Still, a very good maze but it has become a "been there, done that" scenario, however, the actors in the maze were exceptional as always and is currently what holds the maze together at the moment.
Sub Species: The End Games
We’ve now spent 3 years running around the sewers being bet on in the games and have seen routes change throughout the years, always making this maze a little more interesting every year. This year I personally didn’t have a fantastic run through, was sent through certain routes that took me through the maze pretty quickly. However, a lot of scenes return from previous years with the addition of a few new ones. The actors again are great but personally, I thought it wasn’t the best it has been.
Altonville Mine Tours: Legend of the Skin Snatchers
The mine is open again and tours are now taking place. Put on your helmets and make sure that light stays on, as you wouldn’t want to be alone in the dark down there. We are now in our second year of Altonville Mine Tours and improvements have been made since last time, no more people wandering into actor corridors and a lot clearer story and finale. The finale leaves your exiting the mines through a gift shop ran by a crazy owner, armed with a shotgun and not particularly happy with you being there, the gun is fired and some of the merchandise explodes as you are chased out of the maze. The maze is much improved over last year, as mentioned the story is clearer and a very enjoyable maze.
The Welcoming: Be Chosen
New for this year, head down to Mutiny Bay and explore the forest that has become home to an unusual cult with an ideology of a world without technology, Join the festival and prepare to be chosen.
Brought to the Scarefest lineup as a prequel to SW8, the new attraction coming to Alton Towers for the 2018 season.The maze provides hints towards the theme of the attraction much like The Sanctuary, a scare maze that opened in 2012, which was a prequel to The Smiler, the Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster that opened in 2013.
As we entered the maze we were handed very fancy bags that we would indeed be putting on our head later on in the maze. As we entered we were greeted by lots of villagers celebrating the festivities. On the stage, there was a sign with runic symbols that spelt “FEED THE FLAMES” and lots of carts and stalls around the area. You then make your way around the village and go through kitchens etc. As you go around the village, all the signs are written in the runic symbols that have been shown several times throughout the SW8 marketing campaign. One of the biggest theming elements within the maze was a large pile of burning ash with a live actor, made to look charred trying to crawl out of the pile.
As we entered the finale a large flame came up in front of us with a preacher giving his words of wisdom, we exited right in front of the SW8 construction site and was greeted by the giant theming structure on the site, very excited to enter that area come next year.
As a final note, we have noticed that Alton Towers have invested a bit of time improving the guest experience for the mazes, Terror of the Towers, Sub Species and Altonville Mine Tours all now have bag drop-offs, which are intended for larger items such as prizes won at the games stalls, these have a drop off in the queue and have designed the mazes to come out at the pick up point.
We have one returning scare zone this year, Freak Show is the carnival style scare zone, along the walkway are all the freaks that are part of the show such as The Bearded Lady, Strong Man and The Ringmaster plus lots more. The walkway is quite compact so allows the actors to get up close and personal to the guests, however, during the opening show they close the walkway off so once it gets opened this causes a lot of footfall through the area so actors cannot perform as many scares as they could normally.
So, Scarefest has been and gone and it certainly was a good year for the event, the main issue we have always had is that apart from the mazes there wasn’t much of a Halloween vibe around the park, this was helped previously by Dark Apocalypse in Forbidden Valley, Nox Infernus in Dark Forest and Freak Show between Spinball and Xsector, however, it is always an enjoyable event and we always look forward to it, we just feel that the event was not as great as it has been before in the past.