The days were starting to get shorter and the air was getting colder, which could only mean one thing, it was time to visit Alton Towers and embrace the Halloween festivities at their annual Scarefest event.
This year the event saw some changes to the scare maze lineup, as 2018 is the first year that Terror of the Towers was not at the event and instead a new concept known as, Project 42 takes its place within the Nemesis: Sub Terra building that been in a state of limbo for several years.
As well as the new maze, an increased presence of family entertainment came to the resort with a large stage on Fountain Square that hosted a variety of shows throughout the day, as well as a new character added to the freaky four called Gretyl.
Our team entered the park and made our way to watch the Alton Ancestors, who this year performed at the bottom of Towers Street near the ever impressive Scarefest sign. This is a much better location for the ancestors as it gives them a lot more room to perform and prevents potential congestion at the entrance of the park caused by the guests wanting to get a glimpse of the entertaining show.
In terms of the show, for those who are unaware, the Alton Ancestors show involves the ghostly residents of Alton dancing in sync to high intensity songs and halloween favorites, this year even included Baby Shark! The show allows the opportunity for guests to join in the dancing with the ancestors and was great fun, as always and creates a fantastic first impression for guests as they start their day.
The Alton Ancestors also occasionally performed the same show outside of Duel, however, this only took place in the afternoon as they spent most, if not all of the morning on Towers Street.
House of Monsters
After spending the rest of the morning riding some of our favourite rides and attractions we heard that a famous internet vlogger was about to embark on a discovery, they believed they had discovered a House of Monsters and needed our help.
House of Monsters is a family scare maze that has been at the event since 2016 and provides an interactive adventure for those younger guests too young for the main scare attractions.
Unlike the other scare attractions this maze has a bigger focus on storytelling and interactivity and runs similar to the dungeons attractions where you go into separate scenes featuring only one or two actors.
This year the maze features two new scenes, the first being a change to a pre-existing room, as Dracula’s daughters has changed her ways and is no longer obsessed with torturing innocent humans and now, has moved her obsession to a popular teenage rock band.
The second room is brand new, which takes place before the “Wolfboy’s” fashion scene is based on a toilet that is in a state of disrepair and home to Gill and Fred, who are on an excellent adventure to repair the pipework.
The first scene we felt could have been improved as the interaction was based on answering riddles which had unclear answers so essentially meant we had to be told the answer or continuously guess. The second room however was fantastic, great humor and fun interaction to find and rebuild the pipework within the room, it was quite possibly our highlight of the maze this year.
The rest of the maze was largely the same apart from some slight tweaks in the script throughout the scenes, however, it was great as always and we loved the fact that they have improved the family offerings this year.
As much as we love the family offerings available at Scarefest, there is nothing more exciting than a good scare in the parks iconic scare attractions.
This year the event features four scare mazes: “Sub Species: The End Games”, “Altonville Mine Tours: Legend of the Skin Snatchers”, which had been at the event for several years prior to 2018, “Project 42”, the brand new scare maze in Alton Towers’ arsenal and “The Welcoming: Be Chosen”, a maze based of the lore of the award winning wooden rollercoaster, Wicker Man, that opened at the park earlier in the year, to much acclaim.
Sub Species: The End Games
Step into the sewers and fight for your life in Sub Species: The End Games, the award-winning scare maze and hope to make it out alive. Follow the many routes through the sewer in order to escape first and preferably... unscathed.
Sub Species has been at Scarefest since 2015, where it received much praise for its multiple routes, intense scares and atmospheric theming and these core principles have not been compromised since its initial debut.
The routes throughout the maze were largely the same as 2017, however with a multiple route scare maze it is possible that we may have missed potential new scenes due to the path we chose to take. The actors performed brilliantly and were not afraid to touch you or get up close and personal and the theming throughout was as detailed as always.
The team made it out of the sewers and after all were accounted for we made our way to the next maze.
Altonville Mine Tours: Legend of the Skin Snatchers
Uncover the truth during the Altonville Mine Tours: Legend of the Skin Snatchers as you follow your guide into the mine and see the rumoured locations where the family of Skin Snatchers once resided. On your journey through the mines you will see that indeed, the legend is real and the Skin Snatchers still live within and eventually you are at their mercy.
This scare maze is a intense maze that features some clever special effects including head torches supplied by Haunted Lanterns that strobe, flicker and even turn off as you head through the mine and meet the residents and hope to make it out with your face intact.
The maze features some brilliant theming and throughout your journey you are convinced that you are actually within an abandoned mine. The maze is the same as previous years, including the finale but is still one of the best mazes at the event.
Brand new for 2018, Project 42 sees you heading into a laboratory in lockdown, heading to find a technician that has gone missing who is the only one with the cure to the deadly B10: NST virus.
Based within the Nemesis: Sub Terra building the maze features new theming as well as notable sets once seen in the attraction such as the giant Nemesis egg. There has been a large amount of theming added to the attraction to immerse yourself into the story of Project 42 as you head through the various sectors of the laboratory such as Animal Research and Botanical Research.
It’s clear that the park put some great effort into making the story clear and consistent throughout the experience however during our run through we found scares to be lacking unfortunately.
Project 42 made Scarefest feel like a much bigger event this year due to the maze being located in Forbidden Valley rather than being in The Towers and Mutiny Bay so it creates a much better atmosphere across the park and we think that Project 42 was a great addition to the 2018 festivities and think it may see some award nominations coming its way shortly.
The Welcoming: Be Chosen
Head down to the village and take part in the celebration in The Welcoming: Be Chosen as the once unseen group known as The Beornen are allowing outsiders to take part in the festivities as they prepare to feed the flames during their equivalent to Halloween.
Last year, this maze was a teaser to the backstory for the mysterious SW8 project (now known as Wicker Man) and hinted at themes of the now opened Rollercoaster. The maze opens once again this year with the same themes but with some changes to last year including the removal of the hooded section which is replaced by a strobe maze as well as new ending.
The Welcoming was never the scariest maze but made up for scares in theatrical and thematic sets as well as fantastic actors. The story of The Welcoming is still one of the best themed experiences at Scarefest and is a very beautiful attraction.
Overall, Scarefest felt like it had more substance this year with entertainment taking place across the resort, with something taking place across the resort, from roaming actors to scare mazes.
The lighting around the event was the best it has ever been, including Wicker Man which was looking absolutely stunning in the evening and we hope it looks this good for years to come!.