On Friday 27th September, we attended Xtreme Scream Park at Twinlakes Park in Melton Mowbray for the first night of their 2019 Season. This year, there are no changes to the scare maze line up, however, the scream park has invested heavily with 15 new animatronics spread across the five mazes as well as a brand new circus show, so we were excited to see what the event had in store for us this year.
As we entered the driveway at Twinlakes towards the car park we felt a sense of welcoming like we were home, and memories of previous years came flooding back to us…
"Can you remember that year when you were walking through Pie Factory and the guy jumped out at you from the fridge!"
I suppose we are going to feel this way since we have been to the event since 2015, and after every year we always have that urge to come back again and again.
As we entered through the gates of the scream park, we were bombarded by a hoard of clowns, attacking us with feather dusters, honking horns at us and asking us if we had any food. It must be hard being homeless since their circus closed down at last year's event after being open every year since the beginning.
It was time for us to head to our first maze, after pondering on which maze we should do first we finally decided *grumble*... Food first…
We headed to the hub of Xtreme Scream Park, where the merchandise stand is located as well as many food vans, a stage for a band and new for this year, a London bus bar. The event has also installed several flame cannons scattered around the hub that all go off in a perfectly sequenced performance of pyro! (Can you tell we like fire!)
The hub is a great area of Xtreme Scream Park and it still is one of the few events that offer a good area for guests to relax after some of the mazes or those too scared to go within the scare mazes who entered via a "Chicken Ticket".
Rocky Circus Big Top Show
Another addition the park has put in for those not attending for the mazes is the Rocky Big Top Circus. Located at the bottom of the hub, a large circus has appeared and within, a whole host of characters that love to make you laugh, scream and gasp.
The show is operated by a family-run circus company, Chipperfield circus, currently owned by Charles Chipperfield, the 7th generation to run the circus.
It is the same company that performed at Twinlakes park earlier in the year, however, that was a Greatest Showman inspired performance but during its run at Xtreme Scream Park, the show has taken a much darker tone.
We took our seats in the decent-sized circus and waited for the show to begin. After a short while the circus was almost full and before we knew it, the lights dimmed and the music began to play.
The show started with the "Wheel of Death", which was proudly displayed on the promo material for the show. For those unaware of what a "Wheel of Death" is, imagine a large beam, suspended in the air with two large hoops at either end that the performers can stand in, on or clinging onto the side. The beam can move 360 degrees around and the performers can spin the large wheel via their own kinetic energy.
This section of the show was great, as the performers were putting on a brilliant show as they swung themselves around and around, performing more dangerous stunts as time went on. Unfortunately though, after this section, things started to fall apart. Throughout the show we had acrobats, gymnasts, magicians and the performers were performing brilliant stunts but transitions between took way to long and some sections put in place to distract you during the changeovers were confusing and disjointed.
Sadly, probably due to the short time they had and priority to get the mazes done, a large portion of the crowd started to walk out, which is a real shame as there are some very talented performers demonstrating their craft. I think the main issue is that guests were expecting something scarier, whereas realistically it was a set of performers dressed as skeletons and witches, performing their sets to Halloween themed music.
Although it is advertised as a break from the scares, I think people were maybe expecting something like 'Circus of Horrors', instead, it was clear that this was probably a slightly altered version of the show they did earlier in the year to crowds of children and their parents and because of that the show really didn't fit the feel of Xtreme Scream Park.
Just as a note, this was our experience of the show on Friday 27th September, we do believe the company has tried changing up some of the show, such as the order of the performers so our experience may be different to what you could have been experienced later in the season.
If you are visiting Xtreme Scream Park, I would say try to get all the mazes done first, before seeing this show. The performers are extremely talented and well worth your admiration but you may be more relaxed and enjoy the show more without the looming premise of potentially missing out on the reason you came to the event in the first place.
The Pie Factory
The first maze of the night was the Xtreme Scream Park staple, as it has been at the event since the beginning is 'The Pie Factory'.
Celebrate Melton Mowbray's history of pie making with a trip through Xtreme Scream Parks very own! Although, you may soon realise there is more than just animal meat that goes into these pies…
We always have a fantastic time within the maze, we love the theme and have enjoyed seeing it progress over the years. We were extremely impressed with some of the new, huge animatronics added for this year and those combined with the fantastic actors lead to this year being probably the best ever run we have had through this maze.
Stilton Hall Hotel and Hell Spa
Next, it was time for a bit of TLC and time to check in to the famous Stilton Hall Hotel and Hell Spa. A maze that pushed the limits for scare mazes when it opened in 2014, spanning over two stories and featuring 50 rooms of fright.
This year the maze sees a slightly altered layout in the downstairs section of the maze as well. This and the addition of more animatronics, some of which fly down at you from the ceilings are great and allow for some brilliant scares from areas the actors would struggle to access, meaning it catches out people who have been through the maze several years and had thought they'd seen it all! *Cough* *Cough*
The maze has now become a staple at Xtreme Scream Park and hope they continue to alter and change this maze to keep it fresh in the future.
As we walked to our next maze we felt like something was calling us… The distinct banging of drums filled the air and it was almost like we were summoned to our next maze of the night, Hoodoo Voodoo.
This maze has been at the event since 2017 and after a slightly weak first year, it came back with a vengeance in 2018 vastly improved and receiving highly positive feedback so we were interested to see what this year would be like.
For those unaware, Hoodoo Voodoo is a maze of two halves, the first section being a rather long "hooded" maze, meaning your navigation through the maze relies on following a rope along the route as your vision is obscured and the second half is a traditional scare maze.
The hooded section, as far as we could tell, has stayed the same, however still continues to be enjoyable with its variation in wall texture and floor elevation. But we can definitely tell there were some small changes in the second section.
It didn't quite live up to last year, but it was still very enjoyable and still much better than the maze that previously occupied the space prior to 2017.
Ash Hell Penitentiary
In the dead of night, screams could be heard from the nearby Ash Hell Penitentiary, the most dangerous criminal facility in Melton Mowbray. Luckily for us, it was now open for visiting hours and it was time to check out the inmates.
Ash Hell Penitentiary was one of the most intense experiences last year for us, as actors were constantly grabbing and (carefully) assaulting the fresh meat entering the facility, it really was an experience we will never forget.
This year, it wasn't quite as intense, but we get the reasoning why. It certainly was a frightening experience and trod the line carefully between a standard scare maze and an extreme scare maze. We felt last year that it all helped the theme but it's better to please the many as opposed to the few.
The experience was still great fun this year, as the actors were still giving it 100% and the theming of the maze is still incredibly impressive and it's a very daunting experience entering the maze, whether it's your first time or your fifth!
Our final maze of the night was time for us to praise the harvest in The Village.
First introduced to us in 2017, we were blown away when took a trip to The Village, and we were still incredibly impressed last year, so we were very excited to enter the maze again.
The scale of this maze still blows us away… Five custom buildings making up the entire village, each different from the last. The theming throughout, like all of Xtreme's mazes, is extremely detailed and it is hard to not be distracted by all of the theming.
The actors this year we're on top form and loved to interact with us. There weren't many changes to previous trips but we did notice that on our run through that the church was free-flowing, rather than being batched within which we feel might ruin the surprise within the church if the timing is right, but we seemed to time it right.
Overall our night at Xtreme Scream Park was great, as always. Whether it be the street theatre terrorising you outside the mazes, or those creatures lurking within the mazes, Xtreme Scream Park is always a fantastic night out.
Although there are no new mazes this year, the new animatronics added within the maze make them still feel fresh and exciting. We are looking forward to seeing what Xtreme Scream Park does for next year.