As the chime of midnight struck on October 1st, Halloween season was upon up and where some events open slightly closer to All Hallows Eve, Xtreme Scream Park wanted to get out of the blocks straight away with the event running from the 1st October all the way to 31st October on select nights.
We arrived at the park and as all the younglings left the park, an eerie presence arrive and with 30 minutes before the gates opened, the all to familiar spiel blared out of the speakers in the entrance plaza:
“You may not touch the actors, but they are dying to touch you!”
After the gates opened and our tickets were scanned, we were handed our ‘ticket’, a small purple rectangle card containing the map of the park and a section for all six mazes we would venture through this evening.
Before the mazes, however, there was some time beforehand to check out the general area and identify any improvements, and there were a fair few.
As we entered the main ‘hub’ area, we had noticed that much more of the area had been filled in, with the grass removed, allowing the space to feel much more open and meant that should you visit on a rainy night, you wouldn’t need to huddle around the fire whilst your boots were halfway in mud. This change also has allowed for additional vendors to take full advantage of the space with more external food/drink places, including a fully stocked bar.
The shop has been given a huge makeover this year, with it no longer looking very temporary and instead is now in its own separate room, with neon lights dangling from the ceiling and decorated walls. The shop features a lot of Xtreme Scream Park merchandise such as hats, shirts, and pin badges, as well as some more generic Halloween items and sweets.
The stages still remain in the area, however, this year, rather than having live music, the entertainment was run by a group called ‘The Toxic Dolls’, a multi-skilled entertainment company. They can be seen on the main stage performing a show three times a night, which is around 20 minutes long, with acts such as fire-breathing, pole-dancing, and burlesque, and on the small stage, they come on in between shows and perform some more fire-breathing.
The shows were entertaining and certainly captured the audience that was enjoying a drink from the bar or a bite to eat from the food vendors.
Zombie Paintball has moved from the front of the park into the hub area and an external company was offering spear and axe throwing (all of which are for an additional charge), The additional area also has given an opportunity for some rather mischievous characters to move in.
New for this year, ‘The Unfair Funfair’, Xtreme Scream Park's new scare zone, in fact, this is the first time they have ever ventured into scare zones, and wow, from a theming perspective this was impressive!
As you made your way to the end of the hub area, a red and white striped building emerged, with the logo for the area adorning the top. Around the building, various slides poked their way through, although, I wouldn’t recommend going on them, as they end rather abruptly!
In front of the building, a ticket booth, with various ‘shoe pockets’ you would be familiar with if you have ever taken a child to a soft play center, for those entering to secure their shoes whilst they entered, however, strangely… they were offering they had ‘shoes for sale’, odd...
Fancy a bite to eat? Well the funfair, of course, has a food vendor, offering everything from Candy floss to Crusty’s Favourite Chicken Nails.
As we started to make our way around the funfair, we met some of the resident clowns, who insisted we played hide and seek, so we dived into the funhouse and hid where we could but sadly, they knew this area too well and found us rather quickly! They then continued to show us around the fair, such as the abandoned train, the broken down pirate ship, and the slide with some, rather gravity-defying twists and turns, as well as offering us some of the extortionately overpriced food!
Throughout our night at Xtreme, we often entered the funfair in between mazes as the clowns inside were a great laugh and really added a fun fright to the evening. The area is fantastically themed and the actors inside are also fantastic with bringing the funfair to life, we found it is one of those experiences that you get the most out of if you just let yourself be immersed within it and go with the flow.
Belvoir Manners was the first scare maze of the night, and one we enjoyed previously when it debuted last year. However, this year features a new ‘VIP Members Club’, so we were excited to see what has changed.
Upon entering the maze, we had a sense of familiarity with the maze, however, as we went deeper and deeper into the building, we started to lose all those feelings. With changes to scenes and quite possibly a slight change to the route, we enjoyed the new changes, including a rather gory museum, featuring severed heads and the such presented in glass boxes.
The maze had some good scares throughout and plenty of actors, who all seem to love the role they play (to be fair, this applies to all mazes at Xtreme Scream) and really love interacting with every single guest that walks past them.
Our next maze of the night was Ash Hell Penitentiary, one of the more intense mazes at Xtreme Scream Park, as you make your way into a house for the criminally insane. We have loved Ash Hell Penitentiary ever since it made its debut in 2016, and it genuinely is unnerving being in there, with the lights constantly turning on/off you have no idea what you might see when the room illuminates.
There have been no huge changes in this maze for this year, however, it doesn’t really need to change as it is still a brilliant part of the maze line-up and one of the scariest mazes at the event, with inmates all wanting a piece of you for their lunch! Brilliant acting, animatronics and theming to make the maze one hell of an experience!
It was time for us to enter the oldest maze at the event, ‘The Pie Factory’, however, after years of it having the ‘Momma Hog’ tagline, has now changed to feature the ‘Melton Hunting Lodge’.
The main change following this new tagline is the start of the maze, where you enter the hunting lodge itself, where many a hunter goes to relax before going out to find the best meat for the pies.
To get around the hunting lodge, guests must make their way around tables, past the bar and resist the chance of stepping up to the oche and having a few games of darts. This area is beautifully themed and although this is a precursor to the main maze itself it builds up the tension before you enter the factory itself.
Speaking of which, we expected the rest of the maze to be the same as previous but there were actually a lot of changes, including a very detailed ‘Factory floor’ with the various stages of meat preparation such as the ‘Clean’ section where an unfortunate victim is being hosed down.
The maze provides a lot of new scares, as well as some pre-existing ones, and makes this 9-year-old maze still feel fresh, much like the pies...
HooDoo VooDoo was next and although it is one of our least liked mazes at the event, it still puts on a very good show and that is probably a testament to the quality of the other mazes more than anything.
HooDoo VooDoo is a ‘hooded’ maze for the most part, which, for those unaware, means that for a large portion of the maze, you wear a bag on your head and make your way through the maze following a rope, a nervous proposition for most visitors.
This is still one of the most unique hooded mazes we have ever been through with texture changes on the walls, unsteady flooring and the actors not being afraid to get up, close and personal, as on several occasions I had my face felt through the hood.
One thing that does separate this from other mazes of the same type is that there is still a lengthy un-hooded section, after the rather lengthy hooded section, with the more traditional frights. Our favorite scene is the ‘swamp’ scene where you have to push through an inflated air-bag on the floor whilst making your way through as creatures pop up from underneath the ‘water’, it adds an additional sense of realism as you feel like you are wading through the ‘waters’.
As we came towards the end of our evening, it was time to check out the larger of the mazes, the first being ‘The Village’, which debuted in 2017. As the name suggests, guests enter a village, consisting of several buildings, starting with the residents' houses and ending with a huge church.
We are always so impressed by the scale of this scare maze and this year seemed to feature more actors than in previous years, with actors being in places we haven’t seen them in before.
'The Village' is a perfect combination of actors and animatronics making this fake village feel more alive and real. We especially love the church scene, however, we wish this went back to the old way of working, with guests being batched and experiencing the church in smaller groups, this allows the main scare of the maze to be more impactful as we saw the scare happen before we got to it, making it less effective overall. Regardless, ‘The Village’ is still a brilliant maze and provides great scares.
Our final maze of the night was the maze that is new for 2021, ‘Ashes to Earth’. Not much was known about this maze prior to the event, with little information about it on the website, apart from a small piece of text:
“We are one with the Earth. The people are the land. We cultivate it. We poison it. We pollute it. It reclaims. It controls all destinies.
Mother Earth will decide her ongoing shape and form. Embrace her power, honour her beauty and all that she provides. The toxicity evolves us. We are more than we once were. Inhale the fumes, drink from the contaminated cesspool, taste the decomposing flesh on your tongue. You mutate. You adapt. You become at one with the Earth.
Outsiders are not welcome here. The maize is calling. Mother has spoken. She wants you to nourish her fields. The cycle begins. Your spilled blood leaches into the soil, benefiting the corn. Your atoms feed her children.
We must obey Mother. You will return to the Earth.”
From this text, we could work out that it was a corn maze, but not much else so we were excited to find out more.
As we queued for the maze, the faint sound of chainsaws could be heard in the distance and an actor was roaming the queue asking everyone if they were here to deliver the package, sadly we had to inform him that we were not, which got him very frustrated and angry and mentioned that outsiders were not allowed and this was the only reason we were let in in the first place.
As we entered the maze, painted on the door were the words “Bugger Off”, charming! However, we chose to ignore the sign and progressed on anyway. Throughout the maze, we entered several buildings, a greenhouse-type area growing plants under various colored lights, a caravan that sat on rather unsteady ground, as it tipped and tilted as we entered, and a barn, to name a few.
Each of these areas was different and unique, and rather weird and trippy in places. It was very cool to walk through but can’t really begin to tell you a storyline apart from the general premise and themes of caring for the planet. I was asked about the package on several occasions and never worked out what it was so although it was a fun and interesting maze, it lacked a clear storyline.
I think there could be more story told between the buildings as currently, there are very few actors in the corn sections of the maze, which are just transition points between the various buildings, so if there was some there to expand the story further, it may make the building portions a bit more clearer.
Let me get this straight, this is by no way a bad maze, the scares are effective, and theming is brilliant and I am probably missing some big hints to the story around the maze, as I know Xtreme love leaving story clues within the set pieces, so perhaps after a few runs through the maze it would make more sense, but on a first run-through, I was more looking at the bigger picture, rather than the smaller details.
We look forward to seeing how this maze grows in the future, as looking at the surrounding area, there is space this maze could expand to.
Overall, We had a fantastic night at Xtreme Scream, we enjoyed all of the mazes, scare zone, and street entertainment as well as shows and street theatre run by ‘The Toxic Dolls’. It was great to see the place so busy on opening night and goes to show that people are wanting to get out and have some fun after what has been an interesting start to the decade.
We are so glad that the restrictions are looser than last year, as one of the things that make Xtreme Scream so great is the actors, who love to get a feel of you, and throughout the night, we certainly experienced that! They also want to make your experience as memorable as possible by making conversations with you. We had no end of conversations with actors throughout the event, whether in the mazes, street entertainment, or scare zone, all of whom act like a genuine character, rather than an animatronic reciting from a ‘cookie cutter’ script.