You know when you wake up in the morning and something just isn’t right? Yeah? Well, I spent most of yesterday feeling really on edge. Why? Because Louise, Neal and I had invitations to the opening night of Hallowscream at York Maze.
As you may have read, I had a rather unsettling time at Fright Nights at Thorpe Park last week, so I was feeling really nervous about our outing to York. I had, helpfully, been advised that this experience would be more scary. Great. Thanks for those words of encouragement!
So, with dispatches all sorted for the day and fresh undies applied, we head off for an evening of shocks.
On arrival, we witnessed a group of teenagers being chased by a crazed clown with a chainsaw. Whilst this was quite amusing to watch, my nerves were admittedly rattled. We were then directed into a foreboding barn, where we were introduced to an animated stone bust, who welcomed us to the history of Dunnington Lodge and provided the safety warnings for the night. This was a really nice touch.
Chased from the barn, we made our way to the main area. All 5 separate live-action scare mazes all came off a big marquee which also housed food and drink outlets, as well as a stage which provided live entertainment of fire eaters, snake charmers and dancers throughout the night.
After soaking up the atmosphere and treating ourselves to some food, we decided to start the evening by entering ‘The Flesh Pot’. A gruesome trip through Victorian times, where meat is in short supply. More imaginative means are found for filling the pies fed to unsuspecting locals. Screams of the York residents are masked by the pigs squealing in their pens. Confronted by intimidating “butchers” with designs on our flesh created a menacing and visceral experience. We were also excited to see some of our more gory props on display.
With our blood now pumping we went straight to maze 2. Well, after a drink, the hotdog made my mouth very dry; nothing to do with screaming my way around maze number 1! Next up was ‘Reincornation’, a dizzy house of confusion, built to help rest the disturbed soul of Corny the Clown. Trying to get your head around gravity defying rooms full of unhinged circus clowns was a confounding affair filled with laughs and screams in equal measure. I particularly liked the use of plastic sheet curtains in this maze; we had NO idea where we were going – I’ll say no more!
Next up was Barnaggedon 3D which I had been warned was a particularly scary experience. On entry we were provided with 3D glasses. I have to admit to being a bit sceptical as to how effective the glasses might be. Well, I needn’t have been, they really did add another dimension to the maze! This added an overwhelming feeling of disorientation as we entered an industrial subterranean world of monsters and chaos. I loved the hallucinogenic feel to this maze, it really made me uneasy, you didn’t feel like you could believe what your eyes were telling you.
We were really on a roll by now and we headed straight to ‘2073’, a post Trump nuclear apocalyptic world. We were tasked with finding our way out without becoming infected, but who can be trusted to help? This maze took us outside into the maize. Some great set pieces including trashed vehicles and hospital wards gave some great interactions with scare actors. However, for me this was one of the more disappointing mazes of the night. It was probably down to some first night glitches or the fact the we caught up with the group in front of us who were going very slowly. For the first part of the maze we didn’t encounter any infected residents, so made our way for some time with no scares. I’m sure this will improve when everyone has settled in. There were some really nice touches, as I say, so I hope you will enjoy it (and don’t encounter any slow coaches!).
Our last visit was a confrontation with ‘The Difference Engine’. A look into the future with a binary computer was confounding and hard to describe. At points in the maze we were sorted into zeros and ones which added to a nervous experience. Warnings of electric shocks are in place with good reason! I honestly don’t know what to say about ‘The Difference Engine’, it really was baffling and unsettling, and I don’t want to give anything away either.
We had a horrific time with the guys at Hallowscream and I mean that in a good way! We all had our favourites; Neal liked ‘The Flesh Pot’ best, whilst Louise’s favourite was ‘Reincornation’ (which she insisted on calling ‘Reinclownation’). I enjoyed ‘Reincornation’ and ‘The Difference Engine’ best at the time, but while writing this I have come to the conclusion that I liked all of them for very different reasons.
The imagination and craftsmanship on show at Hallowscream is excellent. Each maze is different and displays many effects including smoke filled rooms to play with your perception, claustrophobia tunnels and a vortex tunnel as well as 3D effects. The creative team have clearly had fun putting these mazes together.
The scare actors roaming the space were clearly enjoying interacting with the public and struck just the right balance of scares and fun.
The whole team have clearly been working hard. I was really impressed with the overall experience. The main marquee area is an inspired idea; having food outlets in a main arena whilst being able to access the mazes from the same space added a really social “experience’. This makes for a great night out. We were just disappointed that we had to drive back because we would have loved to have soaked up more of the atmosphere with a nice beer.
Make sure you get the chance to visit before the circus leaves town on Saturday 3rd November. I would also recommend purchasing an RIP ticket to get you fast access to each of the mazes, then you don’t have so much time to consider what lies on the other side of the door before chickening out. But book early, these guys sell out!