We have a confession to make. We’ve been keeping a secret from you all. Yes, it’s true.
A few weeks ago we received a very exciting phone call from the scary team at Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights. After some frightening phone calls and a bit of research we selected some of our goriest artist-made props which were then shipped down to one of the UK’s biggest theme parks! We couldn’t quite believe it ourselves, then we received our invite to the press night to see our stuff in-situ.
What the actual Hell?!
So, Louise and I hotfooted it down to Surrey – with a severed pig head on the back seat of my car!
Not knowing what to expect, it’s fair to say that I was more worried than Louise. Apprehension grew as we joined the queue of expectant invited guests and we were greeted by the fanged teen inhabitants of Amity High. These undead party-goers really got the atmosphere going, hanging around and picking off the unsuspecting visitors.
As the sun went down my fears grew and my levels of scared anticipation reached fever pitch. Trying to get our bearings, we walked the park getting accosted by a cast of infected citizens, vampires and crazed clowns at every turn. My fears absolutely got the better of me and Louise was completely incapable of getting me off the bench where I sat with my head in my hands. I have never felt so scared and I had not yet stepped a foot into any of the mazes! So, instead we headed to the bar, where I downed two pints of Guinness in half an hour!
Dutch courage well and truly consumed we went straight to Dead Wood Creek (before I could change my mind!), a maze that we had been assured was one of the tamer scares on offer. With the set up of a popular wooded tourist spot being overrun by residents who have drunk infected water, our aim was to escape without becoming infected ourselves. Pushing our way through bushes and trees there were jumps aplenty and made for a great introduction to the rest of the night.
Whilst my confidence had increased slightly, I was still uneasy about entering The Walking Dead Living Nightmare which had been classified with a scare rating of 5. After our obligatory safety warning we were ushered into the maze by one of the Saviours and immediately faced an encounter with the infamous Negan, who issued us with an intimidating instruction to find Rick Grimes and bring him back – dead or alive! At this point, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to make it out alive, never mind finding Rick. The whole set up was great with lots of good nods to the TV franchise, which isn’t surprising as AMC did have an amount of creative control over both the Walking Dead mazes at the park. I have to give props to the zombie who, staying in character completely, was desperately trying to guide Louise and I in the right direction when we kept heading the wrong way! The twists and turns throughout the maze gave plenty of opportunities to scare the living hell out of us, and we both left screaming with laughter; I collapsed on the grass just for a rest!
Without a chance to draw breath, I was quickly ushered to the second of The Walking Dead mazes, ‘Do or Die’, where we had been informed that a number of props supplied by Mad About Horror have been used. This was the first maze where we faced a queue, this only served to make me more nervous whilst I had time to consider what might be about to happen. I loved the start of this maze; you enter the Sanctum through an abandoned school bus and an encounter with a resident who has tasted tainted meat! The feeling of claustrophobia was compounded by a push through a disused shipping container which featured a great use of some dead pig carcasses that we had supplied. No spoilers here, but I struggled to find my way out of the container, which one of the actors enjoyed, but not as much as the onlooking Louise. Again, there were some cracking references to the TV series and brilliant set pieces breaking up the path through the maze.
After screaming our way through three mazes we needed a refreshment, so we headed back to the bar area for a drink just in time for The Big Top Showtime show. We were faced with a confrontation between some crazed clowns and circus freaks who broke out into the audience for extra scares. This was a great fun interlude to the evening with some amazing detailed performances from the actors.
Time was marching on by now, but we still had time to fit in a couple more mazes, much to my (ahem) pleasure! Having been informed that the Saw Alive! maze was terrifying and knowing that I was a fan of the film franchise, Louise was adamant that this should be our next stop. My proclamation that I love horror movies but don’t really want to be IN one seemed to fall on deaf ears, because a few minutes later I was being ushered into a dark, dank room with a Billy puppet sitting on a red trike! Seconds later we have been hurtled into one of the most famous set pieces of all the films and had to make our way through a series of rooms referencing other scenes from the various instalments, as well as facing the Pig Man. Lots of strobe lighting, pitch darkness and direct blinding light added to a feeling of disorientation and anxiety.
Our final maze of the night was another maze influenced by a notorious film; we found ourselves around a camp fire about to head into the Black Hills of Burkitsville. I wish I could have taken the advice of our greeter and kept my eyes to the ground, but that would have made navigating the woods even more tricky. I love the use of the natural surroundings of the park (as with Dead Wood Creek) it really added to the authenticity of the experience. The first time I watched The Blair Witch Project the sense of foreboding terrified me, and I loved the way they tried to capture some of that. My favourite part of this maze directly referenced a scene from the movie and just seeing the twig sculptures was enough to make me feel nervous.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to complete all the mazes, which I have to take responsibility for, having spent the first 45 minutes of the evening practically paralysed with fear, but I guess that’s exactly what Thorpe Park want to achieve, so maybe no apology is required!
We have to say a big THANK YOU to Thorpe Park for inviting us down, the hospitality on offer was second to none. But more importantly, we were incredibly impressed with the imagination displayed in all of the mazes we endured. We laughed, we jumped, we screamed (one of us more than the other). The artistry presented in the set pieces and through the actors was excellent. We take our hats off to the actors for remaining in character the whole time, that is not an easy job, well done.
We absolutely recommend that you pay a visit to beautiful Surrey and take in the horrors on offer at Thorpe Park #FrightNights2018 to really get your Halloween Holiday Season off to a truly terrifying start.