10 October to 2 November 2014
Reviewed by Lorraine Knight
When I was told I would be getting tickets to the opening night of Thorpe Park Fright Night to say I was excited was an understatement; I was ecstatic!
This is Thorpe Park’s 13th year of hosting Fright Nights for 2 weeks over the Halloween period. This year promised to be better than ever. I’ve never been to their other Fright Nights before so I don’t know how it compares this year but looking at the map we were given on arrival and reading descriptions of each maze I was nervous but also couldn’t wait to start.
On arrival I was expecting the entrance and the building you enter prior to walking to the rides to be decorated very spookily but disappointed to find it wasn’t. There were numerous actors by the queues dressed in costumes with face paint looking similar to horror film characters. I was too scared to approach them to ask for help instead finding a member of staff in their normal uniform. These actors could be found later in the park. They did really spook me because they kept in character very well.
As we walked around the park quickly rushing to our first ride The Swarm because we wanted to avoid the queues so we had enough time for the 5 mazes later. I’ve never been on Swarm before and loved it screaming all the way round the twists and turns. Next was Rush and it had started to rain quite hard by now so we were soaking but I didn’t care feeling like a teenager again laughing and screaming on the rides.
By now the adrenaline had started to kick in so we decided to brave the Saw maze. It was lucky we had wristbands to queue jump because by now the park had started to get busier and I did think I may have changed my mind if I had to queue for the mazes and got scared more with each passing minute!
We were advised by the attendant to stay in a line together with our hands on the shoulders of the person in front and don’t break the chain! She ushered us into a darkened room and we set off through doorways obscured by strips of rubber you had to push through. Characters jumped out on us, touched us (you weren’t allowed to touch them, we were told at all of the mazes you would be escorted from the park if you did), spoke to us. I hid behind my teenage 6ft son screaming. The actors came right up to my face heavily breathing in my ear. This all added to the extreme scare factor. I didn’t notice my surroundings very much because I had my eyes closed a lot of the time screaming. When we finally exited, the adrenaline rush made us all laugh and with that we rushed to the Saw ride. In all my years of going to Thorpe Park I’ve never been brave enough to go on the ride but tonight all fears were gone until I actually sat on the ride and the overhead harness was locked. I then looked at my son and said “why?” The ride started and all the time I was saying “no”. I kept my eyes shut as we went higher and higher lying back in a horizontal position. As we reached the summit and began to go over the other side I screamed. All too quickly it was over and I loved it. I begged my son to go again!
Next we went in the maze The Blair Witch Project. This had a scare factor 2/5 so we thought this won’t be that scary. Well how wrong can we be? If you haven’t seen the film it’s based around a group of teenagers who get lost in the woods. The setting was perfect. Again you went in a group of about 8. We set off slowly walking through the woods in near darkness. I was at the front with my son holding onto him as usual. He was being very brave. Characters jumped out on us, chased us, grabbed us and generally playing mind games to spook us. It worked perfectly. At the end of the wood was a house and we could hear banging. None of us wanted to enter the house but the exit was after the house so you couldn’t avoid going through. There was smoke and you couldn’t see a thing. Suddenly a man jumped out and we all rang screaming and laughing from the house.
We did some more rides including Stealth, which goes from 0-80 in 2 seconds. It is a very short ride so I would only go on this if the queue were small.
By now we only had 45 minutes before the park shut so we quickly rushed over to Studio 13 maze. You have the option of having your photo taken before you enter and purchasing it on the way out. Again we were told to stay together and keep going forward. My son by now told me to just look at the characters and remember they are just people dressed up so I wouldn’t scream so much in his ear! It worked as this time I laughed most of the way round but I missed feeling scared and the whole point I think is to treat this experience as a scary one and make the most of it. I’m sure the actors appreciate people getting scared with their efforts. After Studio 13 we just had enough time to go into My Bloody Valentine scare factor 5/5. The ultimate maze.
We entered this maze with 4 other people. We were warned to look out for Harry Warden lurking in the shadows waiting for his next victim. The story build up adds to the scare factor. This time we were near the back and my son was behind me. Half way through he said to me the man behind us isn’t there anymore. This was the first time all night I had heard my son be scared. I quickly told the lady in front of me and she replied that her friends were also gone. We were terrified by now and all held hands as we quickly rushed ahead thinking they had walked on quicker. We couldn’t see them in the dim strobe lighting and when Harry Warden chased us we screamed. We stumbled across the 3 missing people. They quickly told us they had been grabbed and pushed into a tunnel. We were relieved but still had the rest of the maze to navigate around. A few more characters jumped out on us and we saw Harry again. We ran screaming through the exit all talking about how petrified we were when we realised half of the party were missing!
On the map there is The Extra Cut advertised which comprises of an overnight experience with a scare factor of 5/5. The Director invites you to a spine chilling overnight experience that runs until 2am at a cost of £125 each which includes overnight accommodation at Thorpe Shark Hotel, 2 day entrance to the park, hot buffet breakfast and more. I will definitely consider this for next year.
There is also VIP face it alone from £15 with champagne reception. There is no way I could brave the mazes on my own so I wouldn’t choose this package but it must be the ultimate scare challenge. Even my son said he wouldn’t do it and he was only scared a few times all night.
There is a 16 night horror pass which gives you unlimited access to Fright Nights, free parking (normally £5), 1 free Director’s Cut Fastrack .
You can pay to fastrack unlimited on all rides and mazes but quite expensive at £90 each.
We didn’t eat in any of the food outlets in the park but most were open and busy. All toilet facilities were clean and well stocked. I must admit to checking other cubicles when entering the toilet worried someone might jump out on me!
That would be my only suggestion to have more characters around the park to add to the scare theme. It’s probably impossible to do unless they make it adults only and we did notice lots of small children walking around but you weren’t allowed in the mazes unless you were 13 years or older.
To sum up, I would definitely go again and most probably would book the overnight package so we could stay in the park after it shut until 2am and get 2 days in the park to go on every ride as well. There are lots of different options to choose from ranging in price to suit everyone.
Well done Thorpe Park you probably gave me a few more grey hairs!
4/5 rating due to the long queues unless you can afford to fastrack.
Tickets cost from £25.99.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.thorpepark.com.