Theme Park Insanity

Theme Park Insanity reviews Thorpe Park Fright Nights Fearstival 2020!

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Brand new team member Sam Costello reviews Thorpe Park Fight Nights Fearstival 2020 exclusively for Theme Park Insanity!

Although we may now be heading towards the twinkling trees and sugar induced comas of the festive season as we all plan to clamber up into our attics and drag our sparkling Christmas trees out of hiding in readiness for the big day at the back end of December (infact some of you already appear well ahead of the curve on that front!) it’s never too late to take a look back once again at some of the best thrills and chills the past spooky season had to offer!

We are therefore absolutely thrilled to offer this fantastic and very exclusive review of Thorpe Park’s highlight event of the 2020 season – Fright Nights Fearstival in which our brand new team member Sam takes a closer look at what this season’s fantastically creepy event had to offer and discusses his highlights and experiences of this years Fright Nights Fearstival 2020.

Fright Nights 2020 - Thorpe Park Review

Halloween events are usually a huge draw for theme parks, as they perfectly enhance the immersiveness of themed areas to place guests into their own spooky stories. However, due to Covid-19, there was naturally a lot of uncertainty surrounding this tradition.

Fright Nights

For the UK theme park industry Thorpe Park Fright Nights is perhaps one of the most popular events. Matching a park with a predominantly ‘white-knuckle’ mission statement and an event heavily based on creating fear and testing your courage just makes sense.

Now, the success of Fright Nights is usually attributed to confined mazes, intense jump scares and close encounters with their incredible scare actors. For this reason, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of such an event under the limitations of current social distancing measures.

How well did the park adapt?

As I entered the event for the first time it became immediately apparent that Thorpe Park was not going to let a few limitations detract from their guests’ experience. Once on the bridge to the island it is hard to ignore the statuesque ‘Crows’ standing upon their crosses with eerie, ambient music driving anticipation for what’s to come. Although there were restrictions this year, this Theme Park thrived when their creativity was called upon.

If you are looking for an event that encompasses an entire venue, to momentarily transform Thorpe Park as we know it, this is it. Fully immersed in Halloween, the park introduced several scare zones this year. For these zones to completely engage guests the atmosphere needs to be fierce; Amity High and Lycanthorpe engaged guests with the electric passion of the cast, The Fearstival Arena mesmerizingly combined everything we love about festivals with a freak show narrative whilst Creek Freak and Swarm Invasion served to add an extra layer of story and interactivity to their respective areas. Importantly, the levels of storytelling, immersion and interactive entertainment was sustained across the entire park for this year’s event.

The Rides

Whilst riding your favourite roller coasters in the dark is always a special experience, it does not necessarily restyle the experience. This was partially achieved by the ambient lighting and eerie soundtracks building anticipation throughout the queues and enhancing the on-ride experience. This was especially effective on Stealth as the more sinister countdown served for a much more suspenseful experience. Yet for a more complete ride experience they could have added more physical props and actors within the queues and stations as seen at the nearby Chessington World of Adventures where the queues ‘came alive’.

Screamplexx Cinema

The Screamplexx Cinema exemplified a well-crafted enhancement of a versatile space; they created a complete narrative, the actors showed full devotion to the narrative, and made sure that the audience were fully invested in the narrative through constant audience interaction. Fully utilising the 4D cinema Screamplex brought three original short films to life through the sharp movements of the motion chairs, chilling sense of movement manufactured by wind machines below the chairs and the unpredictability of the unsettling hosts. Although this attraction will not be the main draw for guests visiting Fright Nights it’s certainly not one to be missed!

The Mazes

In some cases, less is more, and that certainly is the case when talking about the mazes. For an event to successfully adapt their experiences to both provide a chilling experience and juggle the trappings of Covid-19 restrictions, the creativity and commitment had to be exceptional. Without spoiling either experience, both Roots of Evil and Platform 15 surpassed all my expectations, each engrossing guests in a convincing storyline with the perfect blend of physical sets, chilling scores and manic characters.

Overall Fright nights 2020 was an excellent event which exceeded all my expectations, from the scare zones, to the mazes to the brilliant cast of characters. Challenging circumstances or not, this season’s display was exceptional, and I hope that it was indicative of what to expect from future events as this all-encompassing transformation of the island into Fright Nights clearly spared no expense.

We Want to thank Sam for taking the time to exclusively share his thoughts on this iconic Halloween event and we can’t wait to get back there in 2021 when we truly hope that a much more normal and thrilling event can be had, free of restrictions on our everyday lives!

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