What did we think of our recent visit to Alton Towers Scarefest 2020?
On Saturday the 10th of October 2020 we made the long anticipated visit to our number one favourite annual event on the UK theme park season calendar – Alton Towers Scarefest!
Having waited all year on tenterhooks to see if this fantastic event would indeed go ahead, we were absolutely thrilled when back in late August we received the news we could indeed look forward to our favourite spooktacular this coming October!
Unlike 2019 however we decided that the best way to take it all in so to speak was to not only spend just one day there, but two and in late September we decided to put our master plan in place to ensure that this season (no matter the cost involved) we didn’t miss a thing!
First thing’s first! No matter how restricting the current situation may be one thing if an absolute dead cert! Alton Towers did not disappoint!
Delivering possibly their most unique Halloween offering yet, it’s clear to say that this year the resort really have gone all out!
Not only do we have the addition of two absolutely fantastic new additions (Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard and Garden Lights Walk: Whispering Souls), however the whole way the event is laid out throughout the park has changed and adapted to fit in with the current guidelines in place.
In so doing the changes almost feel as if they have been effortless for the resort (we’re sure that’ not the case though)!
This means that if you’re planning to visit Scarefest this year then it’s safe to say that they have by far hit their usual standards of spookiness and then some.
So, to the main question on everyone’s minds (we’re sure)! What can you expect from the infamous scaremazes this season?
Well, in reality apart from experiencing the mazes in your family groups now as opposed to the usual bigger groups and with obvious social distancing and the no touch policy in mind nothing has really changed.
Through the use of brand new jump scare techniques and an increased use of the special effects and lighting these fantastic annual additions will still succeed in scaring the absolute pants off you!
Although existing mazes such as The Attic: Terror of the Towers and Altonville Mine Tours have been adapted to allow for better ventilation and throughput, the overall interiors of the mazes haven’t really seen much change at all.
The corridors you traverse are still narrow, the actors still jump out of nowhere and the smells used within are still just as pungent as they ever were.
The most obvious changes for this season however are evident whilst experiencing the resort’s infamous Hills Have Eyes/ Texas Chainsaw Massacre style maze – Altonville Mine Tours.
Where as you would usually have two pre-shows (one externally and one just after you enter) there is now only one exterior pre-show.
This we imagine is due to the fact you enter the maze in your own household groups at regular intervals to avoid any internal build up of groups over a certain size (which the internal pre-show would have caused).
The other change worth baring in mind here is also the removal of the lift style experience just inside the entrance to the maze as well. This is no longer part of your experience as well.
Although as previously mentioned the other mazes have seen changes as well the other major change to take into consideration where existing mazes from previous years are concerned is the complete relocation of Darkest Depths from the Mutiny Bay Courtyard to the back of Dark Forest.
This we imagine is not only due to expansion of internal space within the maze, however it will also most likely be to do with the brand new finale which is now in place (which requires far more room to pull off than they previously had in the other location).
Darkest Depths is still by far however one of our personal favourites and although the maze is now in it’s second year it’s clear that this is one maze we can expect to have a very bright future at the annual event in the years to come.
Darkest Depths employs everything from some of the most well choreographed theatrics within any maze to date to superb special effects, the perfect mixture of physical themeing and sensory themeing and an atmosphere within that really will make you completely forget the fact you are walking through shipping containers.
Now before we touch on the two brand new additions for this year and what they offer we quickly want to tell you exactly why we feel that out of all the scaremazes you can look forward to this season The Attic: Terror of the Towers takes our official top spot as the best scaremaze of this season!
Having premiered at the resort back in 2019 this absolute masterpiece of Gothic Horror and Atmospheric induced terror deliver possibly one of the most creepy, visually pleasing and eerie experiences you are likely to indulge in this season.
In order to truly immerse all those who choose to experience this fantastic maze Alton Towers have crafted a creepily authentic chiller of a tale that will drop you straight into the story right from the get go and will not let up until you reach the maze’s horrifying conclusion with the demon himself.
throughout your experience not only are you faced with a whole host of creepy and chilling characters, however you are also met by some of the most putrid smells to grace any maze within recent years.
Overall it’s fair to say that the Attic: Terror of the Towers is an absolute must this season for any die hard horror fan.
Now then, what can you expect from a run through Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard?
This brand new maze can officially be considered a sequel to the previous scare zone Freak Show and just like it’s predecessor, the entire maze is completely in the open.
This does not however take away from the experience in any way and given the fact the story is set within an actual junkyard the maze itself is about as authentic as it gets when it comes to recreating exactly that.
Surrounded by everything from neon drenched clowns to some of the Circus’s most well loved side shows you are thrust into the world of the Psycho Clowns and their abandoned hunting ground and as you try to escape you are met by what we consider to be some of the most bizzare scaremazes characters to date,
Not only that, however if you are one of those who loved the chainsaw chase at the end of Sub Species then this brand new addition will still provide your gasoline fuelled euphoria as you are constantly ducking and diving out of the way as the maniacal clowns swipe at your arms, legs and faces with their over eager buzzing blades!
Overall although Toxic Junkyard has been hailed as one of the most frightening mazes this season, we personally feel that this is not the case for us.
This is due to the wacky overall nature of the maze throughout and the severe lack in storyline or pre-show.
If you’re looking for chills this Halloween season then we feel it’s fair to say that the Attic does a far better job of putting you on the edge of your seat (o to speak) than this new addition ever will.
Garden Lights Walk: Whispering Souls
In order to explore this brand new addition more fully we feel that it’s only fair we give Whispering Souls it’s own section.
This is due to the fact that this new addition to the Scarefest line up offers an experience far different from anything to be added to the annual event’s line up in years.
Garden Lights Walk: Whispering Souls offers a truly one of a kind experience and is (as the name suggests) located in the beautiful and very serene Alton Towers Gardens (which are usually off limits to visitors during Scarefest after a set time).
Utilising the perfect mixture of lighting, themed audio and atmospheric music throughout this fantastic new addition offers a much more relaxed, yet intriguing experience which we have to say contrasts the scaremazes perfectly.
If you’re looking for something a little more family friendly this Scarefest then we highly recommend checking this out.
The walk follows a set route which has been clearly marked out throughout the gardens and passes everything from the beautiful gothic architecture of the gardens conservatories to the iconic U shaped hedge archways which are beautifully illuminated almost as if they were clothed in ropes of starlight.
There are also points throughout the walk where you can either sit and hear a chilling tale of Death himself (as seen in the above picture) and how he comes to collect the souls of the damned or bravely venture past a chilling cloaked figure as they sit patiently in a boat on the pond at the bottom of the gardens waiting to take their next victim.
Overall although the walk is extremely atmospheric it delivers by far on the most visually epic sights you are likely to behold when visiting this season’s offering.
Entertainment Merch and more!
Scarefest simply wouldn’t be Scarefest of course without the addition some extremely fun and well choreographed family entertainment and this comes in the form of flash mob performances from the infamous Alton Ancestors to some spooktacular childrens entertainment over in the resort’s children’s are Cbeebies Land!
There is also a whole range of LIVE performers, singers and more and these for the most part can be found on the front lawns on the event’s purpose built stage and with Cbeebies Land’s show arena throughout the day.
Alongside this you can also choose from a whole host of brand new merch which includes everything from Hoodies and T-Shirts to Travel Mugs, Pin Badges and even official Scarefest Face Masks!
All of this can be found in Towers Trading – the resort’s official gift shop which can be found on the side of Towers Street opposite the resort box office.
We do have to say though that unfortunately where this season’s merch is concerned we are far from being fans as we feel the inclusion of the ’40th Anniversary’ on the hoodies brings the quality down a little and in our opinion miss represents the event as being the 40th anniversary of Scarefest (which it isn’t) as opposed to being the resort’s 40th anniversary.
The other major change worth noting for this year’s official Scarefest is the fact that the food outlets previously used for Oktoberfest have been kept in place, however they have been renamed and some prices lowered to be incorporated into this year’s offering.
This also includes an outdoor table service only bar area named Oozy Boozy (formerly the Bier Keller) which now serves alcoholic drinks to customers on the front lawns whilst they sit and take in the LIVE entertainment on the stage opposite.
So what do we think overall?!
Having spent two days at the event over opening weekend we have to admit that although current restrictions are as harsh and as restrictive as they are this hasn’t held the resort back from delivering one of the most unique and fun Scarefests the resort have delivered in years in the slightest.
The addition of Whispering Souls in our opinion definitely makes it worth a visit alone, however when you consider just how much there actually is on offer at the resort as a whole and how well all effortlessly they appear to continue to operate regardless of the way things are we have to say that to say we are impressed would be a major understatement.
Alton Towers really have knocked it out of the park this season when it comes to staying as normal as possible whilst still keeping everyone who visits safe and for that reason we take our hats off to them.
The scaremazes are as exceptional as ever, the entertainment is as well delivered as it usually is and overall the only difference we can see are the adaptations the park have been forced to make as a result of our current struggles with the obvious.
Nothing else feels remotely different and for that fact we would like to offer our thanks to the entire team at the resort for an absolutely fantastic and very memorable weekend.
If you haven’t visited the resort yet for this season’s Halloween offering (and to get your fix of the one and only Big Bob of course) then we can’t recommend doing so enough.
Scarefest 2020 is in our opinion an absolute must for all when getting you fix of creepy fun, thrills and chills this Halloween season!