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Thorpe Park Fright Nights 2017

Discussion in 'Halloween Haunts & Scare Attractions' started by Ian, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. Ian

    Ian From CoasterForce Staff Member Administrator Moderator Social Media Team CF Award Winner 2016

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    I went to the press preview yesterday evening with my brother, @Rachel and her friend Zara.

    Once we got through the tired looking entrance plaza, over the bridge and out of the dome, Thorpe Park looks amazing. The sudden view of coasters and rides is great and it looks especially beautiful at night. I really like what they've done with the lighting. The park feels completely different than it does in daylight, probably because it's dark which masks any imperfections.
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    There were a few scare actors wandering around the park but I didn't see as many as I thought I would. They were in good character and helped to create an atmosphere of fun and fear (in a good way).

    There are five scare mazes this year, plus an escape room attraction. We didn't bother the escape room, Containment, because there were new things to try and, quiet frankly, better attractions to do.

    From this point on there are SPOILERS AHEAD. Skip on to the 'spoilers end' section at the bottom of this post to avoid ruining the experience if you're planning to visit. Photos will probably give the game away, anyway.

    SPOILERS START

    The Big Top
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    We did this one first. The story is told by a fortune teller...but she has changed from a live actor last year to a projection this year. It all seemed a little cheap, to be fair. For me, part of the experience of these scary things is setting the scene and only a real person can do that through acting, facial expressions, reacting to the crowd and so on. Anyway, after we went through the first of many hanging plastic flaps, we were greeted by the actors and the fun started!
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    They were in superb character as they banged the walls, screamed in our faces (except for the mime, obviously), and hissed behind us. They jumped out of places, appeared out of nowhere...a proper scare attraction. The best part was the strobe lighting maze. It is so disorientating! The effect makes it virtually impossible to follow somebody without holding on to them because the person "flicks" around your vision. After that there are a few other scenes, including a large chained up teddy bear.
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    And the finale is, for some seemingly-unrelated reason that I can't work out, a man with a chainsaw.
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    The Big Top was good and was definitely propped up by the strobe maze and its soundtrack. They could probably get away with this maze again next year.

    Saw Alive!
    I didn't take any photos in here but I'm always impressed with this one. The rooms are well detailed, the actors and their make up is spot-on and it has a good pace with nicely timed jump scares. It's not :emoji_poop: yourself scary, but it's good theatre. Well worth doing. Some of the traps and scenes seemed a little odd to work out. Why was that woman pelvic thrusting on the bed? What does it matter if two people are having a tug of war with a chain attached to their wrists? Oh shut up, Ian, just embrace it.

    Platform 15
    I really enjoyed this maze last year and was looking forward to seeing the improved version.
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    Thankfully this one starts with a narrator who sets the scene about a missing train and its conductor as she walks the group along an stony path (the old train tracks). Good old fashioned torch-under-chin story telling, flickering lights and sound effects. It really was a tension builder, especially when she told the group to go on ahead alone through more hanging plastic flaps.
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    After a while of stumbling through semi-darkness, a huge flame erupts and illuminates the ghostly train! Evil spirits come at you as you wander past deeper into the woods! A great visual delight without being scary.
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    A little further on through the misty woods (it seems like Thorpe has invested in a lot of smoke machines this year, which is great with the lights), a mysterious (misterious?) house appears! You just know that something is inside and it's going to :emoji_poop: you up.
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    Yes! Babies with rotating heads, guts all over the kitchen. Predicable but, wow, such unexpected quality! Actors jump out when you expect them too but, more importantly, when you don't expect them to. This lures you into a false sense of security. There was woman screaming at a wall, but she never screamed in my face. It's almost like the story line is second guessing your second guessing.
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    Beyond the house is a tunnel. It's a loooooooooooooong, very dimly lit tunnel and it goes on for ages. What I particularly liked about the tunnel was the "nothingness". Like with the house, I expected somebody - or thing - to jump out and make me :emoji_poop: myself. But no. Nothing. Nothing but the sound of the stones crunching beneath my feet and the rest of the group pondering what's going on. This proves that parks don't need a big budget to create atmosphere. There were a few sound effects and one actor did walk past us, but for the loooooong walk, there was nothing but anticipation. The finale is the missing conductor who appears in a smoke filled room illuminated in a blood red colour. I really enjoyed Platform 15. Without a doubt, the best scare maze at Fright Nights 2017.

    The Walking Dead - The Living Nightmare
    I've never seen TWD, so the theme and story was slightly lost on me but I got to judge it as a non-branded attraction which didn't really quite work in my head. What was extra special about this attraction was it had several batching areas so we got to go through several sets of hanging plastic flaps. Eventually we ended up in a well themed jungle room where a menacing man with a baseball bat told us to kneel down. FFS, can't I just stand?
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    The man started to tell a story. I couldn't quite hear it because I was sat next to the hanging plastic flaps that lead to the next room so all I heard was a mixture of sounds. Eventually the mumbling man picked his victim and pretended to strike her, Rachel, with a baseball bat.
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    (That's me next to the hanging plastic flaps, brother beside me).
    So yeah, we walked through a series of well themed rooms that I didn't understand and zombies were lurching towards us. I don't like zombies in scare attractions because, by their nature (or lack of it), they move slowly so there are minimal jump scares. I just kind of step around them feeling a bit cheated. Also, I've watched Shaun of the Dead a million times and find zombies comedic, not frightening.
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    Despite the boring zombies, the sets were fantastic with great attention to detail. From what I can gather from piecing the story together, there's a top secret area controlled by men with baseball bats where zombies roam free and have cause havoc? The highlight was the bus scene. It looked amazing and I gingerly stepped through it expecting one of the dead people to come alive.
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    It's worth noting at this point that my brother had several pints of beer so he was feeling invincible and, after doing the other mazes, seemed to get the hang of how they work. "Somethings going to be around this corner, isn't it?" And yes, something was. I did feel this maze was quite predictable in terms of scares and the story confused me slightly, but the sets made up for it. Rachel told me afterwards that it has scenes from the show so it's no wonder it was lost on me. Fans of the show will probably love it.

    The Walking Dead - Sanctum
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    The final maze we did and good god was it turd. I just sort of walked through a campsite and a street scene with zombies. Ok, so the sets were ok but what the :emoji_zipper_mouth: is scary about it? I didn't jump once. It was like walking through a live actor filled Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's. A bit creepy, but ever so underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, the scenes were, like Living Nightmare, well constructed, but it really lacked atmosphere and tension.
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    We must have walked through it in less than two minutes.

    END SPOILERS

    If you're going to Fright Nights this year, and I recommend you do because the park feels and looks great at night, do not miss Platform 15, Big Top and Saw Alive - they are brilliant! If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, give those two mazes a go if you can fit them in. If you're not, do them if there's a short queue.

    At the end of the day, I'm a coaster man and coasters are what defines Thorpe Park. Stealth, Swarm and Inferno are three of the best coasters that the UK has to offer, and if there's a chance you can ride them at night then do it! Three great coasters, three great scare mazes and a atmospheric park make Fright Nights worth a visit.
     
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  2. Scott88

    Scott88 Well-Known Member

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    Great report Ian, I am looking forward to giving Thorpe Park Fright Nights a go tomorrow, I've not done Fright Nights there since 2012. I've watched quite a lot of the videos from last night and have to say it's the Big Top maze I am most looking forward to doing, I still think Towers got rid of their clowns maze far too quickly.

    Unfortunately I couldn't make it to the media night but one of the PBE team was able to make it and got some decent footage, the vlog will be online soon but for now we have a POV of our team member bricking it most the way through;

     
  3. Ben

    Ben Well-Known Member CF Award Winner 2016

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    I agree, both Walking Dead mazes looked great, LN especially is probably the best themed maze they've ever had, but the very nature of the slow moving walkers means it's not scary.

    I also noticed a lot of scare opportunities they weren't using, and that first scene was not timed well enough to be effective at all!

    Big Top was amazing though I loved it - the strobe maze was vile and then after that it was dark and claustrophobic and actually scary - actors still needed a bit of work but this was staff night before even press night, so it was really their first time doing it to an audience.

    Platform 15 was a vast improvement on last year, but the tunnel still was poo. Everything up to that was great, the tunnel itself sucked.

    Saw Alive is a classic but a goodie - filled with smoke and darkness it got some really good scares in.

    Overall I think it's their best line up in a long time, just need the actors in Walking Dead to raise their game a little bit.
     
  4. DelPiero

    DelPiero Well-Known Member

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    The issue with TWD is anyone who's been watching the series is in the mindset that the walkers simply aren't a huge threat. The show has removed the danger of walkers totally by focusing on the survivors killing each other.
    I'm sure these mazes would've been scarier in Season 3 or something, but everyone knows you can just wander away from a walker and survive, so while the sets and make-up may look good, they aren't a scary medium in the TWD sense.

    How do the Orlando TWD mazes compare? Anyone done both?
     
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  5. JoshC.

    JoshC. Well-Known Member

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    Can't compare to the Orlando mazes, but I did the Movie Park Germany one this year, and I had the same issue - theming is fab, actors were very limited to what they could do and it just wasn't that scary.

    Living Nightmare is better than that one though. The pre show is good, and kept me on my toes as to what was going to happening. Though the actors didn't have much scope as to what they could do, they were more varied - Germany's one, everyone was Walkers just shouting boo, whilst Thorpe had a mix of Walkers, survivors trying to warn you and survivors trying to harm you.

    Sanctum is fun, no more no less. It's totally more a walkthrough / scare zone than a maze, but it does the job reasonably well. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I liked it for what it is.

    As for the other mazes, Big Top is by far the crowning jewel of Fright Nights. Strobe maze is so intense, the middle is fun, the bit before the ending is clever, and a chainsaw will always get people running. Saw Alive remains consistent. Platform 15 is vastly improved; the tunnel still needs more (though the addition of stringy things hanging from the ceiling is a nice touch...they always creep me out), but it is a largely good.


    As others have said, it's one of the better Fright Nights in past years. In some ways, it's become hard for Thorpe to keep up the quality vs quantity, and they've had to become quite creative with more limited space. So it's good to see things moving in the right direction, and I'm confident they'll continue in the right direction for years to come.
     
  6. Lofty

    Lofty Social Media Team Staff Member Social Media Team

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    I've done two Universal and Movie Parks' version and I've not enjoyed any of them. The thing is, zombies are completely passive characters - they will not hurt or harm you and all they can do is lunge out, they just don't work in any scare attractions. I've done quite a few now and the only one two I actually enjoyed were 'Zombie Mortuary', because of the theming and the fact it was pitch black and also Zombie Outpost because we got to shoot the :emoji_zipper_mouth:ers.
     
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  7. DelPiero

    DelPiero Well-Known Member

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    Yep, they look great and all, but they really aren't a danger. Throw a bunch of 28 Days Later zombies in a room and you'll have a totally different attraction.
     
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  8. cp23

    cp23 Well-Known Member

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    I went here on Friday (had the day off work) and had a good time, despite the crowds, which at least weren't as bad as last time I went to Thorpe Park (during Fright Nights 2012), when we waited something like three hours for one maze (Experiment 10 I believe) and didn't bother with any of the others.

    The day didn't start off well with both Swarm and DBGT train breaking down just as it was our turn (in the case of the former after we were already seated and in the case of the latter just after the pre-show finished, but at least we got a free fast pass to return). The day got better, though, and we managed to get on all 5 of the standard mazes without too much queuing and without spending any extra on fast passes, and managed to squeeze in dark rides on Nemesis, Colossus and Swarm. Saw and Stealth we only got on during the day. We did eventually get on DBGT with the free fast pass, and I enjoyed it more than I had expected to based on the general feelings towards the ride. It did only spend about 4 of the 12 hours operating, though, which is not great.

    My thoughts on the mazes below.

    Big Top: This one seems to review well but we were underwhelmed, although it may just have been our bad luck because it felt like there was a lot of potential there. We didn't notice any fortune teller at the beginning, projected or otherwise, and either the park was letting people in too quickly or other guests had just got a bit lost, but there were simply far too many people inside the maze (mainly screaming teenagers) for it to be scary. At one point it became a real squeeze and it was almost impossible to move, like being on a crowded tube train. Shame, perhaps we should have tried it again later in the day. We only had to queue for about 15-20 minutes at least.

    Saw Alive: This was the first time I'd ever been on this and I was quite impressed, would put it up there with Living Nightmare as the best of the five. It's probably the most impressive looking of all of them, which is understandable as it's permanent. I'm aware this originally operated as an all-year-round attraction, so I must have either never visited Thorpe when that was the case, or it happened to be out of action when I was there. Glad I've now finally tried it.

    Platform 15: Now we did this one at about 4.30pm, when it was still light, and probably would have waited had we realised it mainly took place outside. That said, we were impressed and would have done it again in the dark had the queue been shorter; I'm sure it would have improved the walk through the woods no end. It was nice to see the old Canada Creek Express put in an appearance!

    Living Nightmare: I've never seen the Walking Dead but enjoyed this one all the same. It was the one we had to queue the longest for by some margin (think we waited around an hour compared to 20 mins on average for the others) but we weren't disappointed. There was some impressive scenery inside, in particular the bus. The finale was a bit of a cheap way of getting people to run but I sprinted out nevertheless!

    Sanctum: Echo the above comments; it's fine for what it is but it's more of a "scare zone" than a proper maze. I recall Alton had a scare zone like this last time we went, about 4 years ago, where you walked past zombies and overturned/burnt out vehicles. This was like a slightly extended version of that. Can't really complain, though, as we didn't have to queue long. If I'd paid for a fast pass I would have been miffed.

    Overall, an enjoyable day. I'm not sure whether we've just been on so many of these things now but neither of us found any of the mazes particularly scary, whereas we have found some of them (both at Thorpe and Alton) pretty terrifying in previous years. They're still good fun, though, and it's just pretty cool to be in the park in the dark.
     
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  9. Mysterious Sue

    Mysterious Sue Well-Known Member

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    @cp23 glad you had a good time and it wasn't too busy in the end.
     
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  10. JoshC.

    JoshC. Well-Known Member

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    What happened during the finale for you? I did the maze a couple of times earlier in the event, and they tried a few different endings to see what worked best (the answer from me would have been none of them), so it'll be interesting to find out what they've been doing at the tail end of the event.
     
  11. cp23

    cp23 Well-Known Member

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    There was a guy holding a zombie on a leash that looked like it was trying to escape. The guy then said he was going to give us 5 seconds to escape before he unleashed the zombie and then started counting. Whether he ever did or not I don't know, but it worked as the whole group legged it to the exit as soon as he started the countdown!
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2017
  12. Ben

    Ben Well-Known Member CF Award Winner 2016

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    Yeah that’s the ending that I’ve had both times I’ve done it, on two different nights both early in the run.

    Living Nightmare looks beautiful and now the actors are fast paced and they use prosthetics not the crappy masks I actually quite like it.

    Plus all the Negans are fiiiiit.
     
  13. JoshC.

    JoshC. Well-Known Member

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    Ah fair enough. I had versions including that, being 'let out' one by one, having a plastic gun pointed at me and having actors bash the tarpaulin to make it sound like gunfire or just nothing happening. They were all pretty bad.

    One good thing they had going for Living Nightmare is that there was always LOTS have actors swarming in there. Always made things lively!
     
  14. cp23

    cp23 Well-Known Member

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    Slightly off topic but I noticed the absence of the swinging axes just before the drop in the dark on Saw when I was there. That effect hasn't been permanently retired, has it? Perhaps it was just temporarily out of action. I hope so, because I like it. Also the blades at the bottom of the main drop were no longer spinning, which is less of a big deal but I still hope that's only temporary.
     
  15. zazobo

    zazobo Well-Known Member

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    Ohhh yes!! I thought something was different!!
     

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