Great assessment and would agree on most of this.So, I had a few visits to Fright Nights this year. In total, it was 6 visits. Most of them were just evening pop-ins (the bonus of living close and having a pass I guess).
First visit was for Press Night, which I never use to judge the quality of the event. BUT I could tell it was going to be a much better event than previous years.
I also had a visit on the Annual Pass preview night (the first 'proper' one in a few years), where the attractions were again on top form.
I then had other visits scattered throughout the run.
I had a fair few runs on each of the mazes.
-Trailers was my favourite this year - a maze that isn't particular scary, but nicely themed and designed, with some good moments. It lacked that 'oomph' moment at the ending, and seemed to focus a bit too much on cramming Easter eggs and references in at point. But for the most part, was very solid.
-Platform 15 is a maze which has historically been very inconsistent. But it was good to see its final season was a good one. The idea of the maze was to start off slow and build up and up and become more intense. I think for me it started off a bit too slow and peaks a bit too soon, but for the most part, a solid farewell.
-I didn't particularly rate the critically acclaimed Creek Freak Massacre in its opening year. And this year, it was much worse. I have theories as to why, but who knows if any of them are right. In any case, whilst I never rated this maze, I know it was well received, so it's a shame to see it a shadow of its former self...
Scare zones were good on the whole.
-Swarm Invasion was the highlight for me. It's clear that the park gave this the least attention and budget and just let the actors run with what they could do. But this worked in its favour almost; clearer a creative and strong cast who were able to make the best of it. I still don't think it is right to call it a 'scare zone', since it's just an extension of the Swarm story, but it was good.
-The Crows scare zone looked great and seemed to go down a treat. It doesn't quite have the same impact when it's busy, but it was good.
-Creek Freaks Unchained is fine as a little story extension to the maze.
-Amity High vs LycanThorpe High is a good dance show flash mob thing. As a scare zone outside of the shows though, it's pretty weak.
-Birthday Bash was a nice idea and the show they had was good with lots of good characters. But given the characters weren't there that much outside of shows, it fell a bit flat. The previous show/zone that was there last year, Fearstival Arena, was much better.
Then there was the Fire and Light show, Legacy. It's good, because it's a fire and light show, but it was still the weakest one I've seen. It was chocked full of so many references it got a bit lost in itself. It could decide if it was trying to tell a story, or to just be a 'Here's loads of music with lights and fire, enjoy' type show. And it lacked a good ending. I hear the park have purchased the rig set up though, so I imagine it will return and grow in future years.
My last visit of the event (and of the season) was with a couple of people who had never been to the park, during the Thursday of half term. We didn't do any mazes, but the scare zones were a lot quieter and the park was insanely busy. I know this happens, but having not visited on such a day for a long time, it was a stark reminder of how hectic the park can be at the wrong time.
One final thing: Maze upcharges. I'm all for the park upcharging for the mazes so long as the quality is there. I also think they should have one free maze, to serve as a taster / for people who don't want to pay. But the cost is all wrong. £10 per maze is way too high. No maze is near that quality; they're all £5 at most.
For reference, as I always use this as the benchmark for these things, when I did The Clinic at Walibi Holland (gazes a knowing look to the likes of @Howie and others...) in 2019, that cost me 15 euros, about £13 back then. Simply put, there is no way any of this year's mazes should be priced anywhere that close to Clinic.
All in all though, a good year, much better than some of the more recent ones. Hopefully onward and upward now.
Especially the creek freak part, I was a fan in the first year, this year was shocking. On most of my runs there was absolutely nothing in the most intense part from last year (cage maze,) On others there was just one chainsaw wielding redneck maniac...
Trailers was the highlight, totally agree.
I definitely agree on charging.... there are events with much better, longer mazes, full of more actors and much more besides, that cost less than £5 per maze for entry and maze access... Tulleys, Screamfest, and so on...
Platform was weak this year for me, and last... I much preferred it with the tunnel at the end. And felt they made better use of the train area with fire effects and actors on the train in previous years... For me it's lost it's 2 best USPs.
I enjoy all of the scare zones, and really hope they continue to build on them.