Fright Nights at THORPE PARK Resort debuts for its fifteenth frightful year at Thorpe Park Resort this weekend. With one brand new maze, plus the return of some old favourites, 2016’s event promises to have plenty of scares in store.
New for 2016’s event is PLATFORM 15. The Resort’s largest maze to date, the attraction takes guests along a deserted railroad following in the footsteps of the ill-fated Sleeper Express. The concept certainly has a lot of potential and throughout the maze there were some great performances from the actors. Many of the showpiece effects worked well with the former Canada Creek Railway train being used to include an impressive fire effect. However, there were several occasions walking through the maze where there was too much dead space, something which killed any tension which has previously been built up. The ending also fell flat with guests’ final encounter with the conductor failing to have the desired impact.
Having debuted to mixed reviews in 2015 THE BIG TOP has returned for a second year. Now located next door to Crust (where My Bloody Valentine was located in 2015), the maze has received a total overhaul and is essentially a whole new maze for 2016. Whilst the maze is now housed all within one tent as opposed to the three it was constructed from last year it still has distinct sections for guests to find their way through from the Fortune Teller, strobe maze, clown dressing room and of course the classic chainsaw finale. It is clear that a lot of work has been put into re-working THE BIG TOP for this year’s event and that is evident throughout the maze. The strobe maze section is genuinely disorientating and it is easy to get lost as you attempt to find your way out. All of the actors give incredibly strong performances helping to fully immerse guests within the maze. There are also some nice nods to the Resort’s past with several of the props used inside reflecting the history of the Resort. It is perhaps a shame that the maze is no longer on the beach as that has meant the loss of the outdoor section where guests could observe those going through the maze, however overall the improvements made this year have easily made this the strongest maze of 2016’s event.
Another attraction which has seen a great deal of improvement from its debut in 2015 is CONTAINMENT. Whilst the basic structure and concept of the Resort’s escape room experience has remained the same, the storyline and puzzles have received a refresh for this year’s event. The pre-show video has been removed and replaced with a much more interactive introduction from an actor who outlines the premise for the attraction which now focuses on phobias and the ‘cure’ for them as opposed to trying to find the antidote for some unknown virus. Each room now has a clear focus on a specific phobia which relates to the puzzles you have to solve to find the code to escape. All the puzzles have been changed for this year and are slightly trickier than they were previously. Each room also contains at least one actor who whilst they aren’t there to scare you will attempt to divert your attention and distract you from the task at hand. All of this combines to increase the pressure and intensity and make CONTAINMENT a genuinely enjoyable experience.
Perhaps the most disappointing attraction of 2016’s offering was The Blair Witch Project. Having marketed the attraction as a maze as opposed to the walkthrough it had been described as in previous years expectations were high that there would be some significant changes to previous events. Sadly it appeared as if the attraction had remained largely unchanged with just a couple of small theming elements added to reference the new film, although even these were difficult to recognise unless you had seen the latest installment of the horror film franchise.
Returning once more were classic mazes The Cabin in The Woods and SAW Alive. Both these mazes have remained largely unchanged from their 2015 incarnations with both featuring energetic performances from all of the actors within. SAW Alive maintains the improvements seen at last year’s event whilst The Cabin in the Woods has had just minor tweaks to the interior with the removal of the crawl tunnel. Both mazes remain a solid part of the FRIGHT NIGHTS line up.
Across the Island the Resort have added several touches to add to the overall atmosphere of the event. A number of theming elements have been installed which are evident right from when you enter the Resort, whilst later on in the day roaming actors are unleashed with the characters featured having been taken from some of the Resort’s best known past mazes and chosen by public vote on the Resort’s social media channels.