Hi, I’m Cesca. I am pretty lucky, I live in a bit of a “theme park Bermuda Triangle”, and am pretty much equi-distant to Thorpe Park, Chessington and Legoland. So, when Colette asked if I would like to attend Thorpe Park’s Fright Night I jumped at the chance!
On reflection this was a little fool hardy, I’m still not sleeping properly at night after being scared by ET: The Extra Terrestrial when I was five. But, duty called, so I took myself over to the park on an autumnal Thursday night to experience what was on offer.
Fright Night 2017 includes seven horror filled activities, plus the usual rides. On the launch night the 5 Fright Night mazes were open, and the park’s six biggest rides (Stealth, Swarm, Colossus, Saw : The Ride, Nemesis Inferno and Derren Brown’s Ghost Train) were running.
All throughout the park they’ve made a real effort with the Fright Night theming, it’s eerily dark, there are a few zombies on the loose and lots of scary noises and music are played which gets the old anxiety levels up! We did Stealth first, which for those who’ve never been is a bit like Alton Towers’ Rita, but on steroids. Daniela, my sister, is petrified of it for some reason so we were getting it done first. Even then I had to shout at her when she tried to bottle it and get off in the loading bay!!
We then went on Swarm, which is another big coaster and really exhilarating in the dark! This looked amazing, with the car looping around a post apocalyptic wasteland themed area with menacing red lights on it.
At that point we happened to stumble across one of the mazes, Sanctum, which was themed around The Walking Dead series. There are some rules common across all mazes: they are designed to SCARE you! They are aimed at 13+ so aren’t suitable for young children. They use sounds, smoke, lights and smells for an immersive experience and they use live actors. The live actors WILL TOUCH you (and scare the living daylights out of you!!) but they will never hurt you. Well it’s fair to say I screamed the whole way round, (the man with his intestines out was disgusting) but we managed to escape the Zombies successfully.
We then went on Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, which is a virtual reality Ghost Train (I’m not allowed to spoil the secret by saying any more than that); suffice to say it’s like no other Ghost Train you’ve been on before!! I then forced my sister, who was still being a big jessie, onto Saw: The Ride, which is based on the Saw film franchise. Think chainsaws, and lots of Billy the Puppets with a huge rollercoaster and you’re on the right lines. Well, it was so scary – it was pitch black and you couldn’t see what was coming!
Next was the Saw: Alive maze which was BRILLIANT! You were taken through various torture rooms based on the film and there were dead bodies, and really bad smells, and body bags and body parts… and people trying to capture you to be the next victim. It was a lot gorier than the other maze (but still good fun!)
We then headed over to The Big Top, a circus themed maze with lots of scary clowns. My sister and I both liked that they were all so different – this one had really bass heavy dance music playing and really good lighting effects. The strobes totally played with my vision I got so disorientated. And there a clown that took a shining to me and followed me round the whole maze. Joy.
Our final ride of the night was Nemesis Inferno, which is similar to the original Nemesis – fast, thrilling and disorientating. We finished the night with a maze, Platform 15, which was based on a train and abandoned village and used the old railway tracks of the Canada Creek railway (going back to the 80’s there!). This one was more spooky than scary, other than the bit at the end which was terrifying! Again, totally different to the other ones we tried. At that point we left, checking over our shoulders approximately every 30 seconds on the way back to the car to make sure we didn’t have a stowaway in tow!
Both Daniela and I thoroughly enjoyed Fright Night. If you don’t like being scared or feeling afraid of what might be ahead it’s probably not for you, but we think they’ve got the balance of fear, excitement and laughter just right. The attention to detail and the quality of the actors & acting is first rate. The length of the attractions is just right, too – at the point when it’s getting a bit too much you realise you’ve reached the end.
Top tips for Fright Night 2017:
Stay in the middle: you go round the attractions in groups. If you are a little nervous, stay in the middle of the pack. Those at the front come across the surprises first, and those on the back usually end up with things tailing them, or being separated from the main group (as happened to us).
Mix it up: whilst all the mazes are different, there are some similarities and you could become desensitised if you went on all 5 in a row (“oh look, another severed head, yawn”) which would be a shame. We found that interspersing rides with mazes avoided this.
Plan your trip: this is stating obvious, but Fright Nights are very popular. Book your tickets in advance, don’t just turn up on the off chance (like we did in 2008 to find out it was full at 10am – we’d all taken a day’s leave too – I was not popular that day), and expect long queues (they are expecting 3+ hours for the mazes on the busiest nights). Think about the things you really don’t want to miss and aim for those as it’s unlikely you’ll get round it all.
Sleep with the light on when you get home: well it can’t hurt, right? Better safe than sorry…
This year’s Fright Nights run from tonight (29.09) through to Halloween – don’t forget to book in advance!