Our Slasher Review
Alton Towers Scarefest is back for its 15th anniversary and we headed along on Sunday 23rd of October to check it out. We arrived on a very busy day being placed in the overflow car park near the Woodland lodges and our mazes were booked for 17:15. Alton Towers Scarefest hosts three scare mazes and one audio scare experience. These are three returning mazes from past years being Darkest Depths, The Attic-Terror of the Towers and Altonville Mine Tours-Legend of the Skinsnatchers. New for 2022 is the audio scare experience The Invitation. Alton Towers Scarefest also hosts The Alton Ancestors flashmob show and Garden Lights Walk - Whispering Souls, Also returning for this year is the family friendly Trick o' Treat Town this year sponsored by Haribo which due to time constraints we left out. As well as live shows on the main stage throughout the day and night. The strongest attraction this year was The Attic and the weakest was The Invitation.
Top Tips - Book mazes early, the evening queues were starting to get ridiculous by 5 pm.
Things that bite - A huge sense that event, including maze tickets were massively oversold on the day.
Value for money - If paying for a park ticket and mazes this comes to around £90 and sadly the event is just not worth that much, unlike the full package that you would get for around the same price at Fright Nights.
Scare Rating 3/5
Do we recommend Yes
Our Stalker Review
It's that time again when Alton Towers becomes its most beautiful, The gardens are awash with orange and red hues, a chill is in the air and the Towers look more romantic than ever. It is of course Scarefest and on the 23rd of October, we headed to Alton Towers to experience the offerings of the 15-year anniversary event. Being a milestone you would expect some extravagance, We knew there were no new mazes this year and Toxic Junkyard had been replaced with the New for 2022 The Invitation but honestly on entry and looking around the park you would never tell it was an anniversary event, rather just your bog standard Scarefest other than the occasional signage but that was all that seemed to celebrate 15 years of the Halloween event. In comparison to another Merlin-owned park Thorpe Park Fright Nights which has a much more complete all-around package with multiple free scare zones. But alas we shall move on to the mazes.
We started off with a cheeky ride on The Smiler with a not-so-cheeky 120-minute queue but it was an extremely busy day so what can you do? Followed by a Spinjam and a Hex, We then headed to our first maze of the afternoon. Darkest Depths. The queue for this maze was relatively short, so when we were batched in a group of 14 we were quite shocked and this put a dampener on the start of the proceedings.
Packed into the tavern scene like sardines we were told the tale of The Mutiny before heading into the maze. Darkest Depths like always is a beautiful attraction but also contains some very pungent scents along the way, Vomit room we are talking about you. The actors within used the spaces wisely to get some great moments of interaction and scares, although it has to be said a lot of these scares were front focused and being towards the middle-back of the group some of these moments were sadly lost on us. Not that we were saying the acting was weak because it really wasn't, the whole team put their all in, it's just unlucky timing that we missed the scares. Another highlight as always was the tentacle thrashing Davy Jones-esqe character who managed to almost whip my bag off my shoulder, luckily not successful otherwise my camera would take the brunt. But either way, always a fun scene to see.
With our 2-hour time slot now in play, (Something that we really don't understand as Fright Nights gives you unlimited time to finish your mazes) We headed to our second maze of the afternoon The Attic. This time round we were lucky enough to be at the front of the group with a 15/20 minute queue line and so we entered the briefing room to learn about the dark story of The Governess. Unfortunately due to the audio being quite loud most of the story was lost, but we had done our research beforehand and knew the story from past years so not a major issue, However, if it was your first time the narrative might be somewhat lost. After the briefing, we headed up the many flights of stairs to the entrance of the Attic itself. The Attic started off slow and creepy with actors making fleeting appearances but laying some good spooky scares in the process. The further we ventured the scares started to come quicker and fast-paced focusing on all areas of the group. The Attic did seem darker and smokey than usual so it was hard to take in the stunning sets we were walking about but what we did see was beautiful as always. Then we entered the fireplace for the final scene where the demon lie in wait, and damn was it a good ending, the interaction was unrelenting and intense, just what we look for in a maze finale. We then headed out applauding and walked back down the many flights of stairs for our next attraction.
Next up was the NEW for 2022 audio scare experience The Invitation. The attractions so far had been relatively good and we were riding the high exiting the Attic, we had heard mixed reviews of The Invitation and went in with an open mind, trying hard not to compare to The Terminal at Fright Nights.
The queue for The Invitation seemed rather oversold with the queue stretching out to the kiosk outside the Towers/X-Sector, and a documented 20-minute queue line which was more like 35 minutes in reality. The queue is quite simple but features some nice thematic elements along the way. A foreboding soundtrack fills the air as you wait in the graveyard of the Lakeside Cemetary. We will take a moment to mention the beautiful statue that greets guests before entering the shipping containers was a lovely touch and for too long we genuinely believed this statue might be real. After a while we met the exceptionally cheery undertakers who ushered us into the elevator honestly these actors make the attraction and big props have to be given to these actors in general and to be honest they save the attraction, however, this scene was extremely cramped and felt a little uncomfortable at times however this might have been the effect they were going for. The door then opened on the other side, Just like The Terminal, we would rather not go into masses of detail about what goes in during this experience, all we will say is being first into the lift made us last to leave and enter the main room of the container meaning we had to stand up during the experience and was told to "pop a squat".The experience itself seemed somewhat half-hearted and devoid of actual scares other than occasional loud bangs which got old quickly, leaving us by the end of the show questioning why Towers thought The Invitation was a good way to go. Don't get me wrong after experiencing other Darkfield shows there is a lot of potential to be had here, but due to our positioning in the show we feel that we may have missed part of the experience not being able to interact in ways other guests might have. Sadly The Invitation was not for us, "It's not fun-It's inconvenient".
Feeling a little flat we headed to our final maze of the evening, The Altonville Mine Tours-Legend of the Skinsnatchers. The first thing we noticed was the ridiculously long queue line stretching all the way to the entrance sign of the maze, so right from the beginning we were expecting big group batching, Again this maze just like the Invitation seemed massively oversold and It wasn't just us that thought so, from what we heard in the queue line, which was at around 30/40 minutes, Was that people were panicking that they wouldn't get round all 4 attractions that they had paid for in the 2 hours allotted time. After the dark of the tunnel, we came to the batching which was in groups of approx 10/14 guests at a time. Before long we found ourselves en route to the mines to meet with Brother, This opening scene as always was played fantastically and really set the scene to come. As did the following scene of Sister, both roles played perfectly and provided a great start to Skin. Intros over we headed into the lift where things got a little chaotic but some great scares were landed in a very short space of time, All good so far. We headed deeper in taking in the stunning sets that Towers creates with some great interaction across the entire group, We especially always enjoy the "Boss room" and urge you to look at the ceiling when you go through to see an entire "skin suit" on the ceiling, Another great character was grandpa who got very close and beautifully uncomfortable with Dan, From then on though it just started to fall flat, there seemed to be fewer actors than needed and although this might not be the case, This year's Skinsnatchers felt shorter or maybe it was just that we got to the end quicker than usual but we ended all saying "Oh we're at the end". We think the issue is in previous years Skinsnatchers has been an absolute stand out but this year it felt unfortunately like it had overstayed its time.
So there we go all mazes completed it was time for some rides, We decided to skip the usual night rides of Th13teen and Wickerman with both being over 90minutes and head straight to Nemesis for one last ride before its re-tracking temporary closure. On the way, we took a moment to take in the beauty that is Duel/The Haunted House decked in a menacing glow ahead of whatever is going on inside Heading to Forbidden Valley, Nemesis looked stunning basking in the red glow of the lights around the ride, We have however always thought that some smoke in the loop pit would look amazing. Nemesis had a reasonable queue of around 25 minutes, so one last ride seemed optimal before heading to the car.
All in all, it hadn't been the best Scarefest we had seen in years past, but we want to thank all the actors, cast and crew that put their all into acting for us this evening. The acting we couldn't fault, We just feel that their jobs had been made unnecessarily difficult through overselling and mass batching of the mazes. We shall also mention that Scarefest also features stage shows throughout the day alongside a wide selection of food and drinks stalls, but sadly we had no time to check these out thoroughly.
We know that this review hasn't been the most positive however maze runs are always subjective and we can only judge on what our runs were like on the day. If you would however like to book for Alton Towers Scarefest then you can do so here!
Written by Dan and Dane