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Let’s talk theme park scare zones

2020’s Halloween season was, for the most part, different to what we have previously experienced due to the pandemic and the implementation of government rules like social distancing. This caused many events to cancel their planned opening. Those that did open had to run different with a few places even opting to change the way they run entirely. But there is one theme park scare event that has continued to do things their way and this year was no exception when they doubled their offering of one part of their event. I am, of course, talking about Thorpe Park. But before I get into it, lets look backwards.

Scare zones in the UK have come in all shapes and sizes. From big and bold to small and quiet, there really is a scare zone for everyone. When you first start getting into scare experiences and scare attractions and events the one place everyone talks about is Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studio’s. Not only that, the scare zones are raved about so positively by those who have visited so they were bound to make their way over here and they did with a few parks hosting scare zones.

Fast forward to recent times and both Alton Towers and Thorpe Park each tried to reignite the passion for a good ole scare zone. For Alton Towers this new ‘focus’ started when it introduced us to the Zombies! Scare Zone in 2011. This zone was raved about by many people many of whom had different experiences of this and it proved to be popular as it stayed in the park for 4 seasons. They tried to recapture the popularity this zone had a few times with different ideas, some working and some not, but Alton Towers have never really had a scare zone since Zombies that really brought the full on excitement that it did.

But then along came Thorpe Park who essentially went the opposite direction to Alton Towers. Their first few scare zones were, lets be honest, terrible. Everyone has heard about Dead End: Terror Zone and after the terrible reviews they stuck with roaming actors for a few years until 2018 when they introudced Terror at Amity High. Although this is borderline a scare zone, it shows that the park were thinking about scare zones and this one worked so well for them. A mix of roaming interactive characters set in the raceway setting that is Amity Raceway (Home of Stealth) and add to it a dance show and they kind of had this weirdly successful scare zone show thing which has become a personal highlight every year. Then came 2020, the year that Thorpe Park took scare zones to a whole new level. Not only did they bring some amazing ideas and concepts to life they also brought the terror of a scare maze to them. Add to that the sets and the interactivity with the actors, Thorpe Park pretty much nailed them. Whilst some were considerably stronger than others, each scare zone felt different and had their own unique theme to tie in with the area that it was located in (Except Lycanthorpe but we understand the idea behind it). You could tell that the creative team really sat down and thought how they could do it and it shows. But it does leave the park with a problem and its one that other parks have faced.

With the scare zones become more popular it does leave parks with a difficult decision, especially this year when the quality was so high last year because they didn’t invest in their mazes for obvious reasons. Do they continue to invest in the scare zones and offer this alongside their regular scare mazes? Do they focus their attention on the mazs and let the quality of the scare zones drop? Do they have the budget to run both the zones and mazes? All these and so many other questions remain. That being said I know which one i’d prefer.


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