Rides in the Dark
It’s hard not to enjoy Alton Towers Scarefest 2018, you get the line-up of Alton Towers’ rides and some pretty awesome maze offerings. Project 42 is a welcome new addition to the roster. I had a great time at Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 but I feel like improvements need to be made to ensure next year is even stronger, and that the event doesn’t stagnate.
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I’ve been covering Alton Towers Scarefest for several years now, and I was super excited to be invited down to a VIP Project 42 experience at Alton Towers Scarefest 2018. One of the most exciting elements of the Scarefest is having rides in the dark. This year with the addition of the Wicker Man to the Alton Towers line-up Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 gives many people the first taste of riding the flaming awesome GCI Woodie in the dark.
Whilst we’re talking about the line-up Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 has had a brand new maze added to the line up – Project 42. Project 42 is within the old Nemesis : Sub-Terra building. We made the pilgrimage to Staffordshire to check out the offering this year. After visiting Thorpe Park Fright Nights and Tulleys Shocktober Fest on the two previous nights, Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 had a lot to live up to!
Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 Atmosphere
Alton Towers spend a lot of time and effort getting the park ready for the Alton Towers Scarefest. Towers Street is beautifully decorated and themed, and as you walk through the turnstiles and see the view down Towers Street towards the Towers, you can feel a real frisson in the air. The park is filled with lots of additional lighting to ensure all the rides and pathways are illuminated beautifully for the darker evenings.
The Alton Ancestors can be found around the Towers Street during the mornings, the Towers in the afternoon and the Gloomy Woods in the evening. I like the Ancestors because they aren’t utterly terrifying, or there to scare people – they are very entertaining. I also enjoyed the ‘Galactica Airways’ Crew – these AI droids were patrolling Forbidden Valley. If you’ve ever seen ‘Humans’, they are very similar to the ‘Synths’ from there. There are also some ‘Ghost Pirates’ too, but we didn’t see them. For Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 they’ve put a stage adjacent to Hex with a myraid family friendly acts on it during the day. Franklyn, Skelvin, Patch, Phil and Gretyl the witch certainly put in a shift, it’s a very high energy show for characters in BIG costumes. In CBeebies Land you’ll find a kiddie friendly ‘CBeebies Monsters Ball’ – we didn’t have the kids with us, so we didn’t venture into CBeebies Land.
Once the sun goes down and the atmospheric lighting comes on, all the rides and areas look incredibly good. I didn’t notice the music as much as I did at Thorpe Park though. It’s always lovely walking around the Resort. The only ride without atmospheric lighting is Thirteen, it’s largely in darkness. Certainly not a bad thing!
Something missing from Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 is Scare Zones. I understand the park is trying to be family friendly, but I think that a few Scare Zones would really ramp things up a little. The eerie ghost projections in the windows of the Towers are great, but it would be so nice to have a few more ‘grown up’ scares out on the park.
Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 Mazes
I’m not gonna lie – I’m mourning the loss of Terror of the Towers. It’s gone. It’s been a staple of Alton Towers Scarefest for many years now, however, for whatever reason – it’s not part of the roster this year. Can Project 42 fill the void? Wait and see..
Sub Species – The End Games
We visited Sub Species first, not long after it opened at 1pm. The queue didn’t move for a while, and it was clear they were having technical difficulties. Then a group in front went in, and it seemed to stop again. After quite a wait, we went in. It didn’t seem as slick as it normally was, some of the actors seemed surprised we were in there. The maze is very similar to previous years (perhaps a little longer?) It’s dark, and loud, and you WILL be split up. Vicki was grabbed and dragged off and left to battle the maze alone for a period of time.
The finale was spoilt slightly by a malfunction of a very essential piece of kit, instead we were left strolling out of the exit whilst an actor was furiously trying to fix it. It ruined the effect of what is normally a very scary and intense maze.
Altonville Mine Tours
I LOVE this maze, although the iteration at the Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 wasn’t much different to last year, I still had a good time. The scenes, the theming and actors were all spot on. I think perhaps it could do with a little refresh each year, just to keep things fresh and to retain some elements of surprise. I really like how they use the space (or lack of it) within the Towers.
The Welcoming – Be Chosen
The Wicker Man inspired maze returns for a second year at Alton Towers Scarefest 2018. This year the maze has a slightly different layout, and sadly the ‘hooded’ section is gone. Which is great if you didn’t really like them. However, I really enjoyed it! That said, it’s meant the maze has a lot more to see and do. The actors were on top form and got into their role as Beornen. It actually feels like a very LONG maze, the space is used VERY well. We went through before the sun had set, and whilst it was good, I think it works best after dark. I really love how The Welcoming is themed around The Wicker Man and ties the two together. The Welcoming is a cracking maze, and there’s a lot of effort gone into the creation of it.
Check out my walkthrough of The Welcoming last year –
New to the Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 line-up is Project 42. It’s in Forbidden Valley in the old Nemesis – Sub Terra building. I was curious how a maze in this building would work. I wondered if the ride would somehow be incorporated? It wasn’t. There’s a short pre-show video, which is a bit difficult to watch. It’s on a screen at the end of a narrow corridor, if you’re near the front, you’ll see it. If not (like us) you won’t. That is where my criticism of Project 42 ends.
It’s without doubt the best maze that Alton Towers have. For what is a smallish ride building there is a lot going on in there. There were some great scenes and theming throughout, the actors were truly terrifying. There was a lot of strobe lighting which is great in a maze. It allows the actors to spring out, and then disappear in the darkness. It heightens the tension and the mood.
Project 42 certainly fills the gap left by Terror of the Towers in the Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 line-up. However I think that for a bullet-proof line-up it should have stayed. Project 42 could really work as an attraction outside of Scarefest. It would be great to see that building being used full time again.
House of Monsters
House of Monsters isn’t a ‘maze’ as such, it’s an experience that’s suitable for slightly older children. You’re in there for around 30 minutes and move through different rooms. Some rooms have activities, others you’re more of an audience. I personally think House of Monsters would work all year around. It would give Alton Towers a broader offering to older children. It’s fantastic that Alton Towers have worked so hard to create a ‘family friendly’ Halloween attraction.
It’s hard not to enjoy Alton Towers Scarefest 2018, you get the line-up of Alton Towers’ rides and some pretty awesome maze offerings. Project 42 is a welcome new addition to the roster, they’ve put a lot of work into transforming an old ride building into a decent maze. The old mazes are just as good as they have been too. However I feel that Terror of the Towers shouldn’t have been dropped, it was a great maze. My opinion is if you’re cutting back on Scare Zones, then you shouldn’t be dropping mazes too. Whilst they Alton always light up the park and rides well during Scarefest, I think more effort needs to be put in on creating a better audio experience throughout.
A blessing of sorts is that you pay extra for the mazes. This means that tickets are limited and therefore queues aren’t horrendous. Despite it being the opening weekend and the park was busy, we didn’t queue more than 10 minutes (aside from Sub Species which was having issues). However, if you don’t get one of the combi-maze tickets in time you’re a bit stumped. Also, Wicker Man is VERY popular in the dark, and the queues have frequently been topping 2 hours – so be prepared to wait.
I had a great time at Alton Towers Scarefest 2018 but I feel like improvements need to be made to ensure next year is even stronger, and that the event doesn’t stagnate. You can book Alton Towers Scarefest tickets here.
What did you think of Alton Towers Scarefest 2018