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Fright Nights

Fright Nights 2006

Here's our review and photos of Thorpe's 2006 Fright Fest:

TTP Review:

"What I said about Fright Nights 2005: 'I think that to cut down on the stupidly long queues, now's the time for a 3rd maze to be included.' Well, for 2006 Thorpe Park came up with the goods - its 3rd maze, Se7en, made its debut! And this, along with other factors, helped make Fright Nights 2006 a much more satisfying event than 2005...

The Asylum
(Located in the building next to Nemesis Inferno)

The Asylum as an attraction was almost exactly the same as last year, and it has to be said, showed little improvement. Guests walk in a conga-line of up to 8 people through a disorientating maze, full of inhabitants out to scare. Except, on the whole, they don't. Before I start my rant, I will say that the actual environment this maze is set in is terrific - smoke, incessant strobe lighting and a loud siren resonating in everyone's ears - great. There was even a new scene this year; the laundry scene - where guests have to negotiate through hanging linen, which act as great obstacles for actors to hide behind. It all serves to put guests on tenterhooks - it really increases the tension.

And here comes the rant - I just don't feel that the actors maximise this potential. As I have said before, the actors feel almost too characterised - they still walk around as if they are in a daze. During the days when this maze was The Freezer, actors were far more jumpy - I had loonatics screaming at me, with one even brandishing a chainsaw. It was horrendous! This doesn't happen with The Asylum - actors walk around slowly and play the "spooky" card rather than the "poo your pants terrifying" card. If the actors in the maze could return to the way they were in The Freezer - and then intensify that by 50% - Thorpe Park would have the UK's scariest walkthrough attraction. I want to feel as if the actors could really hurt me - I want them screaming, shouting, climbing on the walls. It's missing just one element; a sense of danger.

Hellgate
(Located at the back of the X:\ No Way Out building
)

Hellgate returned for it's second year, and it was much improved. The actors in Hellgate made it Fright Night's scariest attraction for 2006. They jumped out at you, hung from the rafters, touched you, threatened you - even blocked your path! What was really effective was when two of the actors in a scene successfully managed to split our group up into two groups of 4. Now, the person who was originally feeling safe as she was in the middle of the group of 8, now became the leader of the new group of 4. She was petrified! I also liked the scene right at the beginning of the maze, which consisted of a lot of hanging draped material. Actors then popped out from behind this draped material as we walked along, using small flashlights to illuminate their faces - very effective at scaring us all! Overall, much better than last year - and the credit should mainly go to the actors. Nice set pieces, good atmosphere, effective scares.

Se7en
(Located in marquees in the Arena)

Se7en was Thorpe Park's brand new maze situated in a huge temporary marquee within the Arena. Simply, it was excellent. Based on the 7 deadly sins, it had a good mixture of gross out set pieces with jumpy - and character based - actors. Each room that was visited portrayed a sin; lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Uniquely, this maze was created by an external company (from Hollywood, no less) - previously Thorpe Park's mazes have largely been done in house. It showed that there had been considerable money put into this maze; importing the services of an outside company was a smart move. The sets were fantastic; particular favourites being the bubbling toilet and the man who had thrown up all over himself. There were plenty of scares, too - worthy of mention being the woman with the most grotesque face - she had only one eye (fantastic make up!) - who was chopping up a Barbie doll. She stopped me leading my group to the next room, and then flung this mutilated Barbie at me, allowing the doll's hair to swish across my face. I almost fell over I was so surprised! The finale is also commendable - groups get trapped in a cage and locked up forever...

A firm thumbs up from me, Se7en is certainly a worthy attraction for Fright Nights.

Carnival of the Bizarre

Thanks to their successes at Fright Nights 2004 and 2005, the Circus of Horrors were back, but in a change of format, did not appear in the Pirates 4D Theatre. This year, the "freaks" were on the loose, performing smaller scale shows in cages set up around the Park. Cages were situated by Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth and in the Dome. The same acts appeared as usual, but having only cramped cages to perform in really hindered the performance. Generally, the sound wasn't loud enough, and there was a lack of showmanship from some of the acts. Dr Haze, obviously, couldn't perform in every cage at the same time. I'm not knocking the Circus of Horrors here, but the whole show was much better when it wasn't split up around the park. Rumour has it that for 2007 the Carnival of the Bizarre will be back in the Pirates 4D Theatre - which can only be a good thing.

The Bottom Line

All in all it was a very positive event this year. I came away feeling happy that Thorpe Park had made a great effort this year; trying out new ideas, of which some worked, some didn't. The 3 maze Fastrack at £7 was worth the money thanks to the huge queues - but still felt like a bit of a rip off. Here's hoping that Thorpe can build on their successes to make next year's event even better than 2006."

Ben Case

Photos:

Asylum Fire!
The Asylum Entrance
Circus of Horrors on Park
Colossus
Colossus' Lift Hill
Detonator at night
Quantum
Se7en theming
Slammer
Stealth train being launched
Stealth
The new Zodiac
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