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EDITORIAL

Best of 2017

Our favourite attractions of the last 12 months.

Right, so here we are again with our ‘best of’ for the last year! We’ll start by saying that not all of these are (yet) accompanied with a full review – we have a whole bunch drafted and ready to go but things got away with us slightly so we’ve not had the time to draft, add images etc. They’ll go up as and when and we’ll update this post every time we add a new review.

Third Place: Scare Kingdom

We’d been itching to get up to one of Scare Kingdom’s events for a very long time and Halloween finally gave us that opportunity. It was worth the wait with some really nice, varied haunts including one of the only hooded mazes we could actually enjoy this season!

Review not yet posted

Runner Up: Traumatica

We always like to get overseas for at least one event each year and all the strong word of mouth surrounding previous years at Europa Park put this one top of our list. To tell you how strong Traumatica was; it was the only place that managed to elicit a ‘proper’ jump from me all season.

Review not yet posted 

Winner: Scream Factory

We knew straight after coming out of this one that it was going to be hard to top. It was evident here that the guys behind this event had put a lot of thought into placing actors and misdirection, there were so many fresh scares littered throughout the walkthrough. If you want to see real craft, put this one on your ‘must do’ list for next year.

Review here

Readers’ Poll Winner: FearFest-Evil

As far as unique experiences go, FearFest-Evil is up there with a location that adds so much to the atmosphere. The actors were brilliant here, especially in the main haunt, House of Horrors, and some of the theming was the most creative that we witnessed this Halloween. When we visited the event was a little light on actors but we’ve been told that this was addressed almost immediately and can imagine how much fun this might have been later on in its run!

Review here

Third Place: Ghostbusters Dimension

Whilst it’s based over in New York, this was an absolutely stunning attraction. For anyone that doubts VR, you need to try an experience from The VOID – they’re currently running a Star Wars one in London and they’re fantastic for dropping you into these movie worlds. Being a massive Ghostbusters fan, living out key scenes from the films was a dream come true! Where else could you hope to come face-to-face with a to-scale Stay Puft?

Review here

Runner Up: Ghoulies X

The best way to describe this event is that it was pure chaos! The good kind, obviously! Despite everything that we went through this year, this attraction managed to have a unique vibe. The actors felt ‘dangerous’ here and they were so savvy with how they attacked the group. Again, it was just a perfectly crafted event.

Review here

Winner: Madhouse Margate

This one took us by total surprise. The venue was unassuming and knowing that it was a family-run event, our expectations were in check. And wow, what a brilliantly staged event this was! We have to highlight the fact that there were so many young actors here and they were all rock solid. It’s obvious that the guys behind this event know what they’re doing – you can fluke a five minute thing but when they’re keeping things moving 30 mins later, you can’t help but be impressed. One quick thing we should say is that the operations were really bad the night that we visited – we entered the event an hour after our scheduled time and, subsequently, didn’t have time to go through their second attraction, Funhouse. It’s testament to the quality of Madhouse that we still felt that they should take this position – after all, the running of the event is something that can easily be fixed and, in this case, we just couldn’t ignore the artistry that went into this show.

Review not yet posted 

Readers’ Poll Winner: Ghoulies Haunted House

This one didn’t surprise us at all. Proof that you need to check it out – if our opinion wasn’t enough, the majority of readers agree with us!

Review here

Third Place: The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare at Fright Nights, Thorpe Park 

Immersion is one of the main reasons why we enjoy scare attractions. Now, we wouldn’t say that Living Nightmare was incredibly immersive but it was a damn faithful recreation of the show and, honestly, was way better than what Halloween Horror Nights have done with the franchise (and we’ve been through incarnations at Hollywood and Orlando). Yes, the opening scene was a photo op but how inspired was it? To throw guests into what will surely be one of the most enduring moments of the show… It wasn’t scary at all but that really wasn’t what this haunt was aiming for.

Review here

Runner Up: Resistance at Traumatica, Europa Park

There’s one scene in this haunt that I’m sure sticks in everyone’s memories. All we’ll say is that the actors got so close with their weapons that we actually had to jump back – that’s how threatening a particular moment in this haunt felt!

Review not yet posted 

Winner: Psychomanteum at Scare Kingdom

One thing about basically spending a month at Halloween events is that you inevitably start to see a lot of the same stuff wheeled out. Clowns, zombies, hillbillys… And then Scare Kingdom offer an upcharge attraction like nothing else you’ve witnessed all season and man is it a breath of fresh air! We’re asked not to talk about the contents of the haunt but we wouldn’t want to anyway – if you want to know more, just make your way to their next event! What we will say is that it was something that was sorely missing most of the season, a show that was a lot more interactive and, entering solo, left you with nowhere to hide! We’d love to see more events step things up in this manner, especially when they’re optional upcharge things – leave the choice to the guest as to whether they want to ‘experience’ it!

Review not yet posted 

Readers’ Poll Winner: House of Horrors at FearFest-Evil

It probably makes sense that people voting for FearFest-Evil as their favourite scream park would also choose a haunt from that event! We can see where people are coming from with this one, it was truly beautiful, forcing some cool interactions with the environment. And the character introducing us to this haunt was memorable to say the least!

Review here

Third Place: Secret Studio

Months after playing this game, it still sticks with us. There was an unrivalled atmosphere to it; you’re basically investigating strange goings on at a B-movie studio and everything in the room is so on point. You interact with old CRT monitors and flatbed editors and the whole thing feels as seedy and dirty as the movies this studio was producing. Couple that with some brilliant jump scares and you have a must-visit room.

Review here

Runner Up: 13utcher at Escapologic

In any normal year, this would’ve won hands down. And, considering our winner is no longer open, if you want to consider this the winner, feel free! If you harbour the desire to live a horror movie for an hour, just go now – 13utcher puts you in the scene and with a live actor skulking around, the fear is palatable. Just don’t go in expecting a bog standard escape room with a few bells and whistles, this one means business!

Review not yet posted 

Winner: Resident Evil – The Experience: London

When we went through this all the way back in January of last year, we knew it’d win this category. The scene where we had to poison our captors whilst they were right in front of our faces was as tense as they come! And then hiding from Marguerite, failing and getting jabbed with her broom was the most jolting thing that I experienced all year! There was absolutely nothing else like this and we feel incredibly lucky that we were one of the few pairs that were able to experience it considering that it only operated for four days! Slight aside, we were also stupidly fortunate to be able to experience the US promotional game. Whilst the London version was better, they were such different experiences that we now eagerly await the release of the next Resident Evil game to see what comes with it!

Review here

Readers’ Poll Winner: Resident Evil – The Experience: London

We’ll be straight – this one surprised us. Knowing that the event only ran for four days, we never expected this to win the majority of the votes but, clearly, if you had experienced it, it had to get your vote. We’re glad that quite a few readers were able to go through it!

Final Thoughts

Aside from the above, we thought it’d be worth addressing a few things.

Firstly, we are super keen to see what emerges from the independents in 2018. Writing these lists (and this will sound cliched) was really difficult as there were so many awesome events that we attended. But it’s the tiny outfits that are really impressing us. As well as Madhouse Margate, Twins of Evil put out an amazing production and it’s becoming clear to us that the future is with shows like these. They’re just putting together exactly what they want, not just throwing together a Walking Dead (or whatever is horror’s flavour of the month) knock-off attraction in the hopes of attracting people off the street. It pained us to go through yet another clown maze after we experienced something truly unique by guys that had a sliver of the budget that some of these big events do. When we start planning this October, it will be with a focus on these smaller events as that’s where we’re seeing the true innovation.

Leading onto… Immersive theatre seems to be growing by the day and this longer form entertainment is also something that we find more appealing. Shows like Morningstar, Diary of a Deceased and Whitechapel offered rich, rounded experiences and we hope to see a lot more of this in the coming twelve months. Don’t get us wrong, we still love your typical Halloween haunt but there’s such a variety of things out there now!

Finally, we are completely and utterly done with hooded mazes. As mentioned, Scare Kingdom provided one of about two, three tops that we could tolerate but, mostly, they seemed to be everywhere and pretty much did exactly the same thing each and every time. We’d love for someone to come along and do one that really makes the hood a part of the experience. As it stands, they’re just not doing anything for us anymore. That was our biggest takeaway from Halloween 2017 – stop giving us hooded mazes!!

And with that, see you for next year’s list!

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