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ATTRACTION REVIEW

Broadwitch Hauntfest – Review

We hopped in a cab from Bluewater shopping centre after ‘House of the Dead’ and made our way over to Broadditch farm for ‘Broadwitch Hauntfest’. It’s another scream park in the same vein as ‘Cursed’ and ‘Shocktoberfest’. Being pressed for time again, we jumped straight in!

Spooky Castle: This was our first maze of the night because it seemed like it was going to be the weakest. From the outside, it looked like it was very much aimed at families, as if it were a ‘starter’ haunt. However, this didn’t stop it being a brilliant experience. The first thing that we noticed here was the set. Every room was stupidly detailed and we’d go so far as to say it was one of the most convincing attractions that we’ve been through. The two standouts to us were the derelict bar with its realistic, musty smell and Santa’s room. This area was a dining room with a full Christmas dinner that had been prepared a couple of months prior by the looks of it! It was genuinely disgusting, that’s how real it looked! And the actors throughout were great too, they managed to slip some scares into unexpected places which showed that thought had gone into the maze design. It was also a decent length, which can sometimes be a failing of haunts! ****

Thirteen: First thing we’ll say about ‘Thirteen’ is that as a maze, it flowed terribly. The concept is that it’s based on fears and superstitions, which basically means that each room doesn’t connect to the previous or following room in any meaningful manner. It’s not a deal breaker but, to us, these style haunts aren’t very immersive as you don’t really have any sense of place, they feel very ‘art gallery’. That said, the level of theming was, once again, amazing with the bus scene being our clear favourite.  We don’t know what the story is behind how they constructed this but it seemed to us as though they had somehow got an actual minibus into the haunt. As you step in, sound effects of the bus crashing play and with such a realistic environment, the effect is an easy sell. There was also a scene set in a public toilet that was very atmospheric. Overall, we noticed fewer actors in this maze but the ones we did encounter were on point. Everything about the haunt was well designed and executed; our only grumble is that we’re not fans of haunts that ‘warp’ you to different locations. And the ending could have been stronger; it just came to a finish one room too early as though the finale room had been chopped off… ***

MassAcre: So this was an actual corn maze, which was neat. Understandably, owing to accessibility and space there was a distinct lack of actors throughout the corn maze itself. They made up for this by spotting a few sheds along the route, which housed very enthusiastic actors! They got up close to you and delivered their lines with a clear passion that made up for the quieter corn maze bits. Not to say that these parts were boring, they did have the occasional actor in there, including a freaky rabbit man. We’re not sure what his deal was and didn’t stick around to find out! And, they can’t have you walking through a corn maze without throwing a scarecrow into the mix! There was a good build-up to this guy as we encountered one or two real scarecrows before we came across the live one. Our final moments in this maze were hilarious as we encountered characters who really didn’t want us to leave! ****

The Edge: We thought this maze had a brilliant opening. It was a vampire-themed haunt and the first few scenes felt sinister with a foreboding soundtrack and gothic scenery. The actors also performed differently here compared to the rest of the haunts, going for theatrics over impact scares for the most part. The problem was that it completely fizzled out after these opening moments. It just didn’t carry through the atmosphere that the first few rooms had built and we walked out of it thinking, ‘is that it?’. It’s a shame because the theming was brilliant and the acting helped to differentiate this maze from the others, it just had a limp finale. ***

Biometrix: So we’d heard a bit about this one going in and noted the warnings that it was full contact. If you’ve read our other reviews, you’ll know that we welcome contact in haunts, it helps with immersion as you feel like anything could happen. We’ll start by saying they did something in this maze that I actually find scary and that’s approaching from behind. The maze was made even more unsettling by having the first couple of corridors be completely empty. Given that this was a full contact maze, you knew they weren’t going to scrimp on actors. This initial emptiness was very much by design. With the tension ratcheting up, we didn’t consider that someone would first appear from behind us. We’re conditioned to expect people to appear from the front or at the sides! We were a bit surprised by how hands on these zombies were! We were grabbed and pulled around; not the odd brush that you might get at other places! At one point, I had three actors on me, with one of them just constantly pulling my ear. There was that half a second where we questioned if we were going to be able to get out, so swarmed were we by zombies… And another thing to mention; despite this going on, the haunt threw in other things like sliding floor panels, just to mess with you even more! We’ll be honest; on this one, we didn’t notice the sets so much. We were too busy dealing with being attacked! *****

Liked:

We haven’t mentioned this above but one thing that immediately put this event in our good books was that every single haunt batched us in just our group of two. So clearly it wasn’t the case that we caught one or two of the security staff in a good mood, it was the culture of the event to do that. This was so appreciated as it meant that in every attraction, we had the full attention of the cast and it definitely showed! We still managed to catch up with the group ahead in two of the mazes but that’s just because they were terminally afraid, taking timeouts after each room!

Carrying on from this, all the staff seemed to be enjoying themselves. This started with the woman issuing our tickets to the security at each attraction. The security guards, in particular, were chatting to us at every maze with a genuine interest. If they were feigning that interest, they’re as good as the actors inside the mazes! It was so refreshing to encounter such a welcoming, warm event. The people running ‘Broadwitch’ should definitely be proud of themselves as the customer service here was exemplary!

As for the haunts themselves, they were all stupidly well themed and each one stood out as being separate from the others. It’s just clear that a whole lot of passion went into this event at every single level and it totally shines.

Disliked:

We have to mention one thing here and that’s the price. We found it to be comparable to ‘Shocktoberfest’, which is a much bigger event offering a lot more in the way of side entertainment and haunted houses. It’s easy to see why this is – the event, whilst being busy, wasn’t attracting the numbers of the bigger scream parks and a lot of work went into the park that needed to be offset. However, the fact remains that when we first booked tickets for here, we were a bit taken aback. Do we think it’s worth it now that we’ve been through it? Absolutely, think of it as quality over quantity!

Another minor thing (and this is something we’d like to see most events give consideration to) is that the stories behind each house weren’t exactly clear to us and we feel that with the quality of the productions, a reason behind why they exist should be made more implicit!

Final Thoughts:

Despite giving some of the mazes average ratings, we still have to give the overall event top marks. The entire event was by far the best that we’d visited all season. From the friendliness of the staff to the real effort that had gone into each of the haunts. We even had an awesome time in the two mazes that we noted could do with improvements. This is definitely a must-do for next year and if you can make the journey, you’ll honestly have a great time. The people behind this event clearly care about what they’re doing and you can see how infectious it is in the way that all the staff carry themselves. We can’t say enough just how much we loved this place; if we were faced with attending only one event in 2017, it would be this one!

Rating: ***** (Out of 5) – Must Go!

Ticket Price: Between £18 and £42 varying on the number of mazes chosen and fast track.

Address: Broadditch Farm Shop, New Barn Road, Southfleet, Kent, DA13 9PU

Website: http://www.spookycastle.co.uk/

 

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