Last year at Fright Nights, Thorpe Park held backstage tours of four of their scare attractions. There were two tours, one covering SAW Alive and The Cabin in the Woods and the other going through Platform 15 and The Big Top. Naturally, we just had to book ourselves onto these and have a little peek when the lights are on and no-one’s home!
Luckily, we were permitted to take and share photos or this post wouldn’t be too interesting!
About the maze: Needing no real introduction, SAW Alive is based on the SAW movie franchise with the attraction itself covering parts I-VI. The premise of the haunt is that you’re entering Jigsaw’s lair and each room takes a scene from one of the movies and brings it to life!
What we learned:
- Actors have options in the rooms. For example, in the bathroom set from the first SAW, they have the choice of hiding in the bathtub or in the corner of the room where Jigsaw’s body is lying.
- The SAW II set (the scene in the movie where the SWAT team walked into a fenced, electrified area) used to give a light electric shock if you touched the fence. We’ve seen electric panels used at Shocktoberfest – they’re great fun! Unfortunately, this feature was removed quite early on. Now the floor panels vibrate to simulate an electric charge, enhanced by sound effects.
- The entire maze is a lot more detailed and faithful to the franchise than it appears when running. There’s a lot of detail and cool little touches present that are lost when it’s dark, smoky and actors are distracting you!
- Above, you’ll notice a picture of the different scent canisters used in the maze. The urine one? When SAW Alive opened, Thorpe Park sought volunteers for urine samples – guests provided these and those samples were used to construct the smell that is used in the haunt!
The Cabin in the Woods
About the maze: Based on the 2012 movie, The Cabin in the Woods is a non-linear maze where guests can choose their own route through the scare attraction. Starting in the titular cabin, you soon end up (spoiler) in the facility where the events in the cabin are being engineered from. Giving guests the option of the path that they take is a clever way of replicating the premise of the movie where the victims unwittingly choose the method of their destruction. There’s another feature that also ties into the film in an unexpected way but we’ll get to that below.
What we learned:
- There’s a control room in the maze where you can trigger smoke and sound effects in the living room area to scare other guests. It’s linked up to a CCTV camera so that you can watch their reactions. This is an addition that feels very true to the film where the people in the facility were manipulating the environment to guide the victims to their fates.
- Like with SAW Alive, there’s a lot of detail that goes unnoticed in normal operation. The props such as the puzzle ball are all very close to those in the film. However, in an ordinary run through, you just wouldn’t ever notice that these things are even there!
- Guests can be destructive! We were shown several areas where guests had caused irreparable damage – some features of the maze were removed and never replaced because there was a high probability of them being broken again.
- The wolf head is featured in the film – in the extreme, ‘Face It Alone’ version of this haunt, guests are often made to kiss it!
And that was the first tour – it was a great experience, our guide was very knowledgeable and keen to answer any questions that we had. We came away from it with a real appreciation for the effort that goes into these scare attractions and it made going into the haunts during operation way more fun as we knew when and where to pay attention!
We’ll post our coverage from the other tour in the next few weeks.
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