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ATTRACTION REVIEW

Review: Shocktober Fest (2016) – Tulleys Farm

Ticket Price: Between £10 and £65 depending on the level of participation and date visited.

Address: Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill Road, Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 4PE

Website: http://www.halloweenattractions.co.uk/locations/crawley/shocktoberfest

‘Shocktoberfest’ at Tulleys Farm was our Halloween night event and thus, the last of the season for us. After ‘Fright Nights’ at Thorpe Park this is the event that we’ve visited the most amount of times; we had a good idea as to what to expect going in!

Coven of 13: Our first haunt of the night was also one of their two new attractions for 2016.  It was split into two very distinct halves. The first part was a long walk through a bayou environment where we witnessed witches being ducked. We had to make our way along a path that had waist-high claustrophobia walls, giving the sensation of wading through a bog. The use of smoke and lasers topped the effect off; giving a misty, ethereal vibe to the area. The second half of the haunt was set in the witches’ house. There were some cool features here including a moment where we had to crawl through the fireplace – this haunt definitely forced interactivity with the environment! Those little touches helped put us in the middle of the story. The ending was another impressive moment with an actress who was elevated above the floor. Combined with the lighting and sound effects, this scene felt reminiscent of the ‘Evil Dead’ movies! A great start to the evening! ****

Hellements – The Ritual: This was a hooded maze and whilst the hoods and the uneven terrain lent this maze some intensity, there didn’t seem to be many actors which was especially noticeable given the length of this haunt. What was initially creepy quickly became boring owing to long stretches of slow, staggered walking with nothing to look at! There were two moments with water and fire effects, these were really appreciated as they provided some stimuli! If any haunt needs to be retired in 2017, it’s this one. **

The Creepy Cottage: The tamest of the attractions at ‘Shocktoberfest’ and probably the most actor-less but it’s brilliantly themed with uneven flooring and suspense-creating tight turns. It knows it isn’t a top ten haunt but it has a certain charm and is definitely a solid walkthrough. And we encountered the most hidden actor that we’ve ever (never) seen in this maze. We heard them but didn’t see them and that was even after really looking – we just couldn’t fathom it! ***

The Horrorwood Hayride: Coupled with ‘The Creepy Cottage’, this would be a good way of breaking someone in to scare events. It’s not so much scary as it is fun and the novel approach, being driven around on a tractor’s trailer, just amplifies that. Throughout the ride, you encounter numerous characters who, most of the time, end up jumping onto the trailer to get up close and personal with the passengers! Their performances lean more towards the theatrical than trying to elicit scares. There were a good few moments where the scenery interacted with the vehicle, catching people off guard. The people opposite us swore blind that a collapsing wall had brushed them despite it clearly not being close! We’ll try and not draw too much of a comparison to previous years here but have to note that this year it seemed very toned down. In the past a lot of the humour was quite raunchy, something that was completely absent this year. And that edge wasn’t replaced with a scarier tone. It was just a softer version of what it has been in prior incarnations. ***

The Cellar: This is another classic ‘Shocktoberfest’ maze, most notable for its gigantic snake animatronic. This thing was great, reaching all the way across to you and engulfing you within its jaws. Whoever was operating it was clearly having a great time! Elsewhere this maze was brilliantly themed with its setting being a decrepit farm house. They used this theme well, crafting the typical curtain maze section from dirty clothes as opposed to simple black fabric. There were quite a few tight spots too that the actors really exploited, getting in your way so that passing was impossible. This maze generally had the most enthusiastic cast, they just seemed to get everywhere! ****

The Chop Shop: This was great fun. Being called ‘The Chop Shop’ it opens with a few rooms set in a garage as you’d expect. The hillbilly characters in these scenes kept emphasising words like ‘parts’ and ‘meat’ and you soon get suspicious that this garage might be a front for something a lot more sinister. Predictably, you’re led into a slaughterhouse and this is where it just goes absolutely nuts. This whole section was made up of winding corridors that seemingly never ended and the entire time, chainsaw-equipped actors are pursuing you. It has an ingenious design where they get maximum impact from a relatively small cast of actors as the maze is littered with cut-throughs. So you’ll eventually escape an actor only to have him appear in front of you two seconds later! They really sold the effect of being surrounded by actors when, in reality, there were probably only three or four in this section. ****

The Colony: Our main observation here was that this haunt is really long. It feels like it takes about ten minutes to get through, if not more which is a long time for a single attraction! This inevitably resulted in actor-less stretches but the unique theme kept things interesting. It’s set around a post-apocalyptic colony (funnily enough!). There was a great part where we had to navigate our way through a certain section in total darkness. We ended up doubling back on ourselves twice, as did everyone else! There was a sense of reward and accomplishment when we finally found our way out of that area! Another fairly unique element to this haunt is that large parts of it take place outside. As well as the theming, the cast’s costumes were cool too; we especially liked the ‘leader’ at the end who dictated which route we took for the finale. ****

PanDEMONium’s 3D Carnival: We had a real problem with this maze, stemming from the actors’ performances. They were all very ‘talky’ in this haunt, spending a lot of time with you and holding up certain people if they reacted in ways the actors liked. The only problem with this was, we spent a good majority of the attraction just waiting around, eventually chatting to each other to pass the time. To be clear, we don’t blame the actors themselves for this. They carried out their parts really well. And given that each actor did a similar thing, it was clearly the intention that they perform this way in the attraction. We’re not even sure that that’s an issue either really. What was probably the root cause of the holdup was inefficient batching. We understand that occasionally people get scared and hold up the line but for this to be prevalent throughout the entire duration of the haunt points to something being wrong operationally. Just let fewer people through at a time to accommodate the narrative of the haunt. As it stood, we unfortunately walked away with this being our enduring memory. *

Liked:

‘Shocktoberfest’ is probably the biggest Halloween event in the UK, definitely the biggest that we’ve attended over here! And there’s a focus on the entire experience with the addition of live music, rides, a bar, food courts. You could definitely spend an evening here, even if you got through all the haunts in an hour or two. It’s the closest we have in the UK to the big US Halloween events and its good to see something rival those events for a complete experience.

And overall, ‘Shocktoberfest’ has a brilliant line up of haunts. They all stand apart from each other and are incredibly well themed, populated with an enthusiastic and lively cast. Even in the case of ‘PanDEMONium’s 3D Carnival’, we think that the haunt could have been on par with the rest of the park’s offerings. We were just completely blinded by the fact that we spent more time standing around in there than we did walking through it.

Disliked:

The batching was a mess. Yeah, we know we can’t expect to go in as our own group but going through in groups as large as fifteen was beyond the limits of acceptability. It didn’t cause us too many issues this time around but only because we’d had awful runs in previous years so made the effort to always try and steal the front position. Where we couldn’t manage that, we ended up with the situation in ‘PanDEMONium’s 3D Carnival’. We can’t fathom why they would intentionally do this and it’s something that they need to manage better as it can potentially ruin an evening.

Shocktober Fest (2016) - Tulleys Farm
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Summary

We’d highly recommend this place and reckon you could get away with bringing the most timid of friends along. Try them out with ‘The Horrorwood Hayride’ and ‘The Creepy Cottage’. If they like it, excellent. If they don’t, there’s still enough going on for a good time! We would say that if they continue to batch in large groups, get as close to the front of the group as you can.

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