Best Haunts of the Season 2019

How did 2019 simultaneously feel like the longest Halloween ever and yet still felt like it absolutely whizzed by? I don't know about you guys, but it felt to me that the standard of haunts, scare mazes and general spookiness reached next level this season. everything just felt amplified, it's like everyone has suddenly woken up to the potential of an excellently executed Halloween event and a a result the quality across the board has been really high. Not that that is a complaint in any way, shape or form, but what it does mean is it's now harder than ever to figure out which events I want to make time to visit, and even harder to determine which attractions were my favourite of the season given everything was so damn good in general. But that's not to say I won't give it a good shot. Here's my top ten favourite attractions of the 2019 Halloween season.

This is such a strange one for me to include on this list for many reasons. It's an attraction I'd done a few years previously when we first visited Movie Park Germany, we have our own Walking Dead themed mazes here at Thorpe Park, I don't find zombies too frightening in general, etc, etc. But for SOME REASON this maze gave me my single biggest scare of the entire season. Essentially I was caught off guard in the prison scene, a Walker came launching at me out of absolutely nowhere and i was so spooked I toppled backwards into an actors' run. Yep. I was completely blindsided, had no idea where I was or what was happening and my heart was racing like crazy. it was insane, and sent me on edge for the rest of the attraction meaning every scare was heightened. Absolutely vile in the best way!

What can i say about Love Hurts that I haven't already? it's just, really fucking great and I like it a lot - it speaks to the scene kid that will forever lay dormant inside me and I'm grateful it exists. Truly one-of-a-kind kind of attraction.

When I visited Walibi Holland back in 2016 I passed on The Clinic, not because I was too scared of it or anything, but because I'd hear they removed your makeup in the process and that was something I wasn't too keen on given, y'know, it's me. This year I came mentally and physically prepared with make-up in hand (courtesy of Amy) fully ready to submit myself to whatever was to take place in the next ten minutes or so. I don't want to go into too much detail, but this is probably the best and most immersive horror experience I've ever done in terms of delivering a truly believable experience. The way you endure the experience feels so incredibly vulnerable, the way the scares are delivered is like nothing I've ever seen before and the whole attraction is exceptional. Bravo.

Tooting my own horn here slightly of course, but whatever. We set out to deliver the most intense horror maze Thorpe Park have ever had and after several run throughs being blinded by strobe lights and terrorised by chainsaws all to the heaviest maze soundtrack I think I've ever heard, I'm satisfied that we achieved our goal. The whole thing is relentless from start to finish, the cast are absolutely out of this world and do everything in their power to have you begging for them to stop. Gore-spatterd, chainsaw revving relentless fun.

I keep getting flashbacks of emerging from this maze, delirious from that insane strobe-lit finale into the yard to be completely surrounded by booming pyrotechnics and EDM. It was a jaw-dropping moment - the whole experience just felt elevated and showcased the true potential of what a scare-maze can be. It's especially wonderful for those of us who've visited Shocktoberfest for years to see how the attraction has come on leaps and bounds in just a few short years. World-class scare maze and a showcase in horror attraction excellence for sure.

I adore Terror of the Towers so I was gagging to see what this next installation of that world would bring us. It's amazing how The Attic manages to feel so incredibly different from the ToTT iterations we've seen previously and yet still feel so familiar. It's the little touches that made The Attic stand out to me - the creaking floorboards, the changes in temperature, the wind-up mechanism in the doll's back in the attic, the hidden bookcase entrance. Wonderfully eerie and gothic, using the natural creepiness of the Towers themselves to deliver yet another top class scare attraction in what is already a stellar line-up.

I was endlessly impressed with Horror at Hinchingbrooke House, and that's 99% down to the way the scare actors are able to deliver such a mercilessly intense and hands on experience through an attraction that is more than an hour long. Their erratic and wildly differentiated acting style meant that you never knew what was coming around each corner, meaning the entire attraction kept the anticipation and pacing throughout. Excellent.

Creepy Caves has always been one of my favourite scare attractions in the UK, mostly because I just cannot get over how genius it is to use an old insect/reptile house to host a scare attraction and somewhat because it's absolutely hideously scary and you just do not expect that from Chessington World of Adventures. The After Dark iteration has all of those things and then another level on top - it had all the intensity of the old Face It Alone's from Thorpe but without the degradation or humiliation that I wasn't so fond of. Having a mutant scream in your face has never been so much fun.

I loved Dr.Frights when I visited back in 2016 and my visit this year was no different. Despite being a smaller event with lower budgets the team still manage to pack huge punches when it comes to high frequency, intense scares. Directors Cut was my stand-out maze of the event for the sole reason that we literally did not stop screaming the entire way through - we entered each room cowering which is something I just flat out do not do and we exited the maze running full speed away from Leatherface. Fat nope but in a good way!

The Villa is essentially Directors Cut but done with a slightly higher budget. The iconic characters are there so the fear is there, it's a very simple formula but my god it works. The Hannibal Lecter scene in this maze was absolutely terrifying (what is it with having scare actors behind glass that's so bloody creepy?) and the maze really did the true horror movie thing of giving you a flase sense of security in thinking the maze is over before launching at you with one final scare - done so convincingly well that I had already pulled my camera out to do my post-most first thoughts only to end up running screaming from a chainsaw. Brilliant.

2019 was easily my favourite Halloween season yet, 2020 has some HUGE boots to fill in terms of living up to this year's awesomeness and having just written that list it's easy to see why.

What were your stand-out mazes or attractions of this year? Let me know in the comments!

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

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