Pleasurewood Chills

The Halloween season has now drawn to a close (sad face) and I thought it would be nice to round off the 2013 season with an event I had never experienced before. That, and it was free, so why not?

The morning of the 1st of November a small group of us set off East towards Norfolk for Pleasurewood Hills' Halloween event Pleasurewood Chills. Anybody who has been to the park before can forgive me for having low expectations for this event, but I am glad to say that I left the park feeling a tad ashamed of myself, it was really awesome and such a breath of fresh air when you're used to the Merlin Halloween stuff, that even when changed for a year, still feels like the same old same old. So let me tell you a bit about it.

We arrived at about 2.30pm to a half empty car park and were informed by staff that this was their least busy day of the week. Good news for us but not great considering we were still in half term at this point. The park were very accommodating, they presented us with press passes (yay) and into the park we went. 

The music around the entrance was awesome, really dramatic and mood setting. It would have been even better if there was a bit more lighting. It didn't make a difference as we entered the park as it was still daylight but once night fell the park was incredibly dark, you can see clearly why they don't operate the rides after sundown. However I am informed that this plans to be changed next year with the hopes of hiring some generators so that should be good. To the right of the entrance plaza the park had set up two photo points – the first was a beheading scene and the second was a noose, complete with a vulgar scarecrow character to pose with. He was really horrible, the costume was properly scary (a theme that would continue throughout this event).

Further around the entrance plaza were typical Halloween gumpf like hay bales and pumpkins, and the flag poles surrounding all bore Pleasurewood Chills themed flags. Also dotted around the park were event specific sign posts directing guests towards the direction of the haunts dotted throughout the park – a great touch especially for those not familiar with the park layout.

The first activity up on the agenda was pumpkin carving – a free activity put on by the park hosted by a morose Jason character whose nonchalant stories of his murder rampages (“Went killin' last night”) kept us entertained as we worked away. I made a crap Coasterforce one, which now lives in a pile of other unwanted pumpkins which have no doubt been thrown away by now, hurray! I loved this attraction, such a simple idea that families seem to have gone nuts for, and the way Pleasurewood have it set up is that the guests help contribute to the seasonal decoration of the park with their own pumpkins. Fab.

After dumping our pumpkin effort we made our way over to the attraction I was most looking forwards to – Hob's Pit. The attraction has received relatively good reviews throughout the year and Pleasurewood have cranked it up for Halloween by adding in loads more scare actors. To say it took me by surprise is an understatement. It absolutely blew me away! I won't ruin anything because I found that the second time around it wasn't as enjoyable because I knew what was coming, but my god. The effects! The theming! The pacing! The gore! For the few minutes inside this attraction I definitely didn't feel that I was in the Pleasurewood Hills I know. It truly is an outstanding attraction, my favourite Halloween attraction of the 2013 season and the park should be incredibly proud of themselves for pulling something like this off. It is clear why LA Times recently named this attraction as one of the top 13 scare attractions in the world!

We left Hob's Pit in a kind of stunned silence and hung around for the 4:00pm showing of Spooky Storytellers. Pleasurewood Hills have been rather clever with their Halloween event and have done something I haven't seen many other parks (except maybe Alton Towers) do well. They have a real vast range of attractions – from the 12a Hob's Pit to things like Spooky Storytellers which is a small ghost story show for children. It was rather modest but the actors were enthusiastic and seemed to drum up a nice crowd considering how dead the park was. Another good point about this attraction I that once the show is over the characters mingle with the guests and spend their time scaring people until the next shows begins, which was fun to see.

For the Pleasurewood Chills event the park have transformed Tales of the Coast to Tales of the Haunted Coast, which is essentially the same ride but with more live actors. It is a good concept, just not executed very effectively. On our ride only two actors were used, and whilst they did a great job in scaring us themselves there were large gaps of nothing which could easily have been used for one or two more scares.

Directly opposite the Spooky Storytellers stage was a weird yet hilarious set up called Trick or Treat. The attraction consists of two doors which, upon knocking, will provide either a trick or a treat (shockingly). These can be anything from sweets, to a park mascot appearing, to being screamed in the face at or squirted with a water gun. It was brilliant fun and everybody of all ages seemed to be enjoying it, it was one of the busiest attractions we saw all day and a fantastical and original (as far as I've seen) concept. 

Next in line was the Horror Express, a creepy walk through a ghost train. For me this was the least imaginative of Pleasurewood's offerings in the sense of being much like what I'd seen before. Some cool effects were used though such as a spinning room with a flickering light to create the illusion of movement and a terrifying butcher behind plexiglass. Horror Express was fun but it felt a little awkward and staggered, some music inside the attraction may have made a difference to the flow of this walk through. However considering this Halloween offering was put together by a team at Pleasurewood itself it is a good effort on all parts and hopefully things can only improve from what we experienced.

Out final attraction for the day was the acclaimed Satan's Circus, created by the creative design team at AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment. If this attraction is anything to go by, hiring an outside company to create your scare attractions is a must do for any novice park wishing to put on a Halloween event. This attraction was the perfect combination of black comedy and freakshow horror. It was such a breath of fresh air to see a different style of 'scaring' being utilised aside from being yelled at in the face. This walkthrough featured everything from loud noises, grotesque sights, disgusting smells and over-the-top gross out costumes alongside a subtle comedic tone. The whole thing is just weird, think Alice in Wonderland meets Rob Zombie. I couldn't tell if I was laughing or screaming throughout the whole attraction, just amazing stupid fun. 

Afterwards we were lucky enough to meet with some of the team behind the attraction who talked us through how some of the effects used were achieved and let us have a picture with Satan himself as a keepsake for our time in his circus, so thank you very much for your time guys!

We took one more spin on Hob's Pit before calling it a night at Pleasurewood Chills. The roaming characters around the parked scared us right out of the door. I left the event feeling pleasantly surprised. More than a handful of exceptional horror attractions at a park that I have always felt is rather under appreciated. If this year's event is anything to gauge by I would say definitely give Pleasurewood Chills a visit next Halloween, it was so much fun and the creative input was incredible and original, it would be brilliant to see the park getting a few more numbers through the door next season to ensure that they can continue to put on excellent events such as this one and continue to grow as a theme park.

And that wraps it up for my Halloween reviews. Hope everybody had an amazing time and have enjoyed reading about what I got up to! 


  1. What happened to all the great pictures?