Scare Kingdom Scream Park

After years of wanting to visit I finally got my act together and trekked up north to Scare Kingdom Scream Park (SKSP) in Blackburn. Hosted at Hawkshaw Farm Park, this event changes from a wholesome family attraction by day into one of the most extreme scare attractions in the UK every night for their busy Halloween season, all in the space on one hour! Bearing in mind the level of theming and ambience created for SKSP, this is no mean feat and is very very impressive.

The attraction is a little different in the way it operates. As opposed to ‘free-roaming’ scare events such as Tulley’s Farm, SKSP breaks guests down into manageable groups of 14 who then follow the path around the farm from one haunt to the next. This method is definitely very effective in minimising queue times but does have the downside of meaning an evening at SKSP is only just under 2 hours as opposed to a potential whole evening. The upside, however, is that the scares come thick and fast and you barely have a moment to take a breath before being thrown into a fresh hell having emerged victorious from the last. SKSP is very accomplished in not allowing revellers any time at all to recompose themselves, and for a scare event that is truly wonderful to behold.

Having visited an AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment production at Pleasurewood Hills in Norfolk last year and thoroughly enjoying it I was looking forward to seeing what more they had to offer. Instead of consisting of a build up of ‘jump scares’ and flashing lights like so many theme park scare attractions, AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment prefer to take a more narrative based approach, resulting in elaborate and enjoyable storylines that guests can really lose themselves in alongside outstanding set design and memorable characters. Being inside one of their attractions is more akin to walking through an entire horror movie as opposed to just the final act; each attraction has a set up, development and payoff. You definitely get your money’s worth which is ironic considering what they were charging up at SKSP! Prices range from £15-18 depending on what day you visit which is an absolute steal considering the clear investments being made into the production of this attraction.

So, with that out of the way, let me talk you through my night of delightful terror that culminated in probably the most disgustingly enjoyable horror attraction I have ever experience!

First up is a ghoulish twist on an old Halloween haunt classic - the corn maze. Guests are cajouled along to the entrance of the maze by the first of many delightful characters and are warned of the evil that lies within. Distant screams and the humming of a chainsaw sound off in the distance and we are sent into the pitch blackness of the corn. 

On my visit, not only was it pitch black but it had also been raining so we had a bit of a bog to contend with. That and the impending threat of…..whatever might be hiding in the fields meant our group were growing more anxious by the second! What I loved about this attraction was the sporadity of the scares. After being left to meander aimlessly through the darkness the faceless beings began to make themselves known. The creatures - a cross between something from Buffy and Slenderman - screech and moan as they emerge from the corn. They really are very startling to behold and were our first experience of the excellent character design found at SKSP. The corn opens right up at the end leaving you vulnerable and at the mercy of the faceless, only to be chased out as the attraction ends with a true haunt classic that still manages to send a tingle down even my spine!

SKSPs second offering was yet another theme that pops up across the scare attraction agenda - the break out at the asylum. However once again SKSPs excellent production values, memorable characters and compelling storylines alongside some fun interactivity along the way means this haunt is one of the more memorable of this genre. Some of the best use of harsh strobe lighting I’ve ever experience, this attraction was truly disorientating. I adored the guest interaction with the prison guards barking orders at our group. Any attraction that truly engages the audience in such a way and makes them part of the action is doing it right in my book. With a few real shock surprises along the way (including some alarmingly realistic props!) Hellcatraz got me really pumped up for the rest of the night.

First off with this attraction we need to discuss the theming. Wow. Clearly somebody at AtmosFEAR! is a huge Disney fan because ManorMortis is giving off serious Haunted Mansion vibes, and it works spectacularly well. I think even without the actors this attraction could tell its own story through the set pieces along. I was lucky enough to walk through this attraction with the lights on later in the evening and it was only at this point could I truly appreciate the attention to detail in every scene. Every nook and cranny is filled with items, each telling their own little tale and adding their own depth to the incredible ManorMortis storyline. It is very impressive the those who dedicated their time to putting it together should be very proud, you definitely have a world class scare attraction on your hands with this one!

Giving a mix of American Horror Story Coven and Haunted Mansion, ManorMortis creates the perfect balance between traditional Gothic haunted house style alongside the more startling and violent satanic undertones of coven folklore. The intricate set design meant that for me the scares were thick and fast because I kept being distracted looking at all of the detail on my way around, meaning actors kept catching me unaware! This attraction pretty much has it all when it comes to a good classic haunt and it executes it perfectly. Fantastic attraction.
And we go from classic Gothic horror to modern psychopop horror with a Rob Zombie colour palette in the Human Zoo. Loud neon colours cloud the senses as you feel your way around this one - Human Zoo has a post-apocalyptic feel with a touch of cannibalism mixed with a ‘mad scientist’ narrative. Its a total mash of horror conventions, very punk in its aesthetic and execution.

What stood out for me in Human Zoo were the costumes, all of which were very unnerving and creepy to behold, culminating in the Dr. Satan inspired final monster whose costume, custom created especially for SKSP, will give me nightmares for weeks to come!
If you’ve heard of SKSP it’s probably for one reason - the notorious Psychomanteum. The build up to this sick son of a bitch begins with the signing of papers as a precaution alongside an 18+ rating and the insistence that one must learn a safety word before experiencing it - ALONE. Shit, you think, this is going to be brutal. The truth is that as having previously experienced AtmosFEAR!’s attraction before I should have expected what I got. 

Psychomanteum is sick, probably one of the most vile attractions ever created, but it knows where to draw the line so that it remains enjoyable. If you are interested in horror attractions you will be well aware of the 3-4 hour ordeals on offer in the States where patrons appear genuinely traumatised by their time inside. I feel Psychomanteum benefits from a certain Britishness when it comes to the subject of vulgarity, being that we laugh at it. So yes, having semi-naked creeps grind and abuse you and try (sometimes succesfully) shoving all kinds of bodily fluids down your throat is some seriously nasty business, but behind it all is a silliness that turns a potentially vicious and unenjoyable attraction into something brilliant and gruesome on all the right levels. Psychomanteum is that slice of chocolate cake you shouldn’t have eaten after the first two courses - sickening, but oh so good at the same time. 

I seriously recommend SKSP for those of you wishing to try a more extreme attraction this Halloween. Your nerves may nearly get the better of you as those at AtmosFEAR! Scare Entertainment are masters of anticipation, but please don’t pussy out! The pay off is so worth the anxiety and if you can manage to have your eyes open for a few seconds throughout the night please take care to take in all of the little details, they are truly impressive!

Special thanks to the guys at Scare Kingdom Scream Park for giving us the VIP treatment and for taking such good care of us, I'll definitely try and visit again next year.