Attraction Review - Xtreme Scream Park

It's the most wonderful time of year and I kicked off my season of scares with a new-to-me event  - Xtreme Scream Park at Twinlakes Park in Melton Mowbray.

Similarly to Scare Kingdom, Xtreme Scream Park isn't a Halloween event hosted by family fun park Twinlakes itself like FRIGHT NIGHTS at THORPE PARK Resort or Scarefest at Alton Towers Resort. The guys who put on the event simply borrow the use of the land for a few weeks of the year. So much so that if you didn't know that by day this was a quaint family park you'd literally have no idea, fire lanterns and creepy as fuck scarecrows point the way to the back end of the land where the majority of the haunts live.

It's got a similar country bumpkin feel to Tulleys Shocktober Fest - roaring fires, live music, burger vans, street theatre (with chainsaws aplenty) and 6 horror mazes. So Autumnal and fab! The main reason I wanted to visit Xtreme Scream Park was because it pretty much cleaned up at Scarecon earlier this year, so needed to see what all the fuss was about.

Before I give a full breakdown of each maze, my overall thoughts on the event. The atmosphere was great, a perfect crisp Autumn evening, the right level of horror and spookiness, the air tainted with equal parts screams and laughter. The theming has a homely feel, a good blend of pumpkins, fire and creepy ass scarecrows. Not tons of actors but the ones roaming around were really effective, interactive and atmospheric. Out of the 6 scare mazes available, 3 were excellent and the other 3 were forgettable but I guess that's also a good thing in that they're not so horrific that I'm outraged by them! Let me elaborate, I'll start with the crap ones:

Belvoir Dungeon*
After doing a bit more research post-visit this was apparently themed to vampires. It's clearly one of the older attraction on park and whilst it's not winning any awards for thematic design or communication of storyline, one thing it does really well is its use of space. Yes, the attraction is essentially plywood and chicken wire fencing, but the combination of this with the darkness and sinister soundtrack is actually quite unnerving.

For the first five minutes anyway. It's super long and repetitive to the point where I was actually bored and ready for the thing to be over now. If you're any level of claustrophobic I guess this maze would scare you but there's only so long you can be fooled by wood and nails before the boredom sets in.

Clowns, for the most part, don't scare me. OK, Pennywise from It is quite vile but I'm not sure how much of that is Tim Curry's fault. Either way, clown themed mazes don't fill me with excitement but that said I'm always up for a fun kitschy carnival gag, so I usually enter these things with high hopes. Twisted suffers a similar fate to the clowny maze at Tulleys Shocktober Fest - room after room of red and white stripy flaps and not much in the scare department. And the payoff from the rooms that actually had things inside wasn't great either. I feel like there are literally thousands of opportunities for scares with a circus theme and this maze didn't really do any of them, aside from a clown or two popping out from nowhere.

Something I noticed from Xtreme Scream Park is that many of their mazes don't have a 'final scare' moment. You know what I mean, maniac with a chainsaw chases you out onto the street so everybody can laugh at you. None of that. So when you emerge from the horrifying circus tent it just kind of falls flat and you're left going 'meh'.

Oh, so the premise of this sounds INCREDIBLE. A middle-class British town of hoity toity types are plagued by werewolves, so in the spirit of the hunt every year they select a few locals to sacrifice to keep the beast's hunger at bay. Hell yes, I am so here for this! The preshow queue area and film are disturbing as hell. You weave through a blood soaked hunting trophy room watching footage of some poor sods running to their doom with hessian bags on their heads. Damn, I was getting a little nervous to be honest!

This would be my fourth bag-on-head type attraction and I've decided that they're actually a bit shit. They're an excuse not to bother with theming, but then I think if you've saved some £££ there then splash out a little more on other kinds of effects. Hell-ements at Tulleys Shocktober Fest does this well, a mixture of different temperatures and environments to keep the senses heightened and confused. Hunted was just wandering around the same room in darkness, with dogs barking and horses hooves chasing you. The final room was kind of just...silly. The idea of what might be coming to get you is ALWAYS going to be scarier than some guy in a cheap werewolf mask trying to grab you through some pallets. Damn, and this had so much promise too!

Right, that sounded quite negative didn't it? Fear not, I did really like this event and the following three attractions are why I would encourage anyone to make the trek to the park and experience for themselves. Here we go...

Stilton Hall Hotel and Spa****
So many questions running through my head as I queued for this one. Will this maze smell like cheese? Why is there a spa at a Halloween event? What is with the fog horn at the end and why are people running from it? Probably the most ambitious maze at Xtreme Scream Park, Stilton Hall is loosely themed to a spa & hotel but essentially just kind of blends into a grim mess of generic haunted house style rooms. But somehow it kind of works, and does exactly what I love mazes to do: it made me laugh. It's absolutely obscene, it's kitschy and silly and camp and over the top. Some parts of it randomly stray off into Se7en territory and at other points you're being chased by a pile of teddy bears (I am NOT shitting you!).

And it's LONG - far too often you queue for ages for these things only to be farted out the other end feeling like you've barely started. This goes on forever and each room is full of hilarious and grotesque gags. It really felt worth the trek up to Xtreme Scream Park from London for this alone!

The Pie Factory***
It's a scream park in Melton Mowbray for god's sake so OF COURSE there's got to be a haunt themed to pork pies. Again with the sense of humour, I love anything that can take the piss out of itself like this and still be terrifying to boot! Annoyingly, the final chainsaw gag could be heard from miles around, but we headed in intrigued anyway. So essentially the premise is that, in classic Mrs Lovett style, the secret ingredient of the world famous Melton Mowbray pork pie is indeed human flesh. Cue a bunch of graphic meat grinder scenes with various body parts sticking out. There's also some sort of other storyline that I didn't quite grasp meaning all of the creatures inside this attraction are part human/part pig? Don't really understand why but they're terrifying looking either way!

So on top of the hilarious premise this maze is stacked full of interesting rooms and set ups, loads of detailed and realistic theming and one or two completely unique gags that had me equal parts laughing and screaming. What it loses in scares it makes up for in originality and hilarity. Perfectly captures the silliness of what happens when Halloween is injected with a very British sense of humour.

Ash Hell Penitentiary*****
I really hope that the creators of this final maze took a step back once they'd finished and went 'Oh God, what have we created'. This is hands down the most scared I have ever been in a scare attraction, and I do NOT scare easily. I'll admit, I kind of yawned to myself when I saw that there was a prison/inmate themed attraction at the Xtreme Scream Park line-up. It's such a tired theme, how the hell do you do anything different that hasn't already been done to death. Well, being called Sugar Tits by a prison guard as we approached this one certainly caught my attention!

Essentially Ash Hell Penitentiary is a 20 minute assault on the senses. You're absolutely annihilated from every angle from loud noises, to strobes, to smells to everything inbetween from the minute you step foot in the place. Heavy metal blares at you, putting everything really on edge, and a lot of the time it's what you don't see that is the worst of all. AHP makes excellent use of organic space and again pays extra special attention to detail to make the end result all the more realistic and hideous. We even passed a group of girls crying and heading for an emergency exit, it really is that extreme. OK it doesn't have the camp sense of humour that I loved about the other attractions but it made up for it in intensity and impact. Easily one of my favourite scare attractions of all time.

I'm so glad I made the effort to visit this event. OK, because it's a little more out of my way I can't see it becoming a staple of my Halloween line-up but it's definitely up there with some of the most unique and clever scares I've ever experienced! They play with genre, have some intriguing if not always fully realised concepts and definitely got me in the mood for more spooky Halloween fun!

Talk later xoxo,