Attraction Review - Tulley's ShocktoberFest

Seeing as it's not that far away from me, Tulleys ShocktoberFest is always a staple of my Halloween calendar. They haven't got a 'brand new' attraction for this year, but seeing as we always have such a good time I didn't want to skip it either way. Here's how it went down!

The entrance to this scream park is easily the most impressive of any I've done. The flaming gates as you drive into the car park, the giant pumpkin headed scarecrows, the gloomily lit up trees - everything just works perfectly together to create the ultimate Halloweeny ambience before you've even stepped foot into the park. The past few years we've been greeted by Tulley's awesome street team but this sadly wasn't the case this year and I have to say they were missed.

We grabbed ourselves a snack from one of the food carts as you enter the park and hung out to enjoy some of the street entertainment before hitting the mazes. This year things seem to have taken a step up and we were greeted with a giant demon woman on stilts terrorising guests as they entered the park. I love just sitting back and listening to the screams with stuff like this, so much fun and she looked absolutely incredible!

As I've stated loads of times on this blog, I'm not a huge fan of creepy clown mazes. Clowns don't scare me and I always think that if you don't have that initial fear factor then everything that follows will usually fall flat.

Well, not always the case. Twisted Clowns 3D has received something of an upgrade for this season and it was so much fun! Wall-to-wall 3D blacklit paint, crazy carnival freaks coming at you from every angle and am impressive use of staging and sets including swings, jack-in-the-boxes, air guns and a bloody bungee harness that scared the crap out of me! Is it the most terrifying maze of all time? No, but it's silly and crazy in a mad-hatters-tea-party kind of way that toes the fine line between horrifying uneasiness and joyful pandemonium, leaning more towards the latter. Fun!

Last year, Chop Shop left me a little cold. I don't know if we just got a bit of a dry run through, but the relentless chainsaw mania just never came and we exited feeling a little let down. And I'm pleased to say that this year was the total opposite!

As always this maze remains one of the best themed I've ever done - full sized old American junkyard cars and shelves stacked with old car parts. You really feel like you're wandering through some back-neck-of-the-woods mechanics with the sense that you're not as welcome as you'd hoped. Even the rooms before the all-out blood spattered madness look amazing and were as jam-packed with scares as the main event itself was and the actors were all on top form.

Then the finale...well I say finale, it does actually make up the bulk of the maze. It's a pretty simple formula: white blood spattered walls + strobes + chainsaws = relentless pant-shitting. It's so pure and simple and yet so easy to get wrong as we've seen with a few mazes in previous years. But Chop Shop have it down to a fine art. I KNOW the chainsaws aren't real, I KNOW the actors can't really hurt me and yet I can't help myself from fleeing for my life through that stark white labyrinth. A symphony of trauma from start to finish.

Man I always forget how long this maze is! Themed to a kind of post-apocalyptic hellscape, the aim of the game is to make your way through The Colony in one piece. I never understand if the inhabitants of this maze want to eat me or just chop me up into little pieces, but either way I just know I need to get the hell out of there.

This maze actually looks really great, I'd hazard a guess to say that whoever designed The Welcoming at Alton Towers has been through this one more than a few times. It could so easily be a meandering wander through...nothing, but the actors and little touches of horror are always placed at just the right moment to keep up the momentum.

It's a slow burner no doubt, especially when you enter still recovering from Chop Shop as we did, but it's always a good idea from scream parks to mix things up and offer a different side of the coin and that's precisely what The Colony offers.

Sadly this wasn't our best run through The Cellar. In previous years this has been a stand out for me, and like Chop Shop the theming here is king. The little details throughout this maze are really incredible, I'd love to just wander through this and spend the time to really soak it all in. And the squeeze cushion with the slowly descending walkway remains a highlight, it's such a clever unexpected touch and never fails to put a smile on my face.

Frustratingly we didn't end up having many encounters with the creatures that dwell within The Cellar and there were some longer gaps between anything happening at all. Luckily I've done the maze more than a handful of times now so I know how good this can be when it's on top form so was a bit gutted that this didn't happen for us this time round. But such is the nature of horror attractions! The Cellar is still a top quality attraction at Tulleys ShocktoberFest.

Every year I've visited Tulleys this attraction has improved tenfold and this year was no exception. The levels of theming have improved drastically and the actors within really gave it their all to bring the story of the Creepy Cottage to life. Plus, we went through with a group who were clearly doing their first maze of the night and so their reactions made this so much fun to wander through.

I think something I love so much about this attraction is the potential. The first time I did this maze it was nothing really more than some cheesy blacklit painted rooms, and on my most recent wander through it's looking more and more like a 'proper' haunted house. I think in a few years Creepy Cottage will be up there giving The Cellar a run for its money!

I'll never forget the first time I did Hellements - I'd never done anything like this bag-on-head attraction before and all of the actors, scares and effects were timed perfectly to leave my heart pounding with adrenaline. And then I did it a few more times and it kind of...wore off. So I was so happy to hear that this year the maze had received a few updates!

First up - the bags-on-heads have been updated so that they're actually fully blacked out. For once I 100% couldn't see where I was going, so much so that I actually fully fell on my arse in one scene! The rest of the maze itself is pretty much the same, however once the bags have been removed there's a whole extra scene. More fire, crashing barrels and creepy monk-type-dudes. What had previously ended a little lacklustre has suddenly received an entirely new lease of life to a maze that was almost losing its touch for repeat run throughs. Love that the park are continuing to look after their older attractions as well as the new.

Coven was awesome last year but going through this season I realised quite how much of this attraction I'd forgotten. The opening scene with the dunking in the lake and the use of squeeze cushions, fog and lasers is as impressive as ever. Being at the front of the group I actually missed quite a lot of the scares but it's just as enjoyable to wander through and just take in your surroundings. I could sit in that room for hours just watching it all unfold.

The following scenes were a complete black in my memory so it was like experiencing it all for the first time again. Sure, it's very Blair Witchy but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Anything witchy/demonic themed and I'm all over it, I think it's really disturbing and loved soaking in the macabre atmosphere from one terrifying room with a chanting witch to the next. I also really enjoy the use of both indoor and outdoor spaces in this one, the changes in setting, lighting and temperature just add more layers to an already impressive narrative.

Doors seem to be more a thing with mazes in all attractions this year too and there's something really upsetting about having to turn the knob to reveal the horror within - especially when you can see the strobes and hear the screams from the other side already! Honestly, I adored the finale of Coven last year with the possessed woman flailing in strobe lit chains and was sad to see this has been replaced for this year. Luckily it's still a fab final scene and the actress was really giving it everything. If I hadn't scene the previous finale before it absolutely would not have been a bad way to end at all, I just happen to have preferred the previous.

Sadly the rain had really started coming down by the time we got on the hayride which put a bit of a downer on the end of our night. I always save the hayride for last because it's a highlight and I like to leave on a high and well, sitting in the rain has a tendency to shroud everything in gloom.

Luckily she was on top form! The first time I did this one I was so impressed with it, I'd never done anything like it. It was terrifying and vicious and creepy in all the right ways. The next few visits it seemed to go for a more tongue-in-cheek approach which was fine but I always longed for it to return to its old ways. And finally she's back! From terrifying scarecrows coming to life in the cornfield, to FIRE EVERYWHERE, to creepy white sheet people to chainsaw wielding hicks commandeering the tractor, the initial joy of the hayride is back in full force and I loved it so much that we even forgot it was raining for a moment or two.

The finale is as ridiculous as ever...I won't ruin it because it's delightfully vulgar but if you're easily offended maybe this one isn't for you. Great way to end our evening.

Usually we'd have hung out at the fire for a drink or two but given that the heavens had now opened we decided to call it a night. Despite the rain it was easily one of my more enjoyable nights at Tulleys - mazes were on top form for the most part, noticeable improvements all round and it's always a joy to watch this attraction to continue to expand year after year. Bring on 2018!

Talk later xoxo,