Attraction Review: Xtreme Scream Park

You may remember my blog from a few years ago about Xtreme Scream Park where I said the event had some of the most unique and clever scares I've ever experienced. The more I thought about it, the more it was clear that Xtreme Scream was up there as one of my favourite Halloween events of all time. We took a year off last year to give ourselves the chance to check out some other UK events, but after everybody raved about The Village last season I got major FOMO and pushed Xtreme Scream to the top of my must visit list for 2018. It was time to go back.

So, I remember there being a lot more traditional spooky Halloween gumph around the entrance. Pumpkins and fire and spooky scarecrows. This year it was just pitch black with some scarecrows but these ones had cutesy faces. I get that it must be difficult to find that balance of theming between cute family friendly Halloween event and pant-shittingly terrifying evening Halloween event, but I definitely felt a lack of spooky atmosphere upon entering this time. Which was a shame, but soon forgotten when we were met at the end of the entrance path by terrifying clown-on-stilts man with a really cool digital moving eye piece. People were running the other way from this guy absolutely screaming and the atmosphere he created alone was just great for setting the tone of things to come.

But of course, you're here to hear what I thought of the mazes this year, so let's get stuck in! I'll talk you through the mazes as we did them and let you know my thoughts. Kicking things off with the one and only Ash Hell Penitentiary.

I feel like my brain has slightly tried to diminish memories I have of this one. I was so traumatised and utterly terrified by my 2016 run-through that I found myself second guessing a lot of what I could recall. Like, I swear one of the inmates hanging out outside said something about my tits and fired a gun in the air. I feel also like there was a part where actual electrical sparks were flying as the floor beneath me vibrated. Did that really happen?

Well turns out yes, yes it did. Ash Hell is one of the most twisted, fucked up mazes I've ever had the misfortune to experience and I absolutely love every minute of it. For you see, after doing so many of these damn things over the years I've built up a slight immunity to the scares, and Ash Hell is one of the only mazes I've done in recent years that still genuinely shits me up. And for the most part, it's psychological. From the abuse thrown at you from the minute you even get in the vicinity of the maze, to the sounds of the gun being shot, to the erratic light flashing off and on, the whole experience feels like torture. But the beauty comes from Xtreme Scream always holding back that slight bit - it never gets to the point (for me anyway) where it feels like too much or it stops being fun, and that is ultimately the key here. It was awesome in 2016 and it's still and absolute beast two years later. I'd honestly make the journey for this maze alone.

There were two things I remembered most clearly about Stilton Hall from 2016 - it was big and it had one of the best scares I've ever experienced in a maze still to this day (actor dressed as a pile of toys with giant teddy bear as decoy). Who doesn't love a good old fashioned haunted hotel style maze? Stilton Hall beautifully mashes up a few genres into one here - you've got the beauty salon gone wrong theme which the mazes explores in great gory details from a slightly too scalpel happy plastic surgeon to a vile tanning room at the centre of which stands the BBQ'd remains of some poor cow who just came in to top up her tan. Delightfully gruesome.

Taking it upstairs we explore more of the hotel side of the theme, each room offering some disturbing scene guaranteed to be burned into your retinas and haunt your dreams for at least a week. I don't remember this from the 2016 version, but there was a definite seedy seaside postcard Viz magazine vibe going on with the content this year. From the hotel perv ("bet you thought that was my hand didn't ya?") to the drag queen BDSM chamber in the loft. And I loved it. It was just delightfully ghoulish in every way and had the certain detail and quality that only these independent events can offer. Not pant wettingly terrifying by any means, but detailed and creepy and fun.

My first new maze at this event for this year, and one I'd heard nothing but amazing things about. When we last visited this space was taken up by the bag-on-head maze Hunted which...wasn't my favourite thing ever shall we say. So yh, I went into this one having zero idea what it was about so had absolutely no idea what to expect. And oh my god - it's bloody brilliant! It's so, so long and detailed. Almost feels like you're wandering through an abandoned movie set or something. And the theme? Some kind of cult or curse or some such bullshit has taken over the village causing everyone to be transformed into scarecrows. Yay! So autumnal and spooky, love me a creepy scarecrow. And the costumes are so creepy and gross, what is it about a bit of hessian and straw that lends itself to such a terrifying image?

And the sets - my god! The detail is absolutely astounding, it really is remarkable. Huge sprawling sets that offer so much for the eye to look at you don't have any time to figure out where the creatures are hiding then BAM scarecrow in your face. The set pieces are huge and elaborate - from giant windows that startlingly blow curtains in your face to a full blown car garage with sparks flying everywhere. It's obscene. The final scene with the church filled with terrifying scarecrow creatures is particularly disturbing, as was the scene that followed. It's just so much fun, good old traditional Halloweeny goodness from beginning to end.

Another maze I'd done before, but one I'd honestly forgotten a lot about. My sense of humour really does appreciate a slaughterhouse style maze themed to a pork pie factory at an event that takes place in Melton Mowbray. It's deliciously self-referential and I lap that shit up. Again, Xtreme Scream are so clever with what they do. They take a theme us regular scare event goers know and love and add all these extra details and narrative and storyline to make it completely unique and put their own brand of horrendousness on it. I love me a slaughterhouse maze - all stark white walls and blood spatters and chainsaws. But I love those things even more so when the context of slaughter is set firmly in a storyline built up by every scene leading up to those moments. Especially when those scenes including giant animatronic pigs and disgusting half human half pig creatures squealing at me.

It's definitely on the more extreme end of the scale when it comes to the scares. After all. the premise is that we're going to be brutally massacred and turned into a delicious pie at any moment, so it's all quite graphic and gory and violent. Chainsaws shit me up even when there's not rhyme or reason to them being there anyway, so throw one into the mix here and I might as well be sobbing on the floor in the foetal position before we've even begun. So to cut a long story short it's excellent and I love it.

I'd heard...mixd things about this maze. Mostly that it was weird and silly, but all I could think was that anything had to be an improvement on the crap that was Belvoir Dungeon. But I think even the park knew that one wasn't their best. So yh, anything they could do surely had to be an improvement on that? And well...I bloody loved it? Probably my favourite bag-on-head maze I've ever done! It's all just so fun and jumpy and scary. The actors really get into character and there's a creepiness to how upbeat they all are in a Wicker Man kind of way (the 70s movie not the Towers coaster). The bag-on-head section was great - the uneven floors and actors stroking your wrists and whispering in your ears made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with how disorienting everything was.

And then the second half is essential a greatest hits of scares - squeeze cushions, creepy crypts, rooms of figures covered in sheets where you don't know which is the actors, a draw bridge where your ankles are ripe for grabbing, the fog + laser = swamp effect. Just bam, bam, bam scare after scare after scare and then the theming! So bright and colourful and detailed. And GIANT VOODOO DOLL MAN! Yes yes yes, all of it just great. Another solid addition to an already stellar line-up.

Urgh, clowns. I am not scared of clowns. Never have been, never will be. So, clowny mazes never really affect me that much. One thing I do love about a circus maze is that the cast always seem to have so much fun with these things, and Curtain Chaos was no exception. From the first Clockwork Orange dude at the front crudely flirting and terrorising the cue you instantly understood what the vibe of this attraction was going to be and the seediness only carried on inside. It's a fairly standard circus maze affair to be honest - spooky flaps, clown goes boo, you get the picture.

The clown costumes and make up were really vile come to think of it - a blend of face make up, prosthetics and masks really elevate this attraction to be scarier than your regular circus gone wrong.

And like that, it was all over and yet again it's an absolute home run for Xtreme Scream Park. The two new mazes are solid additions to an already excellent line-up and I think if the rumours of Curtain Chaos being in its final year are true then I think next season it will be truly difficult to rank the mazes at this park as they'll all be excellent. The attractions are as innovative and original as their are terrifying and it's truly refreshing to visit an event that thinks outside the box when it comes to delivering the fear. Fantastic event and I can't wait to go back next year already.

Talk later xoxo,