Attraction Review: Belantis Halloween Abenteuer

Last week saw Conor and I (magically somehow) head over to Germany for a ten day long trek across the country visiting theme parks and tourist traps alike, and of course it wouldn't be a theme park trip in October without visiting a few spooky events! Much like the rest of Europe, and indeed the world, many of Germany's premier Halloween events have sadly been cancelled this year meaning we weren't able to get to as many as we would have hoped, but luckily Belantis Halloween Abenteuer was able to operate as advertised, so last Saturday we headed down to the family theme park just outside of Leipzig for some coasters in the dark and light-hearted spooks!

This event and park were completely new experiences for me and I always find it strange to visit a park for the very first time when it's all decked out in Halloween goodness because I feel like I'm setting myself up for disappointment should I ever return out of spooky season. But I can't help myself, theme parks at Halloween truly are my happy place and you'll never find me smiling more than wandering over to ride a new cred through a park covered in pumpkins. Pure bliss! I want to keep this review to the Halloween stuff specifically so if you're interested in my thoughts and feedback on the rides and park in general then do check out the vlog, otherwise let's crack on with this first spooky review of the 2020 season!

As a general point of across all of my reviews, I grade these events on a scale. Different attractions have different budgets and creative focus and abilities and it's not fair to compare a smaller regional park like this to something like Halloween Horror Nights for example, so please bear that in mind!

So I loved the entrance theming as we arrived, especially the crazy clock animatronic and strange haunted windmill set-up in the entrance plaza. This really came to life after dark once the fog and lighting was added, and I particularly loved the creepy hag beckoning children to come away with her. Vile. 

In general the theming across the park was pretty good - I adored the lamps being turned into glowing pumpkins with the covers and there were various scenes and setups all around the park that made it very clear Halloween was here. I'm talking things like hay bales, pumpkins and cobwebs - your typical autumnal affair that really conveys there's an event happening and makes for some lovely photo opportunities. 

There were a few set-piece looking setups around the park too, namely the witchy potion room type thing just past Drachenritt and the witch stage area in the main plaza. I'm not sure if we just weren't in the right place at the right time but when we walked past these earlier in the day I assumed they would come to life after dark but whenever we walked past there was no such action taking place. 

Further, costume characters. I'm a big fan of a roaming scare actor, especially in a huge eye-catching costume so I was super excited when we stumble across a sexy-Maleficent type character who I assumed was either a) going to do a show somewhere or b) going to join a larger hareem of nightmare creatures, but sadly we only caught that one small glimpse of her and didn't see her again. As I say, it's very possible that I just wasn't in the right place at the right time to see these in full swing which is a shame because given the small glimpses we did get the costumes and make-up were great. 

A highlight was exiting the park actually. The entrance plaza was filled with smoke and lights, spooky music and an ominous strobe flashing inside the building above. Guys on stilts, guys with flaming torches, dead brides, headless creatures and everything else in between swarmed this area as we made our way out which really elevated the evening for us, I just wish we could've seen more of that spread out across the rest of the park. 

We kicked off our evening with the most extreme scare maze at the park, Fluch Des Imhotep, or curse of Imhotep if you don't speak German! Set inside the incredible pyramid building that houses the log flume ride Fluch des Pharao, this Ancient Egyptian curse themed scare maze takes your group deep inside the dig site of a newly uncovered spot within the tomb where the most recent research team have ran into some...trouble. Well, if skeleton-headed undead scorpion creatures are your definition of trouble. 

I loved the setup of this maze and the use of an already iconic building in the park. I'm a big fan of parks using existing infrastructure to host their scare attractions and even more so when they tie those narratives to existing attraction storylines within the park, so this was great. I'm also a big fan of a spooky mummy tomb/Ancient Egypt theme and think it's actually quite underused in the world of horror mazes so was pleased to see it alive (or...y'know, dead?) and well in Belantis. The setup wasn't too horrific, more tongue in cheek and fun, which really caught me off guard as we moved into the first scare scene proper inside an elevator where some poor lost soul of the dig was slamming against a window begging for our help before slowly falling silent. Traumatising. 

From this point the Egyptian theme kind of gave way to a more generic horror maze aesthetic of creepy corridors with hidden walkways for the ghouls inside to continually catch us off guard leading to a fair few jump scares as we made our way through. The piece du resistance of the attraction for me was absolutely the aforementioned skele-scorpion nightmare fuel - it looked like something straight out of The Thing and I was a little bit obsessed with it!

Overall if you're a hardcore horror maze veteran like me and are more accustomed to more extreme scares then I wouldn't say you'd find this particularly frightening, but it is really good fun and absolutely worth it just to catch a glimpse of my favourite scorpion friend. 

Germany has a rich tradition of fairy tale lore with usually inherently horrifying subject matter so I'm always a fan when they tie this into a scare attraction. Düsterer Märchenwald (or Gloomy Fairytale Forest) is an interactive spooky attraction that sees guests tasked with reuniting a fragment of crystal with the wizard Merlin, cleverly avoiding notorious fairytale villains as you make your way through the deep, dark woods. 

As I said in my vlog, I'm a huge fan of parks going down the interactive route for spooky attractions aimed at a younger audience as it allows for a sprinkling of jump scares and general horror without being too overwhelming as there's a task to focus on to take the edge off. As you make your way through the maze, various creatures from evil witches to trolls do their best to sway you off of your path and give you a fright, and your task is to be brave and outsmart them on your quest to find Merlin. 

The maze is quite small and each scene isn't very large, but being set within the trees and with a little set dressing and spooky lighting it's cute nonetheless. The big win in this maze is absolutely the costumes - the things are absolutely horrifying. Both a bear and a wolf jumped out on us out of nowhere during our run through to make us scream and without a doubt the most hideous was this giant...creepy puppet guy? No idea what it was but it had loose dangling arms and I hated it very much - I can imagine how this maze would be absolutely horrifying for a young child so good job it is recommended for ages 6 and over only. 

Despite being an absolute laugh riot between the language barrier and the actors (heroically) trying to explain to the two English-speakers in the children's attraction what the hell is going on, the finale for this maze did let me down a bit. Again, I'm sure because of the language barrier there probably should have been more of a payoff once we handed the crystal over to Merlin but I do think some kind of final interactive set piece here would have elevated it slightly.

Another outdoor maze, Irrgarten des Schreckens reimagines the park's traditional hedge maze as some kind of portal to the underworld, filling it to the brim with medieval nightmares and torture devices! Set in the shadow of the fabulous castle theming of the Gerstlauer Bobsled coaster, this maze is incredibly atmospheric and looks really spooky and magical with the fog billowing out from the labyrinth. 

This maze is all about the visuals, most of which are really twisted, gory and gruesome. Kind of gave me London Dungeons vibes - heavy medieval torture theme throughout meaning we get lots of poor souls being tormented on various twisted contraptions screaming for our help as we gingerly edge by. One particularly grotesque scene use a great half mannequin/half actor illusion that gave the impression the poor girl was having her guts ripped from her abdomen whilst still alive. Sick. 

Lots of executioner types and general disgusting peasant creatures jumping out on us - at one point we were followed by a huge silent looming figure swinging an executioner's axe at us. Really intimidating, especially as he was silent except for the swooshing of his weapon coming a little too close for comfort. 

I find horror mazes set inside traditional hedge mazes a bit of a double-edged sword - you have the issue that these attractions aren't purpose built with actor runs etc so there doesn't tend to be a ton of places for them to hide and get a proper scare out of you which this did suffer from a little bit, but equally the idea of being lost inside a hedge maze is something that I find taps into the claustrophobic side of my psyche so having that in the back of my mind the whole time heightens the atmosphere for me. 

Another interactive maze aimed at a younger audience, Fantastische Wesen (or Fantastic Creatures) is very low on traditional scares but heavy on the magical narrative instead. Once again we are tasked with a quest - a baby dragon has been born and we must visit with all of the magical creatures within the woods to receive gifts that will help protect the baby dragon and strengthen their powers. Such a cute idea and I absolutely loved meeting all of the different creatures, it really felt like being inside a fairytale or in the Labyrinth or something and made me wish we had something like it here in the UK. 

Set on the other side of the hedge maze to Irrgarten des Schreckens, we're beckoned inside by a genie who sends us off on our adventure to collect the items we need. This whole attraction is just full of whimsy from start to finish and I absolutely adored it - we grabbed a conker from a tree goblin, a shell from a mermaid, a feather from a fawn and pegasus duo and a hair from a cow before coming face to face with animatronic mother and baby dragon in the grand finale to present our gifts. Each character was so fun to interact with even with the language barrier, so I can only image how great the actors are if you're on the same page language-wise - they really got into character and drew you in to the storyline and it was truly magical. 

The finale was fab too, the giant mother dragon breathing 'fire' as way of saying thanks for the gifts to protect her baby - the payoff was great fun and felt like we'd really achieved something and like our actions meant something in the end!

Unfortunately we did run out of time in the end as I wanted to do some of the coasters in the dark so we did miss out on the slightly more family-friendly Grabkammer des Grauens, also housed within the pyramid. Overall we really enjoyed Belantis Halloween Abenteuer - the park was really nice and had a bunch of spooky sets and theming all over the place but I will say it would have been nice to see a few more actors around occupying these. The night time atmosphere was really lovely and the all of the horror mazes accompanied with Halloween music and theming across the park were great and gave the whole place a real spooky ambience. 

To be clear, Belantis Halloween Abenteuer is absolutely a family-focussed Halloween event. The park do a fantastic job of ensuring there is something to suit all ages for family groups visiting, from very young children to slightly older teenagers looking for an attraction with a bit more edge. The family atmosphere is fantastic too - dressing up for Halloween is actively encouraged (and rewarded - free slush if you're in costume!) and it was super wholesome to see family groups in full spooky fancy dress (shout out to the family of four dressed as Tethered from Jordan Peele's Us!)

If you're looking for hardcore scares and intense graphic horror mazes then Belantis Halloween Abenteuer might now be for you, but if you want a lovely theme park with a gorgeous, spooky autumnal atmosphere with some light scares thrown in then absolutely give it a visit, it's a really wonderful park. 

What do you think of Belantis Halloween Abenteuer? Do you enjoy family- focussed Halloween events? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to chat!

Talk later xoxo,