Attraction Review: York Maze Hallowscream

After god knows how long doing this, I like to think I have most of the 'must-do' UK scream parks done. But one has always eluded me - the legendary York Maze Hallowscream. It's been called the 'Shocktoberfest of the north' to me on more than one occasion and incited reactions of shock when fellow scare enthusiasts realise I've never been. To put it bluntly, it had been hyped up to me for years now to the point where it had some pretty big shoes to fill, and this year it was finally time for me to make the pilgrimage to this most anticipated of spooky events - York Maze Hallowscream!

On approach it was clear this event was going to be something special - the road into the car park was covered with a thick layer of fog which signalled our arrival in appropriate spooky fashion. The entrance is the real deal - we've got giant skeletons, we've got scarecrow pumpkins, we've got jets of fire, we've got a flaming sign, we've got a scary clown with a chainsaw. These guys KNOW how to get you hyped for the night ahead for sure, and queuing to get in was certainly the most excited I've been going into a scream park this year so far. I'm told that in previous years this park had a whole 'pre-show' section too, which sounds like overkill in the best possible way. 

The event itself is in a big tent, so you're covered for all weathers (apart from the light and fire show and mini-fairground). Luckily the weather was fab for us but this would've been such a good call if the weather had been less than savoury. Each of the mazes is like a little attachment to the main tent, like those family sized camping tents you can get with several 'rooms', if you get what I mean? Inside we have a main stage dressed stunningly in a Victorian freak show style, a HUGE merch stand, bars, a central DJ tower and sideshow games, alongside the mazes themselves. 

It's certainly the real deal, and I get where the Shocktoberfest comparisons come from. For me, Shocktoberfest is more rustic and gritty whereas Hallowscream is more lurid and vulgar (in a good way!!) Shocktoberfest is more Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hallowscream is more House of 1000 Corpses. They're comparable in terms of their size and diversity of offerings, but for me their style couldn't be more different. Anyway, onto the maze reviews as I know that's what you're really here for!

We kicked things off with The Singularity, which from the excellently themed entrance portal was clearly a sci-fi themed maze. I adore a sci-fi/horror mash-up maze, I don't think we see enough of this genre crossover and for me it's always a promising start to see an attraction do something do out of the box.

This thing is essentially what the queue for X:\No Way Out SHOULD have been. Actually thinking about it, it was kind of like walking through Cyberdog? The sets were elaborately themed - cold stainless steel, exposed pipework and wire mesh fencing in stark whites and silvers and mirrored surfaces mashed up with organic matter like blood and gore spattered here and there. The juxtaposition present in the set design is so unique and intriguing, I'd have loved the opportunity to take a closer look at the sets because they were all so exquisitely detailed. 

The scares came thick and fast indeed - the first large room we walked into we literally had a wrecking ball swung at us from the ceiling, a scare tactic I've never experienced before! Following that we essentially descended into a robot/human hybrid laboratory packed with fog so thick I couldn't see my hand in front of my face, so when one of the creatures emerged suddenly it got me good every damn time. I adored this maze, I wish we could have gone around for a second time. 

I feel post-apocalyptic mazes are a **little** overdone but given how fantastic The Singularity was to kickstart our evening I went in with an open mind. The exposition was as expected - we're in the future, something about radiation poisoning, something about infected creatures. Got it. Then we entered a reaalllyyy long corn maze for some reason? Don't get me wrong - it was creepy as hell, especially as it was lit overheard with a strobe, but to me it wasn't at all what I expected following the initial armageddon spiel. 

But what it did do was lull us into a horrific sense of heightened anticipation before the main event, which itself was fantastic. Something I forget to mention in my review of The Singularity is that the mazes at Hallowscream are LONG - you really get your money's worth and 2073 is no different. Scene after scene packed with all the post-apocalyptic favourites - we've got wrecked and burned out vehicles, scrapyards, military bases, a decontamination zone (brave subject matter considering the 2020/2021 backdrop but I applaud them for sticking with it!) and my personal favourite section, the hospital scene treating the 'infected'. Big Chernobyl meets 28 Days Later vibes in here, it was absolutely horrific.

I feel like I'm going to get bored of saying this over and over again this spooky season as everybody has one, but as we all well know by now, clowny mazes are not for me. Clowns don't scare me and I'm yet to really see anybody do something really new or out of the box with them. And that, of course, is my personal preference and I know loads of people are indeed terrified of clowns, hence why they're such a fan favourite. 

What I thought Corny's did well was this is clearly an actual fun house (or was in a previous life) outside of spooky season. That means we get a bunch of real funhouse stuff - a mirror maze that provides the perfect 'hiding in plain sight' scare opportunities, tilted rooms, moving floorboards, etc. It added an extra layer of fun to the maze that I don't think other clown mazes have. This one also had a horrific squeeze cushion where we were surrounded on all sides by the red nosed nightmares. If you're coulrophobic I imagine this scene would've been hellish!

Ok so I'm going to give a bit of a disclaimer here before I get stuck into my beef with Barnageddon 3D. In accordance with Hallowscream's Covid-19 safety approach, face masks needed to be worn inside the mazes. No dramas. BUT, I personally find these quite claustrophobic at the best of times. Now add to that equation 3D glasses. Now add darkness. Now add enclosed spaces designed to be disorienting. Do you see where I'm going with this? I really wish we'd been able to have experienced this maze without the need for face masks because I do think my opinion would've been entirely different. Despite my attempts to deal with it I couldn't stand to wear the glasses for more than five minutes into the attraction, which of course spoiled the effect for me but it was either carry on without them or leave the maze, and of course I chose the former. 

There was something of Love Hurts about Barnageddon that I quite enjoyed. The grimy, industrial underbelly of some urban nightmare in some boring town. I love the mesh floors, the wireframe fencing, the sparks of electricity and gritty, Blade Runner-esque acid rain style sickly neon tinge to everything. For some reason the maze ends with a chainsaw wielding bunny man, and I am not a single bit mad at it. I couldn't tell you a damn thing narrative-wise that this maze was trying to achieve but in terms of discomfort we were turned up to 11. Vile. Wish I'd been able to experience it as intended.

And finally, we ended our night with Flesh Pot. We know I'm a big fan of a gorefest and Flesh Pot delivered on that personal preference of mine in a big way. I think the idea here is that we were travelling through some kind of human butcher farm situation and we were going to be turned into pies (I don't want to be a pie, I don't like gravy!) For me, mazes like this don't need much exposition, just let me in and show me the guts. And show me the guts Flesh Pot certainly did!

I...actually don't remember much about this maze other than these few small but crucial details. It was incredibly intense, I was basically tensed up and screaming the entire way round. The whole thing was doused in a hideous red light and full of butcher-types, some of whom were wearing pig snouts, the only reason for which I can think of is that they just look horrific? They work - they don't need to make any narrative sense or be too complicated. That for me is why Flesh Pot smashes it out of the park, it's just five minutes of pure, blood-soaked, gore-drenched brutality and that ticks all of the scare mazes boxes for me.

Finally we headed outside to watch the fire and light show, which was really good fun and had a great mix of spooky tracks, interesting visuals and FIRE (wooo!) The event is also littered with a fun street team, all of whom we had great fun interacting with, plus a spooky cabaret style show on the main stage. There's just SO MUCH going on at all times at Hallowscream, I had an absolute blast and certainly won't be leaving it too much longer before I get back up to visit again - it truly did live up to its reputation as one of the best scream parks in the UK!

Have you visited York Maze Hallowscream? What's your favourite scare maze there? Let me know down in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,