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Everything posted by JoshC.

  1. Visited here last week, primarily for their Halloween event (which I've covered here), but a couple of words of Area 51 and Excalibur. Both of these are fantastic rethemes of their rides. They don't try and reinvent the wheel or go crazy; they've just spruced up what was there and added extras to make it a whole experience. Excalibur has awesome extra effects which are unusual for a rapids ride, and really makes it feel like a complete experience. I have one niggle - when the ride re-enters the building, there's still no attempt at hiding the building, which really stands out compared to the rest of the ride. A bit disappointing. Area 51 has just fixed up and modernised the old Bermuda Triangle sets and given it a new lease of life. For those who have ridden it in the past, don't worry: it's still as wacky as ever. And those who haven't, if you ever get the chance to ride it, you'll end up understanding why it's reached a cult status of praise. Annoyingly, the park has put in a pre show in the queue. It's themed very well, but effectively acts as a list of restrictions for the ride. Fortunately they don't bother with it when the ride is very quiet, but the need for it at all is questionable. So yeah, the park have done a fantastic job with these rethemes. Their new Paw Patrol area is decent for what it is too. Along with Star Trek in 2017 (which, admittedly, I'm not that big a fan of, but appreciate people enjoy), the park have had some absolute winners of investments lately. Hopefully they can keep it up!
  2. Last week, I visited Movie Park for their Halloween event: the 21st anniversary of their Horror Fest. The park has 8 mazes, 4 scare zones and a variety of other things to bolster the number of attractions up to 19, with the park claiming the event to be the biggest Halloween event in Europe. We visited the park on Thursday, hoping it would be quiet: the park is open 10am-10pm for Horror Fest, with most Halloween attractions opening at 6pm and closing at 9.30pm. So it was a LOT to do. So, without further ado, let's get to it (with light SPOILERS)... The Walking Dead: Breakout The park's year-round upcharge horror maze, and it turns out this year is its last year. I did it on my previous visit in 2017, and didn't rate it much. As it was still upcharge, I skipped it, but I hear it hasn't changed, so I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it any more. From here, it's worth pointing out how the park's mazes work. The standard setting is that they let groups of 20 in every 60-90 seconds, are free flow and don't allow touching. There's a couple of exceptions which I'll point out when I get to them. All of their mazes have age restrictions, which varied from maze to maze, and these are enforced strictly: they DO do ID checks! Hostel Themed around the Hostel series (more specifically, the first film), and rated 18+, this is the park's goriest maze. It starts off with a tour round Amsterdam - you even walk through the Red Light District, which once upon a time had screens showing some, ahem, rather explicit sex scenes on them, but alas no more. And the maze continues quite happily for the next few scenes, with a party atmosphere and everything seeming happy; the actors do nothing to scare you. But, like the film, it takes a very sudden, very dark twist. Scares come thick and fast, with very gruesome scenes all around you, and plenty of actors in every direction. The finale sees the group locked in a large white room stained with blood, with speakers blaring out chainsaw noises, and the room flashing between pitch black and red lights. It was a solid maze ending, though it felt like it needed an actor with a chainsaw in there to really amplify it. A shame, but still a very strong maze! Wrong Turn This is the park's upcharge Halloween attraction, at 5 Euros a ticket, and you go through in groups of 6, and is also based off the Wrong Turn series of films. And it also won Best European Scare Attraction at this year's ScareCON award ceremony. This also uses Haunted Lantern (like Skin Snatchers at Alton Towers), but literally gives the group a lantern rather than a helmet. The maze is based in trough of the park's old Ice Age dark water ride, and likely makes use of a lot of the old scenery from the ride. Following 2 pre shows (which I didn't really understand because they were all in German with no way of offering English translations), the maze begins. Being in the trough, the actors regularly positioned themselves above you to get really good jump scares. There were some awesome effects around too, and some clever pieces of misdirection to add to the scares. The end was quite chaotic, with loads of actors and a huge sparkler / firework style effect as well which caught me off guard. My main issue with Wrong Turn is that, because it has such a huge space to work with, is that it sometimes felt a little too open and that you were a little too removed from the sets at times. This meant the maze felt like it was missing that final ingredient to make it truly exceptional. But it was still fantastic for the most part and I really enjoyed it. Insidious 2 The park's final IP-based scare attraction. Amazingly, this is located underneath the seating area for the park's stunt show, which was a great use of space! Unsurprisingly, the idea of the maze was to be creepy and build up suspense to try and get scares that way. It also made use of lots of big open sets to build tension as well. For me, it was a bit hit and miss. There were some unsettling and creepy moments, but these didn't last long, and often the actors took away from the atmosphere. This is a maze which would benefit from less (visible) actors, but instead has quite a lot, making it difficult to truly capitalise on the atmosphere. A shame, but a good effort. Circus of Freaks An outdoor clown maze - a set up with a lot of potential. However, this missed the mark. The maze felt a lot like the outdoor sections of Do or Die (things draped over fences), although better themed in fairness. There was some good bits and nice bits of humour (and a nicely executed animal area with gorilla costumes and the like), but ultimately this was one of the weaker clown mazes I've done in my time. And when compared with the quality of the park's other mazes, it really does miss the mark. The Slaughterhouse This is a maze crying out to be a Chop Shop style maze but, surprisingly, it wasn't! This was some weird beauty development laboratory that had gone rogue and cut people up instead..or something. It was nicely themed and had some good set pieces, and a couple of nice jump scares. The ending was a real highlight of the maze. It took place in two rooms with incredible dense smoke (you literally couldn't see more than 30cm in front of you), with actors then appearing out of nowhere. It was confusing and clever and just really worked! Campout Another outdoor maze, but taking place in the woods. Very Blair Witch esque in story, but a lot more open and with more 'actual' theming. It wasn't exactly memorable either. A couple of neat special effects but nothing exciting or special. It's worth pointing out this is rated 12+ (and is the only maze with such a low rating, as all others are 16+ or 18+), so I guess it isn't designed to be scary, but it's a shame there wasn't more to this. Project Ningyo - NEW FOR 2019 The park's big new thing for the year is Project Ningyo, and replaces a previous maze: Deathpital. They made a big deal out of this: this was the only maze where Fastrack was available (at 10 Euro a pop!) and was the only maze where actors were allowed to touch you. This was also the maze with - by far! - the longest queue, at 50 minutes. We realised this was because of a terrible batching system: the maze takes place in a build the other side of a service road; groups of people are batched to the service road every 5 minutes, but these groups were usually cleared in like 2 minutes, leaving long periods of time where no one was entering the maze! Anyways, onto the maze itself. It starts off with your group of 20 being given a guided tour of a medical facility which (from what I understood) was dedicated to creating a serum to make people happy. You're guided into a room all together and locked in. An actor in a hazmat suit appears from the other side and gets you out, and you then walk through the carnage of what's behind the scenes at the facility. There's some nice theming, and some good smells (in particular, there was an animal testing scene which really smelt of rabbit poo!), but there just wasn't enough substance. Despite there being a lot of actors, it still didn't feel like enough, and the scares were just non-existent. The touching was effectively 'medical staff' frantically trying to guide you along and out of the way of danger, which I always find dull. In general, the maze was rather lacklustre, my least favourite of the night. A shame really, but hopefully it'll continue to grow. Scare Zones The park had four scare zones, which actually covered the majority of the park (the kids area, Nickland, is a "monster free" zone). Sadly, only one of them felt defined, so it made it difficult to understand what exactly was going on. Acid Rain: Some sort of nuclear apocalypse area, with sirens going off and a variety of weird stuff. Horrorwood Boulevard: A collection of famous Halloween characters Dead West: Wild West themed, but dead Fear Pier: No mazes round here so never actually got a chance to go there. Apparently all the actors in the scare zone are just given an individual budget and a loose story to stick to, and they then get to create their own costume. Really gives them ownership, but definitely adds to the disjointed feel. All the actors in the zones did 'roam' very well though, and many had shovels to bash against ground for jump scares, which was different to say the least! Other Stuff -The park apparently transform their drop tower into something scarier at night time. All we saw was a flashing light. Yay? -There's a hypnosis show which we didn't see. -There's kids stuff in the day (kids maze, face painting, etc) which looked nice. -New for this year was an IT 4D experience - basically highlights of the IT Chapter 1 converted into 3D with your standard 4D effects. Solid 20 minute show which was fun. There's also a closing show, which was originally meant to be fireworks, lasers and fire, along with a video playing on the screen in the entrance plaza. Due to noise complaints, the firework aspect of the show had been cancelled when I was there. The show itself was pretty neat (the lasers were cool!), but it's fair to say that fireworks would have added to it. I hope that they can find a way round it! So all in all, Halloween Horror Fest is a very solid, very full Halloween event. It's not something I'd go out of my way to do again, but it's got a lot of positives going for it, and the headline mazes really are something. There's clearly a lot of thought put into all the mazes and what level they should be at too. Hopefully some of my experiences were just bad runs rather than the norm, and I'm intrigued to see how the event develops over the next few years!
  3. To my understanding, the H&S sign offs of a maze include: -LTC signing off before the maze opens to the public (and, I believe, before actors are allowed to even rehearse in the space). Like with rides, that has to happen every year. -Tech team do daily sign offs: they'll check that all the effects work, the area is safe (ie, no nails poking out, no loose flooring, etc) and so forth -Sign off from the Entertainments team, ensuring there's enough staff, all areas that should be locked are locked, all fire exits are clear, see if there's any potential hazards which may have been missed, etc. As has been said, if a problem arises, it should be flagged immediately to someone working at the maze or nearby. That way it can be checked by actors / staff and appropriate action can be taken (Benin's right in that it's basically only tech/maintenance teams who can use a hammer). Actors should also look out for these things, but they don't always notice them immediately given everything else they have to do as well. It's the same with a roller coaster imo: if you were to catch yourself on a belt buckle which somehow has a sharp bit, for example, it would be something you should mention. Staff should also look out for that but it's not something they would necessarily spot immediately given how many other things they have to do too. Don't quote me on this, but until you get quite high up, I don't think there's no specific qualifications you need. Obviously, standard experience and courses you can take to learn how to write risk assessments, understand H&S investigations, etc, which are advantageous to have prior to being in those roles, but there's not formal qualifications required. Going higher up you need them (stuff from IOSH), though most people will undertake those qualifications whilst in a H&S in the first place as a way of stepping up. I guess this is the major discussion point. Mazes naturally receive a lot of wear and tear at an accelerated rate. In the space of a group of 15 people, you can go from a nail being firmly in place to sticking out ever so slightly. And that can progress slowly as each group goes through. Of course the park has a duty of care and is responsible for whatever happens, but at what point should a line be drawn and we can rationally say 'The park aren't in wrong'? Or - to circle back to where this discussion stems from - how can we rationally say it's "horrendous that these things aren't checked"? Not that there's a clear cut answer to either of those questions, just musing..
  4. Press release: https://backstage.merlinentertainments.biz/the-world-of-david-walliams/ Reading it is like reading every other Merlin press release ever. It's incredible how cut and paste they feel.
  5. This has now been confirmed to be 'The World of David Walliams': https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/whats-on/alton-towers-world-david-walliams-3434435.amp I'd expect a full Press release from the park today. Actually a pretty good choice for an IP in my opinion. Relevant and contemporary, whilst also having enough sticking power to be a classic. Seems to suggest a brand new ride plus rethemes are coming. Of course, there's questions as to whether the park should be relying on another IP and such. However, if they HAD to go for one, I can't think of any better choice. Also, it's nice this has been officially confirmed, after Walliams accidentally leaked it himself 18 months ago...
  6. I literally said it would be "full on" to do a 10 minute show once every 20 minutes. That was the point: it was too optimistic to expect them to perform that consistently. The park over-promised. I think 'once every 20 minutes, 3pm-9.40pm' makes it pretty clear when show times should be? 3pm, 3.20pm, 3.40pm... Sounds like they had changed the number of shows when you had visited but hadn't made that clear. Which in itself is an issue. Another fun diversion: MMM have posted an insight into the design of Creek Freak..
  7. tbf, a cut to the knee is not a serious injury. An injury, yes, but a serious one? No. I agree it's bad that things like this happen. But sadly, they will happen, and they'll happen everywhere. You've got hundreds of people an hour going through a maze, jumping, running, bashing about; wear and tear will happen quickly. A well constructed maze will see minimal incidents, and a well looked after maze may see these incidents prevented, but nails will eventually stick out. The best thing to do is flag them up asap (ideally straight away) so they can be rectified. Otherwise you will end up with a serious injury happening. --- Moving into a different subject, the Terror at Amity High shows now only take place 4 times a day: 3, 5, 7, 9pm: After seeing the show, I did think that having it happen once every 20 minutes was very full on (it's basically a 10 minute dance show). But to cut it from 3 times an hour to once every 2 hours is almost like going from one extreme to the other. Bit of a shame.
  8. Impossible. If there was any chance of it being salvageable, it would be salvaged and remain and Chessington.
  9. I believe that Instagram account is Vekoma's official account!
  10. Looks like that tweet was also from the first weekend. So here's the question: how can the park prevent that? The maze is checked before opening; let's say for argument sake it wasn't there at opening. How can the park sort that out, especially when people report it long after the incident happens? That's not to blame the victim or anything, but they can't have eyes everywhere all the time. These things will sadly happen with all mazes. Actors and staff will try their best to minimise incidents. But wear and tear happens throughout the day and with no reports, incidents can build up.
  11. Curious to hear more about this. I haven't seen any reports on social media about injuries (and usually these things have a way of cropping up somewhere). Every maze is checked by an external H&S audiot prior to the event opening I believe, and then the park's tech crew will do a daily sign off to say it's safe. Of course, things can happen throughout the night and these can't always be picked up instantly. To suggest that things aren't checked it's a foolish thing to say though. As an aside: did you mention your shoelace getting caught to anyone at the park?
  12. And let's not forget the meet photo (courtesy of Marc's fancy new iPhone )!
  13. This has come round pretty quick - excited for it though!
  14. This took me a minute. Well played sir, well played.
  15. Chessington have submitted plans for a small log flume, taking place partially on Toadies site. Toadies will receive a slight rerouting and become shorter as a result. Both rides will receive a jungle sort of theme. https://www.southparks.co.uk/2019/10/08/chessington-world-of-adventures-resort-plans-new-mini-log-flume-and-re-theme-of-toadies-crazy-cars/ The log flume appears to be the same one that was at Weymouth Sealife. There had previously been rumours it would go to Chessington and be placed where Creepy Caves was, though that was like 2-3 years ago. Quite like the idea. A small log flume for young kids who can't do Tiger Rock is much needed in my opinion. However, it's another low capacity ride targeted for the younger side of the family market - not my first choice of attraction for Chessington. Still, good to see investment, and hopefully the theming is quirky too.
  16. JoshC.

    Paultons Park

    And it's properly vertical now:
  17. Went to Tulleys last night. Some thoughts (will put spoilers for Wastelands and Wreckoning): Wastelands Penitentiary Non spoilers review: Great maze, needs a bit of work, but still very, very good! And make sure you're near the maze at quarter-past / quarter-to an hour! The Wreckoning Non spoilers review: Wonderful theming, okay maze. Twisted Clowns This was one of the few mazes I really rated last year, and I still enjoyed it last night. It's great how it blends scares and humour, and the cast are brilliant with hitting that sweet spot. Haunted Hayride Great fun again. Couple of minor changes, but like Clowns, hits a sweet spot between scares and fun. The Cellar Another typical Tulleys maze - a bit too long with a couple too many lulls. There's a new ending which was confusing, but it worked well. Chop Shop Chainsaws do little for me, so Chop Shop doesn't get my motor running. We bunched up with a group in front too which meant we got even less scares. Coven of 13 Same criticism of going on a bit too long / too much lull-time for my liking. However, I still adore the swamp section, and there's a new ending which is pretty clever and I liked it! Creepy Cottage Fun little maze. Again, seemed like there's changes to the ending. For what it is, it's fine. VIXI Eurgh, this. This ended up being the absolute longest wait last night: almost 40 minutes! And anyone who's done it knows it isn't worth that. Still by far the worst maze at the place. Circus of Horrors Great 20 minute show which runs on the hour, every hour (including 11pm). Would really recommend as it helps breaks up the day, and the intimate atmosphere works very well. Roamers Absolutely brilliant again. Didn't see the nurses though 💔 So there's been an improvement across the park this year with Wastelands, and there's been some improvements in quite a few mazes. And with 10 attractions now, it's a very full on night! But for me personally, Tulleys are just such size queens with their mazes, and I'd love it if they just shortened their mazes a bit / made the lulls in the mazes a bit shorter - that would make a BIG improvement to the overall event imo.
  18. Track has arrived on-site for the Vekoma mine train which also opens next year...
  19. JoshC.

    The Blade

    A sign outside the ride has appeared suggesting it's temporary, but we all know in the grand scheme of things this means nothing: In any case, it's a shame to see the park lose a flat ride for Scarefest.
  20. Went back tonight, some more reflections based on more reasonable experiences: Creek Freak Massacre Already, some effects are broken, and some aren't as effective. Pre show seemed to have a louder backing track (making it harder to hear) and dimmer (making it harder to see). I think the maze is a bit marmite and a bit hit and miss. But personally, I don't think it's really my thing. It's good fun, and miles ahead of the other 4 mazes though. Blair Witch Somehow felt darker and more secluded now, which was great. But also the queue seems to move very slowly and I still can't quite work out why. Do or Die As expected, this has changed significantly from press night, and really suffers. The first container scene is okay I guess, but the rest of the maze really is a mess. Platform 15 / Living Nightmare Both mazes still pretty weak this year sadly. Amity High Still very good; actors have great energy. Wasn't being performed every 20 minutes tonight though because of how quiet it is. This evening was very quiet, and there definitely seemed to be minimal actors in the mazes. Disappointing, but perhaps not wholly surprising either. I still fear how the park, and quality of mazes, will cope on busy days. But hey, at least they've made steps in the right direction.
  21. JoshC.

    The Blade

    Blade was refurbished to a degree over this closed season (I think it was discussed in the general AT thread), but it has recently been removed: Could this finally be the end?
  22. Track is onsite.. Plans indicated it would be repainted silver/grey, so if that's still the case it'll presumably happen onsite.
  23. Thing is, combing the attendances of those two companies together, they would only have slightly more than Universal. And of course Disney is still a huge powerhouse in the states. To even keep those number up they'd have to invest regularly in most places. I'm sure there'd be some changes in investment and it would have a knock on effect, but if they were to do it, I don't think they could treat it as if they've monopolised the market.
  24. I'd be very surprised if it happens. Six Flags are only marginally larger than Cedar Fair. I'm not sure what sort of offer they could put on the table to tempt Cedar Fair people. Normally when these out of nowhere offers happen, it's because they're unlikely to happen. So I wouldn't worry yet.
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