I visited Fright Nights on both Saturday and Sunday and experienced each maze multiple times, here are my reviews.
- SPOILERS BELOW! -
Creek Freak Massacre
The new maze for 2019 has a fantastic presence from the exterior, however the queue-line feels a bit sparse with you being able to see the workings of the sign. There are theme music and announcements however I couldn't hear these very well due to there only being two speakers towards the end of the queue.
Onto the maze itself, it's very good fun. There is some good theming, multiple routes and the actors really get into their roles. The maze uses some really ambitious effects such as the heat room, the "blade table" with water and the strobe flash rate near the end is excellent and reminiscent of The Asylum's chaotic feel. It felt as though some of the effects were not working as intended, for example the blade was just round, did not move and I believe it is supposed to have a lighting sequence on the theming object itself? Hopefully they are able to rectify this.
The chainsaw scares were mixed. Out of six goes in the maze, I had one excellent one where I encountered three chainsaws; one in a corridor, one in the strobe room and one at the end. Unfortunately, the first time I saw three chainsaws however the first one wasn't working. On all four other run-through's I only encountered two chainsaws.
I'm not sure whether one chainsaw was broken and they had no spare or whether it depends on how busy the maze is, but I noticed a severe lack of actors (and chainsaws!) towards the end of the evening on Sunday. We walked thorough many corridors without encountering any actors, with there only being a few in the key scenes. This was a massive contrast to Saturday evening where the maze was full of actors who took us aside into corners, split us up etc. The maze is very inconsistent.
In my opinion, some more low-level scenic lighting would be beneficial in places such as spotlights highlighting the "good wood" and "bad wood" signs in the first scene as these are currently not visible under show conditions.
I feel that the park's marketing let the maze down by building falsely high expectations which the attraction did not deliver.
It is not the most intense Fright Nights maze ever - in my opinion. The maze is not intense; it's well themed with some good effects/scares, but even on the best run-through it felt very calm and controlled with the exception of the short strobe maze section. Claiming it to be the most intense Fright Nights maze of all time is an insult to the creators of Experiment 10 and The Asylum, both of which were, in my opinion, far superior and much more intense than Creek Freak IMO. I have also seen it claimed on the park’s website that it’s the UK’s most intense scare maze? Laughable.
Overall, Creek Freak Massacre is a solid addition to the Fright Nights line-up and a huge improvement on anything the park did last year. I wouldn't consider it a top-tier Thorpe maze and unfortunately it was let down by it being over-hyped, but it's definitely one of the better ones in recent years and there is still room for improvements to be made.
I felt that Platform 15 was improved on the whole this year. The actors made much more of the story-line on our walk-through's and there seemed to be a good balance between scripted scenes and scares throughout.
Unfortunately, there was light leaking into the long tunnel which completely spoiled the effect and made it far too predictable in terms of where actors were positioned. I could see Saw: The Ride at one point through a hole in the sheets!
The new final scene was excellent on the Sunday run-through and genuinely made our group jump!
Again, a lot more scripted talking from the actor during the early scenes and a new addition of going around and around in circles made it... different.
I really liked the long periods of pitch darkness from the original version of this maze and it unfortunately feels too illuminated now and therefore does not have the same effect. With that said, I liked the more creative route this year.
Walking Dead: Living Nightmare
The maze remains largely the same as previous years but with an improved ending. The actors were doing a great job during our goes however I feel the attraction misses the mark somewhere.
There is some good theming but nothing particularly stands out, it isn't scary and the strobe maze feels poorly executed compared with others.
Walking Dead: Do or Die
I don't understand this attraction, why are we sitting in a bus, how are we supposed to be scared walking through temporary tarpaulin sheet fencing with bright white floodlights and what are we supposed to be "doing"?
The interior of the containers was better than last year and the actors were brilliant once again, but it's just a poor attraction IMO and I really don't think we need two Walking Dead mazes.
Overall Event and Park Atmosphere
Fright Nights feels improved on last year with the addition of Creek Freak Massacre and a reduction in poor quality attractions, however the event still feels a shallow rendition of its former self.
Whilst we gained a new horror maze, we lost Saw Alive and are down to just two indoor horror attractions. This is not enough and we found ourselves having to wait until it got dark to walk through the remaining three attractions after doing the first two as both Platform and Do or Die rely on darkness to create a sense of mystery that would be lost during daylight. The event used to have five full-scale indoor horror mazes, what happened?
I like how every scare attraction has had an improvement made to it and I have to say that the actors were largely fantastic throughout both days/evenings. It appears as though the park have taken feedback on-board from last year and tried to make changes where they can, which is great.
The Amity High show outside Stealth is brilliant and created a fantastic atmosphere around the area.
Lighting around the park is terrible with floodlit queue-lines (and mazes!) and hideous emergency lighting left on around Platform 15’s queue which ruined the effect that the scenic lighting would have otherwise created. One particular annoyance was that there is a bright white floodlight shining directly onto the Derren Brown’s Ghost Train entrance sign which destroys the effect it used to have with the blue light shining through and illuminating the letters (similar to the effect The Asylum’s sign also had). How can they build such an elaborate sign only to have such terrible attention to detail a few years down the line? Will we see bright flood lights shining onto the Wicker Man structure in a few years? So, so poor.
The park did not feel like Fright Nights was running at all, there was none of the smoke effects in vehicles we have seen in recent years and a lack of coloured lighting as mentioned above. With that said, there was some theming dotted around in places such as old Vulcan Peak queue theming and body bags. It was a shame to see old Big Top theming dumped in a visible location whilst queueing for Do or Die.
Nemesis Inferno looks fantastic with the mist working fully and a new orange light, Colossus’s station has also seen some theming added which is great and reminded me of the event’s glory days.
There was some good themed audio around the park, more could be done but what was there was good. With that said, it was amusing to hear the original upbeat end-of-the-day track on Saturday night whilst leaving the dome!
Overall, I enjoyed my visits to Fright Nights this year and particularly enjoyed Inferno in the dark. Creek Freak Massacre is a solid addition and with improvements could be up there with the best Fright Nights mazes, however I feel that the overall event is still lacking in quality and depth.