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Rank Your Madhouses!


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Vekoma madhouses are a well loved ride type for UK enthusiasts, because, yknow, Hex exists. Arguably the best example of its kind. And in the UK we're treated to 2 other pretty decent ones too.


But is it actually your favourite? And how would you rank the others you've ridden, be they Vekoma or from another manufacturer?


[Basically I'm just trying to come up with some sort of thread to kill closed season/covid blues which isn't that ride game... ;)]


Here's mine...


1. Hex, Alton Towers
I'll be honest, I'm not as fond of this as many others (not even my favourite dark ride at Towers...), but it's still the best.

2. Le Palais du Génie, Walibi Belgium
I can't quite explain why, but I've always really enjoyed this one. Just really well presented and the ride sequence is fun.

3. The Haunting, Drayton Manor
I think I've preferred this more for the pre shows than the main show, but eh, it's still great. Definitely feels miles better than most of the other stuff at Drayton.

4. Haunted House Monster Party, Legoland Windsor
Mostly for the soundtrack. But it's a good blend of fun and spooky too in fairness.

5. Houdini, Bellewaerde
A madhouse themed to magic has buckets of potential, and I'm surprised it's not a more common theme. But this misses the mark a bit. Still think it's alright though.

6. Villa Volta, Efteling
Never really been a fan of this; pre shows drag on for way too long.

7. Merlin's Magic Castle, Walibi Holland
For some reason, I see lots of people rate this quite highly. Never got why though? It's just so...eh?

8. Verlies des Grauens, Belantis
Really didn't like this. The queue is a saving grace, since it's basically in a castle and genuinely unnerving. But the ride sequence is trash.


9. Le Défi de César, Parc Asterix
This comes with a disclaimer, in that I rode this last year when no pre shows were running because of Covid, and half the effects weren't working during the ride sequence because of a shutdown just before I got on. But what I experienced was bad and highlighted ineptitude on how to run a dark ride, frankly. From what I've heard, the full experience does sound really good, but can only go on what I've experienced for now...

10. Feng Ju Palace, Phantasialand
Phantasialand is the park of extremes - I either absolutely adore their rides, or think they make a flaming pile of rubbish look attractive. This firmly belongs in the latter choice. From the confusing story, the weird pre show, the poor ride segment, it's just bad.



So go on then, how would you rank your madhouses?

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1. Hex - Alton Towers


I mean, obviously?


2. Hotel Embrujado - Parque Warner


What do you get when you cross Tower of Terror's theme with Phantom Manor's story? This is a bit of a hidden gem at the park and not spoken about anywhere near as much as it should be. 


3. Defi de Cesar - Parc Asterix


First time I rode this was 11 years ago! It's so random and weird when on full operation it kinda works but shouldn't. Unfortunately the last time I rode it a lot of things were broken and the Madhouse itself was in a bad way (seems to be a trend).


4. Villa Volta - Efteling


Tricky one. Madhouses are tied to the story of the ride far more than many rides and there is a great story behind this one. However the way in which it's told struggles greatly, especially when compared to Hex or Hotel Embrujado which avoided a complicated story to suit non Spanish speakers. Ride was also showing its age the last few visits. The animatronic Hugo though is still fab.


5. Haunting - Drayton Manor


Bat. On. A. Stick. File it under the "so bad it's good" folder, although it's been YEARS since my last ride so the cheese has probably gone from the story (last time it was still the vampires!) Loses points for throughput/batching issues.


6. Merlin's Magic Castle - Walibi Holland


It's alright I guess. There's a story but I couldn't tell you what it's about. 


7. Le Palais du Genie - Walibi Belgium


I have been on it but remember nothing. So mid table.


8. Houdini - Bellewaerde


Another I have no memory of. Ok I guess?


9. Magic House - Gardaland


The "Pervy Wizard House" is peculiar. It's actually really well themed and solely focused on the park mascot Prezzomolo. Starts with a huge lift pre show within the massive tree in the centre of the kids area before another pre show with a giant animatronic dragon. I've no idea on the story though which is where Madhouses live or die. I also dislike being stared at by a wizard.


10. Maison Houdini - Rainbow Magicland


Italian's love their underground Madhouses. I don't remember much of this apart from being able to walk right about the ride as the lifts were in two separate buildings with nothing in between. Strange park.


11. Feng Ju Palace - Phantasialand


So boring. Please bin it soon lads with the rest of the China area revamp.




Honourable mention for Fluch Der Kassandra for being a Mack and having an amazing soundtrack.

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Haven’t done as many as some, but here goes. 

1/ Hex- Alton Towers

No surprises here. I adore the soundtrack, the buildup, storyline and that the whole thing is nestled within the original Towers. Excluding the main hardware of course. 

Still remember my first ride on this and instantly became obsessed with it. The story ends there.


2/ Villa Volta- Efteling 

Simply stunning. I love the decorative exterior and interior, the hidden effects and the marvellous orchestral soundtrack. Kudos for this being the original madhouse.


3/ Defi De Caesar- Parc Asterix 

Definitely one of the more unique madhouses out there, from it’s comical yet original pre-shows and a storyline typically different that your usual curse/bad luck type of storylines.


4/ Haunted House Monster Party- Legoland Windsor

Fun, enjoyable all round and a marvellous soundtrack (as others have mentioned). It’s free flowing story makes a change from your usual plot lines and makes it noticeably more re-rideable as a result. Shame about the exterior.


5/ The Haunting- Drayton Manor

I can’t remember as much when I did this, which is probably bad of me, but I did like the spooky atmosphere, projections and midnight syndicate soundtrack though. Neither the best or worst.


6/ Feng Ju Palace- Phantasialand 

Somewhat the opposite of Monster Party. Beautiful exterior but the rest sucks. A long, confusing and tedious pre-show (though some of the effects are cool) and á just as mundane madhouse. Hopefully if the park redevelop the Asian area next, they can improve the madhouse whilst at it.


7/ Fluch Der Kassandra- Europa Park

Dare I say this could be the park’s weakest attraction? Maybe? Don’t get me wrong, the madhouse section is fine (if not unremarkable). Although the lack of context and storyline does detract substantially.


8/ Impossible- Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Does it even count? Maybe not? Is this just a “typical ploy” to ensure my favourite park doesn’t have an attraction last on this list? Quite possibly. 

Regardless, Impossible is simply an awful attraction trying to pose as a madhouse and should be the next thing Mandy rips out! 

Need to do more madhouses once this selfish virus ends (if ever).

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  • 11 months later...

I’ve done 2 Madhouses, but I hope to possibly be doing 2 more at some point in 2022 (Fluch der Kassandra at Europa and Haunting at Drayton Manor). I’d rank the ones I’ve currently done as follows:

  1. Hex - Alton Towers: Yes, I rank this first just like everyone else does, but possibly not by quite the same margin. With that being said, however, I do absolutely love Hex; it’s easily my favourite non-coaster at Towers, and it might be my favourite UK dark ride (it’s a toss up between Hex, Sky Lion and Ninjago for me)! I think the way they used the Towers Ruins was a true stroke of genius, and one of the finest examples I’ve done of “simple but effective” ambience building, in my opinion; the whole thing has a rather eerie, ambient tone to it that I think is wonderfully done! The story is also very well explained, it’s immersive, and I think it has a rather wonderful sense of drama and spectacle throughout! Overall, I think Hex is a stunning dark ride, and definitely a worthy contender for #1 in this list!
  2. Haunted House Monster Party - Legoland Windsor - While I don’t personally rank this quite as highly as Hex, I still think it’s a really strong dark ride! I’m also not sure that comparing it to Hex is entirely fair as it’s a totally different type of experience with different strengths; while Hex hones in on drama and raw ambience, Haunted House Monster Party has a rather endearing sense of fun and whimsy about it that does put a smile on my face! And there’s many things I do like about it; the story is fairly well communicated, the room itself is used very well (I particularly liked the disco lighting that was going off while the ride was going round, the screens on either end and the projections on the bottom at the end of the ride), and I absolutely love the soundtrack! I also think it’s a rather original and fun take on the spooky theme, which I really like! Overall, while it’s not quite Hex for me, I did really like HHMP, and it’s definitely worth a ride if you’re ever at Legoland Windsor!
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