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Dan_Rush

Chessington Howl'o'ween

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I thought it was very good, they do say not suitable for under 10's and I won't be taking my 8 year old in there it really caught me by surprise. There were a lot of tears on the day I went but the park were offering refunds if the children didn't go in. It was jumpy and quite scary I think the only thing the park could do different is a real warning when families buy the ticket.

 

End of the day as they have said its a family park not a children's park, I'm delighted they have done this and really hope future attractions take the same attitude.

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I've read a few complaints online about creepy caves - I didn't realise when I did my recent post that it is a recommended age 10 plus attraction - in all honestly I think it should be older than 10 even though I'm sure there will be 10 year olds out there who would be ok with it but for the majority they should probably have a recommendation of 13+ 

 

I was gutted when they got rid of the maze behind Vampire as I loved that one but caves is a pretty solid attraction and it's nice to see the park have a maze that caters for slightly older guests - the issue I think is they need to make it clearer to people 

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Just a quick review of my Howl'o'ween experience, and indeed my first Halloween event at Chessington...

 

Curse of the Lost Tomb

Meh.  I don't really know how to describe this, it had the elements to be a fun enough family attraction, but it was all just very meh.  Theming looked nice (except in the finale).  The story was there.  I guess the main issue was the acting and number of actors.  Some of the actors were hard to hear.  Some seemed so unenthusiastic - one looked and sounded like they'd been dragged off of Staines high street and plonked in the maze.  From what I've heard, there's a lot less actors this year too.

 

So yeah, there's potential, but it also falls flat.  Also, can I just point out the hilariously placed e-stop at elbow height right by the entrance door as far away from the actor as possible - who thought THAT was a good idea?  :lol:

 

Park Atmosphere

There was a bit of park theming about (plastic pumpkins, cobwebs, etc), but not a lot.  And with the mazes very hidden away and not in your face (unlike Towers and Thorpe), it's easy to forget there's a Halloween event at all.  

 

There were LOTS of roaming actors about, which was nice.  Even had a few hiding in ride queue lines - we had 4 in Tomb Blaster's queue and the first one successfully caught me off guard.  They also did a flash mob dance thing outside the main shop, but it was at the most random times (it was so silly of us to not think there'd be a show at 5:06...) that we missed it.  

 

Creepy Caves:  Unearthed

Okay, let's start off with the bad - the time slots for this were poorly managed.  Either they were selling too many or letting people in far too early / late, but it wasn't working.  It meant that on Wednesday, for a 4:15 slot, we queued 80 minutes, and that was after we queued 30 minutes to actually buy our tickets...  I hear that later in the event they went to the other extreme with the timed tickets, and not letting people into the time slots early, resulting in a queue to be let in the queue at many points, but still letting people in at any time if they'd missed their slots.  Still wasn't working great.

 

Anyways, the maze.  It's actually great.  And as someone who's been largely unimpressed with Chessington's offerings over the past several years, it's great to see something so well themed, executed, presented and fulfilling at the park.  This IS a scary attraction, and certainly will truly terrify and haunt those around the young-end of its 10+ age recommendation.  But this is the type of attraction Chessington needs to offer if it's actually going to become a family park.

 

The 'pre show' before entering with the actor is fantastically scripted.  The first scene gave me Experiment 10 vibes, but in a suitably toned down way.  The laboratory scene is again well scripted and has nice effects which, though nothing special, work great on scaring younger audiences.  What follows (the actual 'cave' section) is brilliant - jump scares, nice theming, a plethora of things hanging from the ceiling and plenty of lively actors.  The balance between scaring adults and kids seemed to work too.  The ending is nice, nothing special, but VERY loud and certainly enough to get the younger audience screaming and crying out.  As a side note, the maze was free flow, which really did surprise me for a family attraction of this nature.

 

As a scare attraction for adults in context, it's not that scary, it's not special and it won't leave you in trembling (though I would be interested in doing it in an adult-only group, sort of a 'Creepy Caves After Dark' thing...they could ramp it up..).  But for a family scare attraction, this is fantastic, perhaps even a little over the scary line, but still a great scare attraction for the park and surely one of the better examples of a family scare.

 

So yeah, Creepy Caves is fab.  I hope it returns next year, that they don't tone it down (up the age recommendation if needs be), and they can sort out the operations a bit (sell less tickets!).  Chessington truly are onto a winner this year!

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Creepy Caves must be on the bigger surprises of the year side of things really. Considering all the pre-opening stuff was pretty dire and cheap looking, the attraction has spoken for itself and delivered. They just need to retain the elements that made it successful for this year and not butcher it in 2018.

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Sounds like most of the better parts of Haunting in the Hollows (like the mortuary scene and the finale sequence)... Though I'm still unconvinced that such a scare attraction will be at Chessie for a long period of time (probably likely to be scaled down next year should it return)...

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I will say the atmosphere was pretty lackluster this year. Instead of the lovely halloween music they had last year, or even the even better Imascore one coming back, they are playing this: 

 

A Youtube playlist of Kevin Macleod songs. This is what I use on Planet Coaster ffs!

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In fairness, that track sounds a lot better and works well as an ambience compared to that tiresome, out of place IMAscore piece the played a few years back. And the other Halloween score you’re talking about was nice, but dreadfully overused and only 6 or so minutes long. It got very tiresome after a few hours on a loop! 

 

Although it’s just another YouTube download jobby, this piece is at least nice and lengthy. Its much more subtle thank god; less in your face like the other two. 

 

Its a shame to hear the atmosphere is not as good this year. I don’t like to visit anymore, so I can only go from the pictures. But from what I’ve seen, it looked as though there was a lot more park-wide decoration this year, which is good, as in years previous it was looking a little skimp! I hear they’ve also got roaming actors again, another improvement on the last few years! I wonder what’s let all this down like you say... 

 

It could well be the changing atmosphere of the park, as it moves more towards corporate stiffness and animal-oriented “Wild” themes; perhaps this doesn’t gel as well with a Halloween atmosphere as the park’s previous whimsical characteristics did? Who knows. 

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18 minutes ago, HermanTheGerman said:

But from what I’ve seen, it looked as though there was a lot more park-wide decoration this year, which is good, as in years previous it was looking a little skimp! I hear they’ve also got roaming actors again, another improvement on the last few years! I wonder what’s let all this down like you say... 

Mainly the music, as not only is it not as good it's very quiet too. The lighting isn't as good either, apart from that it's good. Skeletons, bunting and eyes everywhere. Less pumpkins though which is weird. And the actors have been here since last year, pretty much the exact same cast with one or two additions. There's now an actor for each area (Bats and vampires for Vampire, mutated Lobster lady for Pirate's Cove, possibly a Voodoo guy for Africa? A pharoah for Forbidden Kingdom, some Samurai people for Mystic East etc.)

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11 hours ago, professorb said:

Where do you think the lighting could improve? There was more lighting on park than previous years.

I can't remember too well, but I remember it being more colourful the only other year I stayed for dark. Howloween gone by had alot more white floodlights and default setting colour changing lights everywhere.

 

Speaking of lighting, as I'm sure some will have noticed, there's some nice lighting around some of the lakes in Land of the Tiger. I can't remember the exact colours and it obviously wasn't as vibrant in the day, but it looked nice.

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Was really impressed with creepy caves one last year but they do need to make it clearer that it isn’t one for smaller kids - from what I saw and read online a lot of kids were terrified.  I really enjoyed it but went in with a family which included smaller kids last year and my eardrums were nearly perforated.

 

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Now that they've introduced a 4 bat rating (rather than maximum 3), hopefully that should go some way in making it a bit clearer that it's scary.

 

Hopefully they haven't toned it down either.

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Creepy Caves was by far the best attraction in the lineup last year so it’s great  to have it back.

 

I expect Trick Or Treat will perhaps still be very similar albeit with some slight but noticeable differences. 

 

 

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On 8/24/2018 at 8:47 PM, professorb said:

Saw this today outside Creepy Caves. There was also an arm crawling out from under the door, can’t be seen in the photo. Not sure if this is complete or work in progress.

 

9B742443-4DBE-4734-B1AE-9178CD1F3876.jpeg

It's certainly more than Thorpe has done!

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Its pretty much the poor guests waiting in line who bought Fastrack last Sunday. The park was rammed and they had to resort to sending whole trains of people with fastrack which they had obviously over sold.

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Just got home from ithe first day and honestly today was one of the best days I've ever had at Chessie, and as you all know I have had many. Didn't go in Creepy Caves or Curse today (Curse was actually closed for a large portion of it) but the atmosphere around the park is pretty great and Trick or Treat Wood was actually surprisingly good. Music could have been turned up a bit in some areas though, still using the music I linked above if you scroll up in most areas however around the Gruffalo Arena they're playing the IMAScore soundtrack from a few years ago, one of my favourite theme park soundtracks out there.

 

As I said, TOTW was surprisingly decent, my sister got a few genuine scares on the way round and the actor playing Xander was brilliant. All the actors knew exactly who to target, not the tiny little kids but mostly kids younger than me. Throughputs were pretty horrendous though. Speaking of throughputs, operations were up and down. At times on Dragon's Fury cars were leaving the station every few seconds, but then there's Tiger Rock. They were letting a certain amount of people into the station then not letting anyone in at all until nearly everyone had boarded, then when the ride had a delay there was no announcement, instead we had two guests go around the queue telling everyone.

 

Then there's leaving the park. We had an interesting experience. Basically, the park was put on lockdown because a child with severe autism ran away and went missing, from what we hear. I've made no secret of my (pretty mild) autism on here and I've had to remove myself from certain situations at parks before so I completely understand, I also understand why they put the park on lockdown. That's not the problem. The problem is, why, oh why have roaming scare actors scaring kids who are waiting to leave?

 

I wasn't around when it was going on but from the descriptions I've heard it was pretty chaotic. We had tears from my 10 year old sister as one (dressed in a black robe that completely obscured their face) stood in front of her before suddenly jumping out. There were children as young as babies crying scared. Eventually the actors were asked to leave, but it begs the question, why have scare actors scaring little kids  in a kids park, especially when there's already a kid missing because he had to remove himself from an overwhelming situation? We saw more than one kid run off away from the actors. I'm sure it's great entertainment for adults and teenagers at parks like Thorpe where they're expecting it. Not little kids at Chessington. Apart from that though, as I said it was great, and I highly recommend Howloween this year.

 

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Been reading the Facebook post about the child that has run away and hoping he is found safe and soon.  The parents must be worried sick but from what I gather, Chessington have done everything they can.

Regarding the actors, when I went to Howloween last year I saw a couple of them that looked pretty terrifying and if I was a kid I’d probably 💩. For Chessingtons target of families I don’t think scaring kids to tears is a good step.  Fun scary is ok but if a kid is visibly terrified then back off.

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Go to this event. Do it.

Park atmosphere and lighting is great.

Creepy caves see you get a tour of a lab by a rude lab lady who doesn't like you talking back so please do be wary here or if not you may be escorted off the park and lose your £4 entry fee.

Anyway she goes on to show you her fridge, was a very nice fridge however it lacked milk, so I don't approve.

I then remember a plant and then all hell hits loose. It's loud it's stroby and it's creepy as you are in a cave after all. 

I highly recommend you do this attraction, on your own if possible to add to the immersion.

 

Tiger rock looks great at night despite the lack of tigers, but a guess everyone deserves a day off.

What happened to Ramesis, it was on a weird cycle and I did not get wet despite sitting front centre.

Tomb blaster haters can sit back in their hater crypts all effects were working.

 

The curse of the lost tomb is a great interactive attraction with lots of immersion so it also sits well on the lineup.

There is a show with live vocals and dancers.

 

Overall it's a great event, well down to the whole team at CWOA, just watch out for the dementors at the end of the evening. They may try to capture your soul.

 

8/10 Recommend.

 

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I second much of the above.

 

Chessington’s Howl O-Ween event was excellent and top form in most ways.

 

Creepy Caves Unearthed was again simply outstanding. Everything, from the acting, pacing and scares was practically faultless. For the first time in a while I even got scared on one or two ocassions two and I’ve done a fair few mazes. 10/10

 

Curse Of The Lost Tomb is definitely noticeably better this year, the changes they have made especially in the middle of the maze work really well and make it a improvement without doubt. 8/10. 

 

There was also also a stage shoe and the updated Trick Or Treat Maze, although ran out of time to see either of those. 

 

Most operations were very very good last night. Vampire team are the best I’ve seen for a few years as they were quickly and efficiently loading and unloading trains on just two platformers. There was considerably less stacking too. Buccaneer’s dispatch times were just over a minute too. 

 

Id like to give praise to Chessington’s security team who did a good job trying to keep people safe.

 

Definitely a good event and would recommend visiting if you can.

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Went to Howloween on Weds and (I never thought I would say this) but it 💩💩💩s all over Fright Nights.

The Park is well decorated with loads of skeletons and various spooky displays.

 

Curse of the lost tomb was better this year and I actually got a good jump scare in there at one point - obviously this one is aimed at younger audiences but it’s well worth doing and the actors were fab.

 

Didnt bother with Trick or Trear Woods because I did it 2 years ago and ended up having to do star jumps and that just felt like effort 🤣

 

Creepy Caves Unearthed - Sorry Thorpe but I find this maze far superior to any of the offerings at Fright Night this year.  We had a brill male actor at the beginning and there was only about 8 of us in our group so it was the perfect size.  This maze has a clear story, is well paced and a decent length and honestly I did get scared a couple of times 😱.  Would highly recommend to anyone - only criticism I have is that I think the age 10 recommendation is probably too low- I would personally say 12-13+ but then again some kids are ok with scary stuff and others not so much so it’s more based on the individual and what they can handle.

 

The rides were all working though I didn’t venture to Black Buccaneer, Sea Storm or Monkey Swingers because.....🤢🤮

 

We caught the show at the arena just before it got dark - was expecting it to be 💩 but I really enjoyed it and it’s a nice way to have a break/snack and watch some entertainment - the dancers were brilliant and I envied how much damn energy they had as the show was approx 20 mins - I got tired just watching them

 

Park lighting was nice when it was dark and highlights were doing Dragons Fury, Vampire and Tiger Rock in the dark.

 

Have to say in general I’ve found the staff at Chessie this year to be happier/friendlier in comparison to Thorpe (not ALL Thorpe staff mind you).

 

Would love to see Chessie get more investment - yes it’s not in the same league it was in the mid-late 90s but it has so much potential 

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