Scarefest, Alton Towers – Review
By Dominic Picksley, October 2023
In the dim light of the room, our hearts thumped as a zombie appeared out of nowhere.
And another, and then a blood-stained ghost, and then a vampire blocked our path, so we turned on our heels and headed deeper into the gloom desperately searching for a way out of this hell as the time ticked by.
My son Ben was frantic, as was I, as we hunted for the symbols that would allow us to escape ‘Daz Games: Panic’, the brand new scare maze for Alton Towers’ ever-popular seasonal extravaganza that is Scarefest.
Daz Black is one of the UK’s leading YouTubers, whose DazGames channel has more subscribers than Manchester United, Radio 1, Disney UK… and The Beatles, and he has teamed up with Britain’s top theme park to devise a unique attraction that will get your pulses racing and, ultimately, scare the living daylights out of you. Or at least, try to.
“Locked in there forever”
Armed with a wristband, you are given two random symbols which you have to find in order to escape the maze after the doors open and you, along with over a dozen other ‘contestants’ enter the murky Scarefest world, which is punctuated by strobe lighting in order to disorient you… and you have seven minutes to get out, before you are “locked in there forever”.
And, of course, there are numerous obstacles impeding your hunt, namely the aforementioned ghosts, ghouls and monsters. Once you finally spot one of your symbols, you have to ‘upload’ it to your band and then search for the second one… and only once you have found both, can you head for the exit.
It’s great fun and adds something a little different to the whole Scarefest experience and Daz himself was there in person to greet the escapees, as we rubbed shoulders with some celebs at the VIP night. He took the time to chat to Ben and I, telling us how excited he was to be teaming up with Alton Towers, although he was keen to get to the top the leaderboard.
“Darkened rooms and dusty corridors”
We also experienced The Attic, located in the old Alton Towers house… where we happened to be at the front of the queue, so I had the job of leading a group of people up the stairs, through darkened rooms and down dusty corridors, not knowing who would jump out at you or when, so you had to have your wits about you.
As you did at Altonville Mines Tours: Tiny’s Revenge, where a party of us ventured ‘deep into the mines’ where dangers lucked around every corner and in cages in the mine shafts.
Before we reached the entrance, where the ‘fun’ began, the worried lady behind me apologised ahead of the foul language she predicted she was going to use, and her screams along with the woman’s in front of us, told their own tale.
These scare mazes, along with The Invitation, the one real disappointment, and the Darkest Depths, another scream-induced attraction on an old ‘abandoned ghost ship’ are added extras to the cost of entry, as is Trick O’ Treat Town, although the return of Burial Grounds was heartily applauded by most people as this one was free, so if you baulked at paying the extra for the others, you could at least experience a scare maze for yourself.
With the rumble of the fabulous Wicker Man coaster coming from nearby, this maze was equally as good as some of the others, as you headed past the clutches of strange-looking pig-headed men, known as The Unchosen, who are ‘obsessed with the lore of the Beornen’.
We entered one room where it was literally pitch black and you had to feel your way through, but we finally made it to the end, unscathed, thankfully.
And then it was on to the Wicker Man… and is there a greater sight in the coaster world when the sun goes down, with the flames burning brightly around this ride? The build-up is like no other, where you hear the growly Scot explain the origins of The Wicker Man, and this ramps up the excitement – and tension – no end. And I’m sure The Wicker Man is much faster at night, with my daughter Amelia and I experiencing a wild journey from the very back of the train.
Oblivion is great in the dark too, with that second’s pause at the top of the vertical drop probably more terrifying than the plunge into the darkness below. Smiler (with its world record of 14 inversions), Thirteen, Rita and Galactica are the other main thrill rollercoasters that all other something unique (and the collection of merchandise for each coaster is such a great idea), while one of the best rides at the park is without doubt The Curse Of Alton Manor, a haunting dark ride where you uncover the story of tragic Emily Alton… who just wants to play. Some of the graphics in there are amazing and it’s well worth the wait.
“Somewhere really special”
And what could be better than combining Scarefest with an overnight stay at Alton Towers Hotel, where we had a Moon Voyage room for the night, while we enjoyed a hearty breakfast in the Secret Garden restaurant. The rooms are spacious and really well decorated and the while hotel feels like somewhere really special, just like the park itself.
Staying on-site really rounds off the experience, although my children were completely made up when they got to meet Shawn and Charlotte from the Themepark Worldwide YouTube channel, the best of its kind out there.
Scarefest is taking place at Alton Towers Resort from October 13-31.
To find more, book park tickets, or book a stay at one of the resort’s accommodations, please visit: altontowers.com