Thorpe Park Fright Nights 2005

Once again in 2005 Thorpe invited you to come for the “ultimate scare fest” at Fright Nights, and much like the previous years, Fright Nights introduced something different to add to the park, this year in the form of The Asylum, Hell gate, two scare mazes, Carnival of the Bizarre, back for a second year, and a new theatre production, A false sense of security.

The Asylum – New for 2005 was the Asylum, an update to the Freezer (see Previous years) the Asylum was made to be the more hardcore of the two mazes. Entering the building full of mental patients you make your way through what could be described as a side door, in groups of 6-8 you all hold shoulders as you bravely enter the building which has been over run by the patients,walking through cages, the building is in darkness, with strobe and simple flashing lights guiding your way. This is, and always has been a great effect, accompanied with the loud noises, there is a real sense of drama going on once you’re inside, with blood effects all over the walls and floors to add.

Once walking the inmates come at you from every angle, with the idea of scaring you out of your wits. With someone new around every corner you really need to be on your guard, the people in the maze while obviously aren’t allowed to hurt you but they do pop out of anywhere. This includes hanging from fences, hiding under tables, hanging in there own cages, even to the more famous coming at you with chainsaws. This could be for many a very tense experience, its obviously worth mentioning the look of the actors, these aren’t just people that are out to scare you these are individuals dressed and individually made up to give a variety of personal much like real life. The make-up is excellent, what’s done with faces, clothing and general appearance really does add to the effect when there coming out in the dark.

So exactly how good was all this thrown together? Well the first thing to do is comparing this to the Freezer, because weather Thorpe wanted to or not, they are similar/same kind of attraction. From my point of view I found this not to be as good as the Freezer, and yes, I believe there are some valid reasons.The first would have to be the entrance, although the quiet back door entrance works very well in look and style, very little to no thought went on just inside the door, where on the Freezer last year, the large door opened, smoke filled the are there was a pitch black walk into the maze area. This time the atmosphere was ruined before you got to the maze, on entering the Asylum there is a standard un-themed walkway on your way into the main maze, to make matters worse the control area is just inside the door and on the first entrance in, someone was standing there changing a light bulb! With so much light in that area the entrance to the real maze, was at best, lame.

Once inside obviously things picked up, great actors, great make-up and even great sets, the problem? Well its very open, with constant strobe light as oppose to staggered lights, it was easier to see what was coming. There also seemed to be not as many enclosed areas, meaning again upon looking through the cages so much of the maze could be seen. This unfortunately means you could see everything coming, unlike last year with hanging body bags, black plastic to get your way through. The last things was the chosen times to use certain actors, mainly the Chainsaw actor at the end. There was nothing more annoying knowing you’ve queued 2 hours for half a attraction, when you could go the next day and its a full one, this also results in the exit being moved meaning you can’t see peoples faces as they come out! This was great last year but a totally disappointing experience this year overall.

Hell Gate

Replacing the Freak show 3D was Hell Gate, promised to be a completely new attraction for 2005 (even though Freak show 3D was open all summer…) this had usually been the “B” Maze compared to the Freezer/Asylum.

This was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the Fright Nights, not knowing what to expect as this was supposed to be a complete change, the first thing that was noticeable upon entry is that this was more that just an re-hash of an old attraction. While waiting to get in you’re left in the tunnel queuing while a story is told, the story goes on to tell about a rich house owner, or mansion as this is best described, and how this is his haunted mansion
which cam upon by many different events. First plus point upon actually entering the maze was no 3D Glasses! Always a bonus, all the bright colours had gone and now you were presented with a dark, creepy coloured mansion and you were left to walk through. There many different scenes based on a general house, including kitchen and basement look-a-like scenes which were all present and also included the location of the body bags hanging on the walls as scenery. Although a lot of it looked the same, same coloured walls, flickering lights, general walkway, none of this seemed to matter as it had a much more ere feel than the Asylum did.

Then there are the actors, defiantly on top form they had more places to really hide and due to the fact there were solid walls, you couldn’t see them coming. These included inside wall, clever statue disguises, to hiding under tables and grabbing your legs, they were excellent and well thought out scaring location which were pulled off very well. This was a truly great attraction in my view and is something that can just be improved upon rather than changed.

First would have to be the indoor queuing, a good idea but not only resulted in a little push and shove, but also (and its not the parks fault) with the amount of teens unable to listen and concentrate, any change of getting the exact story before you went in was very unlikely, and having been able to hear it may have made this even better still. Well worth the queue, and easily the best out of the two mazes.

There were two other attractions for 2005; these are the Carnival of the Bizarre, and a film, a false sense of security. The Carnival of the Bizarre, like last year was excellent and would be recommended as they travel around all year round. Consisting of Bizarre people, talented people, they can make you stomach turn with tricks and shows, excellent addition as always.

A false sense of security, unfortunately not the best thought out project by the park was a large projection screen in the arena showing this film. Problem was again, it wasn’t set up by opening day, and the minute it went up, it managed a few shows before the wind caught the screen beyond repair. Fortunately for the park they didn’t advertise the theatre show, and although I didn’t get to see it I only found it by accident anyway!

Although the park again didn’t seem to be particularly well themed, I think by the last day, there was more of a theme around than the year before. But again like stated earlier, on the last day there was more than the first, helped by the “free entry with a pumpkin” at least the park put the Pumpkins to good use.

Moving away from theme the other reason for many to go to Fright Nights is to ride the rides in the dark! Adding for many, myself included, a whole new experience in the park. This year was no exception especially with the addition of Slammer and Rush.

In the gallery are some night pictures from the park and these make all the rides seem different that in the day. The biggest ride surprise was Rush which was amazing in the dark, especially on a clear night and is the first time this season that it seemed a better ride than the mightily Vortex.

Overall without a doubt another successful Fright Nights for the park and again worth mentioning was by far the best security the park have ever done, improved massive over the last few years!