Since I first decided to try and do as many Halloween scare events across the UK a few months ago, one of the events that was missing from my personal Road Trip of Terror itinerary was Alton Towers annual Halloween event Scarefest. Spotting an opening in my diary, I was able to relatively easily add in a visit to the Towers last Sunday.

This would be my 16th and final visit to a theme park in 2019 and my second to Alton Towers. For Scarefest each of the five seasonal mazes are available to visit for an additional fee to the normal park entry. The permanent Alton Dungeons are also available to visit again for an up-charge. This allows people less keen on the scares to forego them entirely and visit the spooky themed park as normal.

My only minor niggle is that I had to purchase three of the mazes as a bundle and the other two as separate tickets. One of which wasn’t available online beforehand or if it was I couldn’t find it. I understand why they’ve done it this way as it allows for a more ‘family-friendly’ bundle of Darkest Depths and Alton Dungeons. That said I would have liked the option to buy a single bundle of all the scare mazes. As a bit of a customer experience geek, I’ve never been a fan of the ticketing software that Merlin and other large theme park chains use and the mobile experience is often better than the web.

During the whole day and night that I was there I got to ride many of the great rides on offer at Alton Towers, which can also be ridden in the dark. Nemesis was great as always, Galactica much improved since they removed the pointless VR element. Wicker Man was sadly still a bit of a let down for me. It looks stunning, the theming, pre-ride and smells are all incredible. Sadly, in my opinion the ride itself is a bit mediocre, but I have been a bit spoiled this year. Smiler, still my favourite in the park and probably the only UK ride in my personal top ten. Anyway, on to the scares.

Street Theatre

In terms of area, Alton Towers is massive so it’s always going to be tricky to provide the same level of street theatre that you’d get in smaller purpose built Halloween scare events, even if just confined to a small area of the park. Plus, as a day long family friendly park they wouldn’t be able match the scares and intensity that you’d get elsewhere.

The Alton Ancestors on the few times I happened to run across them were usually performing flash mob style dance shows and were nicely engaging in the downtime between performances. There was also a fun song and dance show suitable for younger children on a dedicated stage in front of the lake from the entrance at the bottom of Towers St.


All the mazes have some common elements. The sets and designs are brilliant, great engaging actors with terrific costumes and make up, horrible smells and appropriate sounds. Personally I found the mazes to be a little on the short side for my liking. The queues for the mazes I experienced weren’t anywhere near as long as I was expecting. I only had to wait five to ten minutes maximum all evening.

Darkest Depths

Darkest Depths is one of two new mazes for 2019 and is a more family friendly pirate themed maze. It starts off with a fun theatrical scene explaining the doomed fate of the pirate ship Mutiny in the Admiral Benbow-style Smuggler’s Inn.

First up the sets, props and design of this maze are incredible. Stunning work as it really made me feel like I was walking through different sections of the pirate ship as the story of it’s ill-fated final voyage played out through the sections until finally the Mutiny sank to the bottom of the Ocean before we resurfaced. Across the board it looked, sounded and smelled incredible, and the actor’s costumes and make up were top notch.

As I was at the back of our group of eight, I didn’t get many impact scares, more of the creepy elements from the brilliant actors who worked through our group and usually ending up following me, whispering or shouting discouraging and fitting lines in my ear. That said, the person that was at the front of our group said that they had loads of very impactful scares throughout the run of the maze, so your mileage may vary on that one. In hindsight I wish I had ponied up another 6 quid for a second run through.

The Attic

Next up for me was the other new for 2019 maze, The Attic. Like Darkest Depths this is more of a story led maze, with the initial theatrical scene in a drawing room of the stately home. The story involved the tragic tale of a former Master of the house, and his Governess. The acting was great and had some superb effects in this room to amp up our sense of dread in this gothic ghost story themed maze.

Again all the elements of this maze were good, a good mixture of creepy and scary, a few good impact scares, with one very memorable moment when a mixture of creepy distraction and fog led to me blaspheming.

Project 42

After a suitably creepy walk through the Gloomy Wood, my third maze was Project 42. Unfortunately, this wasn’t my strongest run through of the mazes, mostly due to me being in a particularly annoying group. Due to this and no fault of the actors it was difficult to enjoy this maze. There were some fun interactions with some of the actors and all the usual common elements were good. Being constantly pushed by a group of eight over exuberant and loud teenagers wasn’t fun especially as I was going at the pace of the group of four in front of me. 13 was perhaps a bit too many for the group especially as the line for this maze was so short.

Altonville Mine Tours

I hoofed it back through the Gloomy Wood to get to the entrance to Altonville Mine Tours near the entrance to the X Sector in less than 10 minutes. ‘Altonvile Mine Toors’ is a hillbilly themed trip through a mine that had something nefarious occur in the past. One notable element that I enjoyed about this maze was that the person in front, one in the middle and the person at the back had to wear a hard hat with a miner’s lamp.

After another fun theatrical opening we went in to the lift to descend the mine shaft. My only small complaint would be that the the line we were in, was manhandled out of order in to the first mine tunnel. We re-ordered ourselves so the lamps were back in order and set off.

Again great sets and designs and the effect of the deliberately inconsistent lamps were used to great effect. This maze also had a huge fun element to it. As anyone that’s been ‘dahnth t’pit’ or has watched the excellent Chernobyl mini-series would know it can get hot in mines and one of the hillbilly miners hilariously demonstrated that fact.


I deliberately left the most intense of Alton Towers mazes for last. When I went through it certainly lived up to the 6 pumpkin rating. I was poked, prodded, and man-handled throughout this often disorientating maze. Unfortunately, I ended up on what seemed like a path of least resistance journey and exited after about 5 minutes feeling a bit short-changed purely due to the length. Since I’d heard good things about the maze this year I immediately decided to give it another go for an additional charge, and I’m so glad I did.

My second run was superb, a good length and really ramped the intensity as I was man-handled and directed through multiple routes, down dead ends, through tunnels and had some great impact scares and spent most of my time in there alone. If you’re in a group you can pretty much guarantee to be split up. The actors were an awesome mix of scary and angry and at times funny. One scare in particular stands out coming near the end as I was suitably distracted. Great fun.

Final Thoughts

Alton Towers on any normal day is a well known quality day out and for a Scarefest newbie I really enjoyed the mazes on offer this year. It’s clear this is another fun event from Merlin and hats off to the all of the team involved in the mazes this year. Well worth checking out.

Alton Towers Scarefest runs on select days through October till 3rd November.

Author: Steven