Alton Towers Scarefest 2021

I have always looked forward to Alton Towers Scarefest as you can be sure to get extremely good theming in the mazes and the addition of rides is a nice bonus. 

Sadly the ride situation on our visit was a little disappointing with many being closed for long periods causing excessive queues on others. This however was a complete juxtaposition to our experiences in the mazes where we had wonderfully short wait times.


Darkest Depths

Darkest Depths is a fabulous maze with superb theming and special effects. This maze really transports you into this pirate themed extravaganza. The actors were superb from the brilliant jump scares to the scripted sections. The actors really worked hard and gave a lot of energy to the performance. There are some unique set pieces in the form of cell bars that you interact with and walk straight through. This is a really neat effect and enabled the actors to have fun with people getting confused. A stand out actor was the captain who really made our group feel uneasy and had a great presence that made everyone get involved. Overall a very solid maze that did not disappoint. 

The Attic: Terror of the Towers

Again our trip through the Attic was almost faultless. The theming is always beautiful, perfectly depicting an old house and attic. The design of the maze has been really thought about, as the actors were able to land scare after scare from the front to the back of the group. This is really great to see as it doesn’t matter whether you are at the front middle or back you still get wonderful scares. The maze darts between creepy and impact scares throughout. This is one maze where you can really smell the different scents from scene to scene. I think we may have counted 4 different smells. This along with changes in temperature and again excellent theming makes this another strong maze. 

Altonville Mine Tours

This maze takes you on a journey deep into the Altonville mine where you meet the Skin Snatchers. Again superbly themed from start to finish. It’s worth noting however that this year Alton Towers have chosen not to use the lamps which in previous years really worked well enabling actors to hide in the dark. I think this maze doesn’t quite work as well without them. We did get some scares in the maze but nowhere near the number in the previous two. If this maze is to return again next year it would be great to see the lamps come back just give the scares that added impact. 

Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard

We had high hopes for this maze after it being one of our favourite mazes last year. Sadly this years run wasn’t nearly as fun. We felt that the actors struggled to hit the scares and the removal of the additional level lost a few options for impact scares. The actors that were in the maze worked well but scares just didn’t feel as impactful as others during our day on park. The theming however is outstanding and the junkyard theme works an absolute treat. We feel if it comes back next year it would be good to return with the added level to give the actors more options and make the maze as chaotic as it was in 2020

Trick O’ Treat Town

New for 2021 this is a family orientated trick or treat experience. For an up charge of £10 you get a bag that can be filled with candy from the inhabitants of Trick O’ Treat Town. As soon as you enter there are fun and humorous interactions that are great for kids and adults alike. There are a few mild jump scares that kids would likely enjoy with fun and colourful characters. The actors throughout worked well and had some great scripted pieces. Even though aimed at kids you can have just as much fun as adults, as you visit everyone’s house and collect candy. A superb addition for kids and adults alike. 

Street Theatre and Shows

There are a number of shows throughout the day included the one we watched while eating very average food from the food trucks in the area (we would not recommend any of these additional food outlets). The show was good fun and is a perfect bit of family entertainment. The character interactions around the park were enjoyable and the impromptu flash mob style dance routines of The Alton Ancestors is always a good bit of entertainment.


Overall the Scarefest offering this year is great. It’s a shame that the mazes generally remain unchanged but the actors on the whole worked well creating scare after scare. The theming is consistently of a high level and the special effects are second to none. It was a shame there were a number of issues with rides on our visit but the Screamfest attractions really were the highlight plus Trick O’ Treat Town is definitely something that should stay for future years.

Alton Towers Scarefest runs until the end of October so get on down and enjoy what they have on offer.

Alton Towers Scarefest 2020

After visiting Thorpe Park last week we wanted to see how another large Merlin Park would adapt to the latest coronavirus restrictions. Alton Towers have all the usual safety precautions we have come to expect but this hasn’t changed the maze offering with three indoor and well-ventilated attractions plus a brand new for 2020 outdoor attraction.

The atmosphere at the theme park was great, towards the lake a stage and food stalls were set up offering some family-friendly entertainment as well as well needed refreshment. There are also roaming actors also offering family-friendly spooks.

The Alton Towers Dungeon

The scares started early with the year-round dungeon attraction. The dungeon is a fun trip through gruesome history. It has all the usual elements we have come to expect from a dungeon attraction. The actors on my visit really worked hard putting so much energy into the performance. It was a great start to the day. The COVID precautions are probably most notable in this attraction but work seamlessly alongside the experience.

Darkest Depths

The first maze of the night and I can honestly say I can see how this won a Scare Award last year. The theming is absolutely incredible taking you through the ship and into an undersea world. The actors worked so hard with strong scripted sections and impressive scares that hit a number of times. The maze is a good length too and would be a good starter maze for someone new to scares as it is on the slightly tamer side of things.

The Attic: Terror of the Towers

This maze takes place at the top of the towers in what I would assume is the actual attic. The theming throughout is again fantastic only added to by the setting of the attraction. Actors again hit some strong scares and used the space well, landing scares a number of times. We did, unfortunately, find that this maze suffered from groups catching up to each other and we feel that adding a few more seconds to the departure of groups through the maze would help this. Saying this a very fun and enjoyable maze with great props throughout.

Altonville Mine Tours 

Apart from no longer using the helmets with reactive torches, the attraction felt fairly unchanged since previous visits. A strong run was had again with actors using the space well and managing to hit scares multiple times from many directions. The actors really managed to make groups keep their distance by using innovative scares to keep us apart and delay us moving to the next area the best they could.

Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard

Wow, doesn’t do this maze justice. It was absolutely fantastic. The theming is perfect for this type of attraction using random old props from around the park. Look closely and you’ll see a few easter eggs of attractions gone by.

From the moment you enter the fun begins with actors coming at you from all directions. The use of props works so well hitting scares left, right and centre. The maze is designed in such a way that each actor can scare you over and over again as you weave through the maze. There is so much going on that I found myself constantly distracted which only meant the scares hit harder. This was topped off by an intense finale that would leave most people screaming for the exit.

What’s incredible is that we never bumped into or even saw another group as we went through the maze so hats off to the team running this attraction. We actually experienced this maze (which is primarily outside) twice once in the light and again in the dark. Both experiences had the same level of scares throughout and I would say if you get a chance go through this maze more than once as you will get just as much from it the second time.


Credit has to be given to the team behind Alton Towers Scarefest especially in the current climate, the management of maze queues was great never waiting particularly long for anything. While we had a few batching issues in The Attic the majority of the attractions had no problems at all. Theming was incredible throughout and scares really landed well. In every maze, the actors were all working incredibly hard to give visitors a great time. Freak Show: Toxic Junkyard was absolutely fantastic and I hope stays for a few more years as in a post COVID world the possibilities are practically endless.

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019

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.

Scare Directory
Author: Scare Directory