For those that aren’t already aware Horror Nights – Traumatica at Europa Park in Rust, Germany is one of the premier global Halloween theme park events and is on many scare attraction enthusiasts must do lists. From my first ever recent visit on opening/preview night of the 2019 season it’s very clear to see why so many people rate this award winning event so highly. I’m a fan now too.
I won’t go in the history of Halloween events at Europa Park as there’s an excellent recent ScareTrack podcast featuring Dennis van Breukenlen of ScarePod exploring the rich history of Traumatica. Well worth a listen if you intend on visiting as well as all the great YouTube content that Traumatica provide.
I spent the day in Europa Park enjoying the rides. It’s a cracking park with superb theming throughout, immaculately clean and some good, but not exceptional rides for me. Food and beer were great, especially as I was staying within easy walking distance of the entrance. The sheer amount of pumpkins that they had put on display for Halloween was stunning. Each of the countries areas were really nicely done. There are clearly some thematic similarities to Epcot, but I much preferred this Euro-centric park. Will be interesting to see what happens to the England section post-Brexit.
I’ve been to theme park Halloween events at Thorpe Park in the UK, Six Flags Great Adventure and Cedar Point in the USA. Sadly, missed out on Halloween Horror Nights as fairly unprecedentedly Universal and Disney decided to close their doors because of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Thankfully Matthew didn’t end up on the predicted course so a lot less damage was done than expected.
Opening time for the main event was 7.30pm, but the welcome area with bar facilities, toilets and photo area was open from 6.45pm. I arrived at the entrance with impeccable German punctuality to be greeted with a massive queue for the welcome area. As the queue moved forward I found a separate entrance for the Shoxter Pass line which consisted of just me. Shoxter Pass is their version of Fast Track. Standard entry starts at €24 and the Shoxter Pass which gives you shorter queues for entry for a once only run through of five mazes starts at €64.50 you can also pay an additional €5 on selected nights to visit the Vampire Club.
With the Shoxter Pass you can choose to use it for any of the five mazes as you see fit. If you want to use it on the same maze 5 times or complete each of the 5 mazes one time that is completely up to you. You can also queue in the main line as many times as you like. With Shoxter I only needed to wait at most 5 minutes for each of the mazes and in most cases much shorter than that. For the extra €40 it was well worth it as it allowed me to explore Traumatica at leisure, see the shows, enjoy the roaming actors, have some food and a fair few Brutal Brewskis, without it I’d have to have been on a mission to do all the mazes, scare zones, shows and enjoy a bit of lubrication.
It’s worth noting that Traumatica is a separate event from standard Europa Park entrance. Europa Park closes and empties whilst Traumatica gets ready. Most of Traumatica takes place in a separate area from Europa Park and only a small part of Europa Park is open during Traumatica, including four rides; Pegasus, Matterhorn Blitz, Abenteuer Atlantis, and Cassandra’s Curse being open to ride during Traumatica. The rest of the park is off limits. For me this worked well as an alternative to the whole park takeover I’ve experienced in the past.
Last up on the tickets front there are also upgrades on specific dates. For nights when the Vampire Club is open, till 3am I believe and Not Alone is available additional options are considerably more expensive. Not Alone costs €249, but includes standing access to Vampire Club, unlimited Shoxter Pass, reserved Ice show seating and your own ‘Not Alone’ experience. For the nights when the Vampire Club is open you can get general access for an additional €35, a standing table for 4 for €230 through to a seated table for 4 for €280. The cheapest option includes a welcome drink and the two more expensive options include a bottle of spirits and mixer for your party of 4. Vampire Club access is in addition to the three Traumatica entry options. So if you’ve won the lottery a ‘Not Alone’ ticket and a seated table for 4 will set you back, an eye watering €529.
On entry to the waiting area, I got my first Brutal Brewski of the evening, and waited as the area filled up. Just before 7.30pm actors for each of the five factions started appearing before the Goddess of Traumatica, Myra Moon Mistress appeared with her Moon Servants introducing the factions with a video and pyrotechnic display. Impressive start before the main door opened. This is part of what sets Traumatica apart from other similar events as there is an overarching story between Myra and the five factions that evolves year on year. Whilst you get variety from the different factions there is consistency to the whole event.
In addition to the five mazes, there are three scare zones and two shows as well as plenty of roaming actors that go through the park and some roaming fire eaters. There are plenty of drink points and a few food options near to and within The Pack’s Silver Bullet Bar and also roaming food and snack sellers, so plenty of options.
The shows were good fun. The first one I did was the more story driven one featuring Myra Moon Mistress and actors from some of the factions. Since I was right at the front I could see some parts that could do with a bit more polish, but I’m sure this will improve with more practice during the season. The second show was an Ice and Acrobatic show that was incredible and well worth the half hour to watch it, the advice is to get there early as there is limited seating. The stage show runs three times a night and the Ice show twice.
No Man’s Land was the first scare zone I did and the weakest. That said the actors who were zombiefied humans in bio hazard suits were good value and engaging and some of the props gave the area a nice post-apocalyptic feel alongside a couple of Resistance handlers. I tried this again in the dark to see if that improved things but for me sadly not.
My second favourite scare zone was Frontline which is a non-looping walk through showcasing each of the different factions. The passageway connects the main entrance to the area with Pegasus, so the whole Traumatica event is essentially a big loop. Again the actors were great and managed to get many people screaming and running for their lives.
By far my favourite scare zone though was the Ghouls themed Hunting Ground. I seemed to have been the only person through in quite some time so got the undivided attention of all the actors. With one menacingly following me through the whole zone. This distraction led to one memorably superb scare. They got me good. Obviously scare zones can be a bit hit or miss, dependent on many factors but overall I enjoyed two of the three.
My hat goes off to the roaming actors that wandered the park. There were about four or five from each of the five factions that provided scares everywhere they went even in to the queue lines. Also when factions crossed paths you were treated to a mini-show as the animosity each of them held against one another turned in to a turf war.
On to the mazes finally, all of the mazes had superbly detailed theming, props, sounds, smells, costumes, make up and great scare actors. The batchers at the entrance to each maze were also actors for their faction so they helped build the immersion before you went in, providing some German banter and a few scares themselves.
Of the mazes my least favourites were The Fallen and Resistance. The Fallen are kind of like familiars for the vampiric Shadows. Their maze is in a great looking wooden church and whilst there were some good elements listed above, for me the pacing wasn’t great, most of the actors were in the second half of the maze and so the first half felt a little dull. And one really cool animatronic bashed me in the arm.
Resistance are technologically and bio-enhanced humans, a bit like the Borg from Star Trek in appearance, but not in behaviour. Again elements of the maze were great, but the pacing was a bit off more me, that said the final section of Resistance before the exit was superb. Another brilliant animatronic bashed me in the arm in this one as well.
My next favourite was the werewolf biker gang, The Pack. I was really impressed with the quality of the set here, and I felt it told more of a story than I got from The Fallen and Resistance, though it too felt a little second half heavy. Though there were some fun animatronics that had my group screaming. The exit was also a fun nice touch at the end. 4 out of 5 for this one
Second favourite goes to the sexy vampires, Shadows. Again consistently good theming and I felt that the scares were much better paced than some of the other mazes. I was also part of a splinter group of three and the two ladies in front of me were scared of their own shadows as well as the actual Shadows. They did more damage to me and my feet with their frightened backpedaling than anything else that evening. Still good value to watch them though. Two of the scenes in this maze were particularly fun. 4 out of 5 again.
So that leaves Ghouls as my favourite. The Ghouls are mutant vampires that have been feeding on the blood of the dead. This mazes theming and props were stunning, and the smells a particular highlight. There was good pacing throughout and a couple of interestingly different elements as part of the maze and the Ghoulsqueen Tara was very impressive. Full marks, 5 out of 5 for me.
Obviously I was there on opening night and I’m sure the Traumatica team will continuously tweak elements in the mazes and throughout the event over the course of this Halloween season. Also this is obviously my opinion of my personal run through. You may do the same maze and have a different experience to me, but I’d imagine they spend a huge amount of time and effort attempting to improve consistency.
Overall this was an amazing night, clearly a tent pole Halloween event and it’s easy to see why. The atmosphere throughout was amazing and had such a nice relaxed vibe to the whole event. I’d highly recommend it if you can make the trip to Bavaria and I’ll definitely be trying to make an annual pilgrimage to Traumatica.
Traumatica will be running on select nights until the 2nd November.
Einfach klasse und unheimlich gut!