I arrived early at Screamfest, on pulling up there were clear signs indicating where to go and a wonderful skeleton carriage near the entrance. As I was quite early I joined the queue to get in. It was promptly managed and in we went.
Screamfest has a central hub area with a stage, some food options and fairground rides. The mazes are in all directions and cover quite a large site. I quite like the pond with a DJ booth and lights.
I didn’t get a chance to soak up a lot of this due to having to run to another event but what I saw of the stage show looked enjoyable. The attraction was quite light on roaming actors only seeing 3 while there. The interactions with these were fun I particularly liked the clockwork ladies.
Dia De los Muertos
This maze is based around the Day of the Dead festival. I thought the use of the tractor ride at the beginning was fun with a bit of music, interaction from an onboard actor and a news bulletin which set the scene well. Along with this ride we were also treated to some physical effects on route.
The tractor ride ends at the corn maze which is where you continue on your adventure. There are some fun theatrical moments throughout this maze as well as a strong scare in the bar scene.
This was a good maze to start the night on and got me in the mood for what was to come.
Hillbilly Joe’s Zombee Zoo
I’ll be honest I initially had low expectations of this. I thought ‘is this going to be another zombie maze’ boy was I wrong. Firstly the maze is long and goes on for what feels like forever. Secondly it had the strongest scares of the night.
The maze mixes a few theatrical moments with more traditional scares and solid moments of intensity. Some standout points were the zoo section which was fun. The cell scene really started to ramp up the scares and we had a scene where an older character wouldn’t let the group past until one of them apologised. This had me in stitches.
The maze is well themed throughout and the actors all worked well together. I think this was my favourite maze of the evening and it’s a shame I didn’t end the night with it.
I am generally a fan of clown mazes. I like the mixture of fun and scares. I unfortunately found that Freak Out! didn’t quite hit the spot. I actually think this was due to the way the groups were batched as we found ourselves often catching up to other groups making it difficult for the actors to make the most impact.
It’s worth noting that even though batching hampered the experience the actors were on top form and did their best to get scares in the difficult circumstances.
I think slightly smaller groups might have been all that was needed to avoid the conga line experience and would have made the multiple pathways more effective.
Overall I can see this could be a fun maze but on my run it didn’t quite deliver.
This maze has a concept that I personally think is brilliant, entering a child’s nightmare. Before you even start the experience you are presented with a creepy scene of an actor sitting quietly colouring. This innocence versus what is about to come sets the scene well.
Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by the rest of the maze. It felt like the pacing was off and the scares didn’t seem to land.
The theming is brilliant and the concept great I think we were either too close to the group in front or just a difficult group to work with as they were talking and being quite distracting throughout.
This is a shame as the maze is very well designed with a solid story and great theming. Hopefully we just had a bad run on this.
Things really picked up with the final maze of the evening. Love Hurts is set in a night club toilet and sewer. This is a novel idea for a maze and really worked well.
The maze starts as you enter a toilet cubical. The smells are disgusting and the theming superb. After an initial piece of audio we descend into the sewers. There were some good scenes with actors working the group from all angles. I liked that the ceiling was dripping and there were puddles throughout adding to the atmosphere.
The grotty theming was brilliant and really gave the impression you were underneath a nightclub.
This was a really fun maze with some good scares throughout.
Overall Screamfest is an enjoyable attraction. We were unfortunate in that we had a couple of bad runs but these mazes clearly can work well when the pacing is right. Zombee Zoo was a clear highlight and is definitely worth leaving to last. I wish I’d had a chance to go through again.
Screamfest is running on select nights through to an evening with fireworks on the 2nd November.