The Howl at Mead Open Farm – October 2023
The Howl at Mead Open Farm near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire has always been a solid visit for us at Scare Directory and after some great reviews in 2022 it was time to return again and see if the many updates and changes made last year will still be as good, and also to see how 2023’s new maze, The Full Moon Manor, stacked up.
One of the big changes last year was with the overall layout, which has thankfully been kept for 2023. Entry is through a dedicated shipping container based facade with some neat fire effects just at the side of the car park. On entry there is a merchandise and photo booth on the other side of the entrance, neatly positioned for when your night is over.
At this end of the park you have the circus tent for The Circus of Horrors and the entrance to 2022’s new maze Howl Valley High. As you make your way towards the other mazes you have a nice hub area with music playing, a bar and a few food options. As we explored this area we were treated to one of The Howl’s nice touches as all the maze actors flood out from their backstage areas to head to the mazes. It’s always great to see them in character and full of energy before the scares start in earnest.
Further on we found the entrance to 2023’s new maze The Full Moon Manor, at the site of The Attic which it has replaced. Back to familiar territory and you have another hub area with a fire pit, a couple of food options plus the indoor bar and restaurant with live band and the final four mazes. Red and Topper’s Twister sharing a building, with the exit for each bringing you out at the entrance of the other. At the far end of the park you can find The Shed and Squealers Yard.
The Howl is a nicely compact park and fits a lot in, even with the latest expansion. This means that you don’t have to look far to see one or more of the always entertaining street team. They were full of energy and game for interacting with everyone either as a more traditional scare, something a bit more theatrical with improv, or just some IG worthy photo ops. All of the street team that we encountered made a massive effort and helped create a great vibe and atmosphere around the park.
The Full Moon Manor
First up for us was a visit to The Howl’s latest maze, The Full Moon Manor, replacing the long standing The Attic. As you’d expect this was a creepy hotel theme, where the staff are dying to meet you. First up is an impressive reception, where the initial safety briefing is done much more in character and in keeping with the theming. This is such a nice touch and helps with the immersion from the start, and is something that we wished more mazes did.
Obviously keeping spoilers to a minimum this was a really fun maze and a great opener to the evening. The theming throughout was impressive and the actors were a great mixture of traditional jump scares with slightly more creepy theatrical elements. They worked well together and the design of the maze meant that one actor could move about quite a lot to provide multiple scares. We particularly enjoyed the upstairs room and the exit through the steam room, especially in later runs when the temperature had gone up.
Next up for us was The Shed, with a kind of undead hillbilly kind of vibe. Whilst there weren’t any noticeable changes from previous years, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it is very true here. A wonderfully solid maze from beginning to end, with a number of good scares throughout and great energy from the actors. As with previous years we felt that maybe it might benefit with some dialogue from the actors rather than the usual scare sounds; this is very nitpicky of a really fun maze.
Another long standing maze using the traditional cannibal hillbillies. This one is differentiated from The Shed by the more junkyard style theming and much more theatrical style of scares from the actors. Squealers Yard is one of the longest mazes at The Howl and always a favourite. As you’d expect though, it does have the usual ending for these types of mazes that still packs a punch for newbies, but can feel a bit overused.
From one of the longest mazes, to the shortest. We’ve always been fans of Red, and love the more original take on the Red Riding Hood fairytale. The shrubbery has been massively increased this year, so the indoor elements feel like you’re properly outside. The rest of the set and theming is largely unchanged and as always, the actors were in good form. Sadly this is a very short maze and our only real wish is that it would be longer.
We love a good clown maze and spo we were delighted that Topper’s Twister is still as fun as it has always been. Another one that is largely unchanged, but still fun, great chaotic energy and enthusiasm from the clowns including a couple of funny interactions in the slide room, and some dizzying moments a bit later one. Great fun and always left the maze with a massive grin.
Howl Valley High
Howl Valley High was a welcome and wonderful new addition to The Howl last year and this year it’s kept up the same high standards. Great theming throughout as you go through all the traditional areas of an American High School which is populated by all the usual characters that have turned a fair bit scarier as they all try to get you to drink the water that has turned them. Great energy levels from all the actors and a good mix of scares. The only downside was that in a larger group of about 10 people, the middle of the group did feel a bit missed out. Other than that another great maze.
Circus of Horrors
Also included in your ticket is entry to the Circus of Horrors. This approximately 30-minute show runs 5 times during an evening so plenty of opportunities to grab a drink and some food and sit down for a while, whilst enjoying the performers doing their acts. There are contortionists, aerial performers, sword swallowers, fire jugglers and limbo. All performed with aplomb.
We had a great evening at The Howl. Last year’s changes have been improved upon and we had some really fun runs through the six strong mazes as well as enjoying the rest of the entertainment and soaking up the atmosphere. We also noticed that batching was great and we never caught up with another group and only once did another group end up catching up with us. Group sizes as well were very manageable so there were no conga lines at all.
The Howl continues to grow and improve and is an absolute no-brainer to attend if it’s in your neck of the woods and is well worth a slightly longer trip if you’re looking for another really fun event to attend.
Thanks to The Howl for inviting us along to opening night. It runs on selected dates through to 31st October.
The Howl 2022
We returned to The Howl to check out what was new and to revisit some old classics. It was apparent on arrival that things had really stepped up. You now enter through a new facade including fire effects. A really great start to the evening that sets the scene nicely.
As soon as you enter you see the two big, new additions to the event which include Circus of Horrors and the brand new attraction Howl Valley High. Already impressed by the changes, walking further through the park you can see that the entertainment, food and drink offering has also stepped up offering numerous areas for a drink, a live band or DJ. There is even the return of the fire show.
Along with this there are roaming actors constantly interacting with guests and taking photos with them. They are a mixture of creepy to wacky, a great combination.
Top tip: When you arrive head to the far end of the park you will be able to easily complete a number of mazes in quick succession before the crowds grow.
A return of a solid attraction. This maze has great theming essentially using the shed concept to its fullest. This gives the characters a lot of space to work with. Personally I would prefer some dialogue from the actors but that aside the actors really knew how to get a scare in. Even with a larger group they managed to attack from multiple angles especially in the tractor room where there’s just an onslaught of scares from all directions. A really fun maze to start the night.
This attraction has a bit of a hillbilly vibe. The actors are clearly hungry and want some meat. I loved the dialogue here, a combination of humorous and creepy. The scares are good and the foggy room always creates disorientation for guests. As expected from a maze like this it has the classic run out you either love or hate.
Red in our opinion always feels a little short. I’m sure space is limited but I always crave a little more from this attraction. What is achieved however is a fun walk through the classic fairy tale. The actors really know how to work a group even the larger groups didn’t phase them hitting scares from the front to the back really utilising the space and the opportunities well.
While not the scariest or most intense, this maze had something charming about it. The actor interactions were fantastic. The donkey in particular was relentless, absolutely brilliant job (we never did find his tail). I loved how each clown had their own personality and that showed all the way round from wacky to serious. The attraction managed to scare and delight throughout. One of the highlights of the evening for sure.
A very well themed attraction that takes you through a creepy old house. The actors in this attraction felt a little light with some spaces feeling a bit empty. When scares did hit though they hit hard and caused multiple jumps throughout. I think due to the tighter spaces in this attraction it’s a little more difficult to scare the bigger groups. Still an enjoyable maze and a little bit of a rest before the final maze of the night.
Howl Valley High
The new attraction for this year and initially I wasn’t sure if it would be my thing. Well I can to you that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. From the moment you enter the maze you are on edge. The theming is detailed (I’d love to know who the people are on the wall, I didn’t have long enough to take it all in) Each room takes you through an American high school. The attraction has clearly been well designed giving the actors the space to scare multiple times from different directions. A standout scene has to be the prom scene. This room allows the actors to get you from everywhere and multiple times. Synched with the music and lighting effects the scares kept coming and I didn’t want to leave. The scares continued through to the end though I feel it just needs a little something as a finale to finish off the relentless run as you feel like it ends a little suddenly without a crescendo or scary runout. Overall though an absolutely wonderful addition to the event and one I hope stays and gets developed over the next few years.
Circus of Horrors
It’s always a nice bonus to get some added entertainment and Circus of Horrors was no exception with classic acrobatics coupled with more gruesome stunts this was a fun and enjoyable addition and a nice break from non stop scares.
Overall The Howl has really come on leaps and bounds since we first visited. Classic attractions continue to be enjoyable and the newest addition is absolutely incredible. The team have worked hard to create an event that people will want to return to time and time again. An intense, scary and most importantly fun way to spend your evening this spooky season.
The Howl is now running through to Halloween so if you haven’t got a ticket I’d recommend a visit. You won’t be disappointed.
The Howl 2021
The Howl is located near Leighton Buzzard south of Milton Keynes. It’s quite a compact event with mazes all coming off a central hub where you can find a variety of food and drink options. Musical entertainment is also on offer as well as a number of roaming actors scaring people and posing for photos. The Howl definitely has a good atmosphere and is an event you can really make a night of.
Every maze at The Howl is superbly decorated with theme park level theming throughout. Each maze transports you to a different world full of exciting and interesting characters. Batching is also very good throughout and we felt actors were able to scare the front and the back of the group without trouble.
The first maze of the night was good fun. It really set the tone for the rest of the evening. Actors worked really well throughout the maze and managed to land a few solid scares. They really used the scenery well and would pop up from interesting places.
A really fun theme where the characters just want a bit of your meat. The theming works really well and characters are able to use the space to land scares effectively. There is a nice balance between scripted bits and more traditional jump scares that keeps things varied.
What a fun and enjoyable clown maze. The actors in here were on top form including one who managed to land one of the strongest scares so far this season with perfect timing in the flappy section. This energy continued throughout as we were teased by the clowns all the way to the end where one stalked us through the final scene all the way to the exit.
A really neat concept essentially telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Each scare was fun and worked with the storyline. Unfortunately this maze runs a little short and is over very quickly. It would be great to see an extension to this maze in future years.
As you can imagine from the name this maze has a shed like theme with lots of different farming and gardening equipment scattered around. This enabled the actors to have a lot of fun using the props to hide behind and create great impact scares. The actors would literally come from multiple angles so you never knew where you would get scared next.
The Howl is a fun event with some really nicely designed mazes that clearly have the actors and guests in mind when being created. We did find a few dead spots across the mazes that could be improved with a few more actors but saying that the actors that were in the mazes executed scares perfectly. We would recommend visiting The Howl if you’re in the area as we’re sure you will have a really fun night out.