Spoiler level: A couple of specific details about what happens in some of the attractions at Scare Kingdom Scream Park, and lots of general description which could be perceived as spoilers.
Halloween has landed at Scare Kingdom Scream Park! The 2019 spooky season at Hawkshaw Farm has officially begun, and we couldn’t wait to explore the scare mazes and experiences in this year’s fearsome lineup. We’ve always adored Scare Kingdom’s Halloween offering and for us, the last couple of years were particularly strong; so much so that the event had become one of our seasonal favourites. Thus, expectations were high. The October mood was strong as we approached, aided by our Halloween playlist en route, the crisp, starry night sky, and the sound of screams drifting across the car park as we ambled towards the main entrance. We were ready.
The opening act of Scare Kingdom Scream Park has a great deal of heavy lifting to do. Past iterations have been cited by creators as sort of warm-up (or perhaps a warning), from which guests can gauge whether or not they’ll be able to proceed into the park. Such iterations utilised a jump scare (such as The Sanctum) or a confined space (such as The Oubliette). More recently, however, the openers have been a little less sharp, with guests more likely to exit with smiles on their faces than to run screaming out of the door. These iterations served as more of a welcome than a warning, but still in a scary way. Regardless of their methods, all (apart from Mallum) have succeeded in setting the tone and mood. The Parlour achieved this too to some degree. The success of this scene rests far more heavily on the scareactor than in previous years, and fortunately for us, this particular scareactor was engaging and entertaining.
The Paradise Foundation
I love an intriguing concept, and The Paradise Foundation piqued my interest immediately. A service where patrons can receive a unique ‘treatment’ to improve any aspect of life, at the cost of the unfortunate ‘providers’, who are held deep in the bowels of this terrifying facility. Creepy, clinical smiles at the door and promotional posters promising ‘bliss’ – you can guess which beloved attraction this reminded me of! The team have deployed some amazing aesthetic contrasts in this attraction- the initial welcome is clean, futuristic and glossy, but once inside, the ‘providers’ (aka the gruesome consequences of the treatment) inhabit dark, putrid spaces. The scares themselves were very much targeted towards me at the front of our group, whereas the people behind me reported very little action. So while my experience was memorable and intense, it’s important to note this. Props to the actor who scared us senseless when we got lost. Sincerely – very well played.
Manormortis – Borley Rectory
The richly themed halls and rooms of Manormortis are the laurels which should never be rested upon. In recent years, my criticisms of Manormortis have begun to repeat themselves – I’ve spoken before about being despondently waved through rooms, for example. This year I’m sad to report the same criticisms again. Empty rooms bar the lead scareactors, who were often midway through their spiels by the time the last group members had entered the rooms. Recitations duly delivered in one spot, on to the next, and so on. Unoccupied spaces. Add to this a skew-whiff nun mask, muffling the “rawr” from the scareactor underneath, and I was done. All we can hope for is that this was a fluke, as we know what can be achieved in this space. Fingers crossed for next year.
We like to give individual praise where praise is due, and I cannot speak highly enough of the scareactor who delivered the introductory speech and sent us off into the darkness. His command of the room was exceptional; he had great presence and gravitas, and he sold the scene wholeheartedly. Once inside, I knew the drill – previous iterations of this maze have all delivered well on jump scares and the format remains much the same this time this year, albeit with one interesting addition – a torch. This is something of a wildcard, as the result it gives will depend entirely on the actions of the individual holding it, and personally, I think that’s genius. The theme of this attraction also gets a big thumbs up from me.
Body Snatchers – Sweeney Todd
This maze got off to a strong start, with energetic scareactors setting the scene, and some great use of humour & innuendo. Unfortunately, activity levels dipped rapidly once we entered the cellar. There really is very little to report here – apart from us meandering around the dark corridors and enjoying the atmosphere, there were no scares until the end; the space felt very under-populated with actors. We’re hoping this was another fluke, as scares in this attraction have been relentless for us in the past (particularly in year one of Body Snatchers). We did get lucky when a deftly executed jump scare at the end of a narrow corridor landed squarely on a member of our group (his reaction was enjoyable for all of us), and the finale worked well too, but its impact would’ve been far greater if there had been some momentum preceding it. Our adrenaline had mostly dropped off by that point.
I do try to remain open-minded about hooded mazes. Anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike them, but for the time being at least, some kind of follow-the-rope/hooded format seems likely to retain a spot in the Scare Kingdom lineup. With that in mind, I’ve always tried to focus on the positives, i.e. the added elements that elevate this format and make me feel vulnerable or make me laugh, such as the splitting of our group in 2016, or the ‘spidery’ effects on our hands and arms in 2017. Unfortunately, this year, there was nothing going on for us apart from the ever-present shouting and prodding. The final reveal didn’t make up for any of it, but as with last year, the opening scareactor was brilliant.
Psychomanteum – Trick or Treat?
Our intrepid reviewer Zoe was keen to do Psychomanteum again this year, so who was I to deprive her of that joy? Her review will be here shortly, so watch this space! In the meantime, I can confirm that upon exiting the attraction, she was in dire need of a wet-wipe and a cheeseburger.
As our night drew to a close, we spent a little time in the bar area, chatting away to the roaming actors (who were on top form this year) and watching the victims of Psychomanteum flee from the attraction exit in various stages of trauma (highly recommend this activity). This section of the park is a great area to relax, grab a drink or some hot food, and even buy some Scare Kingdom Scream Park Merchandise!
- Scare Kingdom Scream Park is located at Hawkshaw Farm Park, minutes from the M6 junction 31 on the A59 near Preston and Blackburn in Lancashire, UK
- It is open on selected nights between now and 2nd November 2019
- Tickets are available via the Scare Kingdom website
- Psychomanteum is strictly 18+ only and carries an additional charge