Spoiler level: No specific details of what happens in each attraction, but some general description which could be perceived as spoilers.
It was with some trepidation that I began the journey down to Shrewsbury for an evening of immersive horror at Shrewsbury Prison Scream Park, which is designed and operated by the award winning team of Immersive Events. It was my first time attending this event and a quick read of their website while booking had been enough to make me very excited.
As I arrived at the park I was confronted by the impressive façade of the old prison and couldn’t wait to make my way inside. Greeted at the gates by a friendly representative, given our wristbands and map, we were directed to approach “the zombie”. Not much preamble but having known this was a free roaming experience I didn’t expect much of a theatrical lead in. Considering the actor was in place to greet the guests for most of the night I thought he did an admirable job of committing to his character and attempting to take chunks out of passers by.
Before entering the mazes there came the difficult task of deciphering the map and orientating myself, but once that was done I made my way into the prison. There’s nothing quite like walking around a disused prison and this alone sets this experience apart from any I’ve had before. It’s a great way to unsettle your customers before they’ve even approached the entrances to the mazes, and after a bit of exploring and soaking in the incredible atmosphere, I was ready to get started. The interesting thing about a free roaming park is the ability to choose your own order of events so I present my review in the order in which I experienced them.
After entering the brightly lit staging area for this maze I quickly realised this maze was something different, used to dark and eerie theming to build tension I was pleasantly surprised to meet a paranormal researcher who quickly and convincingly explained that while exploring the nearby haunted hotel he’d lost contact with his team and asked if we could go in and find them. Given their names and a brief description we set off inside the maze to hunt for the ill fated crew. The narrative created by the characters we encountered was engaging and maintained, the impact scares were well placed and timed and the actors were enthusiastic and energetic. I had a fair few good jump scares inside this well decorated maze as the leader of our group and there were some great uses of misdirection that made this genuinely feel like a maze.
Shrewsbury Meat Market
The entrance to this maze was inside the bar and perhaps this accounted for the longer than average queue, but once I reached the front I was able to hear the screams emanating from inside the Meat Market. Inside, our group was introduced to the friendly butcher who showed a clear passion for her profession with some well placed innuendo that had the group giggling and relaxed before the sudden change of pace with the introduction to her more sinister husband. This worked well to unsettle me and prepare me for what was one of the most terrifying and prolonged cage scenes I’ve ever experienced inside a scare attraction. For the first time I found myself hurrying out of the maze in sheer terror chased by the actor who continued to stare menacingly from the exit. The acting was convincing and the set impressively designed and decorated.
Without any queuing time I walked straight into this maze to be greeted by an appropriately garbed prison officer who warned us we’d be taking a tour of the upstairs cells led by his intimidating colleague. This latter officer was not an actor who would attempt to put us at ease. After a few warnings and disclaimers we entered the prison wing and I immediately became aware that this maze would heavily rely on strobe to unsettle and disorient anyone who entered. The voice acting in here was incredible and convincing with some well executed jump scares thrown in. The actors weren’t afraid to get up close and personal and send you in circles around this confusing labyrinth of smoky passageways. This maze felt like it lasted for quite a while and although I’d normally be appreciative of this fact, the constant strobe was starting to affect my vision and made me feel a bit too disorientated. It was with relief that this maze came to an end and while enjoyable it was starting to border on unpleasant in the wrong way.
Again I managed to walk straight into this maze, after a bit of confusion of when to enter we made our way inside and the somewhat nervous looking actor began his halting narrative. This was then interrupted by a couple of women joining our group which seemed to upset the actor’s flow and he appeared to break character with a frustrated speech about props no longer working and the scene now being pointless. Even now I’m not sure whether this was part of the scene or a mistake but either way it played on my mind and distracted me from the storyline that I never quite got to grasp with: I know it had something to do with sleep experiments. Having said that once we left the staging area and entered the maze I was pleasantly surprised; it was a fully dark maze of the “hold the rope” persuasion but this time there was no annoying hood to hinder my breathing. The actors inside were incredible considering they too were in the dark and with impressive use of lighting and sound effects there were some really great jump scares. There was a lot of touching but it was more subtle than I’ve experienced in the past and I have to say this was my favourite of this type of maze. The others in my group certainly seemed to agree as they screamed and crowded around me at the front of the group. It’s just a shame that the opening didn’t quite sit well with the rest of the maze.
The actor who greeted us to warm the queue gave us a standout performance as a cheeky and sinister French clown, I was really impressed with how she sustained her character through the lengthy wait. Unfortunately the rest of the maze failed to live up to this impressive start and was a miss for me. Initially I was excited to enter this maze given my fear of clowns but I didn’t find them very scary and I felt the set was slightly lacking in decoration, aside from one room we encountered further into the maze. The actors tried their best and possibly it was the large group size that lessened their impact but the impact scares failed to land and I felt like I spent a lot of time wandering around without much happening. A promising concept that had some scary moments but failed to leave an impression.
Given its illusive name I was lucky that I’d managed to save this unknown entity until last, it certainly left a lasting impression and ended my evening on a high. Introduced to “the family” by one of its beguiling members I entered the house in a very small group. There we met Granny who gave us the backstory to the maze and invited us to stay for dinner once we’d spent time with her grandson, who she described as “misunderstood”. What followed was a series of well themed and decorated rooms in which we met each convincingly terrifying family member, particular favourites being the wonderfully creepy grandson and hilariously saucy religious uncle, before a final encounter at the dinner table when the “Man of the house” sent us on our way in spectacular fashion. Not the most original ending to a maze I’ve encountered but I think this was the most well executed of this type of end scene that I’ve experienced. I’m afraid to say it forced me to break one of the cardinal rules and I ran out of this maze. A great storyline that was well acted meant this was a fantastic way to end such an exhilarating evening.
This first visit to Shrewsbury Prison Scream Park was one of my favourites of the season and one I’m dying to repeat. Both Immersive Events and Shrewsbury Prison operate different events throughout the year and I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for upcoming attractions.