The scare mazes themselves are called Dark Waters and Psycho Mansion and have been designed by the team behind Scare Kingdom, a highly regarded scare event in Blackburn, Lancashire. The event also features a projection mapping show on “Dragon Mountain” which is an impressive structure created to house the parks water slide. The show features classic Halloween songs and has some impressive effects.
Dark Waters was the first maze we visited and to be fair we were not sure what we were going to experience within this attraction, our first main concern with the maze was the throughput in the queue, this was due to small batches going through the maze and the maze containing a long spiel at the start with all the safety instructions. We think the main issue is due to a lot of small children entering the queue, only to be terrified by the fact they were told that they were going to be hooded and put into dark spaces. This caused a lot of issues with the staff member trying to calm the child down and therefore meaning groups were taking longer to get into the maze.
The second reason behind the throughput was due to the fairly long introduction to the mazes story and scene setting, which was very immersive but was around 3-4 minutes long, this I believe was also causing somewhat of a delay in batching, I feel that some of this could have been told in the queue through audio prompts and therefore would mean less “catching up” on the story once we were let in the maze.
So the maze itself, first and foremost, this maze is extremely detailed and beautifully themed, it had a Terror of the Towers level of theming, which for a small seaside(ish) amusement park was extremely surprising. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of scares however the ones that were there were very effective, which I think is the case intentionally, building a sense of uncertainty throughout the attraction. The hooded section was good with use of water but we feel it lasted a bit too long and as soon as your hood was removed you was out of the maze, which felt a bit lackluster and wish there was a more impressive finale.
Psycho Mansion was the last thing we were to experience at the park and we were very excited from the look of the exterior. A full mansion facade that exchanged conversation with a talking tree. However, we must stress that it seems that we had an extremely bad runthrough of this attraction, due to the time that we got into the queue it was coming up to 6:30pm and as the night we visited was a fireworks night, these started at 7pm. With Fantasy Island being a small park, the fireworks were set off in the vicinity of Psycho Mansion and therefore had to clear the area before they could begin. This meant that people were being pushed through the attraction to ensure the danger zone (queue Kenny Loggins) was clear by 7pm.
The concept of the maze was simple, as you go through the house you meet each one of the family members and they tell you there story and then you carry on. There seemed to be some hold points but due to the rush these were not in place so the story of the maze didn’t make much sense. There even looked like there was a Haunted Mansion-esque stretching room but again, wasn’t in operation. We then went into a room where the floor was moving and tables were shaking and we just stood there, clueless at a door. All the timings were off due to these holding points not being in place.
We then went into the final room, with the main set piece being a woman in her bed, as the doors shut the walls started changing and screens on the wall started to feature creatures and was overall a fantastic finale which did save the disappointment the rest of the maze was due to the lack of timing.
To be fair, some of the guys from Scare Kingdom were helping out so there could have been a major malfunction with the maze itself, however they were not in costume and ruined the atmosphere somewhat.
However, despite that, the maze was extremely well themed across the three floors and if all the scenes were working correctly it could have been a really impressive maze, but unfortunately on our run, it did not live up to what it could have been but as mentioned initially I think everyone was thrown out the window to clear the area, which I understand. We hope this comes back to the event in 2018 so we can give it another go, it was an extremely technical maze and really tried to push the boundaries.
The night was completed by the fireworks in question, the song choices were halloween themed and the show features some genuinely impressive fireworks.
Overall we had a great day at Fear Island and hope the event returns, as this is the first year of the event and the mazes we understand every thing wasn’t perfect and hope the team at Fantasy Island and Scare Kingdom bring the event back so they can improve on a pretty solid foundation to provide a fantastic event for the Halloween season. We were not expecting much initially but what we saw, especially from Dark Water blew us away in terms of theming and atmosphere.