Coaster Kingdom

halloweenarchived coverageyour reviews

We apologise, but due to the nature of this attraction only a limited number of photographs are available.

Passaje Del Terror, Pleasure Beach Blackpool

Ever watch a horrifying film and then within the next few days end up in a dark, unfamiliar place? With every unexpected noise your heartbeat gets faster as you walk turns to a jog, your jog turns to a run until you’re in the sanctuary of a well-lit street.

Now imagine being locked in a dark, unfamiliar place without the luxury of being able to run, without the ability to double-back on yourself – and in a place where the likes of Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees lurk in the very darkest of corners. Welcome to Pasaje Del Terror.

Pasaje Del Terror is anything but unique to Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The first example of the attraction in fact opened in Argentina and other versions have since opened throughout Europe (Barcelona, Benidorm, Madrid, Malaga) and most famously in Downtown Orlando as Terror on Church Street which is sadly now defunct.

Whilst every one of these attractions was unique, the cornerstone of the Terror empire was to use costumed actors to chase visitors through a labyrinth of dark sets. Blackpool’s version of the attraction opened in 1998 and brings scenes from the most chilling horror films to life; Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist, Friday the 13th...

Don’t expect to have to go out of your way to find Pasaje Del Terror as they do everything in their power to let you know where it is. The attraction is on the side of the Pleasure Beach’s Casino at the North end of the Pleasure Beach (where Noah’s Ark and the Laughing Clown are).

Staff dish out leaflets declaring that the ‘now even scarier’ Pasaje Del Terror brings you ‘beyond the limits of fear’. “In the beginning you will feel afraid, later on you will know what horror is, by then... it may be too late” it goes on to say. TVs loudly show despairing groups of people cowering as the freaks inside welcome you with ‘open arms’.

There is no gently-gently approach with Pasaje Del Terror. Its reputation precedes it, and even before handing over your money it intimidates indecisive visitors with Death as depicted in the film Seventh Seal, looking down on the gothic entrance complete with cowering statues and flaking stained glass windows.

Almost as if another convenient excuse, wristbands are not accepted as Pasaje Del Terror is a privately run enterprise. Whilst £5 appears expensive, it’s fair to say that this is relative to the other attractions in Blackpool – Pasaje lasts longer than the Big One, and is arguably more scary for example.

After paying, a small covered queuing area serves as an area to batch visitors up into groups of eight-or-so. A grim-faced man dressed in black steps from the darkness inside and coldly invites you in. Inside, a dark corridor lit with flickering lanterns leads to a spiral staircase. Waiting at the bottom, your solemn-faced staff member scurries down the stairs past us before disappearing behind the black curtain you’re waiting behind. The curtain is abruptly pulled back as you’re asked to step further inside. People slowly edge forward... “Don’t you know what move forward means?” barks the host. Moving further forward, you stop as the host stands upon a stage in the corner.

If you’re expecting reassurance, well, you’d better run for the hills. The grim-faced host briefly goes through some house rules – never ever run. Never ever touch the actors. Never ever go back on yourself. “Now go down the stairs” he continues, “you’ll find a door on your right – knock three times and they’ll come and get you”. Sounds like he’s sending lambs to the slaughter to me.

At the bottom of a straight set of stairs, true to his word a battered door with a heavy brass doorknocker is all that stands between you and the Pasaje.

Even the sound of the most timid of knocking echoes around the darkened hallway before the door slams open and a monk-like character invites you into a small chapel. This ugly man further explains what Pasaje is before sliding open a gate with spine-chilling gusto, sending it smashing back into the dark shadows.

As the group nervously continues, the monk character scurries along behind. Don’t let him distract you though – the worst is in front and yet to come. Walking through a dark garden, a mysterious man stands upon a freshly dug grave clasping a spade. As the group pass, this character explodes into life, lurching at you, wielding this shovel, smashing it on the iron railings. The group speed up as he follows, the spade clang-clang-clanging it’s way along the railings as he chases you.

More scenes follow, following the rule of thumb that all and sundry jump out when you least expect it. The beautiful thing is, even when you’re prepared for the worst you’re still taken by surprise.

You enter a room with three monks slumped on a pew stage left – one lurches towards you, his piercing stare catching your eye. “Master is sleeping” he warns. “Go through quickly and quietly and do NOT wake him”. Screaming loudly, the group slowly advance through the dark corridors, a fanged vampire woken from his slumber lurching out from behind a curtain.

A dark corridor follows, the glare of numerous Scream-style masks leering at you from either side. You pass many unchallenged, but many move to reveal they’re concealing the identity of yet another frenzied rogue.

You soon enter a library, realising there is no way out – heading towards a darkened corner in a vain attempt to escape, our monk jumps out snapping ‘STOP’. In a frenzied voice he goes on to say that in the next room is a girl possessed, and “to look her in the eyes will be the death of you” he squeals.

A young lady squirms and writhes on a bed, the whole bed rocking and bucking as she fights the forces that have possessed her. As you parade around this fairly disturbing scene, in a fit she lunges from her bed clawing at you as you jump out of the way, running from her boudoir.

From here, you enter an abattoir. White tiled walls are smeared in bloodied handprints as animal carcasses hang rotting from the ceiling. Overwhelmed by the smell, your group’s pace picks up as you pass a caged chamber from which Freddy Kruger claws at your eyes, shacking and rattling the cage door to breaking point. A glance over your shoulder reveals a hysterical Kruger slithering from this cage, chasing your group into a wooded forest.

A rope bridge shakes and sways as your group clumsily swagger across. From the dense undergrowth a masked madman jumps towards your group holding a roaring chainsaw close enough that you feel the breeze of the blade – escaping through a door, running straight into the Horror Bar, a public bar that’s a popular haunt (pun intended) with voyeurs wishing to see people frantically escaping Pasaje.

Pasaje Del Terror instantly earned a reputation of being the very best in its genre, which it undoubtedly is. Even so, it is not immune to criticism. People trip over themselves not to be at the front of the group, but surprisingly it is here where you’re challenged the least by actors. The middle is the best place to be, and the back is no raw deal either as many characters follow you whether you’re looking or not.

Whilst other attractions often get this balance right by having actors block the passageways or even hang from the rafters, people in front really do get the raw end of the deal by some considerable measure.

Attractions of this sort are often let down by the constant interference by staff telling you what to do and what not to do. Fortunately, this paraphernalia is kept to a minimum, and even the non-costumed member of staff has a frosty charisma which does anything but reassure you. In effect, this sets the mood more than it detracts from it.

Throughout, the actors are well costumed and excellent at playing the serial killer role as opposed to serenely flailing arms and grunting a bit now and then. The set pieces are excellent, extremely detailed and at times scary in their own right. Actors use the scenery to their full advantage, using the pockets of darkness and their own passageways to jump out at the group over and over again.

Those not wanting to do Pasaje have the unique opportunity to go to the Horror Bar downstairs in the Casino and have a drink or two whilst their family or friends go through the attraction. Have your camera ready as then you’ll have evidence against their spurious claims that they weren’t scared at all. The exit is beautifully undignified because of this. Have a drink at the Horror Bar, and watch as the Kappa-clad fraternity come bundling through the door before realising they’re in a bar. Cue wide-boy walks in the vain attempt that nobody noticed their despairing whimpers beforehand.

Those of you who fall in the middle or back of the group, you’ve spent £5 wisely. Clocking in at well over 5 minutes, Pasaje Del Terror is worth every penny. At the front, the only thing that will be sending shivers down your spine is the cost. The other scares are saved for everybody else.

MS 31 October 2004