Fright Nights is very much
bitter-sweet for me. While it is one of the best Halloween events you
can find at a British theme park, it also epitomises theme parks’
restraint when it comes to making the most of a successful event.
we start, allow me to sing my praises for Fright Nights. This isn't an
article about making a poor event better. It is about making a great
event the best there is.
Nights' in 2004
in its infancy, the event is very much still in a period of test and
adjust. Over the years, the mazes have been tweaked and improved upon,
the problem with disorganised queues acted upon (Freezer being the prime
example here), and the security problems on the second year dealt with
by increasing security presence at the park.
two mazes and two shows (one live, one film), Fright Nights is excellent
value for money. But, it seems the park have either hit a ceiling in
terms of how much they can offer on the house, or are in the very least
limiting Fright Nights’ success.
by the limited opening hours of the mazes, last year saw almost
three-hour queues for Freezer (now Asylum), which is testament to the
popularity of this type of attraction.
year, the park's other maze, Freakshow, becomes Hellgate with the park spending the most money
on the maze they have done since opening, so it doesn’t seem Fright
Nights is a lost cause when it comes to spending money.
it does show, though, is that the park seems to be following a different
agenda to those visiting the park. Whether or not people wanted to queue
for it for two hours, last year they did. So, beyond all reasonable
doubt, both mazes are established attractions, and both are
Fright Nights’ budget is frustratingly channelled towards tweaking and
fine-tuning mazes that already have an established following, while
there’s a clear need for more similar attractions.
has become The Asylum for this year, although changes inside are reportedly
despite my frustration, I feel for the park as to a certain extent
they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
biggest problem is taking the step from offering a few gratis special
attractions on top of a normal day to a fully-fledged up-charge event.
I feel uncomfortable encouraging parks to capitalise on special events,
Halloween is a time where I think the parks should look over the pond
for inspiration. There’s no doubting that Americans embrace the idea
of Halloween far more whole-heartedly than Europeans – the British in
particular, but you don’t need to look any further than the end of the
queues on Thorpe’s mazes to see that there is a clear need for Fright
Nights to expand.
course, rumours abound that most of Thorpe’s extra attractions this
year will have nominal charges, but with this is the concern that
despite money being made from the event, it won’t go directly back
into the event. We’ll see.