23, Volume 1
their short history, Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights have become quite the
institution. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Knotts’
Halloween Haunt have become cathedrals to the religion of scare on the
opposite side of the pond, and now in old Blighty, much the same can be
said of Fright Nights.
of groups: 8, 10 in peak times
Time between groups: 40 seconds
People per hour: 720-900pph
Duration of mazes: 3-5 minutes
in terms of mazes, the event is finally coming of age.
year sees a new maze, Se7en, join the existing two; Asylum and Hellgate.
It also sees the previous auditorium-bound Circus of Horrors being freed
and allowed to roam the park.
as we approach Halloween, it’s time to take stock of the sad fact
Halloween will never afford British parks the opportunities it does in
America generally due to apathy towards the holiday, but it seems that
Fright Nights’ natural progression has started after a stagnant few
1. Coffin run
2. Dungeon scene
3. Revolving tunnel (trommel)
4. Library scene
5. Ghost corridors
6. Boudoir scene
Thorpe Park put the finishing touches to the mazes, we were given
exclusive access to behind the scenes to see just how the scares are
created. It’s not as simple as you may think, and relies on all the
senses and more than just actors jumping out at you in darkened
is the first of several Magazine articles this month that will cover
Naturally, this article will go into great depth about
this year’s incarnations of Hellgate and Asylum, and to a lesser
It includes layouts of all the attractions as well as
exploring each in explicit detail – these mazes rely on the element of
surprise, so if you have yet to enjoy them, read with discretion.
most important sense that the mazes at Thorpe Park rely on is the one of
sight – and often the lack of.
Actors on mazes
Asylum: 12-16 actors
Se7en: 7-10 actors
both Asylum and Hellgate, there are modest set pieces depicting scenes
such as cells and dungeons respectively, while on Se7en, the seven
deadly sins are presented in rather graphic detail in seven rooms.
along with clever use of shadow mean that actors can appear and
disappear with relative ease, with the darker passages working on their
own to disorientate and intimidate guests.
Asylum, the entire room is lit by strobe lights and nothing else. Each
strobe has a different flash rate meaning that your sense of direction
is completely overwhelmed with often the impression being given that
even the walls are moving around you.
uses a maze of chicken wire fencing, smoke and strobes to
inside of Asylum is also enshrouded in a thick fog, which amplifies the
effect of the strobe lights, while limiting your visibility.
effect is created by several smoke machines that blast a stream of dense
smoke periodically into the air. Each works by passing glycol-based
liquid through a heated chamber that condenses into a fine mist. Each
tank lasts just a couple of days.
are also used, and work similarly to smoke machines, just with a broader
and more subtle spread of smoke that is more difficult to see, yet
lingers in the air reflecting light.
while smoke effects are used on Asylum, the sensitive fire alarms on
Hellgate mean that the task of disorientating guests is left to
lingering periods of darkness as opposed to a pea soup of haze and
on the other hand, uses subdued lighting and extended periods of
trick employed by Asylum is the use of mirrors. It makes the maze appear
larger than it would normally, while disorientates those passing
through. It’s a simple effect, and with actors and other groups of
guests passing through the maze it is difficult to tell what’s a
chicken wire fence with a group of people behind or what’s a chicken
wire fence with a group of people behind reflected into a mirror.
cast of at least 12 actors in Hellgate and Asylum and seven in Se7en
prowl around stalking guests. On Hellgate and Asylum, the mazes are
divided into four zones with up to four actors per zone. Each actor
works in 1.5 hour shifts with 30 minute breaks in between. On Se7en,
there are six or seven actors, each with a room, or sin. On Se7en, some
actors are visible, while others operate effects behind the scenes.