The Scarefest 2012 event was the 7th Scarefest offering from Alton Towers Resort. The big news for the event saw a brand new Scaremaze take up residence in the ruins (alongside Terror of the Towers), as The Ministry of Joy welcomed new admissions to The Sanctuary offering a back story for the parks up-coming new roller coaster.
The event also saw yet another relocation of the paid mazes (with Zombies! being relocated as well) since the Black Hole tent was now long-gone to make way for The Smiler Construction.
General Event Review
The 2012 Scarefest was the 2nd year where the focus of the the event fell heavily upon the theme park with all of the scare mazes located on park (where previous years had seen 2 mazes at the hotels).
The event was very different to the previous year however, with the loss of the Black Hole tent meaning a wholescale rearrangement of the locations of various attractions . The new maze, The Sanctuary used previously closed parts of the Towers Ruins (primarily the west wing), whilst Carnival of Screams moved to the site previously occupied by the Zombies! ScareZone and used the Goal Striker building for the majority of its layout. Zombies! Scarezone meanwhile was moved to the service area behind the Dark Forest, leaving only Terror of the Towers in its former location (though even this maze received a new entrance).
2012 also saw the return of Franklyn’s Freaky Farm, though the Freaky Friends exhibition of creepy creatures did not return, and neither did the BIRDS of prey in Phil’s Feathered Friends. Skelvin’s Story Time however did return to entertain young guests and Patch’s Freaky Farm Talks offered a new opportunity to see some animals from the farm in a different light.
The Tick-or-Treat stage returned once again as a show stage at the bottom of Towers Street, this time showing two separate shows: Patch’s Trick or Treat Party and Phil and Franklyn’s Ghoul School. There was also an abundance of roaming actors to welcome guests every morning as the park opened, something that had been missing on previous events.
Unfortunately park wide theming and lighting was lacking at the 2012 event with a lot of the park flood-lit by generators and very little Scarefest theming beyond the park entrance. The extravagant lighting schemes of 2010 where missing with only really the ruins themselves getting a decent lighting scheme. Some minor efforts where made on Nemesis and the farm but the bright-lights from the generators diminished their effectiveness.
Terror of the Towers was very much the same as it has been for the last few seasons, though this year a new entrance was required as The Sanctuary was utilizing the Conservatory. Instead guests entered the maze via the ruins entrance in Her Ladyship’s Garden and went straight up the stairs into the Waxwork Room, where a video was played explaining the back-story. This incarnation returned to the urban explorer story of the 2009 maze, and all maze support staff where dressed as urban explorers.
The layout of the maze was almost identical to the previous year though many reviews suggested that they had perfected the use of the spaces provided. In particular the strobe maze was seen as very well executed, though the finale was slightly shorter as the exit corridor was shared with The Sanctuary.
New for 2012, The Sanctuary introduced guests to the sinister Ministry of Joy and their Chief Medical Officer Dr Kelman. The maze is located predominantly in the West Wing of the ruins, though its entrance is through the Conservatory (the entrance used by Terror of the Towers for the previous two seasons).
The maze introduced the concept of marmalisation and the MoJ’s attempt to bring about a 1984 style level of social conformity through smiling. The Sanctuary was an early failed attempt to achieve this goal but despite its failure the facility has been opened again to see where the technique went wrong before the MoJ opens their latest marmalisation device (The Smiler).
The Maze begins in the Conservatory queue-line where TVs show a recorded message from a Prof. Sherrif who introduces the purpose of the facility and Dr Kelman. The rest of the video features Dr Kelman discussing the benefits of a stay at The Sanctuary. After the briefing you entered the facility where you met Dr Kelman himself, here he told you of his work and you got the distinct impression he was not altogether sane. You are then admitted to the day-room of the facility where you encounter a number of patients and staff, though its not clear which are madder. The progress through the facility continues through the kitchens and into a ward where the lights go out and staff and patients creep up on you before the lights return.
You are then lead into the Marmalisation room, a white corridor with strobing coloured lights as well as water sprays and leg ticklers. TV screens dotted along the route show disorienting images as Dr Kelman’s voice tells you to submit to the MoJ. After marmalisation you move down into the basement of the facility where things become considerably darker. You first encounter is with a surgeon who threatens you with a large hammer before you turn into the morgue of the facility… though are the bodies in the fridges really quite dead?
As you continue deeper into the basement you find yourself in a cage where you encounter the failures of Dr Kelman’s project, these mad terrors with mutilated faces lead you into a strobe maze where the group are split into two. The cages have holes that the actors can jump through to get at guests as they try to reach the end of the maze, which can be found in a corridor shared with Terror of the Towers.
The Sanctuary gained mostly positive reviews, with fans saying the maze represented one of the best the park had released. So much so that the maze returned the following March to entertain guests as The Smiler delays continued into the 2013 season.
Carnival of Screams returned to Scarefest for its 3rd year and in its 3rd new home, this time using the area previously used for Zombies! Scarezone and the Goal Striker building. The maze began with a new outdoor scene using the Barker to introduce the Carnival to the guests before being taken into a tent, which was home to the Voltaire, a popular scene from the original Carnival of Screams in 2010 which returned once again.
You then returned outside to the abandoned fairground for a short time before entering a tent that led you into the main part of the maze, where many of the scenes from previous incarnations were encountered including the mirror maze, dot room and “bags of fun” room. A new feature for 2012 was the inclusion of a trommel tunnel (that made you feel as though you where walking through a spinning corridor.
The maze however lacked a decent finale and during the day suffered from lots of light-leak. Opinions where mixed as to the success of Carnival of Screams, though most suggested it was not as good as the original version.
The Zombies! Scare Zone returned for its 2nd year at Scarefest, though this year relocated to the service area behind the food outlets in Dark Forest. The set up was similar to the previous year with the bus from the last year of Field of 1000 Screams featured near the beginning and abandoned army tents scattered throughout the area.
As before this attraction was aimed at the family audience and the scares were therefore limited, which disappointed some. Taking this into account, reviews generally gave the attraction a slightly lower rating than it’s first year due to the lack of a decent finale area.
The 2012 Scarefest was generally hailed as a success, with many lauding praise on the new Scaremaze The Sanctuary, which was seen as one of the best mazes to come to Scarefest in a long time.
Carnival of Screams however was not as well received, with reviews suggesting that it lacked scares and a good finale, criticisms that were also leveled at Zombies. Some concern was also raised that Terror of the Towers was becoming stale in its current form.
The offering for children and young families was also reduced with the bird-of-prey show and the freaky farm animal displays missing, though a new story-based show was a welcome addition and there was also a considerable increase in roaming actors across the board. Overall the event was seen as a mixed bag in reviews with many praising the mazes but feeling that the event as a whole lacked atmosphere.