Frightwater Valley 2010 – Full Event Review
2010 sees the return of last year’s successfulÂ Halloween event “Frightwater Valley”. The event is held over two days; this year on Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st October – perfect for the event to be held on a weekend which falls on Halloween.
The park has been preparing for the event well in advance and released its own special “Frightwater” promotional video back in September which is actually a fantastic production. The park confirmed to UKPN that this promo video was created by an external production company but the actors in the video are actually park staff:
The park’s Facebook page has been receiving plenty of status updates talking about the event & Halloween is general; this has really spurred discussions on, and increased traffic through the page, which now has over 4000 likes!
The park has also beenÂ encouraging guestsÂ to visit the event this year in Fancy Dress – so the atmosphere should be fantastic.Â The main Valley website has also received a bit of a Halloween makeover, adding to the whole experience. We also spotted that the park own the web address www.frightwatervalley.co.ukÂ but unfortunately this just goes to an ISP holding page. It’d be great if there was a dedicated minisite for the event, or at the very least for it to point to the main Lightwater Valley site.
Upon arriving at the park, we at first wondered if we’d be the only people (adults) in Halloween fancy dress. Thankfully though, once we headed towards the entrance we saw that plenty of people had joined in theÂ fun of dressing up; there were witches, old men, ghouls and all sorts!
As we entered the ticketing area, it was nice to see that it was themed with cobwebs in all the bushes and trees, which really looked quite convincing. Once at the entrance there were at least 4 actors in full costume includingÂ one man with a severed hand that was still moving, and a strange futuristic robot type character which was actually a bit freaky!
The whole entrance was decorated especially for Halloween with themeing placed everywhere; in shop windows, hanging from the ceiling and again, all front of house staff were sporting full costume and face painting-the whole area looked fantastic.Â It was pretty busy, and the park advised us that they expected 5000+ guests for the Sunday, with 6500 guests on park the previous day.
Heading through the turnstiles, under the creepy Halloween archway, we found ourselves in the main fairground area with the sound of screams echoing in the distance from the parks “Frightwater Express” trainÂ station advising people in a creepy voice to “go away”! Also in the whole area and indeed around the park is regular themeing including overturned graves, the grim reaper, loads of pumpkins, coffins and cobwebs everywhere.
Later in the day there were live actors stationed on the bridge near Falls of Terror which again all were made up in full costume which looked fantastic! Not that we’re complaining but there were 6 actors here altogether, all in the same place; it would perhaps have been moreÂ effective if they were in pairs and scaring three separate areas of the park, though we did notice these actors were also used for scaring passengers on theÂ Frightwater ExpressÂ as it went by.
The park has a number of dedicated Halloween attractions including Raptor Attack Live, the Frightwater Express, the Dracula’s Labyrinth; a live action horror maze and a Halloween puppet show, not forgetting the fireworks spectacular over the lake which started at 18:30 on Saturday and 17:30 on Sunday.
Being the first year that we at UKPN have visited Frightwater Valley, we weren’t sure what to expect when it came to Lightwaterâ€™s attempt at putting on a Fireworks Display. We can safely say however, that it was a thoroughly enjoyable display, with some rather unique fireworks we havenâ€™t seen before.
The display was set over the lake, on the side near to The Black Widows Web and the Falls of Terror. The show kicked off at 17:30, with crowds gathering quite long beforehand – the fireworks did indeed have a large turnout, with everyone in the visible area watching, and hardly anyone on rides.
The fireworks themselves were brilliant. There were a great selection and variety of fireworks; from huge explosions in the sky, to fireworks that float on water! The whole display lasted around 20 minutes, and was entertaining, and captivating throughout – no lengthy pauses in between songs etc. Our only quibble we had with the whole display was the sound system employed by the park. We found that this was very hard to hear, as the only audio source was 3 speakers quite far from the viewing point.
We found ourselves, too often, having to ‘try’ to listen to what was being said on the audio track, whereas the audio and fireworks should merge seamlessly, with no effort from the viewers. We feel that a few extra speakers wouldn’t go amiss.
The audio track itself, however, was brilliant. It seemed to be custom made for/by Lightwater Valley, featuring numerous Halloween songs, as well as a story, that is told in between each song. This was a neat touch, as many parks choose to have many songs playing one after another, whereas the story provided for a consistent theme throughout.
When we heard about Lightwater Valley introducing a live action horror maze for their Frightwater event, we were instantly excited, since we at UK Park News have something of an obsession with them! The attraction is outdoor and held in the park’s existing “Amazing Maze” and opens at dusk on both days. As with any scare maze, the attraction warns that it is not suitable for people with a nervous disposition, or for those aged 14 & under! Guests are grouped together 6 or 7 at a time and are advised to walk through with their right arm on the shoulder of the person in front of them. The maze works its way around narrow corridors and the canopies above your head help to reduce light levels further, adding to the experience. There are numerous actors throughout including three lovely, yet sinister brides that ensure a scare filled experience by following guests, hiding around corners and jumping out when you least expect it.
It was hard to tell exactly how many live actors were present, but there seemed to be a steady stream of people available to scare guests which was nice. Very often in these types of attractions, guests can walk from section to section with seemingly no interaction with any maze inhabitants.
The walk continues through the well themed areas which included a variety of lights, sound/and smoke effects, though it would have been nice if there were a few more suprising bangs and creepy noises – perhaps some air cannons etc; these always take people by surprise.
The attraction climaxes as guests negotiate their way around Dracula himself, then become terrorised by a maniac with a chainsaw who chases everyone out into the main park area where all those anxious visitors are waiting for their turn to enter! Overall we thought the maze was very good, and a worthy addition to the Frightwater lineup – just a few more noise/sound effects would have really made a difference, and perhaps if the actors were able to touch visitors!
The event is a definate success; the measure here is the gate figure – the car park was heaving and it was clear that there were thousands in the park,
with many guests taking part in the fun by attending in fancy dress; the whole spirit in the park was fantastic. Considering the entry price (especially with the reduced rates later on in the day) it made for a day that was most certainly superb value for money, and excellent fun for all the family.
There was an excellent atmosphere throughout the park during the event and it made a refreshing change to see most of the park staff get involved by dressing up/having their face painted; too often in most parks, the effort just isn’t made which is disappointing, so well done Lightwater.
Frightwater may only be in its second year, but you’d hardly tell; it feels like a well seasoned event that has been running for years and mazes aside, this event was considerably more successful than Thorpe’s Fright Nights event, in our view.