Last year, when reviewing Melton Mowbray’s fantastic Xtreme Scream Park, I posited the biggest question facing its return visitors would be ones of comparison; namely, ‘is it as good this year?’.


The same can be said of practically any annual events, but the Twin Lakes Family Theme Park’s annual Halloween offering always has the advantage of previous years’ having cemented it as one of the finest and most thrilling scare parks that the UK has to offer. With actors who are permitted - and certainly not afraid of - grabbing, pulling and otherwise physically interacting with terrified guests, all in some of the longest, most thematic and multi award-winning scare mazes in the industry, the high benchmark nevertheless sets expectations similarly high.


So what is the verdict for 2019?


It’s a slightly mixed bag, but overall Xtreme once again tops the list of recommended scare park attractions for the spooky season. The quality of experience is second-to-none, and some conscious and imposing efforts to make previous years’ fantastic mazes even more memorable and terrifying are highly welcome.


For the second year running, there is no new maze for 2019; though again, I hasten to add that 2017 saw the arrival not one, but two, of the park’s strongest mazes (Voodoo Hoodoo and The Village). In fact, this year sees the excision of one of the park’s oldest mazes - the caulrophobic, Clown-themed haunt that has, over the years, gone by numerous names and titles, which is sadly no more. In its stead, 2019 offers up a very different offering for visitors to experience in the form of a live, horror-themed big top circus show.


Of the returning attractions, whilst there is one less than previous years, there’s no reasonable way visitors can feel short-changed - every single maze is a lengthy, fantastically themed walk-through that are exquisitely detailed, well populated and in places genuinely intense. From the claustrophobic crawl spaces and mesh mazes of The Penitentiary, the twisted body horror and grotesqueries of Stilton Hall, the transportive, psychedelic scene-setting and authenticity of Voodoo Hoodoo and the sheer breadth and variety of locations and frights offered up by personal favourite The Village, here is horror, variety and terrifying scope in abundance.


And it would be remiss to not acknowledge the number of new touches dotted throughout every single maze this year round, not least all a whole host of animatronics which jump out, fall down or even rush towards you, keeping even seasoned veterans of the park on their toes and never quite sure what will be around the next corner, crawl space or clothes line. It speaks of an attention to detail and creative drive to keep each maze and experience fresh and frightening, and further underlines the seriousness with which those involved take their duty to thrill and surprise visitors.


The handful of minor critiques still stand, but they are fleeting and pedantic to say the least. The hooded introduction to Voodoo Hoodoo remains a slightly frustrating and tedious hang-on from a scare maze fad of yesteryear, but again the rest of the maze is so fantastic - and long - that it more than makes up for its pedestrian opening. And the design alone of the likes of The Penitentiary, with its narrow connections and crawl spaces that slow down movement, means crowd bottlenecking became a very real (and slightly mood deflating) thing in a couple of the mazes. The latter was most likely down to the later date of reviewing, with the park becoming understandably busier the closer to Halloween it gets. 


The optional ‘Fast Track’ wristband, which allows you to bypass queueing altogether, and which we were lucky enough to experience on our visit, may come at a fairly hefty £25 on top of admission, but on a busier evening becomes worth its weight in gold if affordable to your parties needs - it allows you to quite literally bypass the entirety of every (at times fairly substantial) queue and go straight into the maze. 


Which leaves just the new Circus attraction (somewhat unimaginatively name The Rocky Circus Big Top). At 25 minutes long and with multiple performances dotted throughout each night (usually on then our), it isn’t difficult to fit a viewing in amongst the mazes and other attractions - doubly so given there’s one less maze than previous years, and particularly if you’ve invested in a fast track pass.


Although nothing here is overly original or imaginative - a handful of set pieces and performers including escape and aerial silk artists and the ominous ‘Wheel of Death’ - it’s a perfectly enjoyable addition to the park, and something that represents a welcome change of pace and tone from the intense mazes. Being included in the admission price makes it an easy recommendation, and whilst it likely won’t be setting anyone’s world ablaze anytime soon, the performers are suitably impressive, disciplined and entertaining, and there’s just enough threat of peril and immediacy to keep it adequately tense. 


Is it a worthy trade-off at the cost of a maze? That will probably depend on how much mileage you get out of circus-style theatrics and live entertainment, but there’s no denying its inclusion makes Xtreme Scream Park a fuller, more rounded and diverse Halloween experience.


One walks away from this year’s Twin Lakes offering impressed and encouraged by the robustness and genuine horror of the experience once again on offer, by the consistency and quality of experience, and by a clear impetus to continue to refine and improve the already-stellar standard of mazes. The inclusion of its new Circus attraction may be divisive to hardcore fright enthusiasts, but it inarguably broadens the canvas of what the park’s creatives are aspiring toward, and there’s no reason to not expect it to benefit from future refinements and improvements, too.


Until then, though, get your tickets in whilst you can - and your fast track wristbands strapped on if at all possible (they really do make for a more seamless and stress-free evening) - and be assured (not to mention terrified) that Xtreme Scream Park not only shows no signs of letting up on quality, invention and sheer horror, but, like a marvellous, malignant and malevolent maze monster, is growing bigger, better, bolder and more brilliant with each passing year.


XTREME SCREAM PARK runs at the Twin Lakes Family Theme Park, Leicester, on select evenings until Thursday 31 October 2019.

To book your tickets, head on over to the official website by clicking HERE.

Press tickets to Xtreme Scream Park were provided courtesy of the Twin Lakes Park directly. The author gratefully acknowledges their generous invitation. 

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Readers who submit articles must agree to our terms of use. The content is the sole responsibility of the contributor and is unmoderated. But we will react if anything that breaks the rules comes to our attention. If you wish to complain about this article, contact us here