Examining the efforts of Frightwater Valley

Lightwater Valley typically now ends its season with its two-day Halloween celebrations, christened Frightwater Valley.

The park opens for a couple of hours into darkness providing some excellent ambience from its natural semi-wooded setting and also the great little touches of cobwebs, figures and effective lighting.

A dazzling fireworks display also finishes off proceedings, although there was a slight hitch tonight which meant unfortunately we didn’t get quite the spectacular end those that came the night before did.

But the display – with its incredibly striking setting of the lake in the foreground and the eerily-lit trees to the side – was fantastic.

Our trip also included a sensational twilight ride on The Ultimate’s red train, which was running wildly.

We came for Halloween proceedings, and the two more child-orientated Haunting of Skeleton Cove and Spooky UV Puppet Show were wavered for a duo of more supposedly potent attractions – which we now examine.

Raptor Attack: LIVE

Based in around the former Rat Ride’s unique entrance method of navigating tunnels and stairways, this attraction has been greatly anticipated this year, but it was somewhat disappointing.

Featuring the lose story of scientists being infected by a dinosaur-transmitted virus, there are several actors lying in wait around the tunnel’s corners and faux-propshafts.

Anyone that’s entered Raptor Attack on a normal day will tell you how immersive the environment can be, but the actors added little to that, apart from the nervous anticipation of something more dramatic happening to you.

The actors approached, pursued and harassed as we exited the ride itself, and that was the most effective part of the attraction.

A scientist appears to be innocently chipping away at the tunnel as you pass, only for him to pursue in an almost-drunken manner – and the caged screaming actress at the end provides an heart stopping finale as you almost fall into the gift shop.

Unfortunately this event is based around a ride with one of the lowest throughputs in the park, and consequently queues swelled for an estimated two hours at their peak.

Dracula’s Labyrinth

Based around the remnants of the old wooden fence maze, this walk throug attraction is the jewel in Frightwater Valley’s crown in the same sense that Terror of the Towers is Scarefest’s at Alton Towers.

This elaborate creation actually exceeds the latter in terms of effort and environment.

With cobwebs, fauna, iron railings, curtains and coffins – the theming inside the maze is completely striking and provides a more immersive environment than anything offered at Alton Towers this year.

However the actors – including the editor of a well-known theme park news website – failed to deliver real jumps or scares akin to Merlin-run scare mazes.

The approach of the actors was often lacking in spontaneity, although the woman with the fetching contact lenses who took a liking to yours truly was rather unsettling.

The chainsaw finale was perhaps somewhat predictable with the lack of ventilation proving clues to what was coming in the fumes – and the concept itself seems slightly out of place in the lair of vampires.

Sudden moments of darkness or loud noise would greatly add to the fear factor of the maze, which has had its recommended minimum age this year reduced from 14 years to 12.

But these criticisms are perhaps harsh of a park that after all describes its Halloween event as ‘family frights’, which they indeed deliver at remarkably good value.