It may be Christmas, but if anything that means that we're almost at New Years, which means it's a year with an upcoming Scarefest...
To be perfectly clear- I think that Scarefest is already an incredibly strong event. Throughout the years it's continued to get better and better, and 2019 was arguably the best year yet, with all mazes featuring stellar casts and production values. I think all
the mazes and attractions on offer are stellar, and the lack of any one maze would certainly leave a void to be filled.
The big-hit of Scarefest this year was obviously The Attic, and I reckon that'll definitely be coming back. I couldn't see any world where they'd build and develop such a richly detailed attraction- especially one so eagerly anticipated- only for it to operate for a single season. Knowing the park, there'll probably be a number of subtle changes to help flow and storytelling. I felt there were multiple effects that were easy to miss- whether that's due to staging or obstructions- so hopefully those will be rectified. I also hope that they will continue with the scripted conflict, and perhaps dial it up a bit, so there's a moral question that stays in your mind long after. I thought it was a really bold move to implement something like that, and I'd love to see what a new maze could be like if they played around with it a bit more, and had it as a focal point.
The other new maze was Darkest Depths, and this was a hit with all who did it. I reckon with a second year they wouldn't have as many issues selling tickets as people now know what exactly it is. Whilst I certainly did like the maze, on retrospective I found it a little weak, although I belieive that's due to the fact that it was disorienting being in a linear, traditional walkthrough for a younger audience. The introduction of Darkest Depths bridged the gap between younger thrills and adult mazes nicely, and for that reason, I reckon we'll see it become a Scarefest Regular.
And speaking of Scarefest regulars, I'm going to say something a bit left-field here, but I want to believe that House of Monsters is returning for 2020. It sounds a bit crazy, and I'm not one (nowadays at least) to make such wild speculations, but shortly after the 2019 line-up was unveiled, the signs around the HoM site exclaimed it'd be returning next
year. Anyone who did HoM can tell you how charming it was, and how Scarefest lacked a certain camp silliness this year. With the building currently being transformed into something different for the Walliams area, it'd obviously have to end up elsewhere. Perhaps we could see it take residence in The Chapel or Goalstriker, as both have the necessary facilities to house it. The interesting thing, however, comes with scripting and the attraction itself. It'd be really weird, and some might say lazy, to just reopen the attraction exactly the same as it was- even though there was nothing wrong with it. I stand by my thoughts from last years little prediction bit- the puzzle scenes will be redone and there'll be a new room or two- but I wouldn't be surprised if the basic premise remained, just with an entirely new set of rooms and characters. Perhaps a joke or two about it being missing for a year for good measure.
Next, Project 42. I think this is overlooked-gem of the lineup as the technical set-up of the maze is phenomenal, but it seems of common opinion that it's the weak link in the chain. This begs the question- will it return? And I think there's reasons for and against. On one hand, the Sub-Terra building is insanely limited, and they recently rebuilt the majority of the attraction. On the other, the majority of guests believe it is by far the weakest maze. I personally hope that we see Project 42 return and that it can be appreciated for what it is, but I can't help but feel like we've seen it's last day. Although they've retooled it significantly since it's debut, it seems that people still don't enjoy it as much as the others, and for that reason, I wouldn't be hugely
surprised to see it close.
And now, the tricky bit, that remains eerily similiar to last year. Whilst they're both very scary in their own rights, Altonville and Sub have had their time in the limelight. Now, both are terrifyingly brilliant, and could possibly work in a "franchise", echoing what we've seen with the Terror of the Towers "series", if you'd like. Maybe there's an unusual Club or Bar in Altonville that has a murderous reputation, or there's an Underworlder Uprising in the Sewers. I want to think that one of the mazes will return as previously seen, with the other having a "sequel" as such. There's a case for both of them- but as long as there's major changes, or even the canning of one of the two mazes. Like I said, they're both still great scare-mazes that have helped redefine the format, but their hairs are turning grey, and sooner or later their appearance will be more of a frustration than a joy (see Terror of the Towers: What Lies Within, returning for a mammoth run of nine seasons, which people became bored with by the fourth or fifth).
Of course, we've been spoilt by having a delicious new maze every year, and I doubt 2020 will be any different. Whatever comes next needs to offer what it replaces, so that it doesn't feel like we're lacking anything. I'm expecting, however, to see the park drift more towards story-telling and theatrical mazes. We recently got The Attic, which focussed more on story than anything else since Molly Crowe, and due to the generally satisfactory reviews, I'm thinking we might see more attractions like it. Towers have really played about with their recipe with things like The Welcoming, so I wouldn't be too shocked to see another experimental maze, or another one that holds story paramount.
Looking back over my notes, I've realised a correlation within the target audiences that the lineup holds. We have House of Monsters for kids, Darkest Depths for braver children, The Attic for those seeking chills, and Sub-Species for those who enjoy things a bit more "hard-core". No matter what your age or taste, Scarefest has you covered. Perhaps we'll see a supplementary addition for the youngest guests with something similiar to Trick or Treat Wood at Chessington. Whilst yes, the babes do have the Cbeebies Monster Ball, I wouldn't put it past Ents to long for an original concept that they can produce.
You'll notice that so far I haven't mentioned scare-zones, and I don't think we'll see them return- not yet, anyway. At Scaremazing earlier this year, the team noted how they desperately wanted to do something with the format, but it often persuaded people to avoid the mazes, for they assumed that a maze would just be the same tacky experience behind a paywall. I recall them saying how whilst for us "in-the-know" its a great supplement, but to everyone else, it's just a free headliner. Maybe they need to find a way to make it comparable to the mazes, so they do not pale in comparison. I do think we'll see them return at some point, but there's going to be some changes when they do.
I'd also love to see the celebrations take place across more of the park. We saw some nice extra bits of theming on park this year, and I expect we'll see more. The cheeky projections were hilarious, so more gags like that would be appreciated, alongside more physical stuff that we haven't seen before. Whilst the bunting and pumpkins are great, it'd be nice to see more variation elsewhere. Perhaps keeping the traditional bits on Towers Street like we've seen for years now, and have all the weird and unusual stuff across the rest of the park. Wouldn't it be cool if the spooky theming was related to the area it was in too? Roamers and extra shows would also be great, to offer something for those who can't, or won't do one of the many mazes on offer.
For the next bit, I'm tossing aside my educated estimates for a bit of wishful thinking, because dreams are wonderful things. Whilst I don't think we'll ever see it happen (not until the lineup has been perfected with something for every age bracket), I'd love to see something like a Darkfield container. I doubt we'd see one happen though as they're often slow and psychological, and probably wouldn't please a wider audience other than theatregoers. It'd be nice to see Towers experiment with this highly unusual format though! A more realistic hope is that we'd see a more traditional show take place somewhere on Resort- and I say Resort, because Scarefest isn't just limited to the park itself. And speaking of Resort- please bring scare rooms back!
So- my final "predictions" for Scarefest 2020, if you'd like to call it that. I anticipate a new maze for certain as that's what we've come to expect by now, the return of House of Monsters, some more park-wide theming, and a whole lot of polishing going on. I'm already excited to see what ideas Ents come up with!