Horror Nights starring Marc Terenzi: 2011 Review
Before you read this, can I say how sad it was to write what is the first very negative review of something at Europa-Park that I have written in 7 years of visiting. It in no way reflects the general quality and brilliance that is Europa-Park and I would recommend a trip to EP in a flash.
With a name change and an expanded surface area for the 2011 Horror Nights event at Europa-Park, expectations were as ever high. This was my 4th visit to Terenzi, and the event has progressively changed in style - for better and worse. With the 2008 a very intimate affair and all attractions based within the theme parks Italian and French areas, to the 2009 and 2010 event where it was partly on park (Greece) and partly off, to this years event where the vast bulk was off the theme park aside from the Ice Show - Terenzi has developed into an incredibly popular event which can attract 7,000 people a night - and it does.
Sadly, Terenzi Horror Nights has become a victim of its own success and has been, this year, in no way a match for the consistent top quality offered within the theme park. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that for the most part, Horror Nights put a downer on what was otherwise a great Halloween offering at Europa-Park.
With the entrance relocated to the access road, giving it a further feel of separation from the park than ever before, to massive crowds gathering for admission - a genuine feeling of stress and anxiety at the gates, as thousands pushed and shoved their way in to the Horror Nights site. Never before had I witnessed such throngs of people gathering to make their way inside.
Upon entry, this seasons greeting was a Funfair Ghost Train called "Carnival". Accompanied by one live actor on our visit, who tickled the backs of our neck, it was a fairly plain affair, which was accompanied with a 40 minute waiting time. Our group was, for the the most part, wondering why this incredible theme park had to resort to buying in cheap ghost trains when they already have quality dark rides inside the park. 2/10.
Next door was Chin's Funhouse. It was part dark experience and partly outside. It was the follow up to last years fantastic cornfield maze. After a waiting time touching 45 minutes, we entered the fun house. The staff were clearly off the fair circuit and lacked the professionalism usually offered at Europa-Park. The funhouse had loud music, smoke - but not a single live actor. It felt like something out of Grease. We made our way through this attraction and out into the Field - where, following last year, expectations were sky high. Rock and pop music was blasting loudly around the field. Gone were the choppers, search lights and threatening sounds and in came a more comedy atmosphere, with 3 or 4 actors positioned around the main parts of the maze. Of note was a chainsaw actor who revved it nearby, but this didn't materialise on our second visit on the second night. Towards the end were several actors wearing masks. The maze had 1 or 2 scares but in reality, was nothing compared the crazy scenes from 2010. We spent most of the time dancing to Red Hot Chilli Peppers rather than being scared! 4/10.
With the disappointments stacking up already, we made a bee line for one of the most highly anticipated mazes of 2011, The Nest. When it was announced, I recall discussions with other people about how this could be truly terrifying. The waiting time was around 40 minutes on night 1, but this was over 1 hour on night 2 (so we didn't bother). Beginning inside yet another funfair fun house, it turns into a dark maze experience featuring fake spiders and snakes and some nasty noises. Most of the maze is made up of metal fencing covered with drapes, with the odd scene thrown in. Around 3 or 4 actors occasionally screamed to someone in your group, but it was not scene driven and was really very cheaply done. It ended up in the last part of the Field of Freaks. The maze lacked any narrative and was a complete let down. 3/10.
Posession was the maze which had the most hope and, although there was a 50 minute wait (80 minutes on night 2, I didn't bother) - it was, I am pleased to say, a decent experience. The entrance was poor though - where has the effort gone? They used to make proper entrances for mazes (Rose Maries Nightmare Continues, The Asylum etc.) - this was not completed to thelevel of say Experiment 10 or Terror of the Towers, but it was a long maze with a range of scenes and actors. It did however lack narrative and scares were not great. Compared to The Museum, it lacked something. The ending was effective, think along the lines of The Asylum at Thorpe Park. Some good scenes in here though, and some disgusting disfigured bodies. Overall, I would give this 7/10.
The final maze attraction was Dreamscape: 3D. The queue was 30 minutes for this (longer on the second night, we didn't bother). Using scenes from last years Clown Maze, there were some cute quirks and air curtains similar to Carnival of Screams at Alton Towers. However, it lacked actors - with less than 6 appearing to us in the maze. Itw as bright, and the 3D made it interesting. One room was very effective, a smoke filled chamber - reminiscent of Carnival of Fear in 2008 but only lasting for 10 seconds. Overall, nothing special - I would give this maze 5/10.
THN Scare Zones have often been described as the bread and butter of the event. This year? Too crowded. No fire. Lack of smoke. Actors just wandering and not enough SCARE. Really, really disappointing compared to past efforts. I have no idea what has been going through their minds but Oktoberfeast: End of Days was a joke.
The Ice Show was enjoyable, genuinely amusing. However, it's a shame that the effort that seems to go into this is not reflected in the mazes and scare zones.
Overall, the event was very poor. Maze attractions were thoughtless compared to what has been done before. Theming was reused inside mazes from the past, whereas previously they have created completely new sets and entrance set pieces. A lack of narrative also affected them and insanely lengthly queues and massive crowds on both evenings spoilt it even more. Based on the 2011 event, I would no longer recommend Europa-Park Horror Nights as a point of interest during the Halloween season. Perhaps there are others to try next year. As a big Europa-Park fan, I am bitterly disappointed with Terenzi this year and am seriously considering not visiting in 2012 unless there are major changes.
I did not visit the Vampire Club this year as it was upcharge (€5/£4.50). I heard it was good, though but an event should not be dependent on getting drunk to have a good time.
On the plus side, Benny Richter's music and the food offering was superb.
- Get the event (mainly) back in the theme park.
- Open several larger attractions (Euro-Mir, Eurosat?) to disperse queues.
- Return the fire and more smoke in scare zones.
- Lose the dominance of cheap funfair rides.
- Add more narrative and set pieces to major mazes.
- Reduce capacity or increase attraction offering to cope with demand.
Sad times. Just as well the parks general Halloween event was awesome. Mysteria, park theming and shows - just amazing.
It seems that for the Horror Nights though, the soul has gone. They've lost it. A victim of its own successes. Terenzi Comedy Nights is the colloquial name we have given to the event this year.
Carnival (30 min q)
Chins Funhouse (45 min q)
The Nest (40 min q)
Posession (50 min q)
Dreamscape 3D (30 min q)
Kassandra (5 min q)
Chins Funhouse (50 min q)
Admission was €19 (£17) per night.