Halloween Spooktacular at Oakwood
Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire has dabbled with Halloween and horror in a number of different ways but it all started with a simple ghost train:
The ride first opened in the year 2000 as Voodoo Mansion and was part of a New Orleans area with the ride themed to the voodoo magic of famous witch Marie Laveau. It was particularly frightening and had some very clever and startling effects include chicken decapitation and the regular sudden appearance of a terrifying voodoo witch doctor.
The ride was actually a bit too intense for such a small family theme park, and just 2 years later, a lot of the harsher effects were removed or softened and a new 3D makeover was applied as it was re-branded to become Spooky 3D.
In 2004 and 2005, the park experimented with a Halloween makeover of the ride that was so daring and shocking, that nearly yen years later we can still clearly recall how different and scary the experience was! Each ghost train car had a solid metal cage welded over it, and guests were given one simple word of advice - to keep their fingers inside the cage at all times. Once dispatched into the darkness, all the normal effects were turned off and a team of actors were on hand to strike and beat the cage as they passed. The sudden appearance of creatures out of the dark and the intense hammering from shovels, chainsaws and scaffolding poles on the cage, left most guests desperate to get out!
The Fright House, as it was called, only lasted a coupe of years but in 2011, the park experimented with a more traditional walk through attraction in the Caneston Centre - a small family entertainment complex attached to the park. The attraction was popular but only lasted one year as in 2012 the park went back to being closed over Halloween.
For the main 2013 season, Oakwood saw a massive investment, with a whole new themed area and rides, and late in the year they announced that Halloween would return. The event would include the family friendly show The Ghost of Skull Rock as well as the more frightening Spooky 3d Live and The Theatre of Nightmares
Spooky 3d Live as the name suggests, involved the placement of a couple of live actors along the main route of the ride to interact with the trains as they trundled past. The characters weren't too frightening but added a great element to the ride and gave a number of scares along the route. Although nowhere near as intense as the Fright House from the past, the ride was great fun for slightly older children and proved to be very popular throughout the night.
In contrast, The Theatre of Nightmares was aimed strictly at adults and was set in a real theatre building that was now supposedly haunted. We were left to find our way past the old dressing rooms into the stage wings, across the stage and into the stalls area. Here the park had constructed a whole maze full of live actors, live snakes, really dark corridors and a couple of tunnels that required us to crawl through. We never knew what to expect next, and by the time we had "escaped" into a massive graveyard where zombies came up from under big piles of leaves, we had been suitably scared throughout.
It was a really impressive new attraction for the park and the design and acting talent throughout were very good. We're not necessarily sure that the use of reptiles was the best choice as there were some people who just couldn't get past these scenes (while those of us immune to snakes weren't actually scared) but the park has to be commended for trying something different.
As the first year of this new attraction, Oakwood managed to surprise us by creating something quite unique and different, and it will be very interesting to see what they do for 2014.
For more details about Oakwood Theme Park - Check out their website - www.oakwoodthemepark.co.uk
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