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Forget the deranged cannibal chasing you down a dark alley clutching a satanic doll, the most genuinely shocking thing about Shocktober Fest is the high production values.
Most of us have tried something like this before – an experience where real life actors jump out and try and scare you. And we know they have varying degrees of success – from the sublime to the literally ridiculous.
My first experience was when I was a kid at the local fair. On the Ghost Train a fella's hand used to come out and pinch one of you – which was fine until Beanhead (not his real name) grabbed it and he fell over, taking a curtain with him.
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The sight of a mildly embarrassed Carny shaking his good fist at us as we disappeared around a corner will live long in the memory. Anyway, I digress.
Shocktober Fest in Tulleys Farm is a national treasure and seems to get better with each one of its 26 years. These are well-thought out immersive experiences where you queue like a theme park ride ride and walk around brilliantly set out landscapes waiting for the scares.
And, by God, do they come.
There's the Chop Shop, where you're chased around a garage by deranged HillBillies Billy-Bob, Billy-Joe and Billy-Ray – complete with chainsaws – all the way to the Penitentiary where you try and survive a full-on prison riot.
In the Village of the Coven 13, witches stalk you as you make your way through a neon maze and old favourites like The Cellar (think Fritzl, but with more zombies) and the classic Creepy Cottage where you get the most impressive acrobatic trick of all the cast.
The crowd favourite seems to be the Haunted Hayride where you jump on the back of a tractor trailer and get led through a spooky Horrorwood Studios full of vampires, inbreds, lusty nuns and Victorian hypnotists.
And no, it doesn't sound like a night out in Chatham.
Doom Town takes the Stranger Things 1980s theme and runs with it – well, you run* through haunted video stores and scenes right out of Friday the 13th.
*No running please.
But for me the most scary/thrilling was Hell-Ements, where you're given a black hood to put on your head and you have to lead yourself through a maze trying to keep it all together. The best bit is at the end when you have to take the hood off.
In all there's 10 experiences to choose from, plus street theatre, live music and wandering bandits with a quip or two to put you down in front of your friends.
There's also a hog roast.
Europe's largest scream park has dazzling special effects and is a truly immersive experience where you simply don't know what's coming next.
But more than that, it's genuinely well done.
Even if you don't get scared easily you'll still admire the set design, the imagination and sheer enjoyment the actors have in their roles.
You'll certainly get something out of it and not even Beanhead (not his real name) could ruin it.
The facts you need…
Where: Tulleys Farm, Turners Hill Road, Turners Hill, Crawley, West Sussex
Nearest station: Three Bridges (30mins from London Bridge/London Victoria)
When: Selected dated from 20/09/22-05/11/21
Park opening times: 5-6pm (Night dependant) with attractions opening at 6.30pm
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