Based locally in Keynsham, Fear at Avon Valley lived up to its hyped and horrific reputation with nominations that found the event had some of the scariest live action mazes in Europe. With three in total – Phobia, Purgatory and Anarchy – each had its own theme to unsettle; from cannibals to clowns, the use of creepy actors was constant. Once inside the maze, the actors didn’t hold back or give you a second to calmly breathe.
Throughout October a unique atmosphere was created with food stalls, activities and a mini theme park that provided plenty of light entertainment – in those brief moments you weren’t jumping out of your boots that was. With stilt walking actors and live performances from monsters and baddies throughout the site, Avon Valley has become a popular attraction in recent years with its lively atmosphere.
We travelled to the site in a group of four and decided to enter Phobia first. We weren’t surprised to see a queue but after waiting only fifteen minutes to get to the front it was well worth it! Phobia was based on what the name suggests: experiencing some on your innermost fears. Throughout the research facility backdrop we were forced to be reconditioned; clowns and tight spaces were but two of the obstacles thrown at us. After finally finding the exit we were quite proud that we’d completed one maze, but as it turned out, Phobia was nothing more than a warm-up.
A breather was needed and Avon Valley didn’t disappoint here. We each grabbed a drink and gave the fairground rides a quick whirl, although if you ask me, as motion sickness kicked in the rides were even scarier than Phobia!
Purgatory was next but with people eagerly leaping from the exit I decided to give it a miss. From what I was told, this maze took the form of a prison run riot by violent inmates and involved lots of dazzling strobe lighting. Groups seemed to be separated more often here so I can only imagine how confusingly abstract the maze must have been.
© Kayleigh Rose
Here’s a quick word of advice: Fear is definitely not for you if you struggle with tight spaces or darkness.
We saved the biggest, most terrifying maze until last and it seemed fairly obvious this was not for the faint-hearted. Heading towards Anarchy you could hear the unmistakable growling of chainsaws coming from within its walls. Still we kept telling ourselves if we stuck together it wouldn’t be too bad. We were quite wrong.
The actors in Anarchy have to be given outstanding credit for how accurately they played their roles as cannibal creatures. They got extremely close and personal and at points even attempted to enclose you by walls and block your way; they also encapsulated animalistic biting and sudden movements to make themselves even more realistic. I was more impressed after the event once I heard college students in Bath assisted with the makeup of the actors, whilst some drama students even participated as monsters in the maze themselves!
Anarchy seemed the most complex maze to navigate and at times it felt like it would never end. When we did escape through the door the fun didn’t stop: we were greeted by the loud noise of two chainsaw actors. Relief is the only way I can describe breaking free of their confinement and into the safe haven of Avon Valley’s grounds.
After surviving everything the park had to throw at us, we made our way back to the cars all alive and well. Fear was a thrilling way to experience Halloween as an adult and a cheap night out at only thirteen pounds a ticket. Now that three years have passed so successfully it bodes well for the event to grow in 2017 and mark itself as another iconic Halloween experience.