REVIEW: Dreamland Margate present Screamland 2016

Kent’s largest scare festival returns for the second year running following the restoration of the heritage amusement park in 2015, featuring the return of fan favourites, additional terrifying twists and whole new horrifying concepts.

The charming and vibrant nature of Margate’s crown jewel is once again transformed into a realm of fully immersive scare mazes and terrifying encounters with a whole host of petrifying creatures.

img_3199One of the headlining attractions for the event is the brand new scare maze: “The Paradise Foundation”. A trust that is intent on transforming individuals into better, happier versions of themselves. Not all is as it seems however, as it becomes very clear that the concept of paradise comes at a price.

The maze features remarkable use of prop design and graphic theming to tell the horrific tale of the inhabitants of the facility, with the actors putting on a hugely impressive display that conveys their own results from the foundation’s controversial ‘BLISS’ treatment, leaving behind distressed and hugely disfigured individuals.

The finale is the perfect culmination of everything that falls before it, with guests facing the foundation’s last resort to guests who find themselves unable to submit to BLISS, with a genuine sense of no escape from an impending doom bestowed upon all guests who can brave it to the end.

Throwing back to the era of the silver screen for the second year running is ‘The Final Cut’, this year bearing the theme of classic outer space horror films from the days gone by.

Image by Dreamland

Launching guests into the world of the silver screen in the exact same manner as the previous year is a welcome return for a sequence that works perfectly at setting the scene, however what guests encounter on the other side is a much more thrilling product than last year’s incarnation. The Outer Space theme throws well designed alien creatures from all kinds of Hollywood decades at guests in every manner imaginable, and even features a more amusing than petrifying attack from a Venus Flytrap! The finale of the maze is just as much as a superb spectacle as last years, with a higher chance of jump scaring even the most hardened scare enthusiasts.

img_3383Straight off the back of The Final Cut is  ‘Dead and Breakfast II – Murder Hotel’, with the return of the sickeningly sarcastic landlady Fag Ash Lil welcoming guests to her decrepit seaside hotel. This is the maze that bares the most resemblance to its incarnation from the previous year, a welcoming factor when the standard seemed so difficult to surpass last year.

Rather than attempting to seriously rework the theme, Dreamland have utilised everything that was so great about this maze from last year, and attempted to ramp it up through the jump scares offered by the actors, who have seemingly altered their tactics compared to last year.
Festino’s Forgotten Funhouse is also back for 2016, albeit this year in its new location situated above The Paradise Foundation. With the new location comes a new layout, giving the maze a fresh feel whilst revisiting some of the wonderful theatrical sequences from last year. The finale takes the recent killer clown craze from reality and intensifies the notion, tantalising guests even more by having the exit visible yet inaccessible during the whole ordeal as the killer clowns make numerous and terrifying attempts on guests’ lives.

On top of everything else, Dreamland have been able to utilise their painstakingly restored ghost train, The Phantom Express. Combining the ride with the neighbouring mirror maze results in ‘The Bloody Mirror’, an unsettling journey through a mist-clad netherworld before an inevitable encounter with Bloody Mary herself.

To accompany the mazes are the diverse cast of characters who roam the pleasure park as the sun goes down, with the wickedly wonderful Punchinello returning as the mastermind behind Screamland, this year joined by his sinister seneschal Terrorsina.

Jason Karl, the Creative Director of Screamland explained: “We have spent the last 6 months thinking out of the coffin to really push the envelope this coming season, with more scare attractions and entertainment than during our first year”.

Over 60 professional actors have come together to bring Screamland back to life for 2016, many of who have been trained in the art of scare acting and also recruited locally in Thanet.

The end result of what has been achieved with Screamland this year paves a very terrifying prospect for the future of the Halloween event. With 2015 being such a success for the event, it seemed that Dreamland had accidentally set an untouchable bar of excellence. Yet against all odds, Screamland 2016 has taken the best ingredients from its previous year, added a powerful pinch of creative magic and glided over the previous standards like a skilled wicked witch soaring on a broomstick.

The question now is how the park plans to pull off such a feat again for 2017, with tickets now already available for next year’s event.