After four years of events with next to no improvements I think it’s about time I wrote this review and ask the question, is Blackpool’s Journey to Hell the UK’s worst scare event?
Four years ago I attended the first ever Journey to Hell event at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Filled with optimism and excitement the idea of walking around a theme park at night with limited guests was an enticing thought.
The eerie nature that an almost abandoned park has at night sets the scene perfectly for a Halloween scare attraction and on paper it already sounded like an incredible experience and that’s without the scare mazes and event line-up the park had in store for us.
Our first experience concluded in a run-through of the famous Pasaje Del Terror attraction (25 years old this year) and then we chilled out in the horror bar that is located at the attraction exit.
Here is an exert from my original review posted right here on Back to the Movies from the first ever Halloween event at the Lancashire based theme park.
Whilst the scare factor of the mazes, in general, was weak the rest was really fun.
Such attention to detail, incredible acting and being led around by soldiers who interacted with the group was a nice touch. They never broke character once and even when asked questions they’d reply in character.
That’s what you like to see!
If only the acting matched the scariness of the mazes.
I was walking through the mazes literally blueprinting where I’d add effects and jump scares to enhance the experience.
I was quite bored walking through and the theming levels weren’t up there with the levels of Extreme Scream Park to excuse the lack of actor-led scares.
There’s so, so much more they could do to ramp this experience up.
For a first time effort, this was well worth a go! I definitely think next year they should have an 18+ experience though however and really go for it.
The best part of the night for me was easily riding ICON in the dark and just walking around the abandoned theme park at night seeing the lights so beautifully lit up.
So as you can see from my initial reaction the atmosphere of the event was wonderful but the scare mazes just weren’t up to scratch, I rather enjoyed the guided walkthrough of the park by actors but there was a lot of room for improvement.
I wouldn’t say it was a negative review as the event showed promise and glimpses of what could be in the future with improvements made.
Fast forward all these years later and absolutely none of those improvements materialised.
A New Format but No Changes
Journey to Hell changed format after the first event and strayed away from an actor-led guided experience to a more traditional scream park walk around where you could pick and choose what attractions you’d like to do at your own leisure.
You are simply given tickets to each experience and you can join the queue for them at any time you wish. You can sit down and have a drink or a bite to eat and join the queue whenever you see fit.
This actually worked well for Journey to Hell as the event became more relaxed and you had more freedom to pick and choose what you’d like to do as opposed to being led from one experience to another.
What didn’t change however was the quality of the mazes and experiences.
Riding ICON (one of the parks incredible rollercoasters) in the dark blindfolded is a great experience but you could only ever do it once at the event and for such a steep price tag every year (£39.50 as of 2023) what you get in return is quite the slap in the face.
From mazes consisting of guard rail and black cloth with fake cobwebs to a ride through the historic river caves in the dark with a limited number of actors shouting boo at you as you go through it’s safe to say that Journey to Hell has made no improvements despite attempting small additions.
Adding a clown maze was set to be a big, brand new attraction yet you’re inside the clown building for no longer than 60 seconds after your introductory dialogue from an actor.
You’re standing and watching scenes with absolutely no hint of traditional scare maze jumps to be found anywhere.
Journeying under the Pleasure Beach through the tunnels is a wonderful experience yet there are no jump scares to be found anywhere. Acting is hit and miss and one year simply had actors swearing at you which you can get free of charge should you grace the local Wetherspoons on a Friday night.
Commanding such a high price for such a poor offering leaves a sour taste.
There are many events up and down the country that offer poor horror experiences but the pricing is no where even close to the premium £39.50 price tag of this years event.
For pricing and experience alone Journey to Hell really does paint itself as one of the worst scare events in the country with the worst value for money.
A Disastrous 2023 Event
Claiming your event to be the scariest in the North West is a bold claim. I’d go as far to say it’s not even the scariest event in Blackpool but that’s just my opinion!
The Blackpool Dungeons has great jump scares, incredible actors and serve up a much better Halloween offering with themed sets and immersive experiences which something like Journey to Hell just cannot compete with.
They’re cheaper (which is surprising for a Merlin attraction) than Journey to Hell and it even has a drop tower ride included for guests included in your entry price as the big finale. Bargain!
Journey to Hell is littered with lacklustre sets which one can only compare it to something you’d see from a charity fundraiser scare event or similar.
Only the tunnels that run beneath the Pleasure Beach have some quite nicely designed sets here and there.
If they made as much effort in mazes such as The Lost and the clown maze in regards to set design then there would be a much better reception even with actors (I use that word loosely) doing their thing.
When it comes to the actors, they’re not trained actors to my knowledge. Journey to Hell have staff members fill in and add atmosphere to the event.
The funny thing is, some of them are genuinely incredible and convincing and have a real natural talent with their performances and others are so bad that certain scenes and deliveries become comical as opposed to scary.
The sheer refusal to outsource the event to a professional scare company smacks of arrogance and after all these years of running the event you’d think feedback would have filtered through that changes must be made.
Alas, it has not but the stubbornness to not change anything simply because it’s making money just isn’t good enough. Once again, busy doesn’t necessarily mean good and feedback from most guests was never entirely complimentary.
Journey to Hell added a brand new addition this year where the dodgems were themed around the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. There was a lovely lighting package installed around the area, people in Mexican Day of the Dead attire and then a new sign on the dodgems ride.
Sadly, the dodgems ride itself was….. just the dodgems. No Mexican theming, no Mexican music, nothing. The ride had absolutely no indication or theming to do with the Mexican festival it was simply just a standard dodgems at the back of a new area.
Don’t get me wrong the dodgems were fun (they always are) but adding a ride on the dogems (something that costs around £2.50 at your local fair) to a £39.50 event as a main part of your line-up is definitely not a good idea.
Whilst Pleasure Beach have relied on their incredible rides to help save their low-par Halloween events there’s only one ride that has ever worked beautifully to compliment the event, and that’s the Ghost Train.
Adding actors within the Ghost Train is such a great way to step up this iconic attraction. They’ve added new scenes, new sound effects and more and if you’re really brave then do the ride alone as it’s a superb way of immersing yourself in a rather chilling experience.
I throughly enjoyed the Ghost Train at Pleasure Beach, it was easily the highlight of my night yet once again a ride that costs £2.50-£3 at a fair (granted this would be charged at a higher rate as it’s so beautifully detailed and long) is the highlight of the night above all of the other offerings.
A major shake-up is needed with Journey to Hell. Just because an event is popular doesn’t mean it’s good, there’s not many scare attractions for miles around and if you’re local to Blackpool this is your local event, it’s always going to attract a crowd.
With zero changes or improvements made to the event over the years now feels like the time for change. The event is stale and is lacking in every single core area that makes a scare attraction great.
Pricing is at an all time high and charging only £10.50 less than a full days ticket to the theme park (where you can go on as many rides as you like may I add, not once each) is ludicrous.
A high price for a poor offering.
Sadly this will be our last Journey to Hell event until another company comes in to take it over, it’s gone on for far too long and whilst I’m happy to support this incredible theme park financially I’m no longer supporting this poorly run and organised event.
Is Journey to Hell the UK’s worst scare attraction?
With its bare bones offering, extortionate pricing and refusal to improve year after year.
In my opinion.
Yes, yes it is.