Halloween is over…bonfire night is over…what does a theme park fan in the UK do now?!
London is the greatest city in the world. There’s nowhere that offers the culture, cuisine or class that London has. London also is a great boost to beat those theme park blues as it has a number of world-class Midway Attractions that are available to do at this time of year.
This is an enjoyable, if pricey, christmas market and funfair that arrives in London’s gargantuan hyde park every Christmas and offers rides, food, gift stalls and - most importantly - beer! But - we’re going for the rides, aren’t we? There’s a wonderful ghost train, funfair flat rides, a rollercoaster or two and a drop tower - but what really stand out on your trip is the Alpen Hotel. The Alpen Hotel is a hugely entertaining (and LONG) funhouse, with additional surprises thrown in for good measure. Without giving too much away - there’s an animatronic show, a madhouse, a mirror maze and other obstacles along the way on your hotel tour.
The London Eye is always enjoyable at any time of year, but at Christmas it’s incredibly special as the stunning lighting package they have ensures that the warm glow of blue emanates around the attraction. There’s also the enjoyable Ice Skating Rink that The London Eye has, which is sure to offer all the festive feeling.
One yearning we’re all feeling at this time of year, as theme park fans, is the chance to go through a haunt attraction - and this is certainly one of the best. Whilst the London Bridge Experience section leaves a lot to be desired, the London Tombs offers a world-class horror maze walk through that will certainly be able to fill that void!
This is the other year-round horror attraction that London has - though their focus is now on comedy and less on startling scares. This is also their first Christmas in their new location - so it’ll be interesting to see what their Christmas theming has to offer (if it’s anything like their Halloween theming, we’re in for a real festive treat!) The Dungeon also offers its very creepy (and DARK) boat ride and the top-loading drop tower ride: Drop Dead - so there are the added theme park moments.
2. The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable
This is a huge (and I mean HUGE) immersive theatre piece by UK based company Punchdrunk. We’ve long been jealous of New York having the permanent Sleep No More production - and now London is getting a piece of the action! The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable is a self guided 3 hour long walk-through experience, where you decide which rooms to enter, what cupboards to open, which actors to follow and which story path you ultimately end up choosing.
There are moments of extreme darkness, strobe lighting, sudden loud noises and there is a general feeling of unease as you explore the performance are. The performance area is “Temple Studios” (which is actually an old Royal Mail Sorting Office) in Paddington and you, the guests, are on a tour of the studios awaiting the wrap up party of the film that is being made at the studios. You not only have the chance to explore every inch of the film studio building, but you also get to explore the “town” that surrounds the studios (complete with woods, motels, bars, diners, hairdressers and other such small-town Americana town staples).
It really is the most detailed “theming” you’ll ever see in this country - and is well worth a trip - as it will remind you, very heavily, of a theme park maze experience. No actors jump out and scream at you - but the point is for you choose your own path and see what story your own mind forms; it really is an amazing experience! This is running until Dec 31st 2013 at the time of writing.
1. Go to Madame Tussauds (but don’t!)
I love London’s Madame Tussauds; I think the amazing set builds - blended with the world class John Wardley designed SPIRIT OF LONDON dark ride, the Scream Horror maze and the Marvel Superhero 4D experience truly makes it one of the best theme park “style” midway attractions in the world - but, nothing ruins the experience more than huge crowds - and the Christmas holidays will guarantee those crowds. I suggest, if you do need to go, you go very early on Jan 1st - when everyone is still nursing their hangovers.
So there are a few of London’s stand out theme park style “midway” attractions that I’d suggest visiting if you need your theme park fix. It seems that the UK parks are opening earlier every year, so don’t stick your head in a gas oven… just enjoy the time off and March will be round before you know it - and you can all go and ride The Swarm in the snow… like some very dedicates fans did early this year!