Halloween favourite PrimEVIL is back and it’s scarier than ever
At one of the region's favourite family attractions, October is transformed into Shocktober as Dinosaur Adventure becomes Norfolk's biggest live scare attraction – if you go down to the woods today, you're sure of the most terrifying surprise yet.
By day, Dinosaur Adventure at Lenwade just outside Norwich offers child-friendly days out where the biggest scares on offer come from the roaring dinosaurs in the woods. But at the end of every October, the park is transformed after dark into the stuff of nightmares.
Maniacal clowns with sharp teeth and cannibals roam the woods, the horrific results of a failed experimental pathogen can be found wandering in the trees, there's a claustrophobic crypt haunted by the undead and a hotel which is more dead and breakfast than bed and breakfast.
As a veteran of PrimEVIL (I've never missed one) I can confidently report that this is by far the best that the live scare attraction has ever been: every year it's clear that the investment increases, both in terms of the cash spent on the scare mazes and the thought put into each one, and never more so than this year.
Dozens of live scare actors prowl round the attraction interacting with guests (the haunted twins took a particular liking to my son Cole, 16) and there are a demonic horde of stilt-walkers and iron-grinders to keep the crowds entertained while they queue for the five scare attractions.
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We began our journey in the Forest of Fear, walking past dinosaurs in shadow as Things waited to jump out at us in the wood and giant spiders lurked at every twist and turn of the woodland path: simply walking through the dark woods is scary enough, adding immense arachnids, chainsaw-wielding maniacs, Yetis and other things that go bump in the night.
You walk round in a small group and the screams you hear in front and behind you, in addition to the somewhat gut-churning sound of a chainsaw revving up, means you are on permanent edge, waiting for the next creature to ambush your path.
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At the end of the walk, there's no respite from the terror - CarnEVIL of Terrors awaits, a twisted funhouse complete with a disorientating vortex to walk through, inflatable walls, ball pools, halls of mirrors and retired clowns who have a slightly unusual idea of how to 'entertain' their guests.
Next up was a new attraction, The Crypt, which this year replaces old faithful The Dark: my son was initially disappointed his favourite attraction had been replaced, but after making our way through this new hall of horrors, he was hooked. Utterly claustrophobic and horribly dark, this is a real treat for anyone who enjoys being frightened out of their wits – there are chains, there are enclosed spaces, there are tunnels, passageways, false doors…it's horribly good. It takes a lot to unnerve me and I was (whisper it) unnerved.
Our penultimate scare walk was Infected, which is another new attraction and sees you plunged into a caged maze in heavy strobe lighting as horribly mutilated creatures attempt to impede your path. Again, the disorientation involved makes the whole experience genuinely frightening – a great addition to PrimEVIL.
Last of all was the hotel where the Tripadvisor comments are best avoided before check-in: I think I recognised Skullmore, the proprietor at Mayhem Manor Hotel (could it have been a certain Martin Goymour, by day managing director of Dinosaur Adventure and by October night is one of PrimEVIL's scare team?) once inside, the welcome is anything but warm, although the chef did offer us a selection of severed fingers for dinner.
All in all, a terrifyingly great night for anyone who loves being scared witless – as far as I'm concerned, forget Christmas, Halloween is the most magical time of the year.
• PrimEVIL, Dinosaur Adventure, Lenwade, until October 31, 6pm to 11pm.
• Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult – the event is aimed at adults and those aged 12 and above. For more details and to book, visit www.primevil-scare.com.