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Sept. 29, 2022

Day 28: Halloween at Drayton Manor Resort in England

Day 28: Halloween at Drayton Manor Resort in England

Drayton Manor Resort in England is home to various attractions, including roller coasters, a zoo, and their most iconic - Thomas Land. For Halloween, the resort offers “Pumpkin Smash Bash” during the day and “Night at the Manor” in the evening, along...


Drayton Manor Resort in England is home to various attractions, including roller coasters, a zoo, and their most iconic - Thomas Land. For Halloween, the resort offers “Pumpkin Smash Bash” during the day and “Night at the Manor” in the evening, along with the Fireworks Spooktacular. Today, Mikey from ScareTrack interviews Danielle Nicholls, the Senior Content Executive at Drayton Manor, about their 2022 offerings. Follow along to our Hauntathon: https://linktr.ee/hauntedattractionnetwork

Transcript

Mikey: Hello and welcome to this interview episode of The Scare Track Podcast. My name is Mikey and on today's episode, we are talking all about Halloween at Drayton Manor theme park as we are joined by Danielle Nichols, the Senior Content Executive at the Drayton Manor theme park. Danielle, welcome to Scare Track.

Danielle Nichols: Hello, thank you very much.

Mikey: No, I really do appreciate you coming on and talking all about, obviously, Drayton Manor, and the exciting Halloween plans that you got this season. First up, how are you? How's the park? How's everything going?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, really good, thank you. We've had a really good season this year, so can be happy it's finished. Obviously, investment and everything, so it's great.

Mikey: Yeah, absolutely. It seems like over the last few years, I mean, and especially this year as well, with the Vikings area, I went with the whole family, which includes 13 nieces and nephews. So, it was an intense state. But yeah, that new Vikings area is just stunning, isn't it?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, we're really proud of it. We worked really hard to try and make sure they had something for everyone as well. So, it's got 3 brand new attractions and then one can like refurbish attraction. So, we have Thor, the umbrella disco coaster which is just insane. It's like one of the smoothest disco coasters that I've ever done, to be honest, it's really great. It's themed really well, as well. 

Danielle Nichols: Loki, the UK's first Zamperla Nebulaz, which just amazes everyone from off right, and done right, it's like a real showpiece. So, that's really great. Jormungandr, which is a refurbishment of the Old Buffalo Coaster into kind of like the Viking season, and so there's a classic if I must have one. Then Sleipnir as well, which is like a little pony track. There is literally something for everyone, it's great. It really is insane.

Mikey: I'm so glad that the old Buffalo coaster was kept as well, I remember, I mean, Drayton Manor was my childhood park, so it's, one, great to see in recent years. I mean obviously, Thomas Land has been a staple for a long time now, is a worldwide known IP, and it's always been a fantastic area of the park. But it's great to see other areas of the park basically just having the love and attention that the whole park deserves, really.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, definitely. We're trying to push that fun for everyone, which came up Iin our rebrand earlier this year as well. So, trying to push the demographics slightly into more kind of family fun, and seems to be working really well.

Mikey: Yeah, absolutely. It's perfect. I could go on Thor. I've been on a nice handful of these discos, and it was probably my favorite one, it was so smooth, nice and fast, and then and then my wife could take the little ones over onto the smaller rides as well.

Mikey: Then obviously Thomas Land and the zoo, like the attractions for the smaller children are still just as important. Just kind of recognizing that gap in the market really.

Mikey: Yeah, definitely, definitely. It's going well. I've loved Drayton Manor for a long time, like I said, I used to go growing up, my wife used to live 20 minutes away, and it's been great going as adults and, you know, riding our favorites like Shockwave and whatnot as well. So, yeah the whole park is looking great, and we're were excited about the whole sort of this like rebrand of the logo and how the parks just come into life again really? And with this sort of revitalization of Drayton Manor theme park comes Halloween as well, and you've got lots of plans. So, that's why I thought it'd be great to get you onto Scare Track and all our scare geeks can listen to what you guys have got in store.

Mikey: So, we've got sort of three different sections or over Halloween really then. We've got Halloween at Drayton, which is frightfully fun for everyone, which is the more family-friendly event, like you say it's that sort of target market. So, if people are listening here and they've got young children, they have something that they need something to do for Halloween this season, what sort of things will they come to expect with Halloween at Drayton?

Danielle Nichols: So, Halloween at Drayton is kind of like our overarching campaign for the full three events. Within that, we have Pumpkin Smash Bash, which is the one for the little kind of children, for the younger ones. Then we have Night at the Manor and Fireworks Spectacular. 

Danielle Nichols: Pumpkin Smash Bash we're kind of going in with like a treat for little monsters. So, we have a brand-new attraction for this event, which we're really excited about, called Castle Spooks. It's very similar format to what we've previously used for Christmas, whereby you enter the castle, you have like a story time with a skeleton, which will be really fun, then you move on to the next room and you kind of do a make your own trick or treating bag, which is kind of like a arts and craft session. Then the final area in the experience is kind of like a quiz time with Frankenstein's monster. So, it'll be like full interactive games which will then lead into trick or treating in two and the three different kind of like different doors around the area and then we will exit. So, this attraction runs like 11 or 4 throughout the day and there's no upcharge, which is really exciting.

Mikey: Oh, that's great.

Danielle Nichols: So, that's just included in the ticket price, yeah.

Mikey: Oh, that's fantastic. That's what's great as well as that, you know, especially with all the crazy things that are happening in the world at the moment, that we don't really want to get into and whatnot, people will be watching their wallets this season, probably more than ever. We've spoke to quite a few different operators who are slightly concerned about that. So, the fact that you're not only doing an awesome activity for the children throughout the day, it's literally just buy your theme park ticket and it's included with it as well.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, so it'll run and operate exactly as a standard attraction. You'll arrive, you don't need to prove up a slot or anything, and you just queue up and head through.

Mikey: Oh, perfect, excellent. That's over at the castle areas?

Danielle Nichols: The entry next to, kind of near Safari Pizza Pasta, that is it there near the zoo entrance. Then we'll also have a lot of kind of like entertainment. So, we'll have Frankenstein's monster, and his kind of like Doctor will be around, and other things like that, which will be a lot of fun.

Danielle Nichols: We'll also have Rory's Boo Bash, which is kind of like a little show with Rory, our mascot. The kids can do different dances and things like that to earn sweets, which will be really fun and exciting. Then the standard Thomas Land balcony shows as well, with Sir Topham Hatt, Rusty and Dusty, and obviously over haunted rides and attractions as well.

Mikey: Yeah, so an action-packed day out, you know, like it is every day, but you've even now got the extra Halloween stuff on top as well.

Danielle Nichols: It's really exciting.

Mikey: Well, our people saying that you can come dressed up as well, so it can literally just really get nice and involved within the Halloween atmosphere as well. will you see little pumpkins and witches dressed up?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, definitely. I think maybe not so much the scary masks and things like that, but definitely like little witches and things would be really cute. We've got a lot of decorations as well, so like pumpkins, haybales, etc. So, really good for photo opportunities. 

Mikey: Definitely, yeah. We love a good photo op. Absolutely perfect. So, anyone listening now, I know we mainly talk about the Super scary stuff and scare attractions, but half your listeners out there, you have your little ones, it's definitely worth the trip up to Drayton Manor to check out the daytime event there. Then what really caught my eye, especially after, like I say, years and years of going to Drayton's Manor, that we've got Night at the Manor, the ultimate scare experience for 14 plus. So, I'm guessing this one is a little bit more scary. Obviously, I don't want all the secrets to be revealed as such, but can you give us a little bit of an insight of exactly what kind of thing we'd be expected to see at Night at the Manor?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, sure. So, we're running Night at the Manor the 23rd, 22nd, 28th, and 29th of October, and we branded it as the ultimate scare experience. So, a lot for us to live up to, but we're definitely ready for it. As you said, 14 years plus, so it's not for the faint-hearted, definitely for the older guests. We'll have the Castle of Screams included in this event, so the Castle of Spooks will kind of be like spooked up a little bit more for the evening on these dates. The theme of the scare maze is, you're going in and meeting the ancestors of the castle, who they kind of don't take visitors lightly. So, you'll go through, and you'll meet them, and it'll be like a frightful experience as you head around.

Mikey:  So, is this after the theme park closes, or is it towards the afternoon, or what sort of like the time frames? Is a completely sort of separate ticket to the Drayton Manor park?

Danielle Nichols: It is, yeah. So, we have Pumpkin Smash Bash during the daytime, and then that finishes and closes at 5:00 PM. Then from 5:00 PM till 9:00 PM we have Night at the Manor as a separate event.

Mikey: I see. Is the park open throughout that time as well or is it is the park closed and it's just Night at the Manor running at that time?

Danielle Nichols: So, as part of Night at the Manor we'll have Vikings and the Haunting open for rides in the dark.

Mikey: Oh, excellent. OK that's cool. So, people can come solely for Night at the Manor, but they can get a few rides in as well. Perfect.

Danielle Nichols: So, yeah, we've got Castle of Screams, which is really exciting. Again, no upcharge, it's just included in the ticket. We will then also have the Haunted Express, which I've seen a couple of other parks doing this, with the audio kind of scare experience where you put the headsets on your ears. So, it's one of those experiences. There'll be actors on the train, and it's set on the Polperro Express, which will go around the track and there will be different sets and things, and as I say, there will be scare actors on there as well, which will be really exciting.

Mikey: Yeah, I don't know if I've actually been on an actual, call it haunted train I guess, but I suppose that's using what you guys... you know the train's been there for years, a staple of the park, it's just using what you have to your advantage for scares really, isn't it?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, it's fun. So, we've kind of said a one-way ticket for a train ride from hell.

Mikey: You're going intense.

Danielle Nichols: We are going, right?

Mikey: This as the year you're looking at the family market, you're going intense for the evening.

Danielle Nichols: We really are. We've never done scary before, so we're definitely going to really push and try and make it as scary as possible. 

Mikey: Absolutely, absolutely. Can I ask why it's sort of taken up until now for Drayton to go for the full sort of scare experience? Is it just something that wasn't right for the park before then you're looking at something to branch out? Or is it just seeing that Halloween is becoming so popular, not just for trick or treating, but for the evening thing as well? Is that why Drayton Manor is sort of going in this direction as well?

Danielle Nichols: All the above, to be honest, when we rebranded, that was kind of like the start of fun for everyone to really try and push the demographic upwards slightly, and this event seemed to really fit. As you say, there's a lot of opportunity in Halloween, we see a lot of Halloween events throughout the country, but also throughout, kinda like the continent and the world. The Looping Group do plenty of Halloween events already, particularly in the UK, so they have pleasure with chills, pleasure with thrills, and some others as well. So we kind of just thought, why not?

Danielle Nichols: We had a new Managing Director join us as well at the start of the season, Victoria. She's a massive advocate for events in general, particularly a Halloween event.

Mikey: Excellent, excellent. And that's really exciting. The keyword there that you just mentioned as well is events, and something, obviously, other parks have done, like you say, Halloween or Christmas for a long time. But we have seen the likes of out of season or events as well happening to, you know, whether it be an Oktoberfest, Mardi Gras, Easter, or something like that. So, is it sort of a case of if these new events that you're bringing in now go down well at Drayton Manor, if the uptake is good, which I'm sure it will be, I'm buzzing about it...

Danielle Nichols: Hopefully!

Mikey: Fingers crossed, definitely. Is that something that, potentially down the line, we may see more events held at Drayton Manor Park?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, I think it like you say, it all depends on the success and the performance of the events we currently have. But if all goes well, yeah, that would definitely be the plan. Night at the Manor is kind of like with dipping our toes in, and then we'll see how it goes from there. We're definitely excited about potential future events.

Mikey: Yeah, definitely exciting. Perfect. So, obviously we got the daytime thing, we got the evening event Night at the Manor as well, which it's just going to be pretty cool to be at Drayton Manor after dark really as well, isn't it? I think people take it for granted sometimes, but it's actually a really beautiful park with such the huge lake, especially with Thor next to it now as well and Jormungandr, and you know with The Bounty on the lake as well. I feel that, I'm sorry I'm sort of sidetracking a little bit here as well, but especially with the new investments the park has its more featured lands around that lake, and it just fits so much nicer now, doesn't it?

Danielle Nichols: It does, yeah. Another thing that Victoria, she did an interview recently with Blooloop, I'd recommend you guys check it out because it is great, and she's a massive advocate of theming. So, that's definitely something we'll be looking into.

Mikey: Yeah absolutely. Yeah, we love themeing, and like I said previously, Thomas Land you walk in there and it is like you are you know part of Thomas Land. But yeah, in more recent years, especially with the sort of refresh of the Shockwave area with the wave swinger and whatnot.

Danielle Nichols: Adventure Cove.

Mikey: Yeah, Adventure Cove, yeah, looks stunning. I wasn't able to get there for its opening year, but obviously, I saw it this year with the introduction of Vikings. The parks' really, really coming, like I said, I've loved it forever, but it's just really coming to life recently.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, we are really excited. I've been here for just over four years and just in the last two years the amount of investment that we've seen is incredible.

Mikey: Yeah, absolutely. Hopefully, it's a sign of things to come, and just grow and grow, absolutely.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, definitely. As part of Night at the Manor, we do also have two other experiences. So, we have Hunt for Zebediah, which is kind of like a torch-lit walk around the zoo, it's like a guided tour. 

Mikey: Oh wow, that's awesome.

Danielle Nichols: So, that'll be interesting. Guests will be kind of handed a torch to kind of follow the host around, and the idea is that they've got to hunt through the zoo for Zebediah, who is a little bit of a well-known killer in the area. 

Mikey: Nice, again, going intense!

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, really pushing the scares for that one. Then, just to kind of chill it out a little bit, we have a resident DJ in Vikings to make a little bit of a Vikings party as well, like dance and things, just change the vibe a little bit.

Mikey: Yeah, well that's what we love when we go to attractions and things like that, we love getting scared and terrified, but then we also love to laugh about it afterward, and just enjoy the vibe and the party as well. So, basically, you know, get absolutely terrified and then party with some Vikings, it sounds like a great night out, to be fair.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, yeah, I think it will be.

Mikey: Perfect, excellent. So, very exciting stuff for Night at the Manor, and like you said earlier, that's a different ticketed attraction, and you can go and do that and explore a few areas of the park as well. Then to top it all off, on the 30th of October, you've got the Fireworks Spectacular and Dazzling Halloween Extravaganza. I know you've done had fireworks a fair few times now, but is this going to be sort of like the biggest we've seen purely because of how you know how big this event is?

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, so during the day of our Fireworks Spectacular on the 30th it'll be the Pumpkin Smash Brush offering, so everything we've already proved spoken about. Then between 5:00 and 7:00 that's when things will change up slightly. So, as you've probably seen if you've been to one of our fireworks events previously, we'll have kind of like separate photo opportunities and things like that around the park, and then at 6:00 o'clock we'll have a 10-minute firework display as well, which will be Halloween themed. So, Halloween soundtrack and lighting and things like that. Then, Vikings will be opened up until 7:00 o'clock, ride in the dark as well.

Mikey: We love a ride in the dark. That's half the reason why we love theme parks at Halloween, you get to ride in the dark.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, I'm really excited about Loki in the dark, I think it's going to look really nice.

Mikey: Yes, yeah, absolutely. It's just so, like you say, on and off ride it's just so mesmerizing. But it is a beautiful ride to look at.

Danielle Nichols: Yeah, it really is.

Mikey: I'm getting a bit too theme park nerdy now. Perfect, excellent. So, I mean lots of stuff to come at Halloween at Drayton Manor. So. what's the best way for people to get their tickets? Is that direct at the Drayton Manor website?

Danielle Nichols: Yes, if you head onto our website, there's a little button at the bottom left, and there's also one at the top right for Book Now. You click onto that and follow through to Halloween tickets, you can get them all there.

Mikey: Perfect, so there we go, no excuse, guys. Get to Drayton Manor for Halloween. We got Pumpkin Smash Bash, we got Night at the Manor, which sounds epic, let's be honest, and then finish it off with the Fireworks Spectacular and party and rides in the dark as well. It's all a win-win. So I mean, I think that brings us to the perfect conclusion of this Scare Track episode. Daniel Nichols, the Senior Content Executive at Drayton Manor Theme Park, a huge, huge thank you for coming on Scare Track, and we'll see you at Halloween.

Danielle Nichols: See you there. Scare you there.

Mikey: Scare you there.

Mikey Profile Photo

Mikey

Host of ScareTrack Podcast

Mikey has been reviewing scare attractions since 2012. With a BA Honours Degree in Theatre to his name, Mikey uses his specialist knowledge of Artauds Theatre of Cruelty along with other detailed research when reviewing attractions. Mikey has conducted numerous haunt seminars and hosted an extreme haunt panel debate at recent scare conventions. Along side ScareTrack, Mikey also admins the ‘Scare Actors Group’ on facebook. This group helps aspiring and seasoned scare actors find new and exciting acting opportunities. Mikey enjoys attractions that aren't scared to try new ambitious ideas.

Danielle Nichols Profile Photo

Danielle Nichols

Senior Content Executive at Drayton Manor Resort