I absolutely love going to water parks – just driving up to them and seeing the slides tower above me without fail gets me in a giddy mood. Warm summer sun, popsicles, the promise of a careless day just sliding away and floating around. This specific visit turned out quite differently. No children’s laughter, no one gliding along a lazy river in an inflatable tube, just empty water slides bathing in neon green light, with piercing screams and the buzzing of chainsaws battling it out with a roaring heavy metal soundtrack. The pools, filled with chopped off limbs, the pathways, overrun with creatures of the night. Welcome to Horrorland. <span style=”color: #000000;”>Horrorland took over a waterpark in Barcelona Spain.</span>
We last visited Horrorland back in November 2019, and without a shadow of a doubt called it the “absolute best European scream park we had visited”. Only in their second year running, they did everything right, and clearly had a huge future ahead of them – but then, as we all know now, COVID hit hard. Their sold out, corona-proof 2020 edition was canceled, tickets had to be paid back after a lot of investments had been made, and it all led to them having to leave their amazing site at a defunct nuclear facility in the mountains. It all sounded quite grim and definitive, until they dropped an announcement early July this year: Horrorland had found a new home, and would be back in full force for Halloween 2021. You better know we didn’t want to miss their grand return 😉
Enter Illa Fantasia, a water park some 15 minutes outside of Barcelona, coming in for the rescue as the new, considerably less grim and cold location for Horrorland. The park this time boasts a total of six haunted houses, five of which are completely new, along with shows, horror-themed games and plenty of food and drinks. Now, given how blown away we were last time, we’ll waste no time saying this – no, Horrorland 2021 wasn’t as amazing as the 2019 edition. There’s just something about the atmosphere of a scream park under a nuclear cooling tower that’s so unique that no substitute will be able to match it. Add the fact that instead of working in buildings specifically constructed for their haunts, they had to work in and around a functioning water park; the fact that COVID still isn’t quite gone, sadly but understandably making the more hands-on offerings a no-go for the organization; and the fact that we came in with enormous expectations – it was close to impossible for this edition to surpass what we saw two years ago. BUT – lower those pitchforks, guys – we are thrilled to say that the title “best scream park of Europe” easily still stands for us. There’s so much on offer, with six crazy houses and a whole lot of side entertainment. Every single maze was high intensity and had us jumping and screaming, the theming is impeccable, the timing of the scares and the crowd management are so well done, the actors definitely aren’t afraid to get right up in your face (and even a little touchy-feely in some mazes), and by the end of the night, we were once again completely in awe of this scream park. Huge, huuuge congratulations to the entire team. Something about a phoenix, and rising from the ashes, you know.
Alright, let’s get to the mazes:
Día de Muertos
We first ended up in Día de Muertos, a Mexican Day of the Dead themed walkthrough. From the get-go, it was clear that Horrorland didn’t skimp on the theming, as we walked through beautifully lit cemeteries, alleys full of colourful banners and streamers, dark tequila bars and dusty gambling dens, before getting assaulted by a barrage of neon skeletons. We often found ourselves marveling at the scenery, only to be hit by scares coming from all sides. A perfect starter maze, warming us up for the rest of the evening without pulling any punches.
Next up was Hell Cell, a tour through a maximum security prison where things had taken a very, very bad turn. Once again, the level of detail is insane – and really had us wondering whether this was a permanent installation or a temporary build. There’s tunnels carved through concrete walls, dank showers we were very glad to leave behind, dark and grimy execution chambers and morgues, all linked by endless cells, filled with ravenous inmates who couldn’t wait to get their hands on us. The theming here really was impeccable, and even included some very saucy pictures on the walls – gotta have some fun when you’re incarcerated! The stars of the show undoubtedly were the imposing prisoners though, delivering high impact scares and often doubling and even tripling up on their attacks.
After taking a moment for some side entertainment and refreshments, we found ourselves in Cannibal, an outdoors maze that took us deep into the jungle, and into the hands of a very hungry local tribe. After localizing a crash landed plane, we soon got surrounded by rickety huts, bone masks and a whole lot of strung up body parts, with the sound of screams and jungle drums rising up into the night air. The layout is incredibly simple – and with the maze being outside, featuring fairly wide walkways, you’d think that scares would be easy to spot in advance, but nothing could be further from the truth. This had been the home of the tribe for centuries, and they came from all sides, moving through shadow and foliage, attacking from where you’d least expect them. We never stood a chance, and this maze really was a lot more intense and impact-heavy than it had any right to be. Impressive stuff.
For our next maze, we entered Urbex Z. After a catastrophic elevator failure, we found ourselves in abandoned subway tunnels, with plenty of creatures preferring to stay away from daylight. Some similarities could be drawn to La Termica back in 2019, with sticky, dark tunnels full of fog and a number of huge, hulking animatronics making impressive appearances. On more than one occasion I was trying to admire these gigantic beasts, only to be jumped and chased away relentlessly by clawing monsters. Again, an absolute assault on all senses. As an upcharge experience, guests had the possibility to arm up and brave this maze with a rifle, turning the entire experience into a claustrophobic and horrifying game of laser tag. We didn’t end up going for this option and can attest that the maze works perfectly without it, but I can imagine that adding guns would only get the adrenalin pumping even more.
Now, we had been dreading this one, but it was time for the Survival Maze arena. Two years ago, this experience left us shaking and out of breath, and we genuinely were anxious and stressed out before braving the different assassins again. The principle is as simple as it is devious – four teams, differentiated by different colours of glowing necklaces, enter an arena, and are chased down by a colourful bunch of hair-raising hunters. After three rounds of increasing intensity, the team with the most necklaces remaining wins. This experience is just as terrifying, intense and frantic as I remembered it, with very real dread and panic in the air, attacks coming from all sides and everyone running for their lives. This year, the maze is set in a circular show area with seating on all sides, allowing the killers to surround their victims from the very beginning, immediately raising the stakes and causing everyone to brave the disorienting, maze-like center of the arena. In comparison to two years ago, the layout features less bottleneck situations and there’s just a líttle bit more room to move, but nevertheless, as the rounds go on, the body count increases, and there is no escape for the vast majority of the group.
We had kept McAbro for last, and this very much was “a last but not least” scenario. We had already spotted red necklaces being handed out in the queue, a tell-tale sign that some wild one-on-ones were about to go down. In this crazy chaotic and comical maze, we ventured through a meat processing plant manned by ravenous clowns. It’s blood splattered, gory fun all over, the clowns clearly having a blast teasing and tormenting anyone on an unfortunate tour of the facility. That necklace we mentioned – it offers you a moment where you are isolated from your group for some extra personal fun. I personally got my hand deep fried by a clown who was clearly craving a bite, others had very close calls at a chopping block, or got their bodies saran wrapped – exiting the attraction with a nicely phallic balloon hat for their troubles. As the replacement for Matadero – it maybe was missing some of the insane, frenzied aggression of its predecessor, but manages to infuse the idea with a lot of humour, and it was the perfect ending to a wild night.
So yeah, clearly, this edition made us fall in love with Horrorland all over again. The mazes are close to flawless, every single actor was on point, and I can’t even begin to count every time we jumped or screamed. The fact they made all of this happen in a new location shows the resilience and the sheer quality of Horrorland’s team – especially given the circumstances, they were able to deliver an incredibly polished experience, with highly original and intense houses. I love that they were able to keep a level of direct, intense contact between the audience and the actors, and they toed that line between safety and ferocity with precision. The next day, I only wanted to go back and experience it all over again. On top of that, I’m sure this is just the beginning of Horrorland 2.0, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next. Secretly, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the return of an extreme experience next year, but either way, we can’t wait to come back. Absolutely recommended.
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Horrorland is an amusement park in Barcelona Spain.