When I found out I was going to Screamland, I was far from scared.
As a grown man who has sat through near enough every horror film that you could name, I felt pretty confident that a couple of people dressed up in a cheap mask couldn’t scare me.
How naive I was.
The whole thing, from the first step into a maze until you crawl out of the last, is terrifying and panic-inducing.
Smoke filled rooms, loud bangs, and people hiding in every darkened corner are but a few of the things you can expect at the Dreamland fair in Margate.
And even outside of the mazes, you will be tracked by feral people with bats, hammers, and other terrifying weapons.
Five terrifying mazes
There are five different mazes in Screamland – but when we say mazes, we aren’t talking about your run-of-the-mill, green-hedged garden maze.
Instead, think more narrow, claustrophobic corridors, pitch black smoke filled rooms, and doors that don’t lead anywhere.
Take Submerged, a maze which is themed around a sinking ship. To enter the maze you have to fight your way through a hallway whose walls are inflatable and pushing against you.
Imagine being stuck in-between two bouncy castles which are rapidly expanding to unsafe levels, and having to battle your way out for along a walkway that seemed to go on forever.
That was our first experience of Screamland, and it was nearly our last.
Then, when you’ve finally scrambled your way through, you have to weave your way through from room to room as people jump out from every shadow.
To make matters worse, the route is not always obvious. In one room we found ourselves locked in on both sides, with the only escape route through the tiny fireplace in the corner of the room.
And some corridors are so dark you cannot see a thing. It is difficult to explain how scary it is being in a pitch-black hallway knowing that something is going to jump out from somewhere, but had you seen the four of us desperately wrestling to force the other to go first, I’m sure you would start to understand.
Each maze has a different theme. In The Brotherhood, for instance, you are required to wear a hood throughout the maze, through which you can see just enough to know that you are not alone, but nothing more.
Guided only by a rope, you then have to navigate your way through as the scarers claw at your hands and feet.
Of the five mazes, however, the Hammer House of Horror was the scariest. Themed around a cinema, it delivered scare after scare until we were hoarse from screaming.
To merely enter the maze, you are directed by the “owner” of the cinema to wait in a lightless room, with every tiny shadow appearing to move.
And just when you think you know where the scare is going to come from, something pops out behind you and frightens the life out of you.
We don’t want to ruin the surprise of this maze, but we will say this – it has a twist that M Night Shyamalan would be proud of.
Horrifying food and drinks
There is more to the attraction than just mazes, however. There are plenty of stands selling some great food, and (expensive) drinks. Don’t expect any change from a tenner if you buy a double rum and coke…
There is even a bar/restaurant which serves a variety of horrific foods and drinks.
The Urinary Tract Infection is a shot of whisky mixed with pickle juice (we think), served in a urine-sample – and should you order one, your server will likely announce it to the whole fair.
There is even a bright-red cocktail served in a blood-bag (of which we have forgotten the name, having had a few too many UTIs by this point.
The drink contains whisky, tomato juice, grenadine, and chili seeds, and to be frank, it is as disgusting as it sounds.
And if you are peckish, fear not, because the bar also serves some pretty spooky-looking food.
Just don’t let your guard down, as the scarers are not afraid to chase you down even in the bar…
Unified were invited to Screamland as guests, and were given free entry.