The team behind Journey to Hell Freak Nights, the haunt event at Blackpool Pleasure Beach theme park in the U.K., recently measured guests’ heart rates to identify which of the event’s experiences was scariest.
The question is a spirited conversation point after attending any haunt event: Which attraction was the scariest? Guests may differ in their opinions. Therefore, is there a way to use science to determine an objective victor? Management of Blackpool Pleasure Beach seems to think so.
James Cox is the director of sales, marketing, and PR at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. He’s also an accredited IAAPA certified attractions executive (ICAE), a designation earned from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and reserved for industry professionals of seven years or more.
“This year our Journey to Hell is scarier than ever before,” Cox said. “With new and improved scare zones, we wanted to put them to the test and find out exactly which parts were the most frightening.”
American readers should note that Blackpool Pleasure Beach seems to use the term “scare zone” as an all-encompassing phrase referring to any of the event’s special offerings: indoor haunted houses, themed ride overlays, and informal outdoor environments. In the U.S., “scare zone” typically only refers to the last of those options.
As part of the experiment, Blackpool Pleasure Beach personnel distributed heart rate monitors to 50 guests attending Journey to Hell Freak Nights. Prior to the event, the guests collectively had an average resting heart rate of 77 BPM.
Of the evening’s frightening offerings, which would come out on top?
Based on guests’ heart rates, the study determined scare zones known as “The Lost: Fear Will Find You” and “Twisted Tunnels” as the most frightening of Journey to Hell Freak Nights. During these experiences, the measured group’s heart rates rose to an average of 159 BPM. The highest-recorded BPM among the 50 guests during these attractions was 180.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s website describes The Lost: Fear Will Find You as featuring “souls who have wandered into a supernatural realm, unable to find their way out.” Meanwhile, in Twisted Tunnels, “the joy of the festive season clashes with the cold grip of fear as you navigate through a workshop gone horribly wrong.”
“We can now officially say that The Lost and Twisted Tunnels are by far the scariest elements of our Journey to Hell,” Cox concluded, “although the data also shows us that as a whole, Journey to Hell really does get your blood pumping, no matter what zones you dare to enter!”
Those other scare zones include walk through experiences like CarnEvil and Impossible Freak House, as well as overlays of park attractions that become known as Possessed: The Legend of the Cursed River Caves, Dark Icon, CaroLoco Dodgems, and The Ghost Train: Vault of Shadows.
A U.K. horror bar is likewise measuring patrons’ heart rates this haunt season. Screamfest VII: Shock Exchange in London’s Clerkenwell Catacombs consists of a bar at the end of a haunted walkthrough. The higher the guests’ heart rate as they proceed through the scares, the more expensive their drinks will cost at the bar.
Journey to Hell Freak Nights Tickets
Journey to Hell Freak Nights continue at Blackpool Pleasure Beach on Oct. 26-31, 2023 from 7-10 p.m. Guests must be at least 10 years old to attend. Guests ages 10-15 require an adult chaperone.
Standard admission is £39.50 ($48.29). For £51.50 ($62.96), tickets include a performance of “Pasaje del Terror,” a live show. Purchase tickets here.
Check out our video coverage of Journey to Hell Freak Nights: