Hello, Happy New Year and that. I'm Jim, your regular infected dead guy here at Zombie Infection, the UK's largest Zombie Experience Company! This week I'm talking all about those venues such as the Camelot Theme Park in Manchester & The Duke of Lancaster that were almost successful "pipe dreams" but alas ended up more as avoided "pipe bombs"!
Is fair to say that we are always on the look out for new places to infect and research is always ongoing. But rather than tell you guys what we already have, check out zombieinfection.co.uk for that stuff! I thought I'd tell you about a couple of venues that showed great promise but eventually turned out to be "dead" in the water. You can see where I'm going with this...
The first of these is actually dead in the water! We managed to get our hands on a dilapidated old cruise ship! How cool is that?! Well not very as it tuned out....
The Duke of Lancaster had laid dormant since the mid 80s decaying in the usual way and tuning itself into the perfect zombie experience location! The ship was structurally sound (although in no way water tight) and was available to to us only! In 2018 our founders and the team at ZIHQ planned an event, started the marketing and even managed to get the event featured in the national press...
So where did it all go wrong??
Well the ship itself was structurally safe although in no way serviceable. Its railings were sound, its floors solid and its ceilings didn't look like they were going to fall in anytime soon.
Even a long time issue with the emergency access road was finally sorted! The building fell short when it came to evacuation regulations. Many of the buildings we look at just don't have the internal infrastructure to support up-to-date regulations and would always require significant investment to bring up to scratch. Emergency lighting, fire doors, security systems, early safety alert technology. It all just adds up to a significant amount of money.
We have had health and safety condemn locations before but this was a real bullet in the brain as its unlikely another cruise ship will come our way! We still hold out hope that we'll get the old bird up to scratch one day. But for now, she'll have to stay put as she is.
Another site with great potential was in Chorley, Lancashire at the Camelot Theme Park...or what is left of it.
From 1983-2012 the Camelot Theme Park offered visitors a medieval/King Arthur inspired day out in the north west of England. Its 140 acre site had thrill rides, castles, food outlets. Perfect for an undead experience you might think (images of Zombieland flash before your eyes). We though so too so we had a look.
Combining the Medievil Dead and Zombieland's final zombie hoard does sound like a horror geeks dream and zombie jesters, undead peasants and a whole load of circular tables certainly sound like fun!
Alas reality presented itself once again and the Zombie Theme Park did not happen. Why you ask?
Well firstly the 140 acres is a big old site to haunt. We have an out door site at the 'The Forest' in Nottingham that is only around 40 acres and after many different versions of events it took us a long time to finally get it right! Sites that are large open spaces tend to be difficult to hide in, we're lucky our Forest 2.0 Zombie Experience has plenty of trees!! Most of the 140 acres of the Camelot Zombie site are empty spaces and wouldn't really suit the needs of a high intensity horror experience like those from Zombie Infection. You'd need a significant build budget to implement/build the places to hide, and in doing so you might lose an element of realism as it might become more like a Thorpe Park Scare maze with wooden walls and plastic drums. For example in comparison, our Prison Zombie Experience, the doors in that place are REAL prison doors... We're talking solid iron, they defo keep the infected out! They also provide our guests with the realism you'd come to expect from an immersive experience. We pride ourselves on providing an experience thats the closest thing you can get to the real thing, screen realism SFX makeup, weighty fire arms in build, touch and image, professionally trained actors that work for hours rehearsing and learning minor performance details. Eh hem... I digress its easy to get carried away with how cool our shit is :D!
Back to Camelot - The Zombie Experience that never happened - Secondly and most depressingly; the rides are gone! Sure there are some hollow remains highlighting the locations of the vomit inducing Whirlwind and the rather underwhelming Dragon Flyer but the rides themselves have been removed and it would be daft to let a bunch of Zombies operate them in any case!
We felt, after some serious thought, that the site wasn't suitable to run a high octane, very personal 18+, full on Zombie Infection Experience to the level and quality that we are known for. There would be too much running though wasteland and the location would detract from the realism of the event. Zombie Infection experiences put you (by you we mean every single attendee) in the heart of the action - think Resident Evil in real life! We are always on the look out for a Zombie Fairground but this one wasn't the one for us.
(We do have an event in Manchester! Checkout The Courthouse 2.0)
So what do we look for in a Zombie Experience location?
Firstly its got to be safe! We want all of our events to look dangerous but priority one is making sure none of our guests get injured and none of our Zombies get damaged...they aint cheap! Emergency Services have to have easy access and the fire inspectors have to be happy with the exits and our evacuation procedures.
Then the venue has to make sense in the greater Zombie Infection universe. Stories are written around locations so some locations just don't fit the bill (Like Camelot).
Whilst we operate all over England and plan to open new venues across the U.K. they have to be accessible for people by road and public transport. Getting too and from an event is a major consideration for guests and staff a like.
Then we have to have good landlords...and these are hard to find. We have had sites sold from underneath us, buildings condemned due to poor maintenance, double bookings....the list goes on. We pay an incredibly high day rate to our landlords and in some instances take on cleaning and basic maintenance that no other company would, but many owners still don't make it easy for us to provide them a regular income!
So we continue our search for new and interesting experience locations. We really want a Zombie Theme Park or Zombie Fairground. We'll always say yes to a Shopping Centre or Mall and we only have one outdoor venue so would like more of these, specifically in the Midlands. A Zombie Experience in Wales, Zombie Experience London or Zombie Experience Scotland are all on the wish list and will happen with time. Every month we find premises we think we could use so we're always hopefully of finding new homes for our Award Winning Immersive Zombie Experiences.
If you guys know of any potential venues abandoned or working let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org