The Haunted Castle is back at Warwick Castle

It’s that time of year again, when witches and wizards, warlocks and demons and all the things that go bump in the night make their annual appearance. Halloween is almost upon us and with it, the beautiful, historic Warwick Castle becomes the spooky, mysterious haunted castle, with Witches Towers, Devils ramparts and haunted hollows. We went along yesterday to check out the seasonal activities, and, getting into the spirit of things, took our own little ‘Grim Reaper’ along for the trip.

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Warwick is one of the best examples of a castle in England, and I love how it truly gets into the spirit of Halloween, with activities and attractions that can be enjoyed by lots of different age groups. Activities range from those aimed at children and families, including the rather wonderful ‘Horrible Histories’ maze and the spooky but beautiful ‘Haunted Hollows’, to the terrifying, adults only ‘Tormented’ and ‘Outbreak 1349’ where you can come face to face with the plague ridden residents of Warwick Castle.

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Certain events are free, but timed, so it makes sense to get your tickets and then enjoy something else whilst you wait. We got timed tickets for the Witches Tower session, which is a story and spell session perfect for children under the age of eight. This is interactive, with children tasked with finding the ingredients for a special witches spell, and the taking screens and decorated surroundings make this great fun.

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Whilst we were waiting for our session in the Witches Tower, we made our way to the Horrible Histories Maze. This was Joe’s favourite activity, he loved following the trail, and trying to send me the wrong way. At different intervals you can find stamps, and when your book is completely stamped, you can collect your reward from one of the castle shops. The highlight of the maze is the enormous Viking longship, with the trenches of First World War proving to be poignant, especially with their poppy tribute.

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A trip around the ramparts is both exhilarating, and a horror in itself, with a total of 500 steps. The winding staircase of Guy’s Tower is hellish, but you are rewarded with spectacular views across the Warwickshire Countryside and a real sense of achievement at reaching the pinnacle…it’s just that you then have to make your way down again!

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We finished our wonderful trip with a visit to The Haunted Hollows. This is a spooky Halloween trail with skeletons, graves, a witches garden and talking scarecrows. With atmospheric smoke and sounds, this really is the perfect way to get yourself in the mood for Halloween, and is a great way to end your visit to the spookiest castle in England.

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Warwick Castle – The Haunted Castle is open every day until 9PM until Halloween, and is then open 10-4pm daily. For ticket prices and information, visit the website https://www.warwick-castle.com/

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5 Movie-Themed Theme Park Attractions Around the World

There has always been somewhat of a correlation between theme parks and what appears on the big screen. It’s a natural bridge to cross, given the appeal of both leans heavily in favor of children. Think about it. The most famous theme park in the world is Disneyland, which aims to capture the imaginations of young children. That’s why so many other amusement parks follow the same pattern. Rides and roller coasters based around Hollywood blockbusters.

The cynical among you will say that it’s just a marketing ploy. But isn’t there something to be said for bringing the big screen to life? The movies are one of life’s greatest escapes. We like to get lost in the stories told on the big screen. What better way to celebrate that than to live vicariously through them in the form of an exhilarating ride?

There are, quite literally, thousands of theme park attractions to choose from for the regular movie buff. It’s an exercise in clever branding. Why wouldn’t a thrill seeker want to go and take on that terrifying new ride in the name of their favorite movie? Hell, there’s even a relationship between theme parks and what happens behind the camera. That famous Merry-Go-Round featured in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas? You can go and take a ride on it yourself. Hopefully, you’re not as worse for wear as Benicio del Toro, though.

With all that being said, we figured it’s high time that somebody took a look at some of the best movie-themed attractions in the world. The ones that you and your family can go and try on for size right now.

 

Avatar Airbender, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Based on The Last Airbender, which originally aired on Nickelodeon, is the Avatar Airbender. Found in the heart of England, or in the Mall of America, the 70ft ride replicates the feeling of the show and movie. Everything about this ride is a throwback to the popular television series.

Even the queue is adorned with the lush foliage you’d expect, along with the famous guardian statues. From there, you approach the giant disk and begin to hope for the best. The half pipe roller coaster track gets faster and higher as it goes, as you “ride the airwaves.”

 

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Batman Adventure, Parque Warner

There is perhaps no superhero that is more world-renowned than The Dark Knight himself. The man has undergone a million different renditions. From its humble beginnings as the corny comic-book hero, to Christopher Nolan’s most recent offerings. Batman really does have something for everyone, depending on your personal tastes.

The Batman Adventure experience in Spain pays homage to Tim Burton’s much-maligned series. As you might expect from Tim Burton as a director, the four films are certainly larger than life, to say the least. The roller coaster in Madrid’s Parque Warner is still open today, and has that same dark feel that you would expect.

The ride begins on the outskirts of Wayne Manor. You then make your way through, into the super secret Batcave. That proves to be the calm before the storm, as you’re suddenly whisked off into the Gotham night. Its setting is that of a high-speed pursuit, and you can expect to encounter the caped crusader himself, along with a number of his enemies.

 

Journey to the Center of the Earth, Dollywood

What’s better than a ride involving Brendan Fraser, you might ask? Well, how about a ride involving Brendan Fraser in 4D? We weren’t quite sure what 4D actually entailed when we started compiling this list, so we had to run a quick fact check. It essentially boils down to 3D with moving parts and special effects.

This ride can be found all over the world, so it doesn’t matter where you are located. The Philippines? Check. New Zealand? Check. Tennessee? Check. It’s a fifteen-minute adventure thrill ride that takes you to the heart of the earth’s core. Definitely, worth your time if you’re going to be heading that way anyway.

 

Ratatouille, Disneyland Paris

There are many people that don’t understand the discernible differences between Disneyland and Disneyworld. The French park, you see, boasts an entire section of the park dedicated to rides you can’t find in the United States. One such ride is based on the French cult classic Ratatouille.

This roller coaster is particularly different if you’re looking for a sense of perspective. You see, you’re given the role of rats throughout the ride. Everything you see, hear, and sense will be from the perspective of a rodent. Where this ride is particularly notable is in its use of motion sensors to guide the cars rather than a traditional track. Technology, huh?

 

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Terminator X, Six Flags

 

Located in the Mexican branch of Six Flags, you can find Terminator X: A Laser Battle for Salvation. If that isn’t a title that gets your heart racing, I fear you may never be satisfied. Is there anything more fun in this world than laser tag? Not to our knowledge. And likewise, Terminator is just about the quintessential action hero. Put the two together and what do you have? One hell of a ride.

To cut a long story short, Terminator X is your standard laser tag adventure, but set in the Terminator universe. It’s a pretty standard parallel to make. Arnie loves his lasers. The amusement can be found at Six Flags locations around the world, including Mexico and Canada. Should you be interested, there is also an Alien vs. Predator version of the same game.
As you can see, no matter where you are in the world, there will be a ride that accommodates your favourite movie. The relationship between the big screen and theme parks is only going to get stronger. Each time Hollywood releases a new blockbuster, you can be sure that a roller coaster will be designed in its image. You should check the above out while you still can, as no doubt they’ll one day be replaced by younger models. What are some of your favourite movie-themed roller coasters and why?

Spending a day at Warwick Castle

When I was a child, my favourite family day out was not at a theme park, or even at the seaside. I was a true history buff (still am) and my idea of half-term heaven was a day spent at the stunning Warwick Castle. This beautiful Medieval masterpiece is a magical place that brings historical events and characters to life in the confines of those thick castle walls. Last week I passed my love of this fabulous place to my six year old son, also turning out to be a bit of a history lover (thanks to a school project about the Staffordshire Hoard). Our first family visit was a definite success.

Warwick Castle is a real castle, so often when we talk of Castles we are faced with ruins as a result of the Civil War, but Warwick was on the winning side during that period, and so it retained all it’s magnificent. The home of such historically important characters as Warwick the Kingmaker, and the site of a murder in the 17th century that is now linked to it’s reputed haunting, Warwick has all the ingredients to make history fascinating for adults and children alike.

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Beautiful Warwick Castle

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The Castle

Our visit took part on a gloriously sunny day, which meant the chance to explore the grounds and outdoor demonstrations. We started though by touring the  Great Hall and the State Rooms. Joe was fascinated by the suits of Armour, including models of armoured horses, and was very excited when one of the very helpful guides dressed him as a medieval Knight, complete with chainmail, shield and a rather large (but luckily very blunt) sword. There are plenty of guided tours, but we decided to take things at our own pace. I was fascinated by items pertaining to belong to Elizabeth 1st, and the death mask of Oliver Cromwell, whilst Joe loved unusual items like the very large cooking pot.

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Pete with Oliver Cromwell’s Death Mask

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That rather large cooking pot.

The Royal Weekend party is just a stunning way to bring history to life, recreating a Victorian weekend from the time when the captivating Daisy Brooke was the chatelaine at Warwick, and the mistress of the heir to the throne, Bertie aka Edward VII. The attention to detail in this part of the castle is wonderful, from the glasses of wine to the brushes on the dressing table. This is my favourite part of the castle – it really takes you back in time as you observe and eavesdrop on conversations from royalty to the hired help.

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Towers and Ramparts

The towers and ramparts at Warwick offer some amazing views across the River Avon and Warwickshire, but Joe was a little frightened to venture up the enormous Guy’s Tower, instead venturing up the Clarence Tower with his dad. The Time Tower offers a new attraction for 2015, with an interactive display telling the history of the castle from Saxon times to the present day. Joe particularly enjoyed this, especially the talking portraits that moved out of their frames, as if by magic.

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Food

We enjoyed the unlimited pizza and salad option at the Undercroft buffet restaurant. This is part of the castle itself, so offers another fantastic experience. There are plenty of different pizza options, both meat and vegetarian, and also garlic bread and a good choice of salads. Unlimited soft drinks are also included in the price, which is £10.95 for adults and £6.95 for children. We really enjoyed the food on offer and liked the buffet option, but there are other outlets including fish and chips, hotdogs, Warwick Cream teas and The Coach House Family restaurant.

In the undercroft buffet

In the undercroft buffet

The grounds

There is so much to see and do in the grounds. We watched the birds of prey display, with Joe gasping as the huge Condor swooped down over our heads. We then visited the birds of prey mews where the birds sit so perfectly I actually asked my husband if they were real (I know – durrrr!). On such a beautiful day, many people were just sitting on the river bank enjoying the day, and the area around the Conservatory and peacock garden was very busy. This is one area that I totally fell in love with, the Conservatory is just beautiful and serves a great cream tea, whilst the fact that the peacocks roam free just fascinated Joe.

By the Millhouse - another place you can visit at Warwick Castle

By the Millhouse – another place you can visit at Warwick Castle

The birds of prey are just fabulous.

The birds of prey are just fabulous.

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One of the many amazing views from the Mount

The Conservatory - a must visit for afternoon tea

The Conservatory – a must visit for afternoon tea

One addition that I certainly don’t remember from my childhood visits is the Pageant Playground. This is a lovely, children’s wooden playground resembling a medieval fort, perhaps based on the original Warwick Castle. This is a great area for allowing parents to have a sit down while kids can run off any excess energy and indulge in battles using the shields and swords they will have picked up at the numerous gift shops (quite reasonably priced – Joe had a plastic sword and axe priced at £3 each). We finished our visit with a trip to the playground, knowing this would tire Joe out for the journey home.

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Sir Joe.

Sir Joe.

Warwick Castle is a true day out, you can literally spend the whole day there absorbed in the pomp and history of the wonderful building and its spectacular grounds. It is now an established favourite with my family and we can’t wait for our next visit.

11173355_748566375241466_8466174921137309083_nTo plan a visit, find admission and opening times, please visit the Warwick Castle website here.

*We were given free admission to Warwick Castle in return for a honest review.

Family Fever