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Behind the scenes

The stench of fear

How smell helps to bring nightmares to life

To create a truly disorienting and terrifying atmosphere that transports guests into a world of horror at a Halloween event you need a complete multi-sensory immersion.

‘Smell pods’ are an innovation frequently used by theme parks, shops and even museums to help bring to life what you see and touch. But just how are the horrifying stenches at Alton Towers Resort’s Scarefest created and deployed?

Smell pods are oil-based diffusers similar to (but far more high tech than) an air freshener that you may have in your home and they trick your senses to help tell a story and are used by creative teams to get you to believe that something is real!

This Halloween at Alton Towers Resort there are 19 new scented smell pods that have been specially created by a specialist team known as ‘Smellologists’, but their recipes are top secret!

The smell pods are used throughout Scarefest to create a stench that helps to bring epic tales to life in everything from the pirates of the deep right through to the history of the Plague in the Alton Towers Dungeon, heightening the sense of fear.

One of this year’s new scents includes ‘Victorian Lavender’ which is deployed in “The Attic: Terror of the Towers” to transport brave visitors into the horrifying Victorian-gothic world of the governess, set in Alton Castle.

Just like the audio tracks that play across the park - and this year there are three brand new soundtracks that have been composed entirely in house - the smell pods are used throughout the landscape to create the ‘natural’ smells associated with Halloween. That includes everything from the sinister smell of a hoard of rotting zombies to sickeningly sweet toffee apples!

From warm and pleasant, tropical and alluring to down-right weird and even gross, smell pods bring to life whatever the atmosphere you’re trying to create. The back catalogue of bespoke scents used at the park in the past include coal, popcorn, rotten eggs and sea to the more unusual elephant, zombie, dinosaur, dungeon, an attic, dragon’s breath, Chlorine Gas, wartime underground bunker and a Ship's cannon – just to name a few!

October 2019

Merlin Entertainment