- Jay Richardson
- 13 October 2021
All the fun of the fear as a Glasgow shopping-centre car park reboots itself with a mix of Halloween-flavoured rides and old-fashioned fairground amusements
Surpassing even Ozzy Osbourne for ill-advised bat consumption, Covid-19 is the pandemic that keeps on taking. The Spooktacular was conceived as a multi-faceted family event running through October, with a circus, silent disco, maze and slime workshops. Unfortunately, recent changes in coronavirus legislation mean that the festival's format has changed, with the event now stripped back to simply being fairground rides in the Silverburn shopping-centre car park.
A sprinkling of cobwebs and plastic skeletons hang from trees, a few inflatable pumpkin-headed ghouls bedeck the food trucks. Yet the window dressing is sparse, when Halloween-themed thrill rides are surely the perfect opportunity for gaudy overkill. The solitary on-theme attraction, promising a few spooky scares, is the Roller Ghoster, but it is, sadly, distinctly non-spooky. Creakily rolling along but over before you know it, the most shocking thing about this sorry example of ectoplasmic locomotion is the extent to which Wes Craven and Stephen King's work has been plundered, each supposedly chilling surprise viewable from the previous corner.
Why, then, did my young family enjoy their afternoon so much? In a word, naivety. They don't realise that these are exactly the same rides you'll find in any fairground up and down the land on any given weekend. My six-year-old loved capering through the Magic Carpet funhouse, even if several bits were out of order, perpetually getting back on to go again and again. And to be more generous, The Spooktacular packs in lots of attractions (almost 20) into a reasonably compact space, genuinely offering something for everyone. Our toddler couldn't stop beaming on a little whirling car ride, sat alongside an older sibling. And I'm a sucker for a waltzer.
Family tickets are a little steep at £49.50, with advanced booking for two adults and two children. Or £65 on the door. Yet you can really race through the amusements and cram in a lot of fun. Old-fashioned entertainment like football shoot-outs, test-your-punch machines and mat slides feature alongside enjoyable classics like the dodgems, skyscraping chair-o-plane The Starflyer, and a big wheel that's a modest 33 metres in height yet surprisingly fast moving. Teens and upwards will savour the experience most though, with plenty of thrills provided by the Drop Tower that leaves stomachs lurching in the air while the Wild Thing tagada ride pins you to your seat with impressive centrifugal oomph. For the slightly less daring and older children, the Miami bidule ride and the gyrating Sizzler are at a welcome intermediate level that won't elicit the reappearance of your chips while the bouncing, boxing Kangaroos are a charming novelty.
The Spooktacular, Silverburn, Glasgow, until Sunday 31 October.