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Saturday 13th October 2001

It's the time of year once again where Storybook Land transforms into something more like Scarybook Land.

This year the Spooktacular show, once again located inside the Big Top that usually plays host to the Peter Rabbit & Friends on Ice show, had much to live up to after last year's fantastic show.

The setting for this year was the Heavensville Hotel, a strange and mysterious Hotel attempting to regain its five star status after years of neglect. The only occupants of the hotel are its owners, Harold, Mavis and daughter Trixie, along with a few other probably uninvited friends.

Visiting the hotel are Arthur and Martha Ramsbottom, a couple of hotel inspectors who arrive to give the hotel a thorough going over, to ensure it deserves the five stars.

Music, lights and magic all ensue, as the Ramsbottoms take a unique journey, while the family attempt to impress them.

The illusions are pretty well executed. We certainly couldn't figure them out, even though they didn't really fit into the storyline as well as last year. The music tracks were very well performed, but again, it seems that they may have been chosen without much thought into how the audience would react to them. They didn't have as much punch with the audience as the chosen tracks from last year.

Overall, the show is once again, an excellent half hours entertainment, although not quite up to the standard of the previous year, even though it seems the majority of the cast were brought back for this year. A few technical hitches may have detracted from the show, but these will be undoubtedly be ironed out over the course of the run.

The Storybook Land area takes on a completely different aura when night falls over Alton Towers, as the characters come out to entertain the crowds.

The show runs on selected days until the end of the season, so its best to check before you visit if you want to catch it. You also need to ensure that you arrive at the Big Top early so guarantee a seat.

Steve Taylor