Our top ten tips for your ideal adventure experience fighting the Undead.
1. What happens on a Zombies experience?
You go into a ‘deserted’ building with some other people. You’re armed with a paintball gun, or something similar. The building is usually dark. People pretending to be zombies jump out at you, hopefully when you’re not expecting it, and try to wrestle you to the ground. If you shoot them with your provided weapon, it stops them attacking and they are out of the game so far as you are concerned. If they win, then you join their ranks and become a Zombie yourself – so effectively losing the game. The aim is to survive and come out the other end as not a zombie.
It is important to remember that the people leaping out at you are not real Zombies. There are a number of reasons for this:
- if you were infected by real zombies and became a zombie yourself, your relatives could sue the life out of the experience provider who would certainly go bust.
- if you did get caught by a real zombie and become one of their number, then your life insurance policy would never pay out. This is because while you’d not be able to go to work, you’d be officially undead and would stay that way until the last trump, the crack of doom, the great rising or some other date yet to be announced.
- there are no weapons as yet proven to be effective against real zombies. The guns you are supplied with for your zombie experience are not real guns, and the people pretending to be zombies are only pretending to be harmed by them.
- there are many out-of work actors, or people seeking casual employment, and dressing up as a zombie and moaning and groaning enables them to earn a living. This also applies to friends and relatives of the experience owner, who are often glad to fill in at short notice for a couple of hours for a few pounds. Real zombies would do it for free, or certainly much more cheaply, which would be illegal as we now have a minimum wage.
- zombies don’t like coming out in the daylight, and there would be severe logistical problems in transporting them every day from the crypts and graveyards where they normally reside, without any exposure to daylight, which could damage their own health and lead to possible lawsuits against the experience owner.
2. Choose a good location for your adventure experience
While you’d obviously choose a nearby Zombie experience if you have one, it is important for those who have more than one to choose from to check that the location is a quiet one. A deserted village doesn’t have quite the same eerie effect if you can hear traffic on the other side of the wall, or passing ambulance sirens disturb what is supposed to be the deadly silence. And if there’s a pub nearby, you’d be amazed how the sound of revellers travels through walls.
And total darkness is in our view essential to get the most out of your adventure day. In today’s society, there’s light everywhere – even in what seems to be wild countryside, you can usually see city lights, street lights, or lights from distant dwellings. And as every budding Patrick Moore knows, the night sky can be very bright indeed once the light pollution from inhabited areas is removed. So total darkness is surprisingly disorientating and will make your day much more scary than a bit of gloom. So make sure if you can that there will be total darkness. You’ll be given a torch of course, but then everybody attacked by demons, zombies and the like at night in the movies is carrying a torch. Which they usually drop.
If the only zombie day you can get is in a room in a shopping mall, then that’s better than nothing. But for the best experience needs silence – apart from your screams – and darkness – which is why your torch battery may not last as long as you think!
3. Check your fitness
These zombies do get quite physical when they’re trying to add you to the number of the Undead. Would-be zombie-killers can expect to be manhandled, dragged to the ground and generally mauled about by any zombie who happens to leap out and surprise them. So if you weren’t keen on playing rugby, didn’t like a bit of rough and tumble and preferred sitting peacefully with a good book, then this may not be the thing for you.
And if your adrenaline is already at 200%, you’re in the dark, you’re disorientated and just that bit terrified (and who wouldn’t be apart from Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude van Damme?) , then a howling actor suddenly leaping out at you from nowhere can be quite a shock to the system. Startling is not the word! And the last thing we want is a heart-attack or seizure caused by little shocks like that. So do make sure that you’re not of a nervous disposition or suffering from anything too serious before booking.
4. Dress to Kill
And here we mean literally! Bear in mind that part of the zombie experience is olfactory, so the actors attacking you will be smelly. The best ones will be wearing anti-perfume designed to be pretty repugnant to the ordinary guy who likes a squirt of Lynx. And they should be dripping slime, oozing fake blood, and generally very unclean indeed. The Undead aren’t big at taking showers.
On top of that, they’ll be trying to grapple you and manhandle you to the ground in their search for world-domination, so your Armani suit could well look slightly worse for wear after a couple of hours of zombie battles.
Our advice is dress in something you wouldn’t mind getting soiled, crumpled, dirty and torn a little bit. Your job today is to kill zombies, so dress for it.
And yes we know that zombies are already dead, so can’t be killed, but we’re using ‘kill’ in the sense of stop or disable. And in this sense, make sure that you do dress to kill!
5. Go in a group
While the experience itself will be fun, the main part of one of these adventure days is to share it with friends or colleagues so that you will have joint memories to laugh about together for long, long after the day is over.
It’s popular to take a group who work together – they’re even described as ‘bonding’ or ‘team-building’ sessions, which would be an excellent way to get the company to pay for you. Or go with a few friends, a pool team, Sunday football team or really any other group that like hanging out together and having a good time.
You can go on your own, but we think you’ll find it a bit flat afterwards, when you tell people excitedly “And then this zombie leapt out and I screamed and wet my trousers and …….” as you watch their eyes glaze over. You need to be there to understand it, and unless they actually went with you, they won’t be able to share it at all.
6. Choose one that’s been going a while
Zombie experiences have been available for quite a few years now, and like all good things, they get imitators as everybody jumps on the bandwagon and tries to make money out of it.
While we’re sure many of the newer ones are cracking good experiences, it does take some time and experience for the provider to find out what works, what doesn’t work, how to design the locale, how to select and train the pretend zombies, and basically what makes for a first class zombie experience. So if a sign suddenly goes up near you saying “Best Zombie experiences here”, we’d advise you to check it out very carefully before spending any of your hard-earned on it.
The ones that have been going a few years will be more likely to have got it right and get people coming back time and again for more. And these are the ones we’d consider first.
7. Join in and forget that they’re not real zombies
To get the most out of your zombie day, you need to suspend disbelief and pretend along with the actors who are pretending to be real zombies.
It’s no use criticising the fake blood for not being real enough, jeering at the make up or the zombie’s acting. The chances are he’s never seen a real zombie so doesn’t know how one would behave when trying to kill you, but he’s doing his best on minimum wage to give you a good time, and the least you can do is go along with it. If you join in properly, acting like there really are zombies after you and you need to eliminate them or get Undeaded yourself, you’ll have a brilliant time.
So if you’re one of those who finds fault with everything and refuses to join in, then try something else. Perhaps hang around a few crypts at midnight in the hope of meeting a real zombie.
But for everybody else, if you can forget your inhibitions and join in the fun, you’ll have a day to remember.
ps Zombies never could count!