Yesterday Elvira’s return to Knott’s Scary Farm was announced, however, we’re now deep into the middle of June with very little clues or rumors as to what we can expect from the mazes at this year’s Halloween Haunt. Unlike their “Nowhere to Hide” tagline from last year, the folks at Scary Farm have really been hiding out.
So while we all wait to find out what will be lurking in the fog, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to announce the mazes that we bet will be coming back (if they don’t, we’d be very surprised). With last year’s infusion of 5 new mazes we actually only expect there to be 1 or 2 new mazes added this year. This can also be the reason why there hasn’t been much news or fanfare about they’re developing. Instead of new mazes, they may look to perfect and plus up their current maze lineup and try to make up for the now reduced number of mazes by putting more effort into the scare zones (they really need to). Nonetheless, we’ll keep our ears to the gravestone and hopefully have our Haunt outlook confirmed soon!
Scare Zone’s Anticipated 2014 Returning Mazes
This maze was one of our favorites last year. We were amazed by the detailed themeing and settings they created around this story. Using magic as backdrop for a maze provided continuous surprises throughout. There was definitely more than rabbits popping out of hats inside of here. The talent in this maze were some of the most impressive of all the mazes with scary magician’s assistants, victims of tricks gone bad, and an actual magician who did a quick card or handkerchief trick as you passed by. This maze also had a nice blend of light and dark scenes allowing for some good scares as your eyes adjusted with the lighting transitions We look forward to capturing more of the Black Magic inside of this maze.
The Edgar Allen Poe theme has become more popular at haunts across the country in recent years with both Universal Orlando and Busch Gardens taking a stab at the infamous writer. Knott’s version diverted from strictly recreating eerie scenes of Poe’s stories and creates the story line of a serial killer who is on a murder spree utilizing murder tactics from Poe’s fables akin to The Following. What we liked about it were some of the clever modernization of Poe’s stories into death scenes. The Pit and the Pendulum scene is incredible. While there was some good eye candy in this maze, it wasn’t always clear what was going on. In one scene it looked like we stumbled into Club Blood. The scares were also far in between. In comparison to the other new additions this maze had room for improvement. With it’s freshman year behind it, this maze should hopefully pull off some more poetic terror this year.
This was a new find your way carnival style mirror maze. We applaud Knott’s for trying to do something new but last year this maze seemed like it was thrown together at the last minute. While the setting and concept was interesting it was too small inside and the finale was disappointingly anti-climatic. This maze had the potential to be better but this year it would need a much larger footprint, more monsters, and lighting tricks in order to make it more exciting and worth bringing back. We think they will bring it back given the cost effectiveness and with it’s very long and slow moving lines it creates a reason to sell the up-charge ‘Skeleton Key’ front of the line pass they introduced last year.
The Gunslinger’s Grave
Yeehaw! This maze is the epitome of the Knott’s legacy. In Gunslinger’s we’re taken through the haunted labyrinths of mine shafts, corrals, and salons. The layout of this maze is mostly outdoors with trails winding in and out of the Ghost Town buildings making it really feel as if we are out in the old wild west amid the Silver Bullet and Jaguar coasters rolling by overhead. The soundtrack was solid with frenetic Bon Jovi stylized guitar riffs. It was obvious that the “residents” of this town are less than happy to see us and it wasn’t fully clear but we assume we’re looking for refuge from alive or dead outlaws and towns folks. This maze had a few good startle scares but it wasn’t overly frightening. The talent was convincing in their roles as they were fully costumed in western attire, but for scares they just did a lot of yelling “get outta here” and kept cattle prodding us through the scenes. With a few more characters in more horrific makeup and a slower pace, this maze should able to hit it the bullseye this year.
Dominion of the Damned
While this maze was revamped from it’s 2012 to 2013 version we didn’t find it to be changed significantly. We anticipate that the immortal blood suckers will be back in one fashion or the other. This is another maze with a cool soundtrack and superb set design but among the beautiful set pieces we encountered vampires who looked in desperate need of a blood transfusion. Dominion is a nice showcase the different reiterations of vampires from the Nosferatu to the Anne Rice versions but it was hard to track the story line, which seemed to be like we were on a tour of The Natural Museum of Vampire History (hmmm that could this year’s revision). Since it seems that we’re Dammed to always have a vampire maze at haunt we expect this one to return in some reincarnation we just hope to see it get more energy and scares.
This maze established the new bar of themeing and design for all the preceding new mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm. The entire setting feels like walking through a bloody, after hours, version of Disneyland’s Pinocchio ride. Pinocchio successfully twists the popular children’s story in a way that makes its feel as if we were trapped inside a dark storybook nightmare. What’s unsettling about the maze is how the once innocent characters are now placed into scenes of distress, gore, and horror. It’s rather tragic to see Gepetto, Stromboli, and the Blue Fairy meet their fates at the hands of a torturous wooden puppet who instead of becoming a real boy now wants to be a real killer. The monsters in this maze were consistently scary and high energy. In some scenes they even team up on victims. This is a now a haunt classic and we don’t see Pinocchio getting strung up anytime soon.
Trick or Treat
This maze recreates a night of Trick O Treating gone bad. Once you enter the front door of the Green Witch’s house the journey cascades through a haunted mansion packed with sinister Halloween decorations and ghostly effects. The infamous Tricksters are also creating mayhem in the various rooms along the way. This maze is shorter than the others, but it’s also has some of the strongest atmospheric environments and an interestingly theatrical finale. The scares were turned up slightly last year but the focus of this maze is more on the fun of Halloween versus the scares. Knott’s has also been posting teaser pictures of the Tricksters on their Facebook so we’re certain they’re going to be up to some new tricks this year.
The Delirium continues in the maze that is credited for setting a standard for the modern Scary Farm mazes. This maze features some very disturbing scenes completely emerging us inside the minds of the former Asylum maze’s demented patients. Inside, you can expect to encounter people spewing cockroaches, monstrously large flesh-eating maggots, and hideously bloody monsters hiding under the beds. This maze also features some of most interesting lighting effects and large scale props at Scary Farm. We love how the nightmare/dementia theme gets progressively more twisted as we venture further into the maze. This maze has the potential to bring out more craziness for a few more years, and we only hope that in doing so they continue to push the boundaries of Delirium even further.
Making its debut in 2012, Trapped was Knott’s Scary Farm’s first reservation only, interactive maze – and was an immediate sell-out. Trapped returned last year bigger and more expensive but was a disappointment compared to the first. Last year’s version focused more on puzzle solving vs. suspense and scares. It really was an expensive scavenger hunt. We hope over the past year the designers of this maze watched less Fear Factor and saw more Scare Tactics to bring back some intensity and value to this high-concept maze.
The Witch’s Keep – Confirmed!
As reported on Mice Chat last month, the Witch’s Keep will be returning to the Calico Mine Train in 2014. There was some speculation that it might be scrapped due to the complete refurbishment of the attraction this year with brand new animatronics, but it looks like the Green Witch will be back to curse us all for another year.
Gone to the Graveyard: These are mazes we believe (or wish) won’t return for 2014
Endgames - What does it look like when you combine The Running Man, Mad Max, UFC and the Hunger Games? You get a standard post-apocalyptic, industrial maze with some cool animatronics and an infusion of technical glitz. We never found this maze to be scary, and hope that the game has finally ended.
Uncle Willy’s Slaughterhouse – While this maze packed some great scares last year, this is now the oldest maze and we believe they should let it go before it rots on the shelf and to make room for something new. Perhaps like the clowns and vampires at Knott’s, the slaughterhouse cannibals will be back but hopefully with a new story and settings.
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