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What would be your ideal 13 maze Haunt lineup?

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  • What would be your ideal 13 maze Haunt lineup?

    I tried to keep my list mostly within the realm of possibility, trying to prevent as much overlap as possible as far as locations (i.e. not having two overlays for Timber Mountain for instance), and I was mostly drawing from my personal favorites from my history with the event. So while there are some themes from before I started going that I'd probably personally like to experience, they're not included on my list due to just not having that personal connection to them. I also didn't really try to "balance" between darker, more intense mazes and some more lighthearted ones with a focus on dark comedy, both are present but none as a means of "evening things out" as it were.

    I still hold out hope we someday see a season where they go for an "All Stars" approach, or see another anniversary maze that plays homage to themes of the past, but that's mostly just a pipe dream. Anyways, on to my list!

    1. The Asylum
    2. Delirium
    3. Paranormal Inc.
    4. Terror of London
    5. Red Moon Massacre
    6. Army of the Underworld
    7. Shadowlands
    8. Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns in 3D
    9. The Red Barn
    10. Lore of the Vampire
    11. The Underground
    12. Trick or Treat: Light's Out
    13. Trapped

    If I wasn't tired and lazy and busy I'd probably elaborate more on my choices individually. I think I can do a brief rundown of the list though.

    The top 3 is pretty straight forward, they're my top three mazes in the event's history or at least my history with Haunt. The Asylum in particular I hold near and dear to me. It's first year was my second year in attendance and it just left such a lasting impression on me. While it held up in its subsequent seasons, nothing will ever compare to its first year. The entire buildup to the maze was masterfully done with the line leading up to the facade, straight through the asylum gate and into the maze proper, all the while the haunting score from Kubrick's "The Shining" played and created a genuine sense of dread. The talent was on point and intense, they absolutely sold it. I've had a lot of great memories from my years going to Scary Farm, but that above all others still stands out to me the most. Also, given the inane backlash against the VR experience from a couple years back and Knott's equally terrible response to it (aka caving in), I doubt we'll ever see a proper asylum themed maze again, IIRC it even affected Paranormal Inc. Delirium was the conclusion to the sorta trilogy Knott's had started with The Asylum, actually diving into the mind of one of the patient's at the Mangler Asylum, though I cannot recall which specifically at this time. It was a living fever dream, a nightmare come real and featured some of the most ingenious and disturbing set designs I've ever seen in a maze. The scene that always stuck out to me most was the "dinner" scene with the bugs at the table, just something about it has stayed with me even years after the theme was retired. Paranormal Inc. is all that is right with modern Knott's Scary Farm and paved the way for how mazes can and should be done in the future. It's first year was certainly its strongest, it was one of the biggest new mazes for its debut year and the budget given to it really showed with the use of live actors and video footage. The years after did away with much of that as it didn't make sense financially to keep the show as immersive as it was and use the same actors from the original footage for scenes during the maze itself. I also recall at least on a couple of my visits that they had stopped playing the "Paranormal Inc." show footage during the queue, but that may have just been bad timing on my part. I do hope this returns for one last year or sees a revamp to keep the theme going, perhaps a different investigation, but I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to Hayden Hill. Huh, odd that my top three all are related to mental illness/asylums.

    Terror of London occupied one of the premier pieces of Haunt maze real estate and managed to make use of that space better than just about any maze I've been through in that location had before or after it. It was a brilliant theme that was well executed, there were scenes that really immersed you into the setting, some awesome set pieces. I still feel the inclusion of a Frankenstein figure was a bit odd, but it did work..kinda.

    Red Moon Massacre is just far and away my favorite theme we've had for the Timber Mountain Log Ride, partly due to my personal love of werewolves, but it was a very fitting and successfully executed theme. Army of the Underworld falls along the same line, but for the Calico Mine Train. It was actually a bit of a tossup between that and Black Widow's Cavern, as that was easily one of the most fitting themes I could think of for an overlay and had some brilliant effects. As much as it decayed and broke over the years, the giant spider in the glory hole was incredible in its first year. So why did I go with Army of the Underworld? Nostalgia, mostly. My first two experiences at Haunt were Red Moon Massacre and Army of the Underworld so both are very special to me. That and I did love the dragon animatronic they used on this one.

    Shadowlands is a bit of a continuation of my point on Paranormal Inc. You can tell the same minds behind one were the minds behind the other and this is another maze that shows what the future of these events can and should be. While I did go through this its inaugural year, it is one of the few mazes I wasn't able to catch during either of my trips last year and I do regret that. It's a fantastic theme with incredible sets, great music and sound design, brilliant costumes. It was a breath of fresh air honestly.

    I had to include a clown maze, there was just no getting around it. Clowns have been a seasonal staple for so long and they are just so much fun. There's been so many different takes on the theme, some better than others, but all have generally had the same sense of dark humor and fun to them. I can think of very few subsets of talent that get as into character and have as much fun as these guys. C3 is an absolute classic and well deserving of its spot here.

    The Red Barn may be a fairly new addition to the lineup, but it feels like something old school and visceral. I actually preferred its first incarnation from 2016 to its slight revamp last year. I think the lighting and smoky quality to the air was changed or lost in 2017, which hurt the mood a bit. It's just a very raw maze and feels so perfectly matched with the Wilderness Dance Hall as its home location that I almost don't think Knott's can fit a maze there better than they have here. It's gory, it's dark, it's intense, they brought back chainsaws! My only major complaint was that I recall my initial hype for it mostly stemming from the little story blurb talking about carnivorous animals, which I don't really think they delivered on, I was expecting something very different from what we actually got.

    Lore of the Vampire is kind of the quintessential vampire maze for Knott's. It was beautifully gothic and macabre, in a fantastic location that really made traversing the maze interesting. Much like with the clowns I felt like I really did need a vampire maze here. It was sort of between this and the recent revamp (no pun intended) of Dominion, as I absolutely loved the morbid, gothic art gallery aesthetic that had and the use of Host of Seraphim in the soundtrack was inspired. Still, I feel that Lore had broader appeal and was stronger as a maze overall so it wins the spot.

    The Underground I believe was only around for one year that I got to actually go through it, which would have been my first year in attendance if I recall right. My memory of it isn't as vivid as some other mazes, but I loved the soundtrack and the post-apocalyptic setting, some great props and talent. Plus it's a personal favorite of my dad, who I owe my love of Haunt to so it had to be here.

    Trick or Treat was like a love letter to Halloween. It is the most "Halloween" maze the park has ever done. There's something about the use of such classical Halloween elements (have I said Halloween enough yet?) and Knott's own brand of horror that really worked well. I loved the Tricksters and the more traditional costumes. There were some really good, creepy moments and scenes. Lights Out was a really awesome twist on a maze that, while I did genuinely enjoy, I was ready to say farewell to. It was a nifty gimmick that I'd like to see explored more in the future, again Knott's toying with what the Scary Farm of tomorrow will be. It's inclusion on my list may seem strange given what I'm about to say (and honestly either version of Trick or Treat could go on the list), but I am ready for them to replace this one this year even though I'm sure the Lights Out gimmick is meant to give it at least another year or two in service.

    Lastly we come to Trapped. Knotts's somewhat successful attempt at a premium, upcharged maze capitalizing on the home/extreme haunt craze. While never as intense as the sorta thing you see outside of the parks, Trapped was a valiant effort and one I am so glad I was able to experience for each of its three years. I'm not actually really including any one version of the maze in particular on this list, it's more of a general inclusion that represents the concept itself or all three years together. The first year felt like the one to push the envelope the most with Knott's seeing what they could get away with, going so far as to have attendees eat bugs (or apparently drink spoiled milk in some cases) in order to proceed, with refusal ending your time in the maze. I can see why those elements were left out in subsequent years, but I do wish that they had kept things like it going forward. The New Experiment was definitely the weakest variation, I can't remember too much about it, but it lacked the shock value of the original and the more puzzle aspects of Lock and Key, the latter also having a much higher sex appeal with the mistress leading you through the maze. Overall though Trapped is one experiment I felt Knott's really did land a hit with that I was sorely disappointed they decided to not continue. Instead we get another year of Special Ops :/

    So yeah, that's my list, that all ended up being way more long winded and in-depth than I had initially anticipated, but once I get talking about Haunt..hard to shut up hahaha.

  • #2
    This is similar to an idea I had of them doing a "greatest hits" for the 50th Haunt with is coming up in 5 years.

    1) Industrial Evil
    2) Dominion of the Dead
    3) Nightmares
    4) Trapped
    5) Alien Attack
    6) Paranormal, Inc.
    7) Dark Ride
    8) Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns
    9) Trick or Treat
    10) Pumpkin Eater

    11) Log ride: Camp Gonnagetcha
    12) Mine Train: Cavern of Carnage
    13) Bigfoot's Revenge

    1) The Hanging (but only with Freddy Krueger) in Calico
    2) Elvira (or the return of live music) in the Ghoul Time Theatre
    3) Ed Alonzo in the Boardwalk Ballroom
    4) Dr. Cleaver in the Birdcage Theatre
    5) Day of the Dead Procession on the Indian Trails stage
    6) Zamora's Sideshow of the Bizarre in the Camp Snoopy Theatre
    7) Deadly Dating Game or Putz Prank Party in the Wagon Camp Theatre

    A few notes:
    1) My first Haunt was in 1995 so everything that happened before that I'm unfamiliar with and therefore wouldn't make my list.
    2) I'm not too concerned with doubling down on historical maze placement because the majority of them would need to be rebuilt from scratch and/or could be tweaked to work in a new space.
    3) I'm avoiding the obviously impossible (i.e. as much as I would like to re-experience Kingdom of the Lounge Lizards or Slasher in the Dark, they'd require a ride system that is no longer there.)
    4) Returning shows that were held in multiple locations are placed where I felt they worked best.
    "In Hell, everybody loves popcorn."