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Can you believe the Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt 2009 season is upon us??  Wow!  Knott’s Scary Farm celebrates its 37th season this year and we are VERY excited about the new additions to the event!  This season of 2009 marks a very special season for us as it marks the TENTH Halloween Haunt that Ultimatehaunt.com has been on the Internet!! So many changes of taken place at both the Haunt and this website over the past several years, it's mind boggling! Whether you've been with us the entire time or are new to the website, we THANK YOU for joining us and spending this special time of year with us!

NEW FOR 2009: Over the years, we have received many, many e-mails from guests of Haunt from across the globe. Several of these e-mails include reviews and thoughts from guests kindly taking the time to share their opinions with us. We would like to share two very special reviews that we have received for the 2009 season that we thought you might like to read. Both reviews are very different from one another but both reviews make incredibly interesting points. The first review is from a cast member from a Halloween theme park in Florida and the second review is from a local Southern California fan. Below the two reviews are our Ultimatehaunt.com reviews as well. We hope you enjoy these reviews!

From Jess -

" I've always enjoyed horror movies and ghost stories; I remember getting in trouble for hiding in the stairwell at my grandmother's house in order to peer down into the living room and watch "Poltergeist" -- when I was caught, I was scolded that it would give me nightmares, which it didn't -- and, at age four, I was fascinated with "Little Shop of Horrors." I wanted my very own Audrey II... never mind the fact that it was a man-eating plant. From second grade on, I was both intrigued and repulsed by Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" book series, with its eerie collection of cautionary tales and unsettling illustrations by Stephen Gammell, and I can still sing all the words to 'The Hearse Song' as written down in the first book.

It was surprising, then, that from their beginnings I lived within easy driving distance of two relatively well-known theme park haunt events, Halloween Horror Nights at the Universal Orlando Resort and Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream, and I only began attending in 2004. I'd always meant to go to one or the other (or both), but I never managed to find the time until meeting Brandon, a native Southern Californian and long-time fan of Knott's Halloween Haunt who moved to Florida to pursue his career. With Brandon, I visited both Howl-O-Scream and Halloween Horror Nights... and I was hooked.

In 2005, we auditioned for roles and were cast at one of the haunts, and we've been coming back to work each October ever since. Five seasons may not be much compared to the impressive résumés of some of Knott's monsters, but keep in mind that both Central Florida events are considerably younger than the one in Buena Park that started them all;
Howl-O-Scream is currently celebrating its tenth year, and Halloween Horror Nights Orlando will be hitting the big 2-0 in 2010. Even in the time that we've worked at our home haunt, however, we've seen it grow and change.

It's from this perspective, then, that I review two West Coast haunts: Knott's Halloween Haunt and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. Brandon and I make it a point every year to take a few days off in early October to fly out and visit Knott's, but this year the timing finally allowed us to check out the recently-revived California version of Halloween Horror Nights, as well. After two busy back-to-back nights, I came away with a greater appreciation for Knott's, Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, and our own haunt back in Central Florida; there are many differences between the events, so there's something for every fan of the darker side of life.

In order to sum up my thoughts about Knott's and Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, I feel the need to bring up another love of mine: art, specifically traditional animation. There's something magical about watching lines on paper becoming a seemingly living, breathing character, and I have a great fondness for both the initial rough sketches dashed out by the animators and for the final inked-and-painted product.

To me, rough sketches have always contained a life and a vitality that almost jumps off the page; there may still be visible construction lines, or parts of the piece may be implied with one stroke of the pencil rather than painstakingly drawn out, but there's something special about a rough sketch that often gets lost -- or at least diminished -- during the rest of the animation process.

First the clean-up artist comes in and finalizes the lines, then the inker traces over them, and finally the painters add color, depth, and shadow to create an image that's beautiful but perhaps not as spontaneous as the original sketch. It's a trade-off; you can either have the vim and vigor of the sketch without the color or meticulous details, or you can have the gorgeous finished piece while sacrificing some of the joy of a drawing that hasn't gone through the hands of multiple individuals. It's always been a difficult choice for me, personally: do I prefer the wild, slightly sloppy sketch or the inked, painted, standardized cel?

In my mind, Knott's, which has been terrorizing guests for thirty-seven years now, is the rough sketch of the haunt world. The park's thirteen mazes may be obviously built from plywood and you might have to walk through the "burlap mile," but the sparse detail doesn't hurt my perception of the event; like an animator's initial sketch, my imagination fills in the blanks, and there's an energy there that I don't see as much at haunts with a larger budget.

Nowhere, to me, is this more evident than on the streets: the theming in the different scarezones, which consists primarily of fake cobwebs, fog machines, and maybe some spooky lighting, is practically nonexistent, but the talented monsters roaming the streets of The Gauntlet, CarnEvil, and Ghost Town more than make up for a lack of scenic props with their performances.

I'm consistently blown away by the monsters at Knott's -- they'll do anything to get a scare, whether that involves climbing on trees and benches, full-on sprinting after fleeing guests, or, of course, sliding across the ground in a shower of sparks and screams. If, by chance, you aren't scared by a Knott's monster, he or she usually has a funny or witty remark at hand to make you laugh.

I like that: Knott's, while delivering an immensely enjoyable experience that's heavy on the scares, doesn't take itself too seriously; in almost four decades, the monsters have obviously learned that a haunted theme park attraction is about having fun, NOT just about being scared. Yes, being scared is part of the fun for many people, but so is getting to interact in other ways with the various characters that call Knott's "home." During our visit, we were delighted at how quickly and easily the street monsters responded to questions or comments; improv is tough, but the monsters pull it off with style and grace. If, like me and Brandon, you're not the type of person who's going to jump out of your skin if a ghost or ghoul materializes in front of you, you're still bound to have a blast at Knott's. For an event that has more than a little to do with death, Knott's Halloween Haunt is brimming with life... you might even say it has a lot of spirit.  =)  It's a little rough around the edges, like that hasty animator's sketch, but it's so much fun.

On the flip side, Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights reminds me of a finished piece of animation art. The lines have been cleaned up and inked, the cel's been painted, the background is complete. It's stunning to look at, even if it might seem a bit as though it's been put through an assembly line compared to the giddy exuberance of Knott's. There's a feeling of detachment at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood that's difficult to describe; although the event's "scareactors" interact with you, it's almost as though you've stepped onto the set of a horror movie instead of into the horror movie itself, if that makes sense.

But what a horror movie set it is! When you walk through the "SAW" house, you feel as though the images (and smells!) from that series have been made three-dimensional through the incredible attention to detail and recreation of the films' settings and characters. If you take a ride on the Terror Tram, you have the opportunity to set foot onto the real set of the Bates Motel and the iconic house from Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," which Brandon and I thought was incredible. The scarezones, while somewhat small, contain all sorts of interesting props and other decorations that complement the demented characters you'll find there. Knott's may have been in the haunted theme park attraction business longer than Universal, but Universal's been making movies since the early twentieth century, and they have the resources to transform their studio theme park into a horror fan's dream (nightmare?) come true.

The scareactors are not nearly as aggressive as Knott's monsters -- on our visit, they seemed to prefer the "stop and stare" school of scaring, which isn't a fraction as fun to watch as Knott's more energetic methods -- but perhaps Universal is going for a different atmosphere, and, being a globally-known company, it may be within their best interests to "play it safe" in order to avoid potential controversy. We didn't see scareactors chasing guests, jumping down from props, or spending more than a few seconds on scares before moving on, making this an event that is, despite the more prevalent blood and gore, possibly better suited for guests with delicate constitutions who may not be able to handle Knott's. Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood is not quite as "in your face" as Knott's, and I'm sure some people prefer that creative decision; while it isn't as wild and crazy as Halloween Haunt, it sure is nice to look at.

There are other differences, too, one of which hit close to home for me. As a woman and a haunt performer, I must commend Knott's on their use of strong female roles; while there was certainly some "eye candy" at Knott's, I didn't feel that women were relegated to pleading victims or sexy distractions. In both the mazes and in the streets, they were getting just as many scares as their male counterparts, and I loved it. Universal would do well to take a page from Knott's book in that regard. I'm sure Universal's female scareactors work hard with the roles they're given, but, as much as sex and gore have always been intertwined in modern slasher flicks, I'm not impressed by blood-slathered babes gyrating on platforms at Halloween events. Frankly, it's boring and predictable. Give these ladies a little more credit, Universal, and give them more to do!

Overall, I can't judge which event is "better," Knott's or Halloween Horror Nights; they're sufficiently different that I can't really compare them fairly. One thing's for certain: I can't wait to see what the future holds. Judging by this year's newer houses, like Terror in London, Knott's is clearly stepping up its game in terms of special effects and set quality, narrowing one of the more obvious gaps between its event and Universal's. Universal has the advantage of money and movie-making expertise, but Knott's has more experienced talent and a large fan following.

While waiting in line for the "Ghost Galaxy" overlay of Space Mountain at Disneyland, Brandon and I overheard a young man and woman discussing Halloween events -- the guy said that Disney should try to come up with some type of Horror Nights-like event, since Universal does it so well, but the girl shook her head and replied, "Everyone knows that Knott's is where you go for Halloween." Universal will have to work hard to compete with that kind of loyalty, which is something that I'm looking forward to seeing. A little friendly competition between Knott's and Universal should benefit everyone; they're both fantastic events as it is, but constantly striving to improve will keep both Knott's Halloween Haunt and Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights on their toes for years to come.
"


From Mike -

"After an impressive showing last year with something like six all new mazes, Knott’s has definitely taken their foot off the gas a bit for the ’09 season. We get four new mazes, which sounds like a lot, but upon further inspection we find that two of these newbies are really just glorified remakes (or reimaginings if you will) of mazes from last year. While it is not uncommon for Knott’s to reuse themes and even resurrect older mazes entirely, it seems a little underwhelming to rework attractions from the previous year and then present them as brand spankin’ new. What we end up with is a Haunt event that is solid enough but isn’t offering us anything new or exciting. But let’s get into the nitty gritty details and take a long look at the maze offerings for 2009.

NOTE: I did not include Alien Annihilation as I didn’t have time to go through it this year.

The Slaughterhouse

Having debuted last season to mostly positive reviews, the Slaughterhouse remains a solid addition to the maze lineup and fills a niche as a somewhat generic and less folksy Knott’s version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (sans chainsaws).

The story is vague and some of the details are missing this year (such as mood-setting characters in the queue and the clever anti-cannibalism picket signs) but the theme remains thoroughly apparent – as we are exploring the less than humane slaughterhouse facilities that service Uncle Willy’s BBQ, a roadside eatery that is clearly serving up more than pork ribs.

The biggest problem with the maze’s narrative is the fact that we’re injected directly into the murderous madness without much of a buildup and although the characters of Willy and Ida are referenced we are never obviously introduced to them and thus what could be a rich thematic continuity is reduced to a series of gory set pieces that work on their own but lack cohesive flow.

That said, the sets are immersive enough and some of the sight gags work quite well (the giant meat grinder springs immediately to mind) but the layout is hindered slightly by long stretches of minimally themed corridors and large empty spaces. The sound design is quite flat and for the most part, unremarkable, with the inclusion of industrial metal seeming particularly out of place which is a shame as some clever audio could really give the Slaughterhouse a much-needed dose of personality.

The talent in this maze, on the other hand, did bring originality and energy to the proceedings. They were fully dedicated to the theme and the characters they were portraying – from the hapless victims to the ravenous hillbillies. Despite some serious understaffing and subsequent lack of maze coverage (there were several lengthy stretches inhabited by absolutely no one) when the actors popped up they were firing on all cylinders which really brought an otherwise mediocre maze to life, bumping its grade up from a C+ to a B-.
GRADE: B-

LOCKDOWN: THE ASYLUM

Lockdown is a serviceable maze that admirably delivers exactly what one would expect but fails to really bring anything new or exciting to the table. Part of the problem is in the maze’s name which inexplicably uses the subtitle “the Asylum”, a tactic which does nothing other than remind us that this is really just a retooling of the old Asylum maze (which was a long-standing Haunt favorite) and not a fresh original concept. Perhaps the designers thought that the maze’s obvious derivative nature would be questioned by fans if they hadn’t called themselves out or that some sort of brand recognition would automatically endear the maze to returning patrons. Either way, all it really serves as is a reminder that Lockdown isn’t actually all that new or exciting and the whole affair would have benefitted from leaving memories of mazes past behind, allowing this current incarnation to succeed or fail on its own merits.

Disregarding all familiarities, the façade of Lockdown is quite impressive and sufficiently immerses you into the theme right off the bat, but the eye candy pretty much ends there. The set design is serviceable throughout but the “prison from hell” theme doesn’t really call for a high level of creative scenery and we are mostly treated to a labyrinth of cells and twisting blood-spattered corridors which are all fully appropriate but lack individual personality. Even the scenes and themed rooms (such as the laundry room or the gas chamber) are either decorated with props held over from the Asylum or are by-the-numbers rooms that lack any particular quirks or punches. Regardless of this, the maze is effective and fairly detailed, providing plenty of tension but remaining somewhat predictable.

There is no real story to speak of but this fact doesn’t hinder the maze, as it’s more of a concept than a narrative. A little back story (a la the Asylum) would have been nice but ultimately proves superfluous. The sound design, while unrefined, gets the job done and is probably the biggest factor in conveying the chaotic atmosphere throughout. Effects loops are successfully layered with pounding music, the individual room sounds are obvious without being overbearing and the loudspeaker spiels barking at you as you enter the maze permeate throughout the building, creating an authentic tension that never lets up.

The talent was solid and this was one of the mazes to suffer least from lack of coverage (there were only a couple of short vacant stretches as opposed to most of the mazes which tend to be plagued by significant monster drought) and although the characters, like the maze itself, are fairly generic and lacking individuality, their manic energy adds to the chaos and somehow the whole thing just works. At the end of the day Lockdown is basically just a reimagining of the Asylum, and while it has stripped away much of the personality of its predecessor, the altered theming and layout have given the experience new legs and produced a thoroughly solid addition to the Haunt.

GRADE: B

CLUB BLOOD

With the demise of the traditional Vampire maze last year, Club Blood burst upon the scene and while this gorier and more modern approach to the subject matter was a welcome respite from years of Anne Rice staleness, one can’t help but think that the maze designers could still hatch a more original take on the vamps as club blood is ultimately as derivative as anything that has come before it. 

One of the most glaring issues here is the vague nature of the story. There is clearly an attempt at a narrative progression as the maze unfolds – we are taken into a vampire club in what seems to be a seedy part of town (where the bloodsuckers seem more keen on dancing then eating us humans) and then behind the scenes into a progressively horrific operation that ends with some sort of human/vampire birthing center. The problem is there are no real details or key scenes to pull us into the story or truly immerse us and the transition from scene to scene is disjointed and awkward with too much time spent traversing white blood-soaked hallways, resulting in an experience that feels like we are just watching and not participating in the narrative.

The set design is wildly varied in this maze – the opening scenes of the city streets and the club are very detailed and quite effective but as you progress into the sterile environments behind the scenes all the rich theming of the opening rooms is forgone in favor of generic scenery and aforementioned bloody hallways. This boring set design makes up the majority of the maze and creates a sort of anti-climax effect as the theming of the rooms gets progressively sparse the further you go. The sound design follows a similarly disheartening pattern, starting strong and becoming more and more unremarkable as the maze wears on, with plenty of missed opportunities for creepy ambiance and frightening music.

Most disappointing of all was the talent in this maze which, with the exception of a few roving ghouls near the beginning, proved fairly listless and more fond of (unsuccessful) attempts at looking creepy than selling their characterizations or going for good scares. This approach can be effective in the right situations but room after room featuring supposedly eerie vampire nurses clicking their fingers together does not an intense maze experience make. The climactic “big finish” gag has been altered to accommodate a dummy rather than the human actor (used last year) but still lacks the gore and set-up to really make the effect work, adding a feeble ending to a maze that stands mostly as a tribute to wasted potential.

GRADE: C-

TERROR OF LONDON

A new maze for ’09, Terror of London is easily among the best of the bunch, suffering only from a slight lack of cohesive thematic continuity. Despite this, and somewhat lackluster talent, the attention to detail and successful immersion really shine and the overall experience is a pleasing one.

The story is the biggest hurdle standing in Terror of London’s way to Haunt greatness. At its thematic core, this is really just a Jack The Ripper maze, following the infamous murderer’s gory trail through the creepy streets of old London town, but there are some extraneous elements present, including the inexplicable finale in Frankenstein’s lab, that only serve to confuse and tend to derail an otherwise slick narrative. The attempt to create a sort of gothic greatest hits is admirable but badly executed, proving that a little more focus could have really made this maze shine.

In contrast to the muddled storyline, the set design is stellar and right on point. There is a stunning attention to detail on display throughout, down to the wanted posters, lighting schemes and authentic interiors. The graveyard scene is particularly gorgeous and features the best animated gag I have encountered in seven years of visiting the haunt and even the out-of-place laboratory is full of cool props and fun gory touches. The ripper’s murder scenes are all well done and thoroughly disturbing (if slightly derivative of From Hell) and there are some fog/lighting effects that are really pretty ingenious (one effect that simulates rain is particularly remarkable). The sound design is also top notch, offering really creepy ambient moments (most notably the clip-clop of nearby footsteps on cobblestones and the Ripper’s signature unsettling whistle) and a cinematic immersion on par with the Doll Factory as bits of dialog, music and chilling effects seem to fade in and out at just the right moments of the maze. While still not as fine-tuned and refined as it could be, Terror of London’s audio leaves little room for improvement and works in perfect harmony with the set design and layout to really convey the appropriate atmosphere.

Along with the unfocussed story elements, the talent is really what holds this maze back. Although a couple of actors performed admirably, and everyone stayed in character there was an apparent lack of energy throughout. Monsters shuffled by here and there, missing a lot of obvious scares and largely failing to take advantage of the ready-made atmosphere which is a shame when taking into account the plethora of opportunities for characterization in a maze of this type. While a lack of coverage is disguised by Terror’s abundant eye candy, it would be nice if the talent really seized their moments, using all the apprehension the theming provides. Unfortunately said moments were ultimately wasted. Fortunately, Terror of London’s high points outshine its lows and the maze stands as one of the seasons best.

GRADE: B

THE DOLL FACTORY

Now in its third year, The Doll Factory is aging gracefully and has remained a strong maze - a testament to solid theming, design and execution. This is a great example, like the recently retired 13 Axe Murder Manor, of a classic concept given a fresh spin by Knott’s while still retaining enough vintage haunted house elements to ensure its status as a modern classic.

The Doll Factory’s biggest flaw may strangely be one of its biggest assets. The maze’s somewhat convoluted story leads to a disjointed narrative that comes across as feverishly nightmarish – almost like a David Lynch film come to life. There is a back story involving the “marionette murderer”, a serial killer who runs his operation out of the titular abandoned factory and makes life-sized playthings out of his victims, but the pervasive theme of the maze seems to be more of a general twisted doll factory thing, with the serial killer’s lair almost coming through as an afterthought. The progression from scene to scene is also rather disjointed (after leaving the impressive foyer with its creepy doll part conveyer system) but where in some mazes this would hinder the narrative, the jumpy, schizophrenic nature of the Doll Factory actually adds to the experience in a positive way.

The set design is appropriately surreal and horrific but not in the progressive way one might expect. The unpredictability of the whole affair creates the nightmarish atmosphere previously mentioned and the imagery retains a disturbing quality regardless of whether it adorns one of the intimately detailed rooms or the many twisting hallways. The element that really brings the mysterious theming and smash-cut narrative together and makes the whole thing work cohesively is the unparalleled sound design. Enough cannot be said of the audio within the Doll Factory and every maze designer the world over should look no further for a model of perfect aural execution. The super creepy music box theme that follows you through the entire maze is nothing short of brilliant and it swells to horrific grandeur at just the right moments, slipping away to stripped-sown subtlety at others, always completely appropriate for the thematic shifts of the maze. The sound effects are also nigh perfect, complimenting the wonderfully cinematic score and achieving full emersion in the world of the Doll Factory.

Despite the apparent departure of the infamous contorting doll girl (traditionally stationed at the entrance of the life-size dollhouse) the talent level in this maze remains high. The designs of the various fiends lurking in the factory are among the best in the Haunt and the level of characterization is admirable. Truth be told, the sets and sounds are enough to scare most and the high level of talent operating here is just the icing on the terrifying cake. The only thing holding this maze back is its anticlimactic ending, which basically amounts to some cold storage tunnels with body parts frozen in the ice. The musical theme drops out entirely, replaced by ambient effects and the last thing seen is an unsettling scene involving a ballerina in bondage inside a glass case and the return of the music box theme. Although this final image is disturbing, the unexciting walk through the cold storage section really diminishes the tone set by the maze up until that point which in turn spoils the effect of the finale, which lacks a real thematic punch to begin with. The maze would easily be better off without the final stretches of hallway but other than that small complaint, there isn’t much wrong here.

GRADE: B+

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

I am not a fan of 3-D mazes. They were novel back in the 90s when the gimmick was all the rage in haunted attractions across America, but it seems tired at this point and why haunts continue to design mazes of this variety eludes me. That said, Dia De Los Muertos is something of a return-to-form in regards to 3-D mazes at the Haunt, so if you’re into that kind of thing you’re in for a treat.

This maze harkens back to what could be considered a short-lived “golden age” of 3-D mazes for Knott’s, most fondly represented by Malice in Wunderland. The theming of Dia De Los Muertos is kind of a mixed bag, and not being an expert on the subject, strikes me as well-researched but still rather narrow-minded. There are some obvious traditional elements at play but they are mixed with ravenous chupacabras, coyote men, skeletal mariachi bands, a Day-Glo jungle complete with generic human sacrifice and a jovial Mexican Satan. There is no real narrative cohesion and the transitions from one scene to another, while not without logic, do not tend to follow any obvious story or thematic progression.

The set design is oddly appealing and much more detailed than most of Knott’s 3-D efforts, conveying the sensation that you are walking through one of the Fantasyland dark rides at Disneyland. There are some nice, if underwhelming, effects and wasted space is at a minimum but there is nothing remarkable set or scenery wise and the ultimate result is satisfying but not particularly memorable. The sound design follows suit, offering some nice moments and helping soften some awkward scenic transitions but remaining largely forgettable.

The talent on hand performed well, and while the maze seemed understaffed the actors were well placed so that there were never long stretches devoid of monsters. The confused theming makes it difficult to get a handle on whether the maze aims to be kitschy or genuinely creepy which comes through in the talent who seemed to hold back to a degree. This is a shame as some real kinetic energy could bump up the overall experience. As it is, Dia De Los Muertos is about as good as 3-D mazes get at Knott’s (and head and shoulders above the abysmal Lost Vegas of the past few seasons) but that isn’t saying a whole lot.

GRADE: C

Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre

Much like 3-D mazes, I tend to believe that the evil clown theme so popular for years at haunted attractions, has more or less run its course. This is clearly not the attitude of the people behind Knott’s Halloween Haunt as they bring the clowns back year after year, recycling gags and props with reckless abandon. Fans of the older Knott’s clown mazes though, have reason to rejoice as Uncle Bobo’s is basically an amped-up remake of the original Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns with better jokes and music.

A marked improvement over the previous clown affair, Killer Klown Kollege, Uncle Bobo’s is thematically less original but executed much better than the maze it replaced. Amounting to a tour through a demented side show, the narrative is not particularly fresh or interesting but the less-is-more approach works in this capacity and the posters throughout the queue and the early parts of the maze supply ample foreshadowing of the sights to come including a flea circus (hilarious), a freak show (disappointing) and the infamous “thingy” (a rare case in which an anti-climax totally works). The flow from scene to scene doesn’t seem particularly well thought out and the inclusion of a sewer scene was perplexing but the pacing is good enough throughout.

Much like the theming itself, the set design is completely predictable but not without merit. There is heavy reliance on 3-D artwork in lieu of detailed environments or any sense of realism but the theme is well conveyed and the return of clown classics like the toy room and the elephant fart gag (reproduced much bigger and more effectively) still work. As previously mentioned, a scene taking place in a sewer seems out of place but other than that the sets are serviceable if obvious and perhaps a bit lazy. The sound design is exceedingly simplistic but the choice to replace the old music (which was a little too whimsical) with various loops lifted from the Mr. Bungle song Travolta is a solid one as the track retains the needed carnival feel with an added dose of menace. As the maze progresses the sound design remains stripped down and though there could be a lot more going on, the audio leaves little to actually complain about.

The talent within the maze was extremely hit and miss, with many performers really hamming it up (in a good way), displaying good monster fundamentals and even pulling off a couple of impressive bait and switch bits. Unfortunately these high points were marred by just as many lazy actors that seemed complacent sitting in their respective rooms not really doing much at all. By the end of the maze most of the tension supplied by the energetic performers at the outset had warm off due to the lackluster talent in the final stretches. While Uncle Bobo certainly brings a better show to town than the clowns of recent years, the whole deal just seems done to death and if the theme is destined to stick around Knott’s needs to implement a serious overhaul.

GRADE: C

 Quarantine

Last year this maze based on the film of the same name (which is itself a remake of a foreign film called Rec.) admirably took over for the aging Grudge maze, filling the Haunt niche of recent years – the relentlessly hit and miss movie themed maze.  The first of the crop appeared three years ago as The Grudge maze opened at the Haunt in correspondence with the opening of The Grudge 2. The maze was impressive – sporting an arsenal of super creepy animatronic props, effective design and top-notch talent but stuck around for a subsequent season and lost a lot of its edge the second time around. That year also saw the opening of a new movie maze, this one based on the CGI Beowulf film. This maze featured some nice set design but proved ultimately underwhelming (not to mention somewhat out of place at the Haunt) and did not return. The Quarantine maze was introduced the following season and proved a return to the intensity and quality of the original incarnation of The Grudge, standing out as the best of the 2008 mazes. So what happened this year?

Quarantine (the film) turned out to be a raging bomb at the box office, even garnering unfavorable reviews from the horror community. Its DVD release has come and gone without much fanfare and the film has already faded into relative obscurity, which leads to this maze feeling like an afterthought. Adding to the problem is the fact that the maze has been stripped down significantly – the ceiling has been removed, exposing the tent structure that houses it (a problem not present in other mazes), the hordes of energetic actors that once inhabited the maze have mostly been axed, leaving only a handful of ghouls and a bad space to monster ratio (i.e. lots of empty space) and many of the cool animatronic gags have fallen on hard times, appearing now as static props (for the most part). The set and sound design remain nicely done but are of little consequence when everything else about the maze seems left over and uncared for.

The talent wasn’t bad but was so sparse and pulled-back from last year that it seemed anemic and inconsequential. The whole experience reeks of apathy and fails to justify its own existence which is a shame because this was originally a very well done maze. Instead of a new full-on attraction we are treated to a one-room walk-through tied in with the upcoming release of The Stepfather remake and a returning maze that has aged badly.

GRADE: D

Corn Stalkers

Another returning maze that failed to strike any real chords last season, Corn Stalkers is back with a partially improved layout but still falls just short of being a compelling maze experience.

The maze begins and ends strong with impressive sets depicting a giant malevolent jack-o-lantern (whose mouth serves as the entrance) and a nightmarish barn respectively, but the long stretch in between is nothing short of dull. Like last year, the majority of the maze is made up of rotting corn stalks but the whole thing has been changed from a twisting claustrophobic path to more of a wide open straight shot that doesn’t work well for the aesthetic feel of the maze. There also don’t seem to be nearly as many scarecrows stationed throughout the proceedings this time around and thus the inability to execute a quality dummy gag falls upon the shoulders of the designers just as much as the talent. There is no real thematic narrative or sense of story with Corn Stalkers falling back on a rather generic haunt concept. The same strategy is implemented with Lockdown but while the execution of that maze elevates it above monotony, the same cannot be said of Corn Stalkers. This lack of commitment to originality or continuity comes through in the uninspired set design, most obviously exemplified by a significant stretch of the maze taking place in a non-descript black box.

The sound design is rather sparse and mimics the layout by opening and closing strong (the maniacal laughter echoing through the sinister entryway sets a great tone) but disappearing completely or being reduced to clunky sound effect tracks within the maze proper. The talent on hand is adequate despite not being given much to work with in terms of maze design, yet most actors on hand missed a lot of opportunities and failed to really add anything to the whole affair. Unfortunately the resulting experience is flat and underwhelming.

GRADE: D+

The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth, returning for a second season, remains an odd duck at the Haunt. Forgoing both the traditional gore and kitschy humor found in most of the Knott’s mazes in favor of a sort of gothic fantasy setting and quasi-serious tone, the Labyrinth can be viewed as both a welcome respite and a bit of an odd duck.

Thematically, this maze is about as confusing as they come. We travel through a bit of forest populated by malevolent fairies, then into a castle where we are treated to various scenes that seem (very) loosely inspired by the film Pan’s Labyrinth, the 80s fantasy film titled simply Labyrinth and any number of mildly creepy fantasy outings in between. Aside from these allusions, the maze seems to have no real story of its own and ends up seeming rather aimless. The vagueness of the theme at hand lends itself to nearly limitless possibilities and yet we get a whole lot of nothing. The scenic transitions add to the confusion, making geographical sense but possessing no real meaning or narrative progression.

The set design is clearly the star here, with many large, impressive animated props on display and a relentless attention to detail. The only downside is that unlike some returning mazes (the Doll Factory comes to mind) the Labyrinth’s sets are not aging well. Most every room is in need of a fresh paint job and the dummies (particularly in the creepy banquet room) have lost much of their previous luster. It stands mentioning that the room in question is perfectly set up for a classic dummy gag that is evidently not to be. Taking all of this into consideration the sets are still top notch in this maze and demand a walk through on their merits alone. The sound design strikes me as a bit unrefined and generally underused as this is another situation where great audio could really bump the experience up a notch or two. There are some instances of haunting music that work well (entering the castle section is a good example of this) but too many missed opportunities to really warrant mention.

The talent on hand was actually fairly impressive but their tactics feel out of place in a maze of this ilk. Something about the characters executing traditional jump-scares and pounding on walls seems wrong within the thematic confines of the Labyrinth, which is a shame since the actors’ aggressive nature would have fit well in almost any other maze. At the end of the day, this maze is solid but confused and really should be treated differently than its peers.

GRADE: C+



We would like to THANK Jess and Mike for taking the time to share their in-depth opinions and thoughts about the 2009 Haunt!! We hope you enjoyed reading their reviews as much as we did! And now for ours...

As we have done for the past several years now, the following information is an outline of our previews and reviews of this season’s mazes at the event. We hope this information will help you to plan your visit to the Haunt!

Please know that this information is simply our opinions and definitely do not reflect Knott’s Berry Farm.  We do make predictions but these are truly guesses.  If the happen…cool….if not, oh well!

Shall we get started with the NEW mazes for this year?  The text in RED is the official description, the text in WHITE are our previews and the text in BLUE are our reviews.  Enjoy!

 

LOCKDOWN: THE ASYLUM New for 2009 – The GhostRider 1
Insanity reigns supreme in this maniacal nightmare prison. The inmates are out of their cells and their minds! The bars keep the inmates inside…and the authorities out! Every turn takes you deeper into the danger. There is no escape from Lockdown!

Well, the name pretty much says it all.  What can we expect from Lockdown?  That’s a good question – let’s take a look and see what the possibilities are:  It’s probably safe to presume that some of the crazy energy that was present in the prior incarnations of the Asylum should be present in Lockdown.  However, there is the very real possibility that certain aspects of the maze could a little more focused on a prison aspect, which would include solitary confinement and perhaps even death penalty rooms/sections: Gas Chamber (can’t you picture the fog-filled room now?), Electric Chair (perhaps even like the one that was located out near the queue line in 2008) or Lethal Injection.  Another safe bet would be that this maze is going to consist of amazing twists and turns and close quarters that should really be a blast!

**REVIEW: Truth be told, we were not REALLY looking THAT forward to Lockdown: The Asylum.  We thought that it was going to simply be a variation of The Asylum with some jail cells and that was about it.  We were wrong. 

We were right about one thing though: The crazy energy from prior incarnations of The Asylum was DEFINITELY present when we went through Lockdown.  This maze is absolutely unique in almost every aspect from The Asylum.  In fact, it’s a wonder why “The Asylum” was even part of the title.  Lockdown appears to have NOTHING to do with the Asylum (except seeing a nurse or two) and is seriously KICK BUTT! 

This maze as it stands right now, was miles above any of the other mazes we went through. The convict characters in Lockdown were actually REALLY scary because of the energy, anger and intensity they carried was just mind-blowing!  It truly feels as if you’re going through some turned-upside-down prison where the convicts are undead and seeking revenge on anyone and everyone. 

Another aspect of Lockdown that we loved was the music.  It was definitely a throw-back to the good ol’ days of the Underground and Industrial Evil. 

We’ll spare you with a ton of gushing and just say this: Lockdown (we’ll just leave “The Asylum” part out of it from now on, because it's not really necessary)) is only filled with jail cells and fences for sets but was the best maze we went through. In other words, a bunch of eye candy with beautiful sets is only one half of the story – sometimes less is more to make a great maze.


TERROR OF LONDON New for 2009 – Mystery Lodge
Step back in time and into the fog filled streets of London. The villains of the night are terrorizing the townsfolk! Step lively or you'll fall victim to Jack the Ripper's blade or Dr. Jekyll's twisted experiments. Will you make it out in one piece...or in pieces?

Now, TERROR OF LONDON sounds like a maze we may fall in love with!  It has been since 1982 since “The Terrifying Trail of Jack the Ripper” maze was present at Knott’s Halloween Haunt.  In 1997, during the 25th anniversary of the Haunt, the “25 YEARS OF FEARS” maze featured a couple of rooms in tribute to Jack the Ripper.  For years, a “Mr. Hyde” character roamed Ghost Town and now it all comes together in one maze. 

We know from prior photographs and interviews several of the scenes in the original “Terrifying Trail of Jack the Ripper”.  Scenes of an underground sewer system (complete with the talent standing in water while the guests walked on bridge walkways) and graphic murder scenes were present in the original maze.  What will this new variation bring??

Terror of London is replacing 13 Axe Murder Manor.  The backstage area of “Mystery Lodge” is a very large space and has housed classics like “Voodoo Witch Project” and “Blood Bayou”.  The possibilities on what the Knott’s Maze Designers do with this maze in this particular space would seem endless.

This maze has SO much potential that we are going to make this our prediction for the fan vote of Maze of the Year.  Dark, fog-filled London streets with townsfolk, Ripper and Hyde victims – who knows?  It definitely should be a VERY cool maze.  This maze is our prediction of your pick for the Ultimatehaunt.com 2009 Maze of the Year.

***REVIEW: There are some AMAZING aspects of this maze and then there are some aspects that well….quite frankly, left us feeling bored and confused.  Allow us to explain:

The beginning of Terror of London is just what we predicted: Fog-filled streets, amazing sets (with a full-size original carriage, street lanterns, shop fronts, stone walls, etc.) and cool looking talent.  The graveyard is simply gorgeous (in a macabre sort of way!). 
The first few back alley hallways (complete with “Jack the Ripper Wanted Posters”) are AWESOME!  We loved the audio tracks of the whistling and sound of footsteps walking on pavement!  These elements, altogether, really set a creepy tone!  We also were impressed with the brothel scene (and the incredible audio track of the vinyl album playing) and sewer scenes as well.
 

However, about halfway through the maze, those continued stone hallways continued….on…and on….and on.  It appears that the 13 Axe Murder Manor “Burlap Mile” has been replaced with long hallways with nothing really going on in them.  But that can be expected in any Haunt maze.

It’s our feeling that one of the issues with this maze is it feels as if it’s constantly building up to…..something.  Unfortunately, that “something” is the biggest disappointment we have seen at the event: A failed and VERY amateurish-looking Frankenstein laboratory?  The entire maze feels as if we’re watching a Jack the Ripper movie and it ends with Frankenstein?  Sorry to be critical, but this is what we saw. PROVE US WRONG! Hopefully you have a better experience than we did and we will, of course, go through this maze again later in the month to see how it may have improved. Sorry Knott’s, but Terror of London didn’t really cut it for us.  There was no connection for us.  You can have beautiful sets but it’s our opinion that the sets are only one half of the story to bring a maze to life.

***PLEASE NOTE: Later visits through this maze showed VAST improvements within the "scare" and startle factors within Terror of London. The monsters appear to have found their groove and provide a hybrid between theatrics and scares. The scare elements conducted by the monsters are VERY tasteful and have a definite level of tact and class not present in any other maze of the event. It's incredible to witness the incredible and drastic change!!

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS in 3D New for 2009 – Bumper Cars
Sacrificial blood rains down from the skies. The screams of La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, echo all around as the creatures of the night crawl from their decrepit crypts. Venture into the forbidden jungle of El Chupacabra and the blood soaked lair of primordial demons. “Dia de los Muertos”, the Day of the Dead, has arrived.

This is by far, the most original-sounding maze that we have heard of, not only at Knott’s but in the haunted attraction industry as a whole.  Many mazes and haunted attractions across the country have featured dolls, clowns, zombies, post-apocolyptic creeps, werewolves, movie monsters, asylums, hospitals, haunted houses, dungeons, etc., etc.  However, we are really unaware of a maze theme based upon Dia de los Muertos. 

For starters, with such a large Hispanic culture in the Southern California area, the influence of Dia de los Muertos can be seen all over the place at stores on clothing, jewelry, etc. This maze has the potential of doing well for a variety of reasons…

The idea of combining Hispanic folklore into this maze sounds like a wonderful idea!  We can imagine the “Lady in White” of La Llorona as well as El Chupacabra!  How fun this should be!  This should be a lot of eye candy and the theme actually has the capability of lending itself to some beautiful murals and artwork! 

REVIEW: Talk about eye-candy!!  You need to go through this maze more than once (perhaps several times!) just to see and soak in the beautiful artwork!  It’s simply some of the best artwork we have seen at Knott’s Halloween Haunt!

Dia de los Muertos has some wonderful things about it and some curious things about it.  The interesting thing about this maze is that although we go through actual church sets and cemeteries (with weeping women), we’ll end up in an undead version of a strip joint in TJ.  Is this maze supposed to be funny (i.e., “kitchey”) or serious and scary?  It’s too difficult to tell and falls into this grey area that fell a little flat for us.
 

Some of the sets were hard to figure out and wow...the chupacabra....?
 

Don’t get us wrong though – these sets (specifically the 3D art) are simply AMAZING!!  However, the questions still stand: Is this maze scary?  No – not really.  Is it funny?  Maybe a little.  Is it serious? At times.  Is it entertaining?  ABSOLUTELY.


UNCLE BOBO’S BIG TOP OF THE BIZARRE in 3D New for 2009 – Xcelerator
Step right up! Don’t be shy! Welcome to the Big Top of the Bizarre! Uncle Bob is here to demonstrate his devious delights! Inside you’ll find a villainous variety of vaudevillian visages to vex even the most valiant voyeurs! Welcome to the greatest slaughter on earth!

Here we go again with another clown theme!  Way back when, we had Uncle Ernie’s Madhouse and later we had Carnival of Death.  From there, the Haunt revolutionized itself with its first 3D maze with Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns in 3D.  After a few variations of C3 we ended up seeing Killer Clown Kollege.  Now we have Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre in 3D. What can we expect to see in Uncle Bobo’s?

Well – based upon the description of “…a villainous variety of vaudevillian visages” almost makes us believe that we will see more of a darker-themed maze compared to that of C3.  The reason we believe that at this point in time it certainly sounds like we may go back to the days of Carnival of Death – perhaps more items with belly dancing clown zombies, more dapper costumes and  or something within that line…who knows?  We have a sneaky suspicion that it will be more impressive than Killer Clown Kollege.

REVIEW: We were a little off with our prediction thinking this maze was going to be a “darker” version of clowns.  It really isn’t. 

BUT – we feel that Uncle Bobo’s is THE BEST clown maze at Knott’s since the original Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns in 3D in 2000!  This maze is INCREDIBLE!!  The sets, the monsters, the jokes and gags…were all VERY COOL!  

Furthermore, this maze is much longer than we anticipated!  Going from one room/scene to the next just kept going and going!  It is a lot of gruesome entertainment jammed into this maze.  For you C3 fans out there, there are plenty of scenes present in Uncle Bobo’s that pay homage to the original.  We think you will find this maze TOTALLY cool (well….unless you’re not into clowns, of course).  Enjoy!

 


THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE – Main Gate Area
Folks from near and far come a-runnin’ for Farmer Willy’s world famous BBQ! Why you can smell the sizzling meat all the way from the interstate! Just take Exit I-13 and follow your nose! Venture through the Slaughterhouse where Farmer Willy will auction you off to the highest bidder, tenderize you with his chainsaw, and grind you into a tasty meat treat. Bone appetite!

This maze was really fantastic in its debut year of 2008.  Some of the scenes were a little difficult to understand the first couple of times through, but eventually the story of Farmer Willy’s BBQ was understood and was a fantastic blast. 

Well, historically speaking, unless changes are made to this maze (which is probably unlikely) this maze may begin to decline in popularity pretty quick.  One of two things will happen – this maze holds a timeless aspect and will continue to entertain visitors or in the alternative, it will get old pretty quick. A maze that relies heavily on gore and special fx typically doesn’t hold much longevity (this is true with the entire haunted attraction industry – not just Knott’s).  It will be interesting to see what happens with Slaughterhouse….it has at least one good year in it left!

REVIEW:  Surprisingly enough, this maze was VERY good when we went through it.  The props, gore and gags were still put together very well.  The monsters were fantastic and this maze was truly rockin’!  If you did not go through Slaughterhouse in 2008, then here is your chance to go through (and what has turned out to be) a fantastic maze!!  We were VERY impressed!  Maybe we were wrong in thinking that Slaughterhouse lacks in longevity!  At this point, it certainly appears we may have been incorrect in our guess!  Go visit Farmer Willy with confidence that he and his crazed crew of freaks will give you quite the show! 


CORN STALKERS – Stage Coach Trail
It’s harvest time and the crop is you! Plunge into the rows of rotting corn and try to evade blood thirsty monstrosities seeking to impale you on their razor sharp scythes. Danger is all around you; the stalks of corn are both your salvation and your doom.

Unlike Slaughterhouse, we think Corn Stalkers is going to be fantastic!  Will it be as popular as last year and win your vote for the Ultimatehaunt.com Maze of the Year?  Probably not – but that’s okay!  We predict this maze is going to be great once again. 

Here’s a thought for you:  Last year it was widely felt that the Wizard of Oz references did not work, nor were they necessary in Corn Stalkers.  Any reference to Wizard of Oz has been removed from the official description (as written above).  With that said – it’s our belief we will no longer see Wizard of Oz references and the storyline for Corn Stalkers will stick to what is necessary to the maze: Corn, scarecrows and undead farmers.  That’s all that is needed.  Do you agree?  We’ll see!  This might be a back-to-back dark horse!!

REVIEW: Okay, at least one thing is true: The Wizard of Oz references have been eliminated. Unfortunately, what we thought might happen to Slaughterhouse (with respect to the whether or not the repeatability would work this year) happened to Cornstalkers.  This maze fell very short for us and much of the "creepiness" factor that was present in 2008 seemed to have been altered in someway.  The maze appeared to somehow be shorter (although, technically it probably wasn’t) than it was in 2008 and it appeared to us as though any storyline whatsoever was tossed out the window.  The monsters were definitely doing their job, but something….was missing that we can’t quite place our finger on. Maybe you’ll feel the same way and define it better for us.


ALIEN ANNIHILATION in 3D – The Lake (3D Laser Tag)
Begin transmission: – last entry log of deep space mining vessel Korova Matushka – ship has crashed – following homing beacon – discovery of alien ship – infestation imminent – send help – send help – end transmission. Lock and load for a descent into the depths of an alien war. Your only companion is your mega-round-thrust repeater rifle and the hordes of alien invaders that threaten to take over the planet. The air lock is opening – prepare for Alien Annihilation!

Oh right you Alien Annihilation fans out there – what is to become of your maze in 2009?  Several aspects for this maze were pretty cool last year…the length of the maze was cool and the talent were very good as well.  However, this maze was not very “scary” as much as it was somewhat thrilling.  The monsters did not appear to scare visitors as much as they were just shooting their guns at you.  That wouldn’t be so bad if you participated in the laser tag, but if you didn’t well, you felt sort of left out.  Perhaps this year the monsters will find ways to entertain/scare the guests whether or not they are participating in the laser tag. On the flip side, if the monsters stick to just the laser tag and if you are not playing, it will give you an opportunity to check out some of the cool details in the design of the maze. 

REVIEW:  Alien Annihilation was pretty much the same this year compared to its debut year in 2008.  The maze is filled with astronauts and aliens with their laser guns.  Many of the monsters in 2009 seemed to be really involved with entertaining/scaring us compared to last year.  In other words, the monsters seemed to have picked it up several notches!  It was fun (and HOT in there!) and for that extra element of entertainment, rent a laser gun to play tag with the monsters!


THE LABYRINTH – Balloon Race
Take a journey through a forgotten forest, into the dark catacombs that lie beneath a ruined castle. The evil king has long since passed on but his cursed court still haunts the halls of the mysterious labyrinth. Don’t lose your way as you twist and turn through chambers unknown and vainly try to escape the menagerie of mythical monsters that roam the never-ending corridors.

We do not expect much to change this year for Labyrinth – but that’s okay!  The costumes and sets were so intricate and detailed last year that we will once again be able to try and soak all of that in. Is Labyrinth scary?  No. However, Labyrinth is very cool looking and has some mild thrilling moments.  You will see some of the coolest costumes and characters at the Haunt inside this maze, so definitely check it out!

REVIEW:  Hooray for Labyrinth!  This maze appeared to be exactly the same as it was in 2008 and is still kicking serious butt!  The themeing, mythical monsters, props and artwork really bring this maze to life.  We had a great time going through this maze and well….there isn’t really too much more to say about it other than we recommend going in and having a great time!  Let us know if you had the same experience as we did!


QUARANTINE – Fiesta Plaza
In March 2008, the U.S. Government issued an emergency order sealing off an apartment complex in Los Angeles. A HazMat team was sent to investigate the quarantined building. Authorities have now denied any knowledge of the incident. The residents were never heard from again. There were no explanations; there was no evidence, until now. Experience the truth for yourself when you try to escape Sony Pictures’, Quarantine.

Okay – Quarantine.  We were just as surprised as you were when we found out this maze was returning in 2009.  Remember that the Grudge 2 maze was present at the Haunt for two years as well (same exact scenario – movie premiere in 2006 and returned in 2007).  You may recall that the Grudge 2 maze during its second year was not really well received. It was sort of just....there.

Now we have Quarantine back for a second year. All we have to go by is how the Grudge 2 did its second year.  Quarantine the movie had mild success in the theatre and was released on DVD in February 2009.  Unfortunately, the movie is almost forgotten by most.  It would have been great if at least the DVD release was taking place in October to promote....something. Seeing the maze at Haunt will certainly remind folks, “Oh yeah!  I remember that movie!” Will it be enough to make this the really exciting/mind-blowing maze it was in 2008?  No, probably not.  However, go through it early and enjoy the characters.  We think it should still be entertaining, but the buzz has probably worn off. 

REVIEW:  Unfortunately, we appear to have been correct in our prediction for Quarantine.  Wow…this maze is NOT what it once was and really should not have come back.  It’s a mystery as to what its place is at Knott’s Haunt in 2009 and just like the movie, the maze appears to have drifted off into the fog.  The best aspects of this maze in 2008 (i.e., the intensity, chaos, props and scares) have pretty much disappeared in 2009.  The intense firefighter introductions were not present and the feel of being pushed through a true emergency is simply lost.  It is our opinion that without the urgency present in a maze like Quarantine, the entertainment value falls downward.  On the bright side of things, there are DEFINITELY monsters in Quarantine that help to breathe some sort of life into the maze.  We recommend going through Quarantine early in the evening…it won’t be worth a long wait.


CLUB BLOOD – GhostRider 2
Welcome to Club Blood where the music is hypnotic and the cocktails are bloody. In the dark underbelly of the city, human victims are drained of their life to nourish the children of the night. Join the hypnotic dance macabre and explore the dark side of the undead.

You can refer to our preview/review of Club Blood from 2008 to see what we thought last year.  You will see that we were pleasantly surprised with how this entire maze came together.  We expect pretty much the same thing this year – in fact, we will be surprised if there are any real changes whatsoever.  Be that as it may, we feel that the theme and overall presentation of Club Blood is strong enough to repeat itself for a little bit and still hold strong.  The vampire craze continues with the movies and the current cable television shows, so we believe Club Blood will once again be a crowd pleaser.  Enjoy!

REVIEW:  Well, Club Blood is basically the same as it was in 2008.  There were not really any major changes that we noticed in 2009.  As we know, vampires are big right now in pop-culture, so this maze fits perfectly at the event.  There is not too much that we can say about this maze that hasn't already been said. The vampires were great and those nurses toward the end are VERY creepy still - so all is well in Club Blood and if you like vampires, you should have a great time!


THE DOLL FACTORY – Wilderness Dance Hall
In an old, abandoned toy factory, the Marionette Murderer, a psychotic serial killer turns his beautiful victims into life-size porcelain dolls for his personal collection. Tour his twisted museum of death and disfigurement, and hope to escape his mechanical lair.

Relying on history, the Doll Factory is past its prime.  It was your vote for the Ultimatehaunt.com Maze of the Year in 2007 and basically repeated itself in 2008 with respect to the elements that brought the maze to life: The maze still kicked butt but could not really contend with the introduction of so many new mazes in 2008.  The theme continues to be impressive and that’s the most important thing.  The Doll Factory will definitely scare and entertain thousands of folks in 2009 and we are looking forward to visiting the "Marionette Murderer" once again!

REVIEW:  You know what?  Doll Factory is AWESOME in 2009!  There were monsters everywhere, the maze was dark and creepier than ever and REALLY worked for us!  In many ways, we feel it is better in 2009 than it was in 2008.  The continued energy of the monsters is simply impressive and actually shocking.  We can't say enough about this maze!  Much like the glory years of the old "Asylum", the Doll Factory continues to pack a serious punch!  Double thumbs up!!


PYROMANIAX – Log Ride
A fire bursts out on the mountain due to a tragic accident at the resident Moonshine Factory. It seems the locals have been using toxic waste to make their libation, and now the lethal fumes are turning everyone (including the Fire Fighters) into murderous mutants.

No. No. No.  We’re sorry, but this theme should NOT be back at Halloween Haunt in 2009.  Unfortunately Pyromaniax was weak in 2007 and was pretty much just as bad in 2008.  Perhaps something special will be added to Pyromaniax to spice it up, but we doubt it.   It pains us to share these opinions with you because we LOVE the Log Ride at Knott’s Haunt.  With so many incredible themes over the years (i.e., Terror Mountain, Santa Claws Mountain, Camp Gonnagetcha, Red Moon Massacre, etc.), the Log Ride used to be a main event.  Will the Log Ride EVER be brought back to its glory years as a major attraction at Knott’s Haunt??   Who knows – but we sure do hope so.  If you go through Pyromaniax this year, do it EARLY – we do not believe it will be worth a long wait.  Sorry!

REVIEW: Again the same as it's been for 3 years straight, seems that some of the talent located through the mountain could use more noise makers( shaker cans ), and a little more energy then just waving a flash light and low mumbling sounds.

On a positive note, waiting in line are a few roaming monsters that had enough high energy that made waiting in line shorter. All we can suggest is visit early to avoid the lines that gather later in the evening.


BLACK WIDOW’S CAVERN– Mine Ride
Dare to enter the old, abandoned mine, now overrun by deadly spiders. Get caught in the web of the horrific arachnids as you travel the train of terror on the old miner’s path of doom.

Unlike the Log Ride, the Mine Ride has improved the past couple of years…and we are excited about it!  The theme of spiders definitely lends itself to the Mine Ride and for right now, is a perfect fit!  Again, go on the Mine Ride early – the lines are HORRIBLE once the crowds fill in the park!

REVIEW: The theme of spiders again fits the mine ride, though this year a lot more fog and darker lighting in the sections made it feel more abandon, and really couldn't see what's around the next turn or next to your mine car. This type of element is perfect for the Mine Ride and it appears fine-tuning this attraction for the past couple of the years is paying off!


That's it for now, folks! Let us know if you agree/disagree with our opinions and why! We would love to hear from you! Email us!