A dash of Sweeney Todd, a lil Jack the Ripper, with a bit of Frankenstein thrown in and you have maze designer Brooke Walter’s inspiration behind “Terror of London,” rumored to be this years most anticipated new attraction at Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt. With the construction near complete, CreepyLA was invited to tag along for the maze’s first rehearsal and run thru.
Those taking a stroll through the maze will be confronted with locations and settings that are reminiscent, if not inspired, by gaslamp era thrillers, and in some cases, historical murders. Brooke tells me that many of the gore scenes are modeled after Jack the Ripper’s actual victims, which visitors will pass along the numerous streets and alleyways throughout Knott’s version of London.
On a first pass through the maze, Brooke placed scare actors in different settings, and asking each one to give a quick preview of the character they’d been assigned and a sample of how they planned to scare the crowds throughout Knott’s “Scary Farm’s” 28 nights.
Based on general character archetypes assigned to them ahead of time, the actors develop their own characters and dialogue. For “Terror of London,” this includes undead madames and courtesans luring visitors into a brothel, addicts crying for their next fix inside an opium den, and multiple Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd types menacing all who walk thru the maze.
While laughably bad British accents were acceptable, shyness and generic scares were not. Brooke would occasionally assign a member of “Scareforce” to an underperforming actor. “Scareforce” is Knott’s elite squad of 22 Haunt veterans tapped to coach newer actors on how to better scare visitors.
Jeff Tucker, Knott’s supervisor of entertainment about to begin his 16th year at Halloween Haunt, also shared ideas with actors throughout the maze, but was adamant about some no-nos in the old London set. “Stop saying boo, shaking a can, or snarling!” Later, Jeff added, “Unless you’re a werewolf, let’s have a moratorium on snarling. Six Flags can keep that.”
“Terror of London” may feature history’s most famous serial killer, but the scares are being steered more towards sensual horror and mood, and a little less gratuitous, jump out at you slasher feel. Which isn’t to say visitors shouldn’t expect a few jolts. An impressive outdoor graveyard set will literally shake as a corpse rises from the grave, and the twists and turns of the alleys are ripe for a Ripper or two.
After night fell, Brooke called for an initial walk thru of the maze where the underbelly of London came alive. And this was without makeup, costumes, and full effects. When the fog rolls in, this could certainly become the creepiest of all the haunts.
Knott’s Halloween Haunt runs September 24th – October 31st. For ticketing and general information visit: haunt.knotts.com.