Rating the Mazes at Knott's Halloween Haunt 2010

Ghost Town Gateway

Ah, the beloved Calico Ghost Town...

By now, you’ve already gone to Knott’s Halloween Haunt (aka Knott’s Scary Farm) for 2010.  Right?  Right?!  Well, if you haven’t, get creeping now for the world’s biggest Halloween party.  You won’t want to miss what the ghosts and goblins have cooked up at Knott’s this year.

Your friendly correspondent went there opening weekend and braved the chilling fog and sinister figures in the night, all to provide you with these notes on the monstrous mazes at the Haunt.  (Yeah, there’s shows and stuff, too, but really… it’s all about the mazes!)

So here are my far-from-objective notes on the 2010 Haunt mazes, counting down in order of my ratings — from number 13 (the least effective) to number 1 (the most effective).  And if you find you have a different order of preference, why not let us know here on CreepyLA?

Jack in the box

Pop goes your nerves...

13 – Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre in 3-D

Evil clowns.  Potty humor.  Scarce scares.  Three-D.  Meh.

12 – Sleepy Hollow Mountain (Log Ride)

Well, I love the Log Ride and I love Sleepy Hollow, so you’d think this would’ve been more appealing.  Despite a nice animatronic Headless Horseman as you ascend and a truly charming effect just before the big drop at the end, this isn’t all that great.  Much better than the past three years in the Log Ride have been, but not up to par.

11 – Black Widow’s Cavern (Mine Train)

Just like the Log Ride, I have a very soft spot for the Mine Train (I like classic Knott’s!), but this year the chills were kind of phoned in.  I think this is a great space and there’s a lot they could do with it, but it’s been a few years since the haunting of the Mine Train really worked.

10 – Dia de los Muertos in 3-D

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  This was last year’s surprise newcomer, with gorgeous art design (where did two out of three exterior murals go?) and nice creepification; this year, it just felt rather tired and unengaging.

9 – Lockdown: The Asylum

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of a prison riot is something that seems frightening in a very non-Halloween way.  (Years back, Universal Studios included a “riot” scene in their backlot tour that also happened on the Halloween version… and it had pretty much the same reaction.)  There’s some nice gore here, but it just left me somewhat cold.

Mine Train entrance

The spiders are waiting...

8 – Labyrinth

Fairy tales have some nerve-wracking moments and blood-chilling ideas in them, and Labyrinth delivers on some of these.  But far more of the time, it’s just really cool and interesting-looking, with beautiful design from start to finish.  You’ll have fun, but will you have fear?  That’s up to you and the monsters.

7 – Club Blood

No, Virginia, despite their best efforts, Twilight fans have not quite managed to kill all the horror of the vampire.  Club Blood is a classic Knott’s maze that has bloodsucking terror all over the place, and seems to be one of the last bastions of the recent Halloween Haunt fad of The Hot Chick In The Haunted Maze (aka the Yeah, She’s Attractive, But What Does This Have To Do With Monsters? Moment).  Five or six vampire pole dancers in one room.  Yowza!

6 – Corn Stalkers

Bravo!  Corn Stalkers not only delivers on seasonal harvest imagery (and smells; that’s real corn and hay, and it has that pleasant October aroma) but has made very big strides since it debuted not too long ago.  This maze has some good scares and some good overall horripilation moments.  Call this one “Most Improved.”

5 – The Doll Factory

Do dolls and mannequins unnerve you?  How about lunatics with knives and power tools?  Perhaps you don’t like walking through dark places with… things… in the corners?  All that and more await you in the Doll Factory.  Sure, it’s not a jump-a-minute maze, but it works on you pretty steadily and it’s a class act all the way.

Birdcage Theater skeleton

And you thought it took forever to be *given* the tickets.

4 – Terror of London

I admit it: This one is also light on the scares, strong on the atmosphere.  If you just like a good, eerie place to walk through with your friends and admire gleaming red entrails, you’ll like Terror of London.  If you really have to jump out of your skin every five seconds, move on to the top three mazes.

3 – The Slaughterhouse

Décor is important, lighting is important, soundtrack is important, but at the end of the night, you’ve got to have monsters with the right combination of experience and energy to keep everybody screaming and cringing.  The Slaughterhouse is chock full of this kind of nerve-twisting energy.  Recommended!

2 – Fallout Shelter

This maze has all the atmospheric touches of the previous ones, but it overlays them all with a lot of startling and gross moments, so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.  It’s the kind of quality haunted attraction that Knott’s Scary Farm has become famous for, so definitely include it on your list of “gotta do” mazes for your visit.

1 – Virus Z

Building up from an ominous introduction into ghastly horror, Virus Z is a really effective maze that you can enjoy for both quieter frights (the zombie girl just standing in the dimly lit corridor really got to me) and outright mayhem.  A small town has been overrun by an epidemic of flesh-eating walking corpses and you’ve just arrived…the only living people for miles.  Top marks all around.

The Haunt runs Wednesday-Sunday for the rest of October, and day of event general admission is $56 (but you can get a discount by purchasing ahead of time, online and with coupons from various outlets).  Get details about Knott’s Halloween Haunt 2010.