Welcome to The Pulse, your lifeline on media and pop culture. This is part 2 of a multi-part series ranking over 60 Knott’s Scary Farm mazes spanning 16 years. For the full introduction, please click here: https://www.thegrandgeekgathering.com/the-pulse-knotts-scary-farm-0
For previous entries in this multi-part special, see here:
Moving forward with the ranking we will be shifting to what will be the traditional “top 10” format for The Pulse, every Monday this month will be the next 10 mazes in the list counting all the way down to number 1.
Formalities done with, let’s get on with the list!
The Definitive Ranking of Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt Mazes (2002-2018) #40-31
(Once again, pictures or logos have been included to the best of my ability to provide them.)
40. Dominion of the Damned (2013-2014)
The followup to Knott’s short-lived reboot of the classic Dominion of the Dead maze, Dominion of the Damned is the first vampire-centric maze to land on the countdown. Dominion of the Damned was a return to a more traditional, Gothic vampire maze after the very somber and high artistry of Dominion of the Dead and the more modern Club Blood. The whole thing was honestly, well, kinda boring in comparison. There were some great, blood-soaked visuals, but it just lacked something that other mazes featuring the classic monster really managed to nail. It didn’t have a big hook to it, the scares weren’t especially impressive or creative, it wasn’t nearly as visually striking as its immediate predecessor and Lore of the Vampire did the traditional Gothic vampire much, much better.
39. The Slaughterhouse (2008-2013)
One of the longer running mazes of the modern era, Slaughterhouse stands proud among the goriest of mazes in Haunt history. Did it necessarily warrant a six year run off of that? No, not necessarily, I feel it probably could have called 2011 its final year and we’d have missed it just enough without feeling it ever overstayed its welcome. Cannibal rednecks is nothing new to Knott’s, and the concept of a bbq joint serving up some..interesting meat to its patrons has been seen in classic horror films like Motel Hell, but getting to see the process behind that was a really good call and brought about a maze with a dark and disturbing concept and incredibly graphic visuals to deliver on that concept. From people locked in cages like cattle to giant, blood-soaked meat grinders, Slaughterhouse was not for the weak of stomach. Blood was literally everywhere in this maze accompanying scenes of people in various stages of dismemberment and, well, production. It was a strong maze and a fan favorite, my only real issue was pretty much how long it stuck around, we just didn’t need six years of it, Knott’s had already stretched the theme as far as they could and had nothing left they could really do with it by the end of its run.
38. Terror Vision 3D (2004-2006)
While not the high point of good gone bad for Knott’s, Terror Vision certainly stands out as one of the more memorable takes on the concept from the park. This fun, 3D trip through the twisted land of television brought us such classics as Unhappy Days, I Scream of Jeanie and, of course, Sesameat Street. It was a fun sendup of classic television shows and sitcoms (much as Toon Terrortory, a maze sadly before my time, did with classic cartoons) that didn’t take itself too seriously, made fun use of transitions featuring tv repairmen and static hallways, the use of 3D and blacklight effects worked and made sense and, seriously, Sesameat Street remains one of my most memorable moments from early in my Haunt career, it was the perfect balance of hilarious and dark.
37. Red Beard’s Revenge (2004-2007)
Certain moments at Haunt tend to stick with you throughout the years. “Scary tree”, for me, will always be the thing about Red Beard’s Revenge that I remember most vividly and fondly. It was the sort of meta, fourth wall breaking moment that to this day my dad and I make reference to all the time. Red Beard’s Revenge played on a sorely underused trope for Scary Farm, that of salty old pirates. Watch for sticky floorboards, there be seamen aboard, warns the massive talking skull that makes up the sign for this maze. A blend of dark humor with good ol’ fashioned swashbuckling, Red Beard’s Revenge was a fun maritime tale with good sets, fun props and a great bunch of scare actors. The most memorable moment, of course, being when one scare actor leaning out from their place among the trees and exclaiming “scary tree”. From effects to recreate the swaying of a ship out at sea to a haunted forest complete with talent that really knows how to make the most of what they are given, this was definitely one of the good ones.
36. Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre (2009-2012)
A somewhat darker, but still fun take on the killer clown theme than Killer Clown Kollege before it, Uncle Bobo’s didn’t so much as do anything new with the concept (it wouldn’t be until some years later that we’d get that), but rather it executed it incredibly well. There were fun and imaginative sets, great performances (the clowns never fail to deliver), fantastic use of dark humor and sight gags, and of course the incredible thingy. Uncle Bobo’s would ultimately dwindle in quality in its last year, but it had a really strong first showing back in 2009 and stands among the better carnival themed mazes that Knott’s has done.
35. Hatchet High (2003-2006)
Warren Hatchet High School, better known as Hatchet High, is a maze that I look back on with great fondness. Premiering in my second year of attending Haunt, it was a fun, high energy “good gone bad” (notice a theme for this week’s list?) maze about a local high school after a radioactive meteorite struck the building and the carnage that followed, but given some of the staffing (Kobe Bryant in charge of sex ed?) one has to wonder just how normal life was before the meteor hit. I remember first walking into it, it was the first actual maze we did that night (our old routine would always be to hit the log and mine rides first, watch the Hanging and then go to the maze at the wilderness dance hall) and it was such a fun way to start the evening. As you make your way through the line you get to the entrance to the school, the sign (pictured above) welcoming you with some fun, classic Knott’s dark humor. The meteorite stuck to the edge of the building signaling that something has gone wrong, “School’s Out” blasting as you make your way in. You’d be greeted with some, for the time, fantastic props including an animatronic frog doing some dissecting of his own, awesome specimen jars with cool mutations. Bloody school hallways with graffiti exclaiming things such as “Carrie White rules!” (and really, doesn’t she?), a smoke filled boys room, a prom gone wrong (I do seem to recall them taking pictures there, but I could be misremembering). If ever Knott’s wanted to bring some mazes back for some sort of legacy/anniversary event, this would honestly be near the top of my list despite not ranking too high on the countdown, it’s one I always remember with such fondness for being among the most fun and well-balanced Knott’s mazes and something that really captured those first few years I attended the event. I always looked forward to going through it.
34. Malice in Wunderland in 3D (2001-2004)
Down the rancid rabbit you go. Among the absolute best “good gone bad” mazes Knott’s has ever done, this dark and twisted take on the classic Alice in Wonderland is probably one of the most iconic Knott’s mazes. Classic usage of the blacklight 3D effects Knott’s favored heavily in the 2000’s, memorable props and animatronics (from the caterpillar to the jabberwocky and cheshire cat), great sets and use of space (Knott’s really could work wonders with the small bumper cars arena), Malice was such a memorable experience and one I am so glad I was able to see for most of its run (only missing its very first year).
33. Voodoo (2014)/Voodoo: Order of the Serpent (2015-2017)
Over the last several years Knott’s has been pushing the envelope and becoming more and more ambitious with their mazes and Voodoo was no exception. Being set within the backlot just beyond Ghostrider, Voodoo was thankfully not beholden to the tragic policy change that has left so many mazes without iconic and eye-catching facades that keeps them hidden throughout the day (seriously, I absolutely hate that they’ve moved away from actual facades in favor of generic signs letting you know a maze is there). Approaching Voodoo, you are greeted with an absolutely gorgeous representation of a classic New Orleans city block, it’s honestly among the best made facades Knott’s has ever done. That alone isn’t what made Voodoo so memorable or ambitious, however. That would be how the maze was built. The first part of Voodoo takes place within the swampy bayous of Louisiana, guests would make their way across wooden platforms and rundown shacks where horrible rituals were being performed, and they would do so while walking above a basin full of water. It may not seem like much, but the effort was not unnoticed as the usage of prop crocodiles, skeletons and the like really brought home that down south vibe they were going for and added a layer of realism to the setting that really helped it stand out. From there you would make your way into a lush wooded area where a ritual to summon a dark deity was being performed, something the maze had been building up to throughout. In its final year they would run guests through the maze backwards, instead starting from what was its exit and making your way up into the shacks and out through the New Orleans facade. This was a huge misstep that completely through off the story of the maze and was a bit of a sad end to a generally solid attraction that had by that point already run its course (and this isn’t the first or last time that Knott’s would tack on some gimmick to try and squeeze an extra year or two out of a maze already passed its prime). This isn’t the first time Knott’s took on the Louisiana voodoo concept, but it is by far the most realistic take they’ve done on it and it was merely a sign of things to come as far as Knott’s really going all out with newer mazes.
32. Curse of the Spider (2002-2005)
Originally debuting as Curse of the Spider Woods, a so-called “scare experience”, Curse of the Spider began life with a very rocky start. Thankfully it would go on to be a pretty strong maze on its own. What once encompassed the entirety of the attraction, guests stand in a room where they are assaulted from above by a massive spider animatronic, now only served as the preshow to the maze proper. Curse of the Spider saw guests making their way through gloomy woods and dark caverns, an ominous and iconic hissing sound playing throughout the experience (if you’ve been through this you know what I’m talking about). If you weren’t arachnophobic before, this maze would certainly help you along that path. Curse of the Spider is classic Knott’s during the events prime years (that is before the recent years pushing some truly great mazes), playing on a common phobia with such flawless execution. They took a concept with poor initial reception and weaved it into a terrifying and effective maze.
31. Blood Bayou (2001-2004)
As I said previously in this weeks list, Knott’s has already done both redneck cannibals and Louisiana voodoo before, and here’s a maze that stands as a shining example of both. Blood Bayou occupied what has been home to some of the longest and strongest mazes in Knott’s history, the Mystery Lodge wilderness. While mazes to come in the years following (save for Special Ops, that is) would make better use of that space, Blood Bayou was my first experience with the longer maze format and it was a good starting point. It mixed in dark humor, haunting visuals (for some reason the instruments that floated and played themselves always kinda got to me as a kid), great use of music (from the sorta southern blue grass said instruments played to the incredibly haunting chanting that played during the bayou/voodoo section that I remember running in my head all night while trying to sleep after getting home from Haunt), gorgeous sets and huge length. Blood Bayou was a great experience that offered a variety of scares and themes in a very cohesive manner.