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Knott’s Halloween Haunt History 2006

True to form, Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween Haunt added three new mazes in 2006: The Grudge 2, Dark Realm, and Viva Lost Vegas.

This was a viable strategy when the only competition came from less threatening sources (the Queen Mary TerrorFest, Magic Mountain Fright Fest), but Halloween 2006 saw a major venue resurrecting its long-dormant Halloween event. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, featuring all the production value that a major movie studio could supply, was immediately a serious contender, though it took Knott’s Halloween Haunt a while to realize they could no longer count on Los Angeles Halloween fans to show up for a few new attractions, when there was a lavish alternative that did not require a long drive to Orange County.

In any case, Knott’s new maze all had something to offer. If not great, at least each one was different enough to create an interesting mix, especially when added to the returning attractions.

Knott's Berry Farm Halloween Haunt The Grudge 2007
J-Horror in The Grudge 2 maze

The Grudge 2 maze was the best of the newcomers. Based on the feature film of the same title, it featured few specifics from its namesake, but it capture the J-Horror stylings of The Grudge and its Japanese inspiration, the Ju-on films. The result was successful enough to warrant a return the following Halloween, though some fans felt that the sophomore outing did not live up to the debut.

In retrospect, The Grudge 2 is interesting because it was a clever piece of promotional synergy that benefited both the attraction and the movie. Within a few years, this would become the stock in trade at Halloween Horror Nights, and Knott’s Scary Farm would restrict itself to original themes thenceforward.

Viva Lost Vegas was a colorful, gaudy 3-D maze, more funny than scary. It was far from awesome, but by this time Knott’s Scary Farm had established the tradition of including one or two comical mazes to balance the scarier ones. In that sense, Viva Lost Vegas filled its niche quite nicely. Like The Grudge 2, Viva Lost Vegas was brought back next Halloween.

Dark Realm was fairly novel in that it was situated on the outdoor Stage Coach trail. Visitors could simply walk through and enjoy the scares or, for an extra charge, rent a laser tag gun and shoot at targets. The exterior location offered a change of pace from claustrophobic indoor mazes, though not always to the maze’s benefit – with few places to hide, monsters were clearly visible at a distance, destroying the surprise factor. Dark Realm lasted last only one Halloween; it was replaced on the Stage Coach trail by the magnificent Cornstalkers in 207. However, Dark Realm’s highlight, a magnificent roaring mechanical beast, would  live on, redressed and recycled in subsequent Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween Haunts for many years to come.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.