REVIEW: Delirium 2013 Knott’s Scary Farm

One of the most popular mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm is Delirium, which made its debut in 2011. The twisted maze, which is the dreamchild of veteran Halloween Haunt designer Daniel Miller, returned once again this past season to terrify and freak out guests visiting the 41st annual event in Buena Park, California. Absolutely one of the strongest additions to Haunt in recent memory, the big question was, would it remain shocking and elaborate enough to contend with the likes of this year’s new Scary Farm offerings, including Forevermore and Miller’s new maze for 2013, Black Magic?

Delirium takes guests into the twisted psyche of a woman named Deborah Rose, who has been subjected to horrible, evil acts her whole life. Due to Ms. Rose’s tormented upbringing, she was deemed insane, and locked away in an asylum… the Mangler Asylum. Long-time and hard core Scary Farm fans will instantly recall that the Mangler Asylum was the formal name of one of Halloween Haunt’s most disturbing attractions ever – The Asylum. The horrors that unfold in the world of Delirium are accounts taken directly from the pages of Deborah’s journal, which she kept as she lived within the walls of the Mangler Asylum. Unfortunately, this rich back story is lost on guests that haven’t seen the Knott’s-produced YouTube video where Miller gets to explain what’s actually going on in the story of Delirium. It’s a terrific idea – just not many people have seen the video or know that it exists, unfortunately. How does Knott’s better market this type of thing better? It has to be part of the park’s creative social media push; perhaps integrate it somehow in the queue. Hell, place a QR code on the Haunt maps so when guests scan them with their smartphones, it brings up videos setting up each maze’s backstory. There are plenty of solutions; Knott’s management simply needs to get creative in implementing them from here on out.

DELIRIUM_2013_5240Delirium is a visually striking maze. Aside from the fact that it’s very odd and dream-like in appearance, its physical attributes range from hauntingly beautiful to downright grotesque. Guests are greeted immediately at the maze’s entrance by a gaping, toothy maw, and swallowed whole into a bizarre nightmare that includes monsters under Deborah’s bed, and one of the most iconic maze scenes in years at Knott’s – a dead woman lying in bed covered with cockroaches that have fanned out and are also climbing the walls of her bedroom. Art direction and design-wise, Delirium is one of the most intense and well-executed mazes I have ever seen at Halloween Haunt. It’s just as visually stunning to us as it was two years ago when we first walked through with Daniel Miller as our guide. The maze hasn’t changed much layout or art direction-wise over the past three years, so it has remained solid since the first day; if you were a fan of Delirium in 2011, you’re still a fan of it post-Haunt 2013. And therein lies the double-edged reality sword; if you didn’t like it when it debuted two years ago, chances are, you hate it now after a third season of the same thing! Whether it returns for the 2014 Scary Farm season is anyone’s guess at this point. If I had to wager, I’d say that I think it’s run its course and is taking up a highly valuable footprint in one of the indoor maze locations at Knott’s. Generally, three to four years is the average lifespan of a Haunt maze, so I’d like to see it go before it starts feeling old and worn out.

The talent in Delirium was strong any time we went through during the 2013 season at Knott’s. One thing we do hate is that while there were some great face/make-up wearing characters that interacted in the maze with guests, there were also a lot of masks being worn as well by talent; too many. Guests and fans have been saying this for years; we’re joining in as well – there are simply too many masks being worn in the Knott’s Scary Farm mazes these days. Theme Park Adventure fully understands the logistical challenges of bringing Knott’s Scary Farm to live and all of the intense effort it takes. However, when other large-scale events and stand-alone haunted attractions are moving more and more toward the elimination of masks, we cannot help but feel that it is time for Knott’s to make a move in that direction as well. Granted, there are a lot more mazes and a lot more monsters at Knott’s than any other event in California – possibly anywhere. Even a 50% reduction of mask-wearing maze monsters in 2014 would be a massive improvement, and would be a huge step in the right direction for Haunt and its new generation of attractions and guest interaction.

DELIRIUM_2013_5273Delirium’s soundtrack is complicated and downright badass. The score is epic (fans of the game Dante’s Inferno may recognize some of the music), and the sound effects, simply perfect. Audibly, this maze has always been just as frightening and striking as it is visually. Sound is a make it or break it element in any entertainment production, and Delirium has nailed that every year at Knott’s. Huge kudos to all involved with track selection and mixing for Delirium.

Delirium is the third in a series of mazes by Daniel Miller beginning with The Asylum. Second was Lockdown: The Asylum, where Mangler’s most infamous inmates had been transported to a prison facility where all hell breaks loose. Third, we had Delirium, a haunting journey through the mind and nightmarish journal of one Deborah Rose, an individual dwelling within Mangler Asylum at the time of her writing. It’s been a really successful trilogy in this case, and if we know anything about trilogies, it’s that a fourth installment is almost always disastrous. That said, huge props going out to Daniel on Delirium for wrapping up the complete Asylum package so nicely; we look forward to what comes next. If Delirium does return in 2014, we’ll welcome it back, although I really do think it’s time to close the book on this chapter and move on to darker, more terrifying creations!

Were you a fan of Delirium? Do you want to see it return in 2014? We want to know what our TPAers liked and disliked about this maze! Sound off below and keep the discussion alive here online with fellow fans!

– Rick West

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