In 2011, Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse made its debut in Necropolis (Camp Snoopy) at Knott’s Halloween Haunt. A Brooke Walters (Terror of London, Trick Or Treat, The Doll Factory) design, Endgames was a post-apocalyptic nightmare where “gladiator” contestants battled one another to the bloody death, broadcast to an eager live audience over a rudimentary network. 2012 saw Endgames moved across the park and placed backstage in a new location, completely re-imagined for the 40th Haunt. The big question on everyone’s mind, was would the new version be as strong or stronger than the first and just how much different would Endgames actually be this year?
The footprint that Endgames had in Necropolis was much smaller than that of its new home, giving Knott’s and up-and-coming designer Gus Krueger a bit more freedom to expand the maze a bit; very possibly the only maze at the 2012 Halloween Haunt that actually got bigger as opposed to smaller. While definitely a nice trade-up, the larger footprint did take away the necessity and ultimately very clever layout of the original version of Endgames in 2011; we were really impressed by the way Brooke originally was forced to work within such a small area, with the maze doubling back on itself, giving Endgames a multilayered look and feel that felt only slightly replicated in the 2012 version. That’s not a negative thing; it’s merely an observation and difference.
Once again, Endgames was based on post-apocalyptic cage style hand-to-hand combat to the death in a gritty, low-fi environment made up mostly of wood planks and chain linked fencing. It truly was art/creative directed very nicely, and we actually felt as though we were walking through an unstable and unsafe crudely-built environment. Haunt fans definitely knew they were in Endgames 2.0 as they made their way down twisted corridors and peered into other scenes through blown out walls and fencing. Returning too, were video monitors throughout the maze that gave guests a glimpse of scenes to come, which was a very interesting touch brought over from the original. Endgames was broadcast online as a live stream; unfortunately, Knott’s was anything but aggressive in getting the word and link out, so very few people ever got to see it! Hopefully in 2013, there will be a more concerted effort to get the link out there to fans via the Haunt website as well as Knott’s social media. In fact, I’d love to see Knott’s push forward with live streaming online and fan interactivity via the Web and social media not just with Endgames, but throughout the Scary Farm – but that’s a whole other article to write!
The talent in Endgames was fired up and did really well each time we went through the maze. Feeding off of the high-energy soundtrack, no doubt, these men and women worked it and made us all believe we were truly in a hostile environment where people were ready to fight to the death, and that we were surely going to be caught in the middle of the violence! Not only did the talent scare as expected in a Knott’s maze; many of them took up a “weapon” and swung them around like they were hardened pros and true warriors!
The music used throughout Endgames was loud thrash metal and heavy rock. Some of the tracks were supplied by our friends Winds of Plague, a popular SoCal band that has strong ties to Halloween Haunt. Like we always say, loud rock/metal shouldn’t ever be used for a maze unless the entire thing is themed as the type of environment that would support it. In the case of Endgames, it worked beautifully!
All in all, I’d say that the second year for Endgames was its best so far. With a better, expanded facade and larger footprint, the maze really seemed to settle into place very well and the talent seemed very proud of their new home also. Kudos to the whole team and Gus Krueger for taking Brooke’s original idea and improving on it this year into something even bigger and better! We look forward to having this maze at the Scary Farm for a couple more seasons, and know it will remain a strong attraction!
– Rick West