REVIEW: TRAPPED at Knott’s Halloween Haunt 2012

Trapped at Knott's Halloween Haunt 2012

Trapped is a new maze that was introduced this year at Knott’s Halloween Haunt as part of the Scary Farm’s 2012 lineup. What sets this maze apart from any other in the past 40 years that Knott’s has been hosting Halloween Haunt, is that in this maze, you’re on your own. With a maximum number of six people per group, and as few as one, Trapped offers the thrills and chills of a Haunt maze without a ton of strangers joining you, and with no conga line pushing you through. In Trapped, it’s all you…

The concept of having a maze to explore/escape all to yourself isn’t a new industry concept, by any means. For years, Busch Gardens Tampa has successfully operated such an attraction called Alone. Many other haunts around the country also only admit small groups or single guests, so the concept isn’t new at all; just a twist to the usual annual maze offering at Knott’s.

Trapped is made up of several rooms/scenarios that guests must figure out and work as a team to get through. Each room is different, offering a “haunt stew” of themes and situations, from a strange encounter with a creepy janitor in a bathroom (hey, it happens) to a mirror-filled Bloody Mary summoning, and finally, an intimate resting place in a morgue. Basic fears are played on in Trapped – from rats and monsters lurking just inches away, to extreme claustrophobic situations. It’s a clever, puzzle-filled experience that guests have absolutely embraced and gone nuts for at Halloween Haunt this season.

Trapped at Knott's Halloween Haunt 2012When Trapped was first announced, I had very serious reservations about the concept. On a busy night, Halloween Haunt’s crowds can exceed 30k. For an attraction to be added to the Scary Farm lineup that only pulses groups of one to six guests through at a time, I was really blown away that park operations would go for that. Obviously, hourly capacity was never on the table when it came to Trapped, because that would have been a deal-killer instantly. So the maze was pitched as a highly-specialized “boutique” terror experience, and it was approved. My second concern was the price point; $60. That alone caused a raised brow here. With admission to Halloween Haunt around the $35 mark, I was stunned to learn that Knott’s would up-charge $60 for one maze. Personally, I loathe up-charge experiences at theme parks. I understand why it is done on several levels, but the practice still makes my skin crawl because it usually smacks of corporate greed. In this case, it was set high to control the amount of interested guests to a manageable number each evening; and for all intents and purposes, it worked, with Trapped being sold out almost all the time. Do I think Trapped is worth $60? If you’re a group of six and want to pop for $10 a piece, sure! Even a group of four could have a fun time for a moderate cost. However, if you drop down to a couple or single status, I feel the price point is way too high for Trapped, especially when comparable to something like Alone at Busch Gardens, which is at least $20+ cheaper to experience. However, what I think doesn’t matter; guests have coughed up the $60 fee for Trapped all month long at Knott’s, and so, it’s a success with an inevitable sequel likely already being planned for the 2013 Haunt.

One of the things that Trapped does that we don’t like is force guests to eat insects; specifically, meal worms and/or crickets (dead, not alive). When our group went through on opening night, someone else stepped up and took out a meal worm and the group was permitted to pass. Had we all had to do that (something I have been told each group has to do as a team now), that would have been the end of our experience. Honestly, there is nothing “scary” about eating bugs; it’s simply gross and disgusting to us. I choose not to eat snails, cow tongue, ox tails or cattle intestines/brains for the same reason; it’s nasty to me, period. When the old television show Fear Factor started leaning on eating things such as boiled bull testicles as challenges for contestants, I lost interest. Eating bugs, balls, or slimy things isn’t frightening; it’s a crutch – a cheap cop out to me in lieu of a genuine scary moment or situation. I would love to see Knott’s ditch the eating of meal worms in a maze billed as “terrifying” in favor of a new, genuinely clever and chilling task/moment. I know they can do it, so let’s see if they will in 2013.

Trapped at Knott's Halloween Haunt 2012The design of Trapped is really well done. And for the general public attending Haunt, I’d say it absolutely is frightening for guests. Several of the rooms are very clever, although seasoned haunted attraction fans will likely work their way from room to room very quickly (our group moved too quickly and had to be held so as to not catch up with the folks in front of us). The quality of Trapped is high, in line with the newer mazes we are seeing populate Haunt such as Trick or Treat and Pinocchio Unstrung. The overall intensity of the maze is much higher than elsewhere at Haunt, with talent absolutely invading your personal space and using adult language on occasion. Based on experience alone, it definitely is the single most harrowing maze at Knott’s this year, as it delivers something that none of the others can – a personalized Halloween Haunt experience with a small group of people (or by yourself) unlike anyone’s ever seen in Buena Park.

We’d like to see Trapped return in 2013 with a more focused story line – a specific theme, as opposed to multiple rooms with different stories; something a la Saw would be better polished and would allow for a much more immersive experience for guests. Regardless, whatever Knott’s opts to do for the return of this attraction next season, we’re sure it will be even more successful than this year’s inaugural version.

Theme Park Adventure was not allowed to shoot any still images or video flow of Trapped. We requested access as part of this year’s TPA Haunt coverage, offering not to publish any content regarding the maze until after the season had concluded. Knott’s declined our request, which is why there are no specific photos or video to go with this review. We don’t agree with their decision for several reasons, and we regret that this maze couldn’t be shot for fans around the world to see after the fact. However, it’s ultimately their sandbox, and so we respect Knott’s management’s decision regarding the shooting of Trapped. We sincerely hope that someone internally does take the time to shoot it, as no Haunt attraction should pass without being fully documented.

Congratulations to Jeff Tucker and his team that worked on Trapped; it’s clearly a success, and we are very pleased for Knott’s that the concept has taken off as well as it has this year! Props to the design and build crew and the men and women who populate the maze each night to rain terror down on Scary Farm guests as they become helplessly and oh, so hopelessly… Trapped.

– Rick West

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