REVIEW: Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre at Knott’s Halloween Haunt 2012

One of the older returning mazes at Knott’s Halloween Haunt during its 2012 season wa

s Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre, featuring a zany cast of high-strung and poop-flung clowns. Now as much of a fixture at the Scary Farm as vampires, the killer clowns that lurk in the darkness of Carnevil have amassed quite a following over the years; for more than a decade, clowns have proven to be quite the fan favorite at Haunt.

Uncle Bobo’s has been a very popular draw for years now, and while high-ranking with Haunt guests, it was not spared from the widespread maze truncating that occurred event-wide this year. Indeed, Bobo’s was shorter by a few twists and turns. However, it remained one of the longer mazes at the 2012 Haunt; most guests wouldn’t even think about it being a few beats shorter in length, because it physically began and ended at the same place underneath Xcelerator that it always has, and for the most part, the content and layout of the maze remained very similar to the 2011 version of Bobo’s.

Uncle Bobo's Big Top of the Bizarre at Knott's Halloween Haunt 2012

One of the more notable changes in 2012 was the re-locating of the maze’s marquee. Rather than placed prominently below Xcelerator’s Top Hat element next to the Boardwalk’s restrooms, the Bobo’s sign (which features some great artwork) was tucked away in the rear shadow of Coasters (diner/restaurant), near the backstage access gate. Without a Haunt map or knowing where to look, guests could have very easily walked past this dark corner of the park and would have never known the entrance to Bobo’s was there; I have no doubt that happened all month long. This is just another negative impact that the “no/portable signage” policy at Haunt had on the event’s wayfinding this year.

Not much was added to Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre this year, with the exception of a neat little soundtrack added for one of the maze’s props – the Fiji Mermaid mounted to a plaque on a wall was voiced this year by long-time Theme Park Adventure associate Kevin Horton, who’s been a Knott’s Berry Farm employee for 25 years! Kevin does voice acting, and was invited to participate in the audio portion of Bobo’s this year! Fun stuff!

Uncle Bobo's Big Top of the Bizarre at Knott's Halloween Haunt 2012Uncle Bobo’s has evolved from a bright, colorful maze into a more dark, sinister theme over the years. We prefer it this way, and would actually love to see the Haunt design team focus their attention on further shifting Bobo’s into a very dark, almost serious attraction. Especially after seeing how the “clown maze” was imagined and executed by the Freakling Bros. crew in Las Vegas this year, I think that turning this attraction into more of a dark “freak show” would greatly compliment the Carnevil area of Knott’s for Haunt, and would give the design team a fresh, larger creative palette to choose from to create twisted, disturbing scenes and monsters. The killer clowns could be more prevalent throughout the Boardwalk, and the disturbing freaks could reside within the maze; it could add a great new dimension to the Carnevil area and enrich the reason for the theme. In 2013, Carnevil will feature new roller coaster and flat rides; what a perfect addition to the all-new midway – a freak show maze! Time will tell, and we shall see; I obviously have no bearing on future Haunt decisions, but do take the opportunity when writing about these mazes to offer up my own thoughts on each.

As usual, the talent team in Bobo’s was definitely strong and always on their game; this is one seriously pumped up group, and they love being clowns. It shows, and we are very appreciative of them all! Kudos!

This was one of the 3D mazes at Halloween Haunt, but we never went through with the glasses on; we’re not huge fans of 3D haunted attractions, and prefer mazes that stand on their own without the gimmick aspect. Bobo’s definitely stands on its own without the need for 3D, so we never once felt like we were missing out. Guests do enjoy 3D mazes, and that’s awesome. We don’t, and so we prefer to visit Bobo’s minus the glasses.

Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre was really well done this year, but we’d like to see a major change for the 2013 season. Carnevil is a great part of Halloween Haunt, and so, we are all for keeping it fresh and exciting!

Great job, Bobo’s 2012 team!

– Rick West

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