Toon TERRORtory was a short-lived attraction, lasting only two years at Halloween Haunt – 1996 and 1997. Guests would enter the maze from Ghost Town; the footprint was in the California Marketplace, roughly where the gate/secondary entrance is today near the base of GhostRider’s lift hill.
In a departure from typical Halloween Haunt mazes, Toon TERRORtory was one of very few “humorous” mazes in the history of the event. Maze designer Todd Faux, along with creative direction and input from Chris Williams (yes, kids, that Chris Williams) created an alternate reality cartoon world for the strange attraction, using well-known characters such as Speed Racer, and Beavis and Butthead, along with pre-war era-inspired monsters/characters as well!
While Toon TERRORtory was definitely full of disturbing visuals and jump scares at every fog-filled turn, it focused on striking a balance between humor and horror – something that has only happened a handful of times in the Scary Farm’s past four decades. Attractions such as Lost Vegas, and Terrorvision certainly followed in Toon TERRORtory’s footsteps.
Toon TERRORtory was an interesting introduction to the Halloween Haunt mix, leaving fans debating whether or not they liked “funny” mazes at Knott’s. Personally, I prefer Halloween mazes to be frightening; I like eerie and old-school creepy more than blood and guts. I recall going through Toon TERRORtory and being really confused by it; was I supposed to laugh, or be afraid? I think most Haunt guests were torn as well. It was a fairly new twist at that point, as Knott’s Scary Farm was growing by leaps and bounds each year; new things were tried – some succeeded and others failed. While Toon TERRORtory only lasted for two years, it’s important to point out that the maze’s timeline as part of Halloween Haunt was cut short by the construction of GhostRider, which opened in 1998.
One of the coolest aspects of Toon TERRORtory was its art direction. The detail, while cartoonish in nature, was really unique and very elaborate. It was a visually fantastic experience – just not all that frightening. It was a long maze, as I recall, and most of the stylized scenes were often full of billowing fog. Show lighting was bright and colorful, as you might imagine in a cartoon-based maze, although it was mostly “white lighting” as opposed to traditional black light used in many older haunted attractions, including those at Halloween Haunt.
One of these days, we’ll pull out some more Toon TERRORtory material to share with all of you creepy kids! In the meantime, we hope you have enjoyed this week’s Throwback Thursday story, and our little peek back at Knott’s Halloween Haunt 1996!
– Rick West