The idea of a western-themed maze for Halloween Haunt is a no-brainer for the theme park that built its reputation on a western ghost town aesthetic.  In fact, up-and-coming maze designer, Gus Kreuger, explains, “It’s not difficult to find inspiration to do something western at Knott’s, honestly.”  He explains, “I know it was something that was kicked around here for a long time.  I am a huge fan of westerns and I had an interesting take on how to pull it off.  I presented the idea to Knott’s and they liked it.”


FAIR WARNING: This is an article about a maze for Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt and may contain imagery that contains gore or scary bits.  Still here?  Okay, GREAT!  Read on.




The storyline of the new maze at Knotts Scary Farm is as simple as the old west itself.  A corrupt mayor has taken over a sleepy town and allowed a gang of roughnecks to seize control of the town.  When a simple man on the outskirts of town discovers too much about the evil authorities the nameless man and his family are attacked.  The gang burns down his home, murders his wife and children, and leaves him for dead.  The maze picks up here, just after the attack on the gunslinger’s homestead.  We then spend the maze following the gunslinger’s trail of vengeance.




Knott’s official description reads…
“Return to the Old West and walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path to retribution against a corrupt township. This journey back in time takes guests on a trail of terror through abandoned gold mines, a treacherous corral, a seedy saloon and a final showdown at town hall.”


As we spoke with Gus we were led into the maze to see for ourselves. The new mazes is an almost Tarintino-esque take on the old west.  Gunslinger’s Grave reverses the path of the previous maze, Fallout Shelter, and begins opposite the entrance to Silver Bullet (exiting near Sierra Sidewinder).

From the get-go it is apparent that Gus has a particular eye for environment.  The first scene takes place in the charred remains of the gunslinger’s home.     The danger is not some fantasy, it is real and very present. This is a departure of sorts and one that the first-time maze designer took on with confidence.  This maze is different from any other that has been produced at Knott’s annual Halloween Haunt in that this is a simple tale of vengeance.  No supernatural elements, no psychotic killers, not even a single killer clown.





One could ask then, what makes this maze scary?  It’s a valid point, one that Guss easily addresses.  “The maze is filled with death, revenge, and murder.  Now, it’s not something that is overtly frightening.  But what guests are going to be able to see is the seedy underbelly of the old west.  This isn’t the friendly version of Knott’s that guests are used to.  This is a gritty environment that is not nice to be in.






We are then led to one of the more unique features of the winding labyrinth of wood and paint, and that is the use of existing environment.  At many different points in the maze, the path leads outdoors.  So, when you are walking outside, you are really outside.  Stumbling through the old west, gravel and dirt under your feet, it certainly adds to the experience.  “They’ve never done anything like this before.” says Gus. ” The maze is essentially a bunch of smaller buildings that are connected with exterior paths.”  Questions addressing the unpredictable nature of the weather were answered with crossed fingers and winced faces.  “The old west was a dirty place.” Gus quickly answered with a smirk.









This rather ambitious endeavor is actually Gus’ first maze design.  Hired on as talent in 2000 for the maze “Elvira’s Nightmare”, Gus continued to pursue his passion of creating new environments by getting involved with Carpentry in 2002.  By 2006 Gus had begun working in Props and in three years, he had the run of the entire department.  Along the way he acted as Art Director or Assistant Art Director on many of the different mazes over the years.  But it wasn’t until End Games: Warriors of the Apocalypse returning in 2012 that he had his first stab at designing a maze.  Originally designed by Brooke Walters, Engames had to be relocated backstage and edited down from a sprawling path across Camp Snoopy, to a more intimate backstage warehouse. The task wasn’t easy, but what resulted was a tight storyline and a heightened sense of danger.  It was clear that Mr. Krueger was ready to develop a concept of his own.



“I try to be very, very thorough.” Gus explained.  “I attempt to just craft an environment and put together a fully fleshed-out piece.”  That he did.  We can’t wait to experience the wild west Gus Style when Haunt begins its run on Thursday, September 26th.

Tickets to the oldest, biggest, baddest Halloween Party on the Planet are available here.  The MiceChat Knott’s Scary Farm event is sold out, but there are plenty of tickets left to Haunt.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #MCHorrorKSF to follow the fun and scares on September 28th, the night of the event!

Our rundown on what you can expect to find at the 2013 Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt is HERE.

Sounds of the Haunt!

Now, take a journey back to Knott’s Scary Farm 2012 with the MicePod’s Season Pass Podcast.  (Warning: Because of the mature atmosphere of haunts at the parks, these shows can be a little risque at times and there is a large amount of cuts and bleeps used throughout these episodes.)

KNOTTS HAUNT: Behind the Scenes of TRAPPED

Knott’s 40th Haunt Part 1

Knotts 40th Haunt Part 2

Are you looking forward to this year’s Haunt?