During the Knott’s Scary Farm annual haunt announcement, Craig had the pleasure of interviewing Knott’s Scary Farm design specialist Daniel Miller about his new maze Pumpkin Eater and how it ties into the adjoining scare zone The Hollow.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Since two of your scare zones have haunted houses attached to them are you looking to integrate more scare zones to haunted houses in the future?
Daniel Miller: Whenever we can. We are big, big theme people. Our new VP of entertainment, Ken Parks, came from Disney and he brought in a couple of other Disney people and they’re always saying theme first. I think that’s really translated here because we love theme and we love to really buttress it so they’re kind of no-brainers. When Jon Cooke designed our new maze Dark Ride, he was like, “We have to put that in the CarnEVIL scare zone.” Actually this new maze, Pumpkin Eater, was first pitched last year and for whatever reason we couldn’t do it last year. That was initially why The Hollows(scare zone) was made; we were going to try and tie the two of them together. We’re really happy to bring it this year and it actually ended up being a really good thing that it was pushed to this year. With the extra time I had, I could really develop the design of it and really make it grotesque and fun.
NC: How do you emphasize the story moving through the house?
DM: We definitely start with the nursery rhyme. The house begins in a colonial village where Peter has murdered the inhabitants. He is also kind of a supernatural character so he controls vines and thorns so all these vines and thorns are growing everything. As you progress you go into his home which is a large rotting pumpkin that you walk through. One of my inspirations was carving a pumpkin with my daughter last year. I took the lid off, I reached into the guts, and all I could think was, “This is creepy.” There is something about this (carving pumpkins) that’s so gross and so invasive. After that, I wanted every guest at Knott’s to feel this way. Now when the guests go through they will get to see this grotesque cornfield and we have a burning barn, and it’s very fun, but I don’t want to give it all away. Those who know me and know my mazes know that it’s going to be pretty gory and gross.
NC: How does that story spill out into the scare zone?
DM: The creature, Peter pumpkin eater, is actually going to be a character in The Hollows. Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but there are three witches that are controlling The Hollows. We have one called the hag who is in control of organic matter, such as plants, and she’s controlling Peter pumpkin eater. We also have the headless horseman and he is one of the other witch’s minions. You’ll kinda get the story if you wander through and spend some time in The Hollows. It also culminates in a show that you can’t miss and I would definitely recommend sticking around The Hollow around midnight, because trust me what happens is cool.
NC: Are there any other ways in which the Pumpkin Eater haunted house and The Hollow scare zone have been united?
DM: The actors at the very end of Pumpkin Eater can go around and scare out the exit and the character design is the same between both the house and the scare zone.
Knott’s Scary Farm is set to open September 21st with the brand new haunted house Pumpkin Eater joining the lineup.