Image Courtesy of Midsummer Scream

Welcome witches and warlocks,

I had the great pleasure of attending the panel Trapped: Unlocked at Midsummer Scream and figured I would offer up some thoughts for my fellow convention enthusiasts.  To best describe the proceedings, I will turn to the official press release:

An unprecedented look at the extreme maze experience that debuted at Knott’s Scary Farm in 2012, with never-before shown footage of the infamous attraction.

I was excited to see Jeff Tucker hosting this panel as I had gotten to see him at my previous presentation on Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and found him to be quite entertaining.  Better yet, he brought along fellow haunt designer Gus Krueger who was equally good at adlibbing.  The two of them together, and their obvious passion for the subject matter, were pure comedy gold on stage.  What’s more, their jovial attitudes were infectious, drawing in even those who had a mere curiosity about the haunt in question.

The house itself is the now well-known Trapped which premiered at Knott’s Scary Farm nearly six years ago.  This was one of the first upcharge, waiver signing haunts to appear at a theme park Halloween event and got a lot of notoriety back in its day.  As admitted early on in the panel, by today’s escape room and immersive heavy standards Trapped seems rather tame, but at the time the idea of blindly trusting Knott’s to come through seemed like quite a thrilling gamble.

The panel did a good job of providing a lot of context for the house.  We were walked through how it had been an idea the designers had for years, but it took the exact right moment for it to finally come to fruition.  That point happened to be the 40th anniversary of Knott’s Scary Farm where the executives said, “Bring us all your crazy ideas.”  The haunt was pitched, approved, and the legend was born.

Jeff and Gus discussed many of the insane things they initially set out to do, as well as how they modified the experience as more guests went through.  One particular moment often caused vomiting, so it had to be changed so that it still grossed guests out, but did not require any clean up.  The entire haunt was closely monitored via cameras to make sure that guests were not only safe, but also to figure out what worked and what needed to be switched around to enhance the scares.

The promise of seeing the video recordings is probably what attracted most of the attendees to this panel.

There were two videos provided, one that was darker without sound and one that was lighter with volume.  Taking both together provided attendees a good look at what guests got to experience as they made their way through Trapped.  Since there was no volume on the first of the two videos, Jeff and Gus gamely narrated what the guests were saying while also trying to describe some of what the group had to endure to get through the house.  This video was filmed under show lighting, so it gave a more accurate look at what the experience resembled than the second reel of footage.  That being said, the second sequence was far more entertaining as we got to hear every whimper, scream, or line the guests gave out as they tried to escape the haunt.  Since this one was filmed under better lighting, we also were able to see more of the details they added to the house as well as get a better idea of the size of each room.  These videos alone made the entire panel worth attending.

All in all, this was a very funny panel that gave a nice look at an attraction I never had the pleasure of seeing.  The stories and video provided not only gave good context, but also summed up the experience rather well for those, like me, who were unable to attend Trapped.  Fans of Knott’s Scary Farm or just haunt design in general would love this panel.

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