Interview: Daniel Miller, Eric Nix, and Ken Parks for Knott’s Scary Farm

One of the most anticipated starts to the Southern California Haunt Season is the reveal of what’s coming to Knott’s Scary Farm. At this year’s announcements program, we learned that two new mazes were coming to the Southern California haunt. One of the new mazes announced was Wax Works, a maze that in some ways looks like it pays homage to an old Knott’s Scary Farm favorite, Doll Factory. One of the things that we also discovered at the announcement program was that two mazes were going to be retired. But, more importantly, Knott’s Scary Farm was going to commemorate the two retired mazes with brand new pins. I was surprised. What went into the decision to start making pins? How many were going to be made? Would fans love them? Luckily, I got the answers to my questions in spades.

I got the opportunity to chat with Daniel Miller of Entertainment Design, Eric Nix, Producer at Knott’s Scary Farm and VP of Entertainment, Ken Parks, where we discussed everything from their decision to retire Shadowlands and Special Ops and what went into conceptualizing the new maze, Wax Works.

What went into the decision to retire Shadowlands and Special Ops this year? And also, what went into the decision to create pins to commemorate the mazes that will no longer be with us moving forward?

Eric Nix: Well, when we look at our overall lineup for Scary Farm, we always take a look at what mazes have been around and how many years they have been entertaining our guests. And, really the decision comes down to popularity. But, even in a case like Special Ops, the fact that it is super popular still, but what happens is we get great designs every year from our designers and we eventually have to make those hard decisions and say that we think it’s time for Special Ops to be retired because we’ve got something better coming down the pipe believe it or not. So, it can be tough sometimes.

Ken Parks: The great thing is it is it’s last year, but we’re not just letting it fade away. We’re adding two new scenes. It’s going out with a bang and then we know what we have coming next year for that location is going to knock people out. We feel really confident in what we have, which allows us to take something like Special Ops that’s so popular and kind of end it.

Eric Nix: Absolutely. And, in regards to your question about the pins, we had a great collaboration this year with our merchandise partners. We actually engage our senior design team and our graphic design team and had them work directly with the merchandise team. And, in one of those meetings, it just was brainstormed. Why don’t we commemorate? We know now year for year, probably for the next 2-3 years, which mazes are going to retire and at what time. Why don’t we go ahead and produce something that commemorates that maze’s life? So, we came up with the tombstone idea with the year, name, and logo. And merchandise just fell in love with it and said yes. Let’s go produce those and I think we had a two-week turnaround, but we were able to crank those out. They look stunning.

That makes sense, especially with the rabid fanbase that Knott’s Scary Farm has.

Daniel Miller: Have you seen them yet?

Yeah. They had them at Midsummer Scream and they were gorgeous.

Eric Nix: We had artwork. Yeah. I think we released them on Facebook as well. The Knott’s Team posted about them. But yeah, they are available. And they’re stunning.

Leading into Wax Works, what initially inspired the idea and what has been your favorite part of working on conceptualizing and creating Wax Works?

Daniel Miller: Originally, I loved old horror films. I remember actually seeing this Elvira thing, where they had three glasses and everyone was selling them and they showed House of Wax on TV. And I was a little kid and was like, “Oh. This is crazy!” And I was just creeped out by the fact that there was wax and people and that they were melting and some of them were coming to life. One of my big, deep fears is paralyzation. Whether being covered with wax and not being able to move. That’s just freaky to me. So, I wanted to put that idea into this maze. 

One thing I really want to stress is that I know there are other places that do wax museum mazes. This is completely different. The curator, the main character, has gone completely from reality and he makes these creations, these masterpieces. He views himself as an artist and wants to create flesh and wax together to create these horrendous people.

So, basically, almost like patchwork dolls in a way?

Daniel Miller: Yes. We had this old maze that was called…

Doll Factory! [laughs] 

Ken Parks: A fan!

Daniel Miller: Doll Factory. I was a part of the team that made it. The fans were absolutely rabid. There are plenty of Easter Eggs inside the maze that plays homage to that.

Knott’s Scary Farm starts September 19th and will run for 26 nights through November 2nd. Tickets and season passes are on sale now here.

Sarah Musnicky
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