8) Pinocchio Unstrung
In a recurring theme of the evening, this was another returning maze that improved from last season with more three-dimensional sets and energetic in-your-face scares.
My favorite scene: Stepping into the gaping maw of the whale and walking through his stomach.
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9) Uncle Willy's BBQ Slaughterhouse
Another entry in the "much improved" category, this deranged butcher maze featured a new layout allowing for better scares and the highest energy monsters of night.
Once again the Skeleton Key room didn't work too well thanks to another video presentation that was about as interactive as sitting on your couch and watching TV.
10) Dominion of the Damned
Billed as a new maze, this returning entry added more three-dimensional sets and better monster makeup but still retained an old convoluted storyline involving art-loving vampires. More slow and plodding aimless monsters didn't help matters any.
My favorite scene: A room full of rocking caskets with an animatronic creature that bursts from one of the coffins.
My recommendation: Put a stake through the heart of this maze next year.
I've never understood the concept behind this fever dream that literally travels through the folds and recesses of the brain. This one needs to be permanently put to sleep.
12) The Witch's Keep
Beyond a few wispy ghosts and static skeletons, this haunted attraction wasn't much different than the regular Calico Mine Ride during the rest of the year -- which is a good thing.
In years past, Knott's has added live monsters and heavy thematic overlays to the mine ride and Timber Mountain Log Ride during Halloween and counted them as "mazes."
After a multimillion-dollar renovation that added about 60 animatronic figures to the log ride, Knott's announced that Timber Mountain would no longer undergo any seasonal Halloween makeovers that hastened the gradual decline of the 1969 attraction.
Hopefully this year's light touch with Witch's Keep signals that Knott's is preparing to give the 1960 Calico Mine Ride a similar rehab.
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