By Brady MacDonald
11:30 AM EDT, September 21, 2013
My Top 13 list of Halloween mazes at theme parks around the world gathers together the most demented, disturbing and disgusting haunted attractions in one virtual place.
Think of the Top 13 as my version of a dream vacation if I had a bottomless budget and unlimited vacation time to jet around the globe to the best and most bizarre haunts.
I've tried to include a sampling of mazes from each of the major theme park chains plus a few independents.
I purposely left out any entries from Six Flags' Fright Fest and Cedar Fair's Halloween Haunt because I find those events interchangeable and unimaginative with a conga line of identical sexy vampire, killer clown and murderous butcher mazes.
Universal Studios, the undisputed leader in horror this time of year, is the most well represented on the list and probably deserves a Top 13 of its own.
And there's even an entry from Disney, a company better known for family-friendly fare than spine-tingling scares.
In assembling my Top 13, I was looking for unusual, unique and offbeat haunted mazes and attractions that I'd actually jump on a plane and fly halfway around the globe to see.
13) K-Pop Madness -- Combine a "Gangnam Style" soundtrack with a decidedly deadly version of "American Idol" and you get the K-Pop Madness maze at Ocean Park's Halloween Bash in Hong Kong. Singing hopefuls willing to sign away their souls for fame and fortune are turning up dead backstage during auditions. You'll have to decide if you should dance the night away or run for your life.
12) Hobs Pit: X-Scream -- This unique new haunted attraction at Pleasurewood Hills in England combines a walk-through horror maze featuring live actors with a dark ride journey inside an abandoned mine shaft. Park operators promise to increase the monster count and scare quotient for the Pleasurewood Chills event.
11) Graves Academy -- The Haunted Halloween maze at Hong Kong Disneyland takes visitors inside a once-prestigious private school where students are taught a terrifying curriculum and bred for evil. Headmaster Alistair Graves, a dark arts master and strict disciplinarian, has turned the decaying academy into a portal for unbridled evil.
10) The Sanctuary -- Set inside an actual semi-ruined gothic revival country house on the grounds of the Alton Towers theme park in England, this maze takes visitors inside a 1950s medical facility run by the Ministry of Joy where questionable and forceful methods are used to induce happiness. The unique haunted attraction, which started out as an elaborate teaser for the new 14-inversion Smiler roller coaster, returns for another season of Scarefest at the park.
9) Snow White -- The reworked German fairy tale at Europa Park's Horror Nights turns the fairest maiden in the land into a devil princess. The maze at the German park twists the story's familiar magic mirror, poisoned apple and glass coffin into tools of evil while transforming the seven dwarfs into diminutive zombies.
8) The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven -- Doubling down on the success of "The Walking Dead" zombie juggernaut, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood adds a scare zone this season to the haunted maze and terror tram attractions returning from last Halloween. The 2013 version of the maze takes visitors inside the walls of the zombie-infested Georgia prison featured in the Emmy Award-winning show's third season.
7) The Experiment -- Following up on the success of the former Alone maze, Busch Gardens Tampa in Florida introduces another up-charge interactive attraction that sends one to four visitors in at a time to contend with a host of horrors. The Experiment maze at Howl-O-Scream puts test subjects through a series of psychological experiments where they must endure fear-inducing stimuli like roaches, snakes, needles and darkness.
6) Trapped: The New Experiment -- Last year, Knott's Berry Farm introduced an up-charge VIP maze that challenged visitors to puzzle their way out of a series of locked rooms with increasingly dire consequences. Halloween Haunt 2013 promises a completely revamped Trapped with all-new phobias to face, a longer maze to navigate and harder puzzles to solve.
5) Black Sabbath: 13 3D -- Following the success of the Alice Cooper mazes of the last two years, Halloween Horror Nights returns with a tribute to recently reunited heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath that walks visitors through the nightmarish graveyards, madhouses and battlefields of the band's sinister lyrics. Infused with themes of the occult, addiction and war, the dark and haunting soundtrack of the Universal Studios Hollywood maze will feature songs from the multiplatinum band's four-decade career, including "Iron Man," "Paranoid" and "War Pigs."
4) Cabin in the Woods -- The haunted maze at Universal Studios Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights in Florida takes visitors inside the secret underground facility at the heart of the satirical horror film. The onslaught of nightmarish beasts includes the Hell Lord, Dollfaces and the Sugarplum Fairy.
3) Take Away -- Prepare to have your appetite spoiled at Europa Park's Horror Nights during the grand opening of a Chinese fast food restaurant (known as "take away" in Germany). The Take Away maze at the German theme park sends visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour of the disgusting kitchen complete with a cleaver-wielding cook.
2) Resident Evil -- The haunted attraction at Universal Studios Orlando brings to life the Resident Evil survival horror video game series and film franchise. The live-action replica of the zombie-infested Capcom video game's Raccoon City unleashes Licker mutants, Hunter reptiles and the huge Nemesis monster from the evil Umbrella Corp.
1) Biohazard: The Real -- A real-world version of the Resident Evil video game (known as Biohazard in Japan) arms Halloween Horror Nights visitors with a gun and a limited amount of ammunition in a fierce battle against an onslaught of the undead. Those brave enough to experience the Universal Studios Japan attraction must "shoot" attacking zombie hordes before "dying" of a viral infection measured by a personal contagion meter.
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