Behind the Screams of SCarowinds’ Two New Mazes
Last weekend, we visited SCarowinds for the first time since 2018, and experienced everything the event had to offer. Check the review, we had an amazing time!
The Halloween Haunt features two brand-new mazes; The Reaping and The Tooth Fairy, and what guests may not realize, is that while the mazes are terrifying in the dark, there’s so much more detail when the lights are on!
Joined by Carowinds’ live entertainment manager Ryan Allen, we got a look “Behind the Screams” lights-on tour of the two new mazes, and learned a little bit more about what went into their creation, and the stories behind each maze!
SCarowinds has played host to a number of corn mazes through the years, but the location has changed periodically. CornStalkers was located in the former WhiteWater falls area, which is now home to Copperhead Strike. More recently, Dark Harvest was located behind Plants vs. Zombies, but that area is currently a staging area for WinterFest props. (More on that, soon!) SCarowinds’ newest corn maze, The Reaping takes over the queue line of the former Rip Roarin’ Rapids queue.
While Dark Harvest featured more of a “Farm Gone Very Awry” theme, according to Ryan, the focus in The Reaping is the corn. It’s everywhere.
The existing queue set up a natural pathway for the maze, and portions were alterted to allow for handicapable accessibility, as well as creating hiding places for scare actors hiding in the stalks.
In addition to the scare actors, there are some great scarecrow and pumpkin themed props throughout the maze, slightly playing into the adjacent scare zone, The Hollow.
Several of the pumpkins in this scene were reused from The Hollow, creating a terrifying scene about 2/3 of the way through the maze.
Towards the end of this maze, there is a demented goat “puppet” meant to terrorize guests. In reality, there is a scare actor maneuvering the puppet, and a suspended cable allows for a full-range of motion. The goat’s mouth can even move with a mechanism that resembles a bicycle brake.
If you’re confused if you’ll be able to see the former Rip Roarin’ Rapids attraction and it takes away from the immersion of the attraction, fear not. Through the use of fog machines and creative lighting, you won’t be able to tell what’s below you or beside you!
The Tooth Fairy
SCarowinds first “fully new” maze since Depths of Darkness in 2017, the Tooth Fairy Replaces the former Urgent Scare location near Nighthawk. The retheme of Urgent Scare into something else is not by chance. Given the current global situation with countless hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19, SCarowinds felt it was important to find scares rooted in fantasy, rather than reality. The Tooth Fairy comes to SCarowinds by inspiration of Knott’s Scary Farm, who had a similar maze that was moved to California’s Great America.
If you’re curious about the window panes and shutters, they’re meant to symbolize the windows that the Tooth Fairy flies through each night, while the fabric hanging from the ceiling at the entrance is meant to resemble Dental Floss.
The story of The Tooth Fairy centers around parents who don’t believe, or tell their children not to believe. The first maze room is the parents’ room, and the characters in the maze are assumed to be dentists! There are some great “easter eggs” throughout the maze, starting with this bookshelf!
The SCarowinds team had about six weeks to transform Urgent Scare into The Tooth Fairy, and a lot of the live entertainment team was also pulling “double duty” during Grand Carnivale, decorating the maze during the day, and guiding parade floats at night. In the light, this transition from wallpaper to black seems jarring, but in the darkness, you’re being transported to the Tooth Fairy’s lair!
If you’ve been through previous versions of this maze, there was an “air curtain” that enveloped guests as they walked through. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the air curtain had to be removed in an effort to keep objects away from guests’ faces. Air still does blow through this hallway to create a different “texture” while walking through.
The next room is the Tooth Fairy’s “treasure room,” which is full of an incredible amount of SCarowinds and Carowinds references and easter eggs. According to Ryan Allen, there’s something from “every” SCarowinds haunt and maze, as well as references to the past. That hand? It’s the actual mold of past SCarowinds’ icon The Overlord. That bone? From Dinosaurs Alive. The references continue.
Above, we have an allustion to an earlier verison of SCarowinds circus scare zone, as well as a “steampunk” pistol that was a prop in “Fleet Street,” the previous version of current Scare Zone, Ripper Alley.
This cabinet was used in the former “Madam Zora” Skeleton Key attraction, while this staff is from the Wizard in Age of Darkness, a 2019 scare zone.
There’s a rim from Blood Yard, and film from Silver Scream Studios. Fun fact: The film in Silver Scream Studios is actually the old 4D Action Theater film used in the days prior to digital projection. Somewhere in this film, there’s a CGI version of Spongebob Squarepants looking for a pickle.
This tricycle is from the former Playground Scare Zone, and this butterfly pays homage to the original Tooth Fairy at Knott’s Scary Farm, where the story goes that the titular character would skin children and turn them into butterflies.
The next room is where the Tooth Fairy’s minions keep their oversized tools. There are actual dental tools in this room as well, adding to the creepy factor, especially for those who are afraid of going to the dentist.
Part of SCarowinds decorating method is reusing props if at all possible. These ladders were used during WinterFest as “elf ladders,” and have received new life in Tooth Fairy after some staining and hanging on the wall.
This is the room where the Tooth Fairy keeps her gold. There’s a bathtub in this room that looks downright disgusting, but was too gore-y to include in this post!
A prop remaining from Urgent Scare, the doctor’s office has been transformed into a demented dentist’s office. In the “gum room,” there are thousands of “teeth” embedded into the wall. — “I ordered so many teeth for this maze,” Ryan said with a laugh. (Come to find out, luckily, they’re not real teeth.) The mouths coming out of the wall are replicas of the original Tooth Fairy prosthetics used at Knott’s Berry Farm.
The maze ends with a final major scare. We won’t spoil too much, but if you get too scared, we hope you’ll be able to “bounce” back for future mazes! Even for a maze completely in the dark, the level of detail inside the Tooth Fairy is awesome to see.
SCarowinds has a roster of more than 500 monsters, and according to Ryan, some nights have had up to 350 roaming the mazes and scare zones of SCarowinds. But where do these teachers and preachers get transformed into creatures? Monster Central!
Located in a picnic pavilion adjacent to the Grove, hundreds of monsters are transformed nightly, given wardrobe, props, and make-up meant to scare the living daylights out of you.
Each maze and scare zone has a wide array of costumes, organized on racks on one side of Monster Central. These costumes are stored throughout the park, and preparations and unpacking begins during the summer season.
You never “saw” such an impressive organizational strategy. There are props, costumes, and masks everywhere in Monster Central, but it’s all immaculately organized and ready to go. Note, the Chainsaws do not have chains! Still very convincing!
The Before and After for a Mask in CarnEVIL!
A few more masks. There are five individual actors who play the Tooth Fairy, and each have their own mask. Here’s also a clown mask for CarnEvil.
Carowinds makes 95% of their prosthetic masks on site, which makes make-up a breeze!
Each night, dozens of make-up artists prepare the monsters with a variety of looks. No two monsters will look alike on any given night, and with the make-up inspiration book, there’s no guarantee the same scare actor will get the same make-up style on a different night!
Thanks to Ryan Allen for taking us “Behind The Screams!” It’s truly amazing the amount of thought and detail go into an area that’s mostly dark, and won’t be noticed by 99% of guests! Great job by all involved!
SCarowinds is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through October 31. There is also a Thursday SCarowinds on October 28.