My Top 6 Merlin Horror Mazes Of All Time

As far as this crazy hobby of ours goes, I think it's fair to say I've been doing this for a loooong time now, and for me I've always felt like Halloween and scare events go hand in hand with theme park enthusiasm. I love spooky stuff all year around, but try to keep visiting scare attractions as something 'special' to do in October, and as such it's something I look forward to year in, year out. I've been actively visiting parks as an enthusiast since I was 14, and I visited my first scare event when I was 16 - namely Thorpe Park Fright Nights, and that visit had me hooked for life. We have some incredible indie scare events across the country, but I will always have a soft spot for the macabre magic that Merlin attractions roll out at their events every spooky season, and today I wanted to reflect on some of my all time favs from across the years! In no particular order, these are, in my opinion, the best mazes Merlin have ever done.

OK, slightly biased with this first one as I was involved with its conception, but Creek Freak Massacre is just me through and through when it comes to maze themes. Walls dripping with gore, a heavy metal soundtrack, oozing Americana, wall to wall chainsaws. Tick, tick, tick, tick! I particularly loved the 2019 iteration because we still had the big rotating blade on a stick on the workshop table and everything was fresh and shiny and new. I adore the legacy of the Buckwheats that the park created off the back of the maze's backstory but for me it was all about the aesthetic of the thing. Pure American gindhouse goodness. 

I *believe* this was the first 'horror maze as promo for new ride' thing that Towers did and given The Smiler hype the marketing team had built up I was was dying for another slice of the pie in the form of a scare attraction. I've never been huge on the whole 'scary doctor' thing but something about the setting thing within the Towers themselves and a twisted take on that tried and tested horror trope made for something really special in The Sanctuary. I distinctly remember that acute mix of terror and excitement for what lay beyond those curtains, the first room through the facility feeling like it was a scene straight out of 12 Monkeys through to the deranged strobe maze ending. A perfect symphony of frenzy and fear. 

As a huge zoo fan with a particular fascination for creepy crawlies and reptiles, I was equal parts devastated that my beloved Creepy Caves was closing as a zoo attraction and intrigued for how the park would turn this facility into a horror maze. I also had one eyebrow slightly cocked at the fact that this was Chessington, a family theme park, attempting to do a horror maze. I'm so glad they didn't hold back with the scares because Creepy Caves Unearthed was one of the most intense scare mazes I have ever experienced. The storyline felt unique - mad scientist but with plants! Excellent - for some reason a spooky plant narrative really tickles my brain. Add in the realism of the fact this is set in an actual old zoo facility, the horror of creatures trying to get at you from behind glass (why IS that so scary?) and INDOOR PYRO it's an attraction I will never forget - both for it being that excellent and for the wild (pun intended) fact that it was at Chessington.

For me, Experiement 10 represents the bridge between what I would consider 'retro FRIGHT NIGHTS' into 'New Wave FRIGHT NIGHTS' when we saw the introduction of IP mazes and a step up into maze quality both in narrative, set design and intensity. I think it was one of the first mazes I really followed the advertising for too, with the park giving away just enough detail to titilate with terror without spoiling anything. All I knew was that this was NOT a hands-on-shoulders maze, we might be split from our group, and we might be asked to crawl - ALL horror maze firsts for me and all elements that catapulted Experiment 10 up to another level for me. I don't even think it was that well themed - I remember a lot of fog, hazmat suits and being locked in a dark black box by myself for what felt like agonisingly too long. Having grown accustomed to scares at this point I'm grateful for a maze like this that delivered so many brand new ways to be freaked out all under one roof to the budding scare event enthusiast I was back then. 

Apparently being separated into individual chambers is something that appeals to me in a horror maze, because SubSpecies: The End Games shot instantly into my all time favourites list after just one run through. I adore the setup - I do find the post-apocalyptic thing a bit overdone these days but back then it felt fresh and new and exciting. The main character always felt like a more humanoid Predator kind of guy to me, and I loved the Mad Max meets Battle Royale vibes of the survivors watching us on a screen and betting on who would survive as some kind of twisted entertainment. Just something really gritty and sinister about it that resonated throughout the entire attraction. Being lined up against that wall and seeing my friend mercilessly dragged into chambers one by one is a core Halloween season memory for me and I don't think I've ever felt my heart beat as fast in a maze as it was as I was anticipating if I would be next.

Ah yes, the maze that inspired this entire post and the newest entry to my all time favourites list. I won't lie, when I saw the theme of Thorpe Park's newest maze it didn't thrill me - creepy toys and dolls and things don't really upset me, personally I prefer something with more grit like a Creek Freak or even Saw. However, I completely get that I am in the minority here and most people LOVE this stuff, and when I saw the effort the park had put into the facade of the attraction I was excited. 

After going through it for the first time last week I was so impressed, the thing is completely unhinged and bonkers from start to finish. It has that silly tongue in cheek sense of humour that Thorpe Park do so very well and it didn't just rely on the toys being 'creepy' for the scares - this thing is FULL of blood and gore and mutilation but...with fluffy teddy bears and baby dolls. It's SO horrendous, yet very silly and fun at the same time. It's got a couple of 'showstopper' moments that I won't spoil but made me gasp out loud and each room has its own unique personality and take on what goes on behind the scenes of a sinister toy shop. Excellent stuff and easily up there with the all time FRIGHT NIGHTS greats.


Honestly I could probably go on and on with this list but I've self-imposed some restraint on myself by keeping the limit to six. I'm yet to visit Scarefest this season so far so maybe the list will change but for now this is my story and I'm sticking to it! 

What are your favourite Merlin horror mazes of all time? Do you agree with any on my list? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,