The Backwoods: 2018 Review

The Backwoods, Burbank, CA

We’ve got another well-known Burbank home haunt for you today: The Backwoods, a intensely elaborate haunted maze with a haunted yard display of horror icon proportions and an actual maze through its backyard featuring curious creatures and amazing sets. We visited The Backwoods last year and were blown away by the detail, complexity, and monumental scale of the maze layout and theming. It was enough to make a return visit this year a no brainer.

 The villain-filled front yard of The Backwoods has some familiar infamous faces.

The villain-filled front yard of The Backwoods has some familiar infamous faces.

 The Backwoods is pretty serious about their haunt. No clowning around here!  (OK, maybe a little bit of clowning around.)

The Backwoods is pretty serious about their haunt. No clowning around here!

(OK, maybe a little bit of clowning around.)

The Backwoods is the brainchild of Gustafson family, which has been running the home haunt since 2003. This maze winds guests through a convoluted, twisting labyrinth in the backyard of the home, through a curious and intimidatingly heavy themed realm that blends a post-apocalyptic robot uprising with a Roger Rabbit-esque creature feature. Out front, a menagerie of horror villains and Halloween props ornaments a spooky graveyard, giving guests something interesting to look at while they’re in line—a line that often stretches down the block!

 The scares can come from anywhere at The Backwoods—even from above!

The scares can come from anywhere at The Backwoods—even from above!

Our visit this year didn’t quite have the impact of last year, when we absorbed the full brunt of the maze as new guests for the first time. A lot of the theming is re-used, which makes sense, given that the set of the maze is mostly left up year round. Instead, little details and scenes are slightly reconfigured or added from year to year.

This is totally fine, though. Despite not conjuring up a brand new haunt (not everyone can be like Rotten Apple), the Backwoods still presents a spectacular home haunt experience filled with immersive atmosphere and incredibly articulated details that are top notch professional quality. There are truly few home haunts that can top the intricate level of detail and theming and monumental scale present in The Backwoods.

 Keeping the haunt clean.

Keeping the haunt clean.

That is before we even get to the talent, which elevates the experience with interactions that are both scary and fun. The twisting layout often doubles back upon itself, so monsters have the ability to scare guests multiple times by moving across pass-through’s or wall openings. Some of the characters—particularly the more cartoon-centric variety in the first half of the maze, are more of pantomiming variety than active scaring type. But there are startle scares mixed in, which add a nice spice and keep the maze from being repetitive or bland. The fact that only one or two groups of guests can be in the maze, due to its out-and-back layout, also contributes to the isolated intimacy of the experience. People will certainly not have this sort of more personal experience at a large scale haunt like Knott’s or Universal!

 This battle robot is one of several spread throughout the second half of the maze. It’s positively amazing.

This battle robot is one of several spread throughout the second half of the maze. It’s positively amazing.

 The theming is certainly incredible. Some of the best found at a haunt—amateur or pro!

The theming is certainly incredible. Some of the best found at a haunt—amateur or pro!

The Backwoods leaves guests aghast with how thoroughly impressive this home haunt is. If there’s an example of bucking stereotypes of home haunts being just amateur looking black plastic sheet aisles and a few store-bought props, The Backwoods is certainly it. The fact that the haunt is also majority home-made—including the amazing robot and mechanical warrior props and the two-story sets—really drives home the passion and commitment that owners Taylor and Jeff Gustafson have for this incredible haunt.

The Backwoods is open this entire weekend through tomorrow, plus Halloween night, from 7-10p each night. Admission is completely free, but donations are certainly welcome to help offset the costs of fabricating and creating such stunning sets and props. The Backwoods is, without a doubt, one of the can’t-miss home haunts in Southern California. Go check it out!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.