Saturday, August 7, 2010

If you build it, they will wander

Survivor's Guide to the Mega-Maze

I spend a lot of my time driving to the metro-sprawl, where the action is, muttering to myself on the way home that I should move back into the city, and getting to know the boys at the Framingham Plaza 24 hour rest stop by their first names.  But for a small window on the calendar, it is "our time" in the fruitlands.  The urbanites must come to the Mothertown, for their apples and pony rides, and tilt-a-whirls, fireworks, and Mega-Maze.

I suppose corn mazes are not rare -- every town has a Simon's mall, and every county seat has a corn maze, and everyone's uncle makes the Maize Maze joke.

My story is only about the Sterling, MA Mega-Maze, official maze of the Davis family.

The image from Google is not current, so I shot this year's maze from my helicopter.  No, I didn't.  My helicopter is not that noisy.  If you followed that link, then you also found this one, which is a more realistic representation of how we spent our day. 

The Davises are to farm theme parks as the Tatelmans are to furniture (and, at one time, commercial parodies.  but don't let me wander off.  That's how we ended up back at the Obstacle Course).  Refreshingly unique, and thoroughly local.  See also Kimballs.  The important turning point in this tale of Yankee ingenuity occurs when the Davises realize they can  make a better go of it bringing tourists to their land rather than farm.  The story is a nicely told one on their website, so please do read it there.

The facts on the maze are detailed on their other page.

It has been hotter than HAWT through July, but August has a way of coming in like September, and the maze opened on the best weekend we've had in some time.  Both sides of the road were packed by midday.  Davis allows your kids to have "good old-fashioned fun" if you let them -- certainly plenty of inflatable obstacle course to go around, but even more low-tech gadgetry like a giant chess set, zip-lining, goat feeding, and splash parking than they will encounter in your family room. 

And of course....

There are dozens of ways to play the maze.  In their zeal to explain all the ways (and in your party's excitement to get going already) they gloss over the fact that you don't have to play them all.  It's not Yatzee.

First - it is themed after "Survivor." The theme changes annually, so only this year is it Survivor.  You can busy yourself collecting "immunity idols" on your journey, not that they make you immune from anything, but I suppose among your party you could decide whether they do (like from say...whining, porta-potties, or chiggers).

There are team challenges, which you can play against other teams, within your team, or just challenge yourself to function as a team.  Some of these are only truly challenging if you are under 10, but then suddenly there is one that even you can't do, you smarty-pants adult, and doing it to impress the boy working the game station only makes you look silly.  (don't look around; you know who I mean).

You collect rubbings of the sections you've been in and/or punch holes for the bridge's you have been over, you answer questions and solve puzzles, and sometimes try to find the next water station, but you don't really have to, and none of it makes it any easier to find your way out of the maze.

As you enter, they tell you it can take anywhere from 30 mins to 3 hours.  Later, when you pass by the same bridge-keeper for the 10th time, he will tell you some people have taken as long as 7 hours.

  • There is complimentary sunscreen and bug spray as you enter the park. Use It.
  • The paths are loose dirt and stones.  Don't wear sandals.
  • They are not kidding about what will happen to you if you pick the corn.  Do not taunt the teenage boys of Sterling.
  • Bring your own picnic.  Not only is it better and cheaper food, it is something to do.  And if you have driven your mini-van all the way past 495, you might as well stay for the day.
Thanks to Locke (we think he made that up) on the Alligator Bridge who explained how the system worked.
To Jimmy, who treated my friend like a real MILF and was very nice to her children (and did not assume I too wanted to try the zip-line).
To Josh, who was our go-to directions boy, and to **** who let us cut through and would probably be disciplined if we disclosed his/her identity. 

To the Davises, for giving the teens of Sterling a pretty cool place to work.

It is quite fun, until it suddenly isn't, and then you'd better stop for Flavor-Ice, just so you can tie it around your neck.  After a break and a dousing of blu-razzberry ( a flavor we have stopped spelling as either a color or a fruit) you may have a second wind.  Or you may give up a fiver to Mike at the putting green for any information leading to the eventual arrest of this outing.

Lastly, you can simply try to race from start to finish (no running).  But be advised that the maze course changes twice a day and cutting through the corn is not only frowned upon, but severely punished.

By these people.

Start your annual Mega-Maze Medallion collection while the corn lasts.  And if you are not within the sound of my factory whistle (or national guard ordinance training), find a the maze near you with this maze locator tool.


  1. This actually sounds like fun, altho when I started reading I didn't think it would. Glad you helo is more quiet.

  2. You didn't try the zipline?!? Okay - that's not really a surprise. And thanks for protecting the teen who let you into the cut-through. I've always thought if you asked some type of bell would ring - along with sirens and possibly a flashing red light. Baroness

  3. So funny! I once did a maze in Southern Cal that was themed (and shaped like) a mission to honor the California missions. We went in that badboy and found all 12 mailboxes with the puzzle pieces to put our map together but were in there far longer than we thought we would be or thought was necessary. At that one, they gave you a flag atop a very long piece of PVC pipe to carry with you - it was funny watching all the flags bob and weave throughout the thing all day. I have sought mazes since then - perhaps I'll make the trip to Sterling!


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