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X marks the spot
in field of fear

'Aliens have landed' at maze on Alabama 20; new technology adds thrills

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com 340-2447

"This is not just a corn maze. It's a corn maze on steroids."

These are the bold words of Derrek Sullivan, the man whose organization runs the X-Maze Halloween corn maze on Alabama 20 in Decatur. The frightful labyrinth, which debuted two years ago, will create thrills and chills for those who dare to come try it on the nights leading up to Halloween.

In its second year (there was no maze last year due to the drought, but this year organizers irrigated the corn crop), the amped-up maze is almost twice as big as the original one. It features sounds throughout the corridors accompanied by animated lights, as well as six special areas like "blacklight alley" and the "tower of terror."

"The technology that we've added and the difficulty we've added completely take this to a new level," Sullivan said. "This is the most technologically advanced corn maze in Alabama."

Sullivan is executive director of Xtreme Motivational Communications, the nonprofit group hosting the Halloween event with sponsors Cumulus Media,Verizon Wireless and Pepsi. The maze is a fundraiser for the Decatur-based communications group that hosts anti-drug and alcohol school assemblies as part of their mission to spread positive messages to youth.

While Indiana Jones was the site's first theme, this year "aliens have landed, and taken over the maze," Sullivan said. There's even a smaller, alien-shaped maze for young children, with a difficulty level of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

From the sky, the large X-Maze — a 7 on a scale of one to 10 — is made of six parts, with a huge "X" cut in the center. If you take all the right paths, the X-Maze is about one mile, Sullivan said. However, if you take all the wrong turns, it's about 31/2 miles. It takes about 1-11/2 hours to complete, he said. Volunteers created the corn patterns by using global positioning system coordinates.

Terror levels

The event opens at dark every night and operates on a "terror level" system so families will know what to expect. While Terror Level 1 nights (the least scary) have ended, families with small children can go through the alien maze anytime for a mild Halloween experience. The high terror level nights (Level 3 and 5) will be available for the rest of the time the X-Maze is open. The higher the terror level, the more volunteers in the twisting corridors spooking you, Sullivan said.

If an alien-invaded maze of corn doesn't sound appealing to you, the site also offers hay rides, a pumpkin patch, inflatables and concessions. Also, there is plenty of security and a well-lit parking lot, so parents needn't worry if their teens are going on their own, Sullivan said.

If you go

What: X-Maze Halloween corn maze

When: Friday through Sunday and Oct. 18-31; maze opens at dark each night and closes when the lines are gone

Where: Alabama 20 in Decatur, west of Interstate 65 and Interstate 565 intersection

Ticket sales start at 6 p.m. each night.

n Children 4 and under are free

  • Children 5 to 12: $8

  • 12 to 64: $10

  • 65 and older: $8

  • Military with valid ID: $8

    Reduced family and group rates are also available.

    On the Net

    Visit www.xmaze.com or call the X-Maze hot line at 641-6883 for more information. Coupons are available online.

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