Escape from Edmonton’s Corn Maze
Review and photos by Talicia Dutchin
There was a cartoon picture of four farmers nailed to the fence in front of us. Each farmer had a red neck and was doing something different: chewing on a piece of wheat, holding a fork with a sausage on it, or patting a pig. It’s some kind of word puzzle to be solved—one of many along the fence. The simplest answer is “rednecks” but that also seems too easy, and it doesn’t explain the other items in the picture. My friends were all divided about the answer, arguing heatedly over it—a sign of things to come inside the Edmonton Corn Maze.
Cut into a 15-acre field of corn, the Maze has been operating since 2001, initially as a two-man owned operation and now as a multi-generational family business. Each year they create a new design for thousands of people to enjoy. The farm is located about 10km to the southwest of Edmonton and is open from the end of July until the end of October—the 24th, this year. Tickets are pretty affordable, too, at $13 for adults and $10 for kids (4-11).
We arrived at the farm by 6:30 PM on a Saturday, layered up under coats when only days earlier we had been wearing shorts. The temperature dipped down around 11 degrees and it was muddy from the rain the previous night, a downside of this being outdoors. The upside was that in previous years the lineup on weekends could be over a half-hour wait, but there was no one in line when we arrived. We were given wristbands and immediately sent on our way into the farm.
Their store and concession were open, and a few of my friends and I bought ourselves coffee ($2). Two of them asked to mix the hot chocolate and coffee to make a cheap and terrible version of a mocha, which the staff had no problem doing. Unfortunately for me, they were already sold out of mini donuts, which I had desperately wanted after I saw someone leaving with them. Since most of us had drinks, we wandered around to check out the other things instead of heading straight into the maze.
The farm offers a lot more than just the maze and snack shop to visitors, and they’re all family-friendly activities. People can take a ride on the tractor-train, the Corn Cob Express, bounce around on one of two Jumping Pillows, drive some Pedal Cars, or shoot potatoes out of a Spud Gun.
There is also a farm animal petting area, where you can spend 25 cents to get some mixed grains to try and lure some goats over. The goats had absolutely no interest in the grain when we tried it—they’d probably been eating it all day already.
My friend’s boyfriend then bought each of the three of us 2 shots on the spud gun, and we took turns firing potatoes at a large metal wall that was decorated with nice autumnal targets. The potatoes made a satisfying crash when they hit the metal, though the gun was more powerful than I was expecting. My first shot went flying over the top of the target, way further into the field than I intended it to. My friend stood behind me and heckled, while the seemingly bored young staff member offered no advice on aiming.
When we finally got into the maze after milling about, we immediately, as expected, all had differing opinions on which way we should go. It ended with two people belligerently running down opposite paths and the rest of us banding together to take the third option. We found both of them only minutes later, when their routes met up again with ours.
To make sure you know you’re going the right way, there are 10 signposts inside the maze to help you out. Each post offers a way to decide a new direction leader for your group (who has the most buttons on their clothes, or the winner of rock paper scissors, for example). They then use the “passport”, a sheet of paper with 10 corresponding questions that help you go the correct way – assuming you pick the right answer. The leader can also arbitrarily choose which way to go, which is also fun. Especially when they’re wrong.
In the summer, the stalks form green, thick walls that offer clear separation between the paths, but it’s not overwhelming enough to feel like you could get really lost. The corn is still moveable, so that you could climb through the walls if you needed to.
There were already multiple breaks where someone has gotten impatient or fed up and just wanted to get out of where they were. They had been tied off with neon plastic tape in order to keep people on the official paths. My roommate kept joking we should just take them, and the rest of us would shout at him that it was cheating. As the temperature gets colder and the corn starts dying, more of these shortcuts will start appearing in the maze.
Overall it took us around an hour and a half to do the whole maze, but it could probably be done in less time. We did the first half at a pretty leisurely pace for just over an hour, and the second half at a brisk speed for 30 minutes (thanks to my 6ft tall friend and his long legs leading for most of the way). The maze is also split into halves, so you don’t have to go back in to do the rest after completing the first side if you’re done with it.
After we finished the entire maze, we considered going back in and doing the whole thing as a speed run. We didn’t. Overall it was a really fun way to spend a few hours outside, even on a cloudy day, during a pandemic.
To adhere to COVID-19 guidelines and offer increased public safety, this year the Corn Maze not only moved to an online ticketing system, but they also changed it to timed entry. They cap the number of tickets for each hour-long block as well, and only have tickets available for walk-up if the slot had not yet sold out.
So far during September the weekends have all sold out in advance, so booking sooner is key. There is no hard time limit on the premises once you get there – they suggest 2 hours but it’s up to individuals to adhere to that.
I was able to easily walk in and out of the farm without having to let a staff member know that I would be right back though. There was no one counting the number of people leaving or arriving through the gate, which sort of defeats the purpose of capping the tickets if they aren’t enforcing it. That being said, their website doesn’t say how many people they limit entry to for each hour so maybe they take that into account.
Like most other places, they have signs reminding people to practice physical distancing, and to sanitize their hands before and after all activities with one of the many sanitizer jugs placed around the farm.
Despite that, the outdoor sinks that they had setup were not being monitored very closely. Between the two I used, one was out of paper towel and the door hung open into the sink where I was washing my hands and the other was pretty much out of soap. The ground around them was also incredibly muddy and there were no straw or boards for people to stand on to avoid getting dirty.
They don’t make masks mandatory while on the farm or while in the maze, where the rows are narrow, so it is once again left up to individuals. Despite being outside, my group all decided to wear our masks the entire time we were in the maze because we knew we’d be passing a lot of people. This was a good idea because in many corridors there wasn’t enough space to keep two metres away from others.
There were a few times where we had younger teenagers or kids just (literally) shove by us as they ran through the maze. There was a pleasantly surprising number of other people wearing masks in the maze, though, maybe one third, and most people did actually try to respect personal space. It definitely felt less busy than the year before, though I would say there were still probably a few hundred of us on site.
Despite some issues with safety precautions, the overall experience was overwhelmingly positive. I would recommend checking it out while there’s still time left because the Edmonton Corn Maze is not just a good time, I would say it’s an a-maize-ing one. And hey, if you go on a less busy weekday there will probably even be mini donuts left.
Edmonton Corn Maze
26171 Garden Valley Road
Spruce Grove, AB
(Note: not all GPS programs know how to locate it, so check before you leave home.)
Fall Hours (until Oct 24):