For decades, fans of Stephen King's The Shining have made a pilgrimage to Estes Park to visit the Stanley Hotel, the famous inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in King's horror novel, and though the Stanley embraces its pop-culture connection and is overflowing with spooky hauntings and creepiness, one physical manifestation from the novel and film, the hedge maze, has never existed.
Until now. Thanks to the tourist attraction's recent success with the horror-themed Stanley Film Festival, the hedge maze is about to come to life. The hotel is holding an international contest to design a brand-new, 61,500-square-foot maze that will sit on the front lawn of the hotel -- as it did in King's novel, where it was more of a topiary garden, made up of 1,600 to 2,000 Alpine Currant hedge bushes.
Serving as an homage to both the novel and the film that came from King's twisted mind based on his experience staying at the Stanley, the maze will also celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the current ownership of the Stanley, which took over in May 1994. "I am thrilled to share this special moment in my life and the hotel's history," says John Cullen, owner of the famed property. "We have built this place together over the years, and I'm excited to invite everyone to be a part of its legacy through this special design contest."
If you fancy yourself a designer, or you've just had a wild maze design haunting your brain for decades, now is the time to show your stuff. The perfect design will be chosen by a small group comprising Estes Park residents, hotel employees and staff of the Stanley Film Festival, where the ribbon-cutting of the hedge maze will take place at the festival's opening night, April 30. "The festival is more than just a celebration of horror films," says Britta Erickson, festival director for the Denver Film Society, which produces the Stanley Film Festival. "It is an overall immersive experience that covers every historic and haunted foot of the hotel's grounds based on The Shining's inspiration. This will be the cherry on top of an already amazing weekend."
The winner of the contest will have a placard placed in the maze to commemorate their vision; with any luck, a frozen Jack Torrence will be waiting alongside of it.
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Dear Constant Reader, you can learn more about Keith Garcia on Twitter: @ConstantWatcher