Unable to include departed business
Some content originally from Davis.
The Wooz ("Wild Original Object Zoom") was a small amusement park in Vacaville some years ago that featured a large maze as its main attraction. The Wooz rates right up there with Daihatsu as proof that Japanese business sense isn't totally infallible. Human labyrinths were all the rage in Japan, so some Japanese investors bought some real estate in Vacaville next to a fledgling development of factory outlet stores which was built from the outset to become the largest retail center for factory outlets in the world. (And it still is.) The Wooz figured people would be coming from other states to shop in Vacaville and get lost in this fantastic maze, so they even built a large hotel on a plot of land sitting between the Wooz and the stores.
Traffic at the initial weekend of the Wooz's grand opening was strong within a month, word of mouth had spread that it was incredibly boring. The Wooz tried to get first-comers to come back by changing the maze every couple of weeks, but no one was buying it. My family went once, and we solved the maze in about 20 minutes. It became multiple-trip boring for those without any love of human mazes. Within a year, nearly every large metropolitan area had at least one cluster of factory stores. Even in Northern California, outlet centers sprouted up in Folsom, Anderson, Napa, St. Helena, and Petaluma. Most of the business at the hotel was from passersby looking for something nicer than Motel 6. The hotel was never more than 20% booked! (So far as I remember.) The investors saw the writing on the wall and sold out. A new local investment group took over and tried to diversify the site's appeal by adding a pizza restaurant, a nicer California Cuisine restaurant, and a large video game arcade, miniature golf, and li'l indy car track.
I went to the fancy restaurant with my family once. I don't remember it being all that great. But even this never caught on. Vacaville began building an Automall adjacent to the area, and once the Dodge dealership became a full-fledged 5-star megastore and regional sales leader, momentum for the Automall took off, and the new owners of the Wooz saw fit to sell their lot to a local car dealer. The Wooz sat vacant for a few years in the interim, and it became a hangout for the daringest Vacaville youth who sometimes call their town "Lack of Thrill" since it sorta rhymes. It was basically the cool place to go drink and do drugs and have sex. One kid that grew up with the tradition of trespassing at the Wooz tells me that the cops would sometimes come in and chase them around the maze, and since it never changed configurations in such a long time, the kids would always outsmart the cops. The Wooz is now Toyota of Vacaville.
And the Urban Dictionary states:
A human maze that was built in Vacaville, CA in 1988. It always struggled to stay open, due to the fact that it was outside and Vacaville is so hot in the summer, which was when kids could go. It has been closed and was burned down a few years ago. A car dealership was built on the property soon after.
I loved the Wooz! There were four towers you had to get to and have your card stamped at each one to really "finish" the maze. And I remember sometimes I'd get so lost that I'd just shimmy underneath the fences that made up the walls of the maze in order to get back on the right track. Oh! And after the maze there was this little water park thing. There was a section of it that was kind of like a car wash, in that you could go inside a "fun house," but it was raining water! I always felt like John Travolta when he was singing in the fun house at the end of Grease when I'd go in that part of the water park. Um, and this guy at my church (Community Presbyterian Church) named Larry Friday used to own it. Yeah. —StephanieRoss
2005-06-22 09:39:16 Can the Urban Dictionary be wrong? I could've sworn a Q-Zar went in the same place after The Wooz closed. But thats gone too. —MiriamKaufman
Q-Zar was in a different building across the street and a little down from where The Wooz was. —RogerClark
Yeah Q-Zar was in the complex where DMV is, Q-Zar was there for like a millisecond —MichelleAccurso
I miss Q-Zar too, actually. But I miss the Wooz more! —SS
You kids today! You've watched so much "I Love the 80's" and "I Love the 90's" on VH1 that you get nostalgic for everything you missed...even complete bullshit that we threw away into the lame pile where it should've stayed forever. Trust me...you should feel privileged that you were born too late to experience this waste of time and space that was called the Wooz. —RickEle
2005-11-21 22:11:26 I was there the day it "burned down." The Vacaville F.D. were actually the ones doing the burning. I heard that it was the final exercise performed there after the county bought the property. They were staging search & rescue drills in the hallways for weeks prior to that. I went and watched it burn after following the black smoke column all the way from Winters on my motorcycle. The second "O" on the wall was the first to fall in, then the "Z," then the "W," then the first "O." Some of us were placing bets on the order. Back in the day my cousin and I did the main WOOZ in 20-something minutes, which was fast enough to qualify for the "Super-WOOZ." Which turned out to be a big disppointment. It was really short, and just featured multiple sets of five or so doors, all but one of which led out of the maze with no warning. It was all random luck—boring! —MattJurach
2005-11-22 09:44:47 It was my childhood dream to go to The Wooz...I never got to go despite my incessent pleading to my Mom and Dad. i am suprised that it always struggled to stay open though, when we drove by I always saw a ton of people at it. —MyaBrn
2005-11-23 00:27:06 I went there with some friends. There was NOBODY else there. We couldn't even find anyone to take our money, so we just went in, went through the maze anyway. I thought "that was interesting", but not worth returning to. I think it was expensive too. —SteveDavison
I grew up in Vacaville. The wooz got old real quick but Q-Zar was sweet. I used to ditch class and go play Q-Zar.
2005-12-09 20:55:02 I LOVED the Wooz. (I was obsessed with mazes as a kid.) The "car wash fun house" part was fun too. Does anybody have any old photos of the Wooz to post? —MattNagel
2007-03-14 00:40:04 I recall the wooz, it's good times —StevenDaubert
2007-03-14 01:08:20 I think I went here after the maze was already closed. I remember it looking beat up. —NickSchmalenberger
2007-09-29 20:51:50 I LOVED the Wooz!! I wish it was still there! I see how it could get borring, but it look me about 45 minutes (I wasn't running or anything, and I was 13 at the time). I had Labyrinth birthday party for my 13th; we watched the movie, played the game, and went to the Wooz. Ahh... the good old times. —22.214.171.124
2007-12-27 22:05:23 I remember the human carwash. I went there in the early 90's, probably right before it burned the ground. —126.96.36.199
2008-01-10 03:35:47 I am 54 going on 55 and I went thru the “WOOZ” about 20 times, with family and friends, we celebrated quite a few birthdays and we were “A-MAZED” by the “WOOZ”. I'll have to admit that we went once on a really hot day at [3 or 4 pm] and felt like we were being cooked alive. So after that we went in the morning when it opened [I think it was 9 could have been 10am] and afterwards spent the day fishing and swimming on the Delta. We would bring our freezer/cooler stuffed full of organic fruit popsicles and plenty of iced cold liquids.
Every time we went, it was packed full, but most likely the land was more valuable, than the profits being made and economically it made more sense to sell the property.
When the “WOOZ” first opened up, they did not have any emergency exits for patrons suffering from heatstroke, panic attacks, claustrophobia etc and you had to solve the puzzle [maze] in order to Get Out!!!. Exits were added after 2 Sacramento schoolteachers got lost inside the “WOOZ” for over 6 hours, turned into “Basket Cases” and had to be rescued.
We also liked the fact that they changed the “Maze” configurations to make it more interesting for repeat visits. Unlike the regular “WOOZ”, the “Super WOOZ” was set up with doors that would lock the passage behind you, so there was no going back and you were stuck with your choice. If I remember correctly you had to go thru the regular “WOOZ” in [under] so many minutes to qualify for the “Super WOOZ” and if you solved the way through [minute wise] they sent you on an all expenses trip to Japan to the Worldwide Maze Competition
For the people who solved it in 20 minutes I find that claim to be an exaggeration because I remember it taking around one hour if you were pretty Quick !!
Anyway going there was a Blast !!! We Were Bummed Out Big Time when it closed down…….
Today I was thinking about my 55th Birthday Party coming up in a few months and I was hoping that the WOOZ had magically reappeared so “We Could Flip Our Wigs” !!!!! and “Go On a Blast From the Past”. Alas Not !!!
A couple of years ago, with several creative friends and a huge stack of [4 ft x 8 ft] cardboard sheets we recreated our own “WOOZ” Event that we called “SMOOZ in a giant warehouse in Oaktown.
I'm a crazy person.
Lichen I aka Grease Runner Bow Wow fer Now Robo Dog Inna House of Not Morphing Into Wi-Fido Cleared fer Take Off
2008-04-10 11:32:00 Jeff Wood writes: I loved the Wooz and it was a destination of idle choice on the weekends when I went to college at UC Davis. I got good enough to be able to run the Maze in 10 minutes, and came in third during one of the competitions (which involved finding the four towers for their stamps but also a roaming mascot for the stamp *after* getting the others). I miss it, even if I couldn't do that today.
I will say the 'guess the lucky door' variation of the Super Maze was not that great, given it dumped you out into the regular maze. After the third such mistake, you know the maze pretty well at that point. What I liked was the original version where there were nine stamps in the super maze, numbered 1 through 9. The attended wrote a number down (like 23) on your card and you had to find six (exactly six) stamps that added up to that number, and get back out in as little time as possible. Now that, my friends, was an interesting challenge, especially as there would be mini-races against others starting at the same time.
2008-06-24 12:41:04 I used to have a great time at the Wooz! I would come up for the monthly contest (and usually win). I am also the record holder for the Wooz (3m:55sec) and the winner of the first anniversary contest for which I received a nice trip for two to Japan.
StephanieRoss: FYI. Larry Friday was the PR guy for the Wooz. —188.8.131.52
2008-10-03 08:58:06 I actually worked at the Wooz when it first opened and was often in charge of modifying the layout. It was initially owned by a Japanese business man and then sold to Sabrina Ho who was/is President of Sun Creative Systems. Her son was a good friend of mine in high school. By the way, I did beat the record of 3:55 seconds many times, but I also had the maze memorized and ran through it many times each day. I thought the best part of working there was setting up the haunted house. I also enjoyed the time in snowed in Vacaville and we had to spray the snow away with hoses before we opened. Those were some good times. —184.108.40.206
2008-10-07 00:37:04 Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that I held the public record. Being an employee/designer would have it's advantages. Does anyone reading this happen to remember the other Alan's name that took the 2nd place in the anniversary contest. I wouldn't mind catching up with him after all these years. Thx. —220.127.116.11
2008-10-07 00:38:14 I should probably be more specific and say, "Does anyone remember the other Alan's last name?". —18.104.22.168
2009-02-25 06:30:55 I used to work at the wooz in high school and again when it re-opened. . . was very sad to see it was gone when I returned to the area several years later. —22.214.171.124
2009-04-02 22:05:34 I absolutely loved the Wooz ... my friends and my sister and I would go for birthdays, parties, etc. It was fantastic and the human carwash was SO much fun in the CA summer! =_= I really miss it ... I didn't know it burned down but figured it had closed down, there had never been anyone else there when we were there. But that was part of what made it fun for us ~ we kind of had the run of the place once we went in. I looked it up tonight to get directions so I could take my kids... guess that plan is off. :( —126.96.36.199
2009-07-04 07:04:13 Anyone remember the theme song that played over the PA system? I still remember the chorus lyrics, "you can lose yourself ... at Wooz". —188.8.131.52
2009-07-30 14:17:20 the wooz will be back you mark myword it will come back soon enough bigger and better than eveer and not in a new place the same exact spot. the creatures and minions will not be fake ass people in cheap yo gabba gabba type mascot uniform but in fact real demons and monsters and i control them with all the meth and booz there is and porn pages all over the walls .and i will control it i will slooz my elf @ the slooze kids from all around will come and i will get high on meth and molest them little grade school kids —184.108.40.206
2009-08-18 13:05:10 Nintendo Power Issue 3 had an article about the Wooz in the NES Journal section. They tried to justify its inclusion by claiming the maze was like a real-life video game. —220.127.116.11
2010-03-30 00:10:56 I remember Chris Wilson worked there and stole money from the registers constantly by not ringing up go kart tickets and pocketing the cash. It closed soon after. I remember him bragging in class about how the money funded his Ford Escort tricking-out program. Sad. —18.104.22.168
2010-06-23 10:25:09 I went there in the early 90s once (we lived in neighboring Fairfield). The best part was when you got to the center of the maze there was a wide open area with misters to cool off. Other than that we didn't come back. Sad to see it totally went to hell. —22.214.171.124
2010-08-03 03:45:16 i too remember the 4 towers, they had pacman 3d and a shooting watergun smaller maze all the kids ran though the emgerncey exits-! i went twice and i thought it was fun. Sad to see that its gone now. —126.96.36.199
2010-08-17 11:06:41 Apparently you are still lost in the maze, because you need to get your facts right. When you finally make it out of the maze, you will see that you are on a TOYOTA lot, not a VW lot. And what large hotel was between the Wooz and the outlets? The only buildings between here and there was a Motel 6, Buttercup Panty and the Black Oak. Lastly, and most importantly...DODGE is NOT a regional sales leader nor a MEGA store and certainly not 5 star!! I don't know, maybe you work for Dodge...and if so, I am sorry. —188.8.131.52
2010-08-30 16:28:00 lol good pitcure —184.108.40.206
2010-10-15 10:59:06 Matt Damon was on the Letterman show this week and he talked about he and his family and friends doing a corn field type maze that sounded very much the Wooz (I went there once but the reason I never went again is that Vacaville is a 2 hour drive). I bet the maze idea makes a comeback. —220.127.116.11
2010-11-12 08:36:54 wow....lol
2010-11-24 09:25:03 this place look like jamaica —18.104.22.168
2011-02-14 22:44:00 I loved the Wooz when I went as a kid... I think I was there early enough that the Super Wooz had some tricks with finding numbers instead of picking doors. They did have emergency exits at the time. I always hoped to go back again some day but I guess not... I've always loved mazes and when traveling with my parents would always hope we stumbled upon a garden maze or something, but never did. I think Wooz was my first life size maze. Since then I've only found one or two smallish hedge mazes on my travels. I passed a corn-field maze once but didn't have time to stop. Another time I looked up mazes online during a vacation and found a couple seasonal ones that were also cut into farmer's fields, but they weren't open at the time of year I was there. So if you've got a hankering for a maze, do an online search in harvest season. —Chris
2011-02-17 23:02:46 i went to the wooz wearing my brand new reebok pumps. true story. —22.214.171.124
"2011-02-20- i went to the wooz as a kid and hated it. but when i was about 17 or 18 i used to go there to skateboard. thats my wooz. i never saw any of the drugs or sex. i just saw a run down maze where we could kick down walls to skate the stairs and handrails. No cops ever came and we could skate as long as we wanted. It was great, it felt like my own amusement/skate park
2011-02-20 16:09:50 I had my first homosexual experience at the WOOZ. It was at the "Z" tower. I loved that place! —126.96.36.199
2011-02-20 16:10:24 I had my first homosexual experience at the WOOZ. It was at the "Z" tower. I loved that place! —188.8.131.52
2011-03-15 15:49:21 wooz? try woozworld.com its a good sight for kids! —184.108.40.206
2011-04-06 09:26:51 booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo —220.127.116.11
2011-05-18 19:00:18 The Wooz sucked big time. Hot and very boring to walk around a big maze. —18.104.22.168
2011-06-13 13:14:06 I went there with a group of friends shortly after it opened. We had a pretty good time. A few years later I went back to see if I could do the maze faster, and the place was locked up. I realized that the Wooz had been shut down for a long time. Then I looked around and realized they had never diversified; never added on other attractions to keep their customers. I shook my head at the place and said, "Well, what did you expect?" I never went back. I'm not surprised that it's gone, now. —22.214.171.124
2011-06-21 08:51:20 I LOVE THE WOOZ GAME ITS SO AWSOME AND ADDITING —126.96.36.199
2011-09-09 11:04:07 I was sitting here remembering the WOOZ and how strange it is that I have never seen another place like it. I had no idea it closed so long ago or that it did so poorly beforehand. It was interesting to me as a kid, I enjoyed running around with my brother trying to get our papers stamped, I can see how repeat visit would get old fast but it was a pretty cool one time trip. —188.8.131.52
2011-11-11 15:05:06 I went there once as a kid while on a trip to visit my grandma..my cousins and I had soo much fun! I was actually looking it up to see if it was still open so I could take my own kids...dissapointed to see its been closed!
2011-11-13 00:03:17 ii love justikn] —184.108.40.206
2012-07-16 17:35:43 I totally loved the Wooz, even though I only was able to go once. I loved the challenge of completing it within the time to beat, to move onto the Super Wooz! —220.127.116.11
2012-09-02 14:29:22 deidre —18.104.22.168
My husband is the other Alan (his name is spelled Allen). He worked at the Wooz for a number of years, and overall it was an interesting concept. Some of the reason it didn't succeed had to do with management issues; some of it had to do with the location (population density wasn't large enough), and some of it had to do with the concept itself: human labyrinths are an intellectual activity more than a physical challenge, so if one wasn't a fan of puzzles, the labyrinth wasn't going to be very interesting. —Charlene
2012-11-10 09:37:13 wooz —22.214.171.124
2012-12-07 13:35:34 dude i think this girl wants to have sex with me or not —126.96.36.199
2012-12-16 18:12:24 ........................ —188.8.131.52
2013-06-09 21:37:00 I was fortunate enough to go there twice; once in 1988 after it opened, and again in the early 90s as part of a youth club event. Both times were around Halloween, hence the profusion of pumpkins. On top of that, we actually took a VHS video camera with us, and far too many years later, it's now on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFtaY7EguaI Happy viewing! -Akili
2013-06-19 16:56:24 @StephanieRoss, that is my EXACT childhood experience —184.108.40.206
2013-09-21 20:52:31 I was in first grade in 1989. I had a friend who was a classmate of mine who told me he had gone to the Wooz, and he showed me a brochure, and told me it was an amazing experience. I really wanted to go, but my parents weren't interested in taking me from the East Bay all the way out there just to go to a maze. But it was a fascination for me for at least my whole first grade. I remember seeing it once from the freeway a couple years later as we were going through Vacaville. Those are very early childhood memories for me and they're a little dim. Anyway, I hardly thought about the Wooz in the 25 years since I was in first grade, until the other night I had a dream about a life-sized maze, and it reminded me of the Wooz. I wondered what became of it, and went on Google, and found this and other hilarious commentaries/satires about it. I guess after reading this stuff and some critical comments about it on other websites I am at peace with the fact that I never went there, but I guess it still would have been cool. Anyway, I'm glad I have "closure" about it at least. And I'm glad to have gone back to those memories from first grade. Thank you my friends for your accounts of the Wooz. They mean a lot to me. —220.127.116.11