This is one of my favorite episodes for a number of reasons. It has lot of heart, a great board by Ricky Garduno, terrific music by Shawn Patterson, and stunningly great direction by Roman Laney and Tod Polson.
The inspiration for this episode came from a traveling carnival that had set up in my neighborhood church parking lot (presumably so that when the amusements fell apart, the prayers of those aboard could be more easily heard by the Almighty.) Definitely the kind of place that only people actively courting danger could enjoy. People like Manny and Frida.
Visually, we needed somewhere even cooler than a carnival to stage our climax, so naturally we went with secret volcano lair. The Pantera Pit obviously owes a lot to the bat cave, but to me it was more a nod to the greatest secret volcano lair ever, Ernst Blofeld's, rocket snatching headquarters in 1967's, "You Only Live Twice."
...If only we could have had ninjas attack at the end.