If you’re in the north side of Orange Country during the month of October, chances are pretty high that someone will tell you they’re planning on going to Knott’s Scary Farm. If you they offer you to tag along, I’ll say go — and have fun being in constant fear.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Knott’s Scary Farm myself. Freshman year of high school, so over a decade and some change. I’m glad to say it’s kept the spirit up — mostly, but more on that point later.
Stepping into the park is where you enter darkness — quite literally. Really, much the park leaves in you pitch dark areas. In the area called Camp Snoopy during regular hours, in this event it’s transformed into The Hollow. Since none of the rides are operating as they’re geared towards young children, you’re only guided by silhouettes of people from lighting far off in the distance, creating the most intense area in the park. There are no characters from the Peanuts gang to hug you, only undead farmers jumping at you from the darkness, stalking you until reach another Scare Zone.
Much of the park will leave you with some level of constant anxiety, especially if you’re easily spooked. There were several times when I mistakenly thought fellow guests as the scare actors. I partly blame the spotlight beaming on your face (the main source of light at the park in some areas), but some of the guests were probably drunk? They were limping like zombies, at least. There was a moment where I trying to take a shot of a water ride in the Carnevil area and one of the clowns tried to surprise me from behind, but something told me to turn around. Had I not, there would have been a good chance I would have dropped my smartphone into the water below, and then we’ll see who’s scarier! Juggalos will always be terrifying to me, though.
The star of the event for me has to be the decorators for creating the atmosphere that Halloween deserves. This is my favorite holiday, but I was getting the Halloween blues when others around me weren’t getting into the spirit. Knott’s have been doing these events for a number of years and by now they know exactly what works and perfected their craft with the best of their abilities. The fog machines and lighting were placed in a way that was grand and inviting, which can only happen for an event like Halloween.
Knott’s Scary Farm has improved its production since my last visit. For one, they made a short video for each maze that comes off more cute than scary – but that could just be me:
There were even some attractions that did more than just have monsters yell ‘BOO’ from a corner of a dark hallway. You now have monsters yelling ‘BOO’ from above your head! Actors are hooked from the ceiling and can swing across the room on occasion in some mazes. That was something I’ve never seen at Knott’s before. One particular maze that attracted guests was Infections. It’s a interactive maze that plays out like laser tag. I thought it was going to be like those zombie gun and run attractions. It …is, but certainly not to the scale I was imagining. This maze is set at the Mystery Lodge attraction, which isn’t a ride but a show of smoke and lighting effects. In hindsight, it’s actually impressive that they were able to fit so much in such a small area. It’s still about an hour’s wait, likely the longest of all the mazes here, and while it’s a fun idea you’re out of the maze in less than 10 minutes. You could go on another ride of Ghostrider that’s right next door.
As much as people boost about the newer, higher tech mazes, it’s the tried-and-true ones that I enjoy the most. One reason being that the line and duration to get though them are short, but I’m always impressed by the details and imagination it takes to scare people with props. If I wasn’t trying to see as much as possible in the few hours I had while the park was open I would have went through the smaller mazes again just to have more time to appreciate the dead prop bodies, massive electronic monsters and other items that create a narrative for each maze. Red Barn, Shadow Lands and Dead of Winter are all fantastic for showing the unique and creative ways to scare people. And for showing me how I would be a wet mess if I were somehow dropped into the Bloodborne universe — contrary to my badass, OP character build.
It seemed like I covered a lot of ground but I was not able to see all the mazes. Time restraint is one factor, but it seems now that if you get a packaged deal that it enables you to see what referred to as “Skeleton Key” mazes and are exclusive to buyers of this package. They seem interesting, especially in that seem more interactive with the actors, but they don’t seem to last that much longer than the normal mazes. These mazes seem more like the one-and-done sort, where else others you can go through again and still be scared by something or someone new.
One sad fact of this trip: the rides were kept in their vanilla state and not upgraded to the scary status of years past. The last time I here for the event, the log ride had a werewolf theme. The lumber jack animatronics donned werewolf masks and the lighting was changed to red to fight the “red moon massacre” theme. Not this year. Even a fellow attendee was heard reminiscing about the ride after we existed, so I assume it was axed recently. I hope it’ll return in the future. The coal mine ride of year’s past had a huge spider in the center of the ride, with cobwebs strewn about, but all of that was absent here, too.
The biggest regret I have is not seeing a Halloween attraction a bit before my time. Kingdom of the Dinosaurs was transformed into Kingdom of the Lizard Lounge. The orignal concept was a favorite of mine as a kid, but seeing dinos dressed up as Elvis would excite me as an adult now! Well, excite is maybe too strong of a word, but damn, it seemed Knott’s Scary Farm had quite the sense of humor back in the day. The ride has been long discontinued for well over a decade, but each time I enter the park I still think of that ride.
Speaking of past years at Knott’s Scary Farm, give a visit to Ultimate Haunt. It’s fun to look at the event’s humble beginnings. It’s also funny to see Beetlejuice and copyrighted cartoon characters at Disneyland’s theme park revival of the 1990s.
I had a season pass that I only used for one day, but it was worth it to celebrate Halloween in the best way there is; to be scared out of my wits. Next year, I will definitively consider getting more days in to experience Knott’s Scary Farm as month-long scare-fest as opposed to one night.