KNOTT’S BERRY FARM
Buena Park, California
Cedar Fair Entertainment
Knott’s Scary Farm 44 (2016)
Posted 10/5/16 - by Haunt Reviewer Steve Rowin
Southern California’s oldest and longest running haunt has returned this October; Ready for Scary Farm?
Deep in the dark passages of Ghost town, hoards of people face off with hoards of creatures. The fog is thick and screams are plenty as Halloween revelers test their might, hopeful that they will return from this evil place. No matter your size, these creatures are cleaver and their sneaky ways invoke screams from even the most jaded and guarded. Knott’s Scary farm monsters are the most sophisticated you’ll find and it’s impressive to see them work the crowd.
The Scary farm consists of nine scary mazes each with a unique twist. This year two new themed haunts have been unleashed; Shadow Lands and Red Barn.
Shadow Lands takes you on a trip through the orient where the souls of fallen Samurais haunt a sacred shrine in an ancient Japanese temple. The visual appeal of this haunt is spectacular and no doubt with a “deluxe” budget. This is the first time an asian inspired haunt has been done at Knott’s and I’d guess anywhere in America. With so much of Halloween centered around old European legends and myths, Shadow lands is a breath of fresh scare! Some haunts lean towards darkness and gimmicks while this one is heavy on story and atmosphere. Hands down Shadow lands was best of show this year in that regard.
On the other end of scary there is the Red Barn. As the smell of hay hits you there is no mistaking where you are, you’re in a Red Barn! Red with blood flowing from victims of wild, evil animals that feed on flesh. This is the hillbilly gone wild experience with slaughtered pigs and suspenders o plenty. The idea is that those who enter the barn never leave. This haunt reminded me a lot of a scaled back version of the slaughterhouse from 2013. Slaughterhouse was very intense with lots a dark tight spaces and lots of surprises. Red barn, a maze made of hay, was far more low budget built on the same premise.
Zombies! Let’s talk about the unfortunate infected! Two years ago the scary farm released the infected into camp snoopy. Special Ops forces including you and your laser gun were sent in to rid the area of the dead. I loved it. The downside was that the small groups created capacity issues and a lot of people didn't get to experience it. Now in it’s third year, Scary Farm has moved the attraction inside a much smaller space and the cue is not by appointment.
The good news, the action is still intense and a ton of fun. The bad news, there is no bad news! What makes this the ultimate is that when you’re handed a gun and sent on a mission you put yourself in that mind set. Just as when you play paintball, it’s not real but you get a higher level of believability. That’s the trouble with haunts in general is that you know nothing is real so real fear is hard to establish. I’d say Special Ops is worth the ticket in and all the rest is just gravy as they say.. At one point I was falling behind and blasting zombies when I started to get surrounded. I kept blasting but quickly felt compelled to run! That was a real instinctual response and a burst of adrenaline!
Flashback Mazes; Let’s do it again.
Trick or Treat holds a very special place in my heart. It’s everything you want in a Haunted House. It feels like a Victorian home filled with creeps, ghouls and of course the infamous Green Witch. Details are great and I don’t think there is another haunt with a better first room set. A staircase lined with pumpkins, a grandfather clock and the old chandelier overhead is a perfect setup. It’ll be a sad day when this one is retired.
Tooth Fairy, that mean old greedy winch! The premise is simple, the tooth fairy is something of your nightmares; not the harmless double winged coin dropping cousin of Tinker. This haunt is gross! Piles of bloody teeth, the sounds of dental drills. Yuck. I won’t really miss this one being more of a fan of classic gothic horror.
Paranormal Inc. was the blockbuster haunt last year. It employs tons of tricks and treats that do get you to scream. As I wrote before, this is really a return to the “Haunted House” experience that sometimes gets lost in storytelling based haunts.. It has a story line but the haunt stands on it own two feet regardless of story. This is a NOT TO BE MISSED attraction of spirits that are pissed and after you!
VooDoo, not too much has changed on this part of the bayou. The cursed are doomed in these parts. More chicken feathers and magic dust than one can handle in fifteen minutes! What’s amazing is how much this feels like being outside in the south. The artistic details are really good and for fun who doesn’t like a dropping bridge under your feet! I like Voodoo in the same way I like the new Shadow Lands, it’s entertaining.
Dead of Winter, Windigo’s Revenge. Winda-who? The Ice queen, the snow, the wonderful air conditioning last year in the heat wave. But I have to say I was surprised to see this haunt return. It just fell short for me, sort of a fantasy, lord of the rings feel that just didn’t translate into scary or frightful for me. It was elaborate from a creative standpoint but I personally am ready to close the book on this snow queen and her frozen beasts. And no air conditioning to create the effect of being in a ice labyrinth this year. Sometimes great ideas just don’t translate and sadly I hope the space makes room for something new.
Gunslinger’s Grave, Dead cowboys in the wild west. There is a lot I like about the wild west and ghost towns. Naturally a haunt with mean cowboys yelling “get outta here boy!” fits in nicely at Knott’s Scary Farm. It’s crazy cast of characters are very much in the tone of the classic Knott’s Berry Farm train robbers. This maze has been around a while and so save it for last if you’ve already been through it.
Skeleton Key Rooms have been removed from the actual haunts in 2016 and placed around Camp Snoopy area. The one that we did was far more intense than any we’ve seen in years past. For those who don’t know, these attractions are mini single room haunts typically with a live actor as part of the story. Sort of a theatrical presentation. So if you’re looking for as much as you can get then get the Skeleton key.
Elvira is back as the legendary Mistress of the Dark for this Halloween season. As Knott’s Scary Farm’s host in her spectacular all-new nightly show, Elvira’s Danse Macabre. The show transports guests to a masquerade ball, hosted by Elvira, full of music, dance and comedy. Elvira fan or not it’s a well done show that might just leave you wanting an autograph at the Elvia gift shop.
The Hanging, kill them all! A live stage show in Calico Square that irreverently looks back at the year's pop culture with some killer comedy. Notorious for its special effects and high-flying stunts, The Hanging® is a no-holds-barred assault on pop culture’s most infamous moments of the past year. A must see parody! Editorial note: Goofy Fun, belly laughs for all.
My top 3:
Special Ops: Infected
Trick or treat