As is now an annual tradition, last night Jeff Tucker took to the stage in the Charles M. Schulz theater at Knott’s Berry Farm, and revealed everything for Knott’s Scary Farm in 2017 to a packed theater and a live-streamed audience. This time, however, it was more of a spectacle than ever before with a great assortment of performances, behind the scenes videos, custom facades to introduce the new mazes, and an amazing lighting system.
While there was a short presence at Midsummer Scream to discuss some ticket options (Fright Lane, to skip the maze lines, traditionally bundled with the Skeleton Key, now includes Fast Lane for rides, too) and a revamp of Trick or Treat into Trick or Treat: Lights Out, there wasn’t much else for most of July or August, save for the Knott’s Twitter account confirming the return of some other mazes. The brunt of the content was saved for the main presentation.
While most of the 2016 mazes return for 2017, they’ve all been changed in ways that make them all worth revisiting at least once during the season. Voodoo – Order of the Serpent has been reconfigured so you enter through the swamp and exit through the bayou. Toothfairy has replaced the ending animatronic with a real human. Red Barn will now pulse guests in to create a sense of urgency, that involve you being chased, along with with the reintroduction of real chainsaws. Paranormal Inc. has incorporated some of the monsters from last year’s Zozo skeleton key room. Shadowlands – Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword has reconfigured a few rooms, and added a second showroom for the initial ceremony room. That was a sticking point for the maze last year, which went from a pre-show early on in the season to eventually just letting people walk through while it happened. And Special Ops: Infected has more guns this year to hopefully speed along the queue and a reconfiguration of the final boss.
That does mean we bid farewell to Dead of Winter and Gunsligner’s Grave – Blood Moon Rising. In their place, we now find two new mazes, each themed to the accompanying scare zone.
The ballroom, will play host to Dark Ride, Jon Cooke’s latest creation, about walking through an abandoned traditional carnival dark ride. This was specifically highlighted as matching the theme of the nearby Carnevil scare zone, which for the longest time has been without a proper matching maze, as Black Magic and Shadowlands have been the accompanying mazes for the last few years. A return to a clown maze is a welcome comfort.
The other new maze is Pumpkin Eater, based on the children’s poem of the same name, matching up with The Hollow scarezone in Camp Snoopy. A giant monster, seeking revenge, wanders a pumpkin patch, and consuming victims.
Finally, Trick or Treat: Lights Out is a revamped version featuring interactive flashlights that are designed to go out at the worst possible moment. Additionally, the exit queue for the maze is now included as part of the maze, so it’s almost worth considering it a whole new experience, which is exactly what Knott’s is doing.
In regards to the scare zones, the same ones are all returning. Fiesta De Los Muertos has ended their dance party, but will still roam the streets. Ghost Town will have a few new characters like an undertaker and Sad Eye Joe will become Mad Eye Joe in the fog. Carnevil is a long beloved classic that will be interesting to see how they make use of the construction walls that have gone up for Hangtime, opening next year on the Boardwalk. The Hollow returns as well, curiously mentioned with a themed story between three factions and a finale of sorts. We’re just as confused as you are as to what this means, but our best guess is that there will be performances involved.
In terms of shows, the two staples return. The Hanging: Fake Noose has a very telling subtitle that will try to make some sense of the wildest year in recent memories. And everyone’s favorite ride at Knott’s will make her final appearance. Elvira is having her FEARwell season at Knott’s this year, which is sure to make every showing extra crowded, even with it happening twice every night.
And while this event doesn’t cover much of the daytime operations, affectionately titled Knott’s Spooky Farm, there is one bit of overlap, with the Timber Mountain Log Ride being rethemed into the Timber Mountain Log Ride Halloween Hootenanny featuring a brand new song created by Knott’s own Krazy Kirk & The Hillbillies. The idea of the Hillbillies getting their own song playing on a ride in a theme park is a wild wish come true. This will be running with the overlay during both day and night, featuring the return of the giant skeleton head over the drop at the end and plenty of new additions inside.
If you’ve made it this far, you may have noticed there’s no skeleton key rooms this year. Instead a lot of those small capacity experiments have been incorporated into the mazes themselves, with the Prey lanterns being used as the new flashlights in Trick or Treat or the Zozo monsters going into Paranormal Inc. What this will to do crowds remains to be seen, but it’s encouraging to see Knott’s constantly tinkering with the formula as we creep towards the 50th Anniversary coming in a few short years.
Tickets and passes are already on sale at knotts.com.