Knott’s Berry Farm has officially transformed and kicked off the 45th Anniversary of Knott’s Scary Farm. This year, Knott’s boasts a haunt line-up of nine mazes, two shows and one ride overlay. Knott’s understood the bar needed to be raised since the market is saturated with haunts, and this may very well be Knott’s Scary Farm’s best line-up in recent memory.
Of the nine mazes this year, three of them are brand new – with “Dark Ride” being perhaps one of the best theme park mazes in Southern California.
Let’s take a look at all that Knott’s has to offer.
Dark Ride (∗∗∗∗∗)
As we stated above, Dark Ride might be one of the best mazes SoCal has to offer this year. For years, people have always wondered what creepy things lurk in an abandoned theme park or ride, and Knott’s used that idea as a jumping off point for this immediate fan-favorite.
You enter an abandoned ride at a county fair named, “Castle of Chaos”, and immediately come upon hermits warning you to not enter and that you don’t belong. From there, each scene is exactly what you’d expect to see at an abandoned county fair ride. The set design and actors create a truly, thrilling maze. Be sure to hit this maze first, because as word spreads, this maze will become crowded very quickly.
Paranormal, Inc. (∗∗∗∗)
Back for its third year, Paranormal, Inc. is one of the more unique mazes that prey upon multiple phobias. As you enter the Hayden Hill Sanitarium, you gather inside a room as paranormal experts are sensing spirits in the building. As always, something goes horribly wrong, and ghosts & demons terrorize you.
You make your way through the halls of the sanitarium as demons who’ve come through the other side are after you.
What separates this maze from almost any other that I’ve experienced is the use of close spaces. For those who are prone to claustrophobia or hate tight quarters, this maze is not for you. With large puppets, actors flying through the air (with some even being pulled up through the ceiling), this maze sets the bar for most innovative maze, even after three years running.
Special Ops: Infected (∗∗∗∗)
Another returning maze, Special Ops: Infected continues to thrill guests in a live-action version of an RPG. Each guest is given a gun as you try to navigate your way through dark streets, destroyed subway stations, and abandon clothing stores – all while killing the infected before they get to you.
Two things help the maze – the interactive element of actually being thrust into the environment and the actors portraying the militia assisting you in the zombie-filled apocalypse.
And remember, “Aim for the head!”
Shadow Lands (∗∗∗)
A sleeper hit from last year returns as you enter the world of the samurai, as the samurai spirits are out for revenge. Shadow Land is another beautifully designed maze that allows guests two different paths that eventually merge into one.
A common setting in some of the mazes this year is starting the maze with a preshow. In Shadow Lands, you come face to face with a killer samurai.
While the maze features large-scale sets, impressive details and a couple of aerial stunts, the maze feels a little rehashed – but thankfully doesn’t take away from the quality of it.
Trick or Treat: Lights Out (∗∗∗)
Trick or Treat has been a staple at Knott’s Scary Farm for many years. Jon Cooke and his team had the task of turning a mainstay haunt and flipping it on its head. Guests will receive their own flashlight that will be controlled by Knott’s. They decide when the light goes on and off. There is even a black light setting to have it reveal-hidden messages or paintings.
While it definitely makes for a more interesting walk-through, Lights Out seems to really play on the idea of the unknown and darkness. If those two things freak you out, then this maze is one you won’t want to miss.
Pumpkin Eater (∗∗½)
The third new maze this year is located in the Camp Snoopy section of the park. While the maze didn’t have too many scares it was more gorgeous to look at than anything else.
One of the best elements of the maze was a simple trick of walking through a curtain of the insides of a pumpkin, with water dripping down creating an unsettling effect.
Voodoo: Order of the Serpent (∗∗½)
Voodoo: Order of the Serpent is back this year. This time, they’ve flipped the maze and you now go through it backwards. In some aspects, the switch has helped the maze; now starting off in the weaker section and end with the best scenes of the maze.
You enter through a New Orleans-style cemetery, followed by a Louisiana bayou where the Voodoo spirits have been awokened and are out for you.
Since attending Knott’s Scary Farm for the last several years, this maze has always been fun, and to a certain extent creepy – but after going through it again this year, perhaps it is time to try something new with this area.
Red Barn (∗∗)
Red Barn is back for its second year and the demented hillbillies are out for your blood. Red Barn delivers on the idea of making you uncomfortable and sometimes weirded out, but doesn’t necessarily deliver on scares.
Tooth Fairy (∗½)
The last maze is another returning one in The Tooth Fairy, which we found to be the least enjoyable of the mazes. The premise is that the world of Tooth Fairy’s is not a pleasant one, as they take kids and torture them.
This is far and away the goriest maze Knott’s offers at the event, and it seems the lack of scares is made up by the increase of gore. If you hate the sound of the dentist’s drill however, this maze will probably bother you.
Knott’s Scary Farm offers two shows this year- The Hanging: Fake Noose and the final year of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Due to time constraints we were only able to see The Hanging, so we will only review the one show.
Timber Mountain Log Ride: Halloween Hootenanny (∗∗∗∗)
After a two-year absence of having a Halloween overlay, Timber Mountain Log Ride is back with a fantastic overlay. Pumpkins and fall decorations are featured a plenty, as well as some surprise scare scenes that were completely unexpected. One of the many highlights of the overlay was the original music from Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. For me personally, this is the one can’t miss ride during Scary Farm.
The Hanging: Fake Noose (∗∗∗½)
Are you ready for a hanging? The premise of this year’s show features Vladimir Putin who is controlling everything, including President Donald Trump. Soon, he will unleash a bomb that will cause all Americans to have a brain meltdown and he will be able to control everyone.
As always, the show features lots of celebrity look-a-likes from the world of entertainment, lots of blood and crude jokes. This year’s version was far and away the best one over the last several versions. The jokes were funny (including a jab at Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disney California Adventure) and a lot of jabs at current political situations.
Overall the event is as strong as it’s ever been and a blast to attend. We’d like to thank Knott’s Berry Farm for inviting us and we hope you get a chance to attend Knott’s Scary Farm, which is open on select nights now through October 31.