The granddaddy of haunted attractions, Knott’s Scary Farm, is bringing some serious heat to the scares this Halloween season. We got the chance to check out their opening night and were blown away by their two new mazes and dynamic street monsters. This year’s opening rope drop is more than the usual monster charge – instead, it is a three minute long opening show moment complete with actors and audio-visual effects. This mini show moment sets up the green witch’s cursing of Calico and ties directly into one of the new mazes at this year’s Scary Farm. Speaking of which, the two new mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm this year are Origins: The Curse of Calico and Wax Works.
Origins: The Curse of Calico is one of the best haunted houses the park has ever offered up – partly due to its outstanding set design and its use of Knott’s Berry Farm history/lore. The maze takes guests back to Calico at the time they were cursed by the green witch character. The curse changed the town’s inhabitants into monsters. Throughout this maze, guests get to see things like what the Catawampus originally looked like! Not that little statue in Ghost Town (what historians think it might have looked like) – oh no, we’re talking the real, in-your-face Catawampus! Guests also get to walkthrough the remains of the Haunted Shack (a great big smile spread across my face when I saw this) and even get a peak at a familiar-looking skeleton. Calico: Origins of Ghost Town is simply outstanding.
Wax Works is more standard fare for a Knott’s Scary Farm haunted house – but that’s not a bad thing in any sense. Wax Works features crazy monsters (with a really awesome prop that had to be inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing) and some creepy narrative beats (with some fun easter eggs referencing the Movieland Wax Museum – a classic Buena Park attraction that, sadly, is no more).
Last year favorite maze The Depths returns and is still an outstanding with some very surprising sights and narrative elements. Guests undertake a journey to the deep and encounter undead pirates, a kraken, demented miners, and huge sharks – all wanting to eat them for dinner.
Walking through the various street zones offered up by Knott’s Scary Farm, we were very impressed all around and several members of my party were scared multiple times in each. Ghost Town Streets, CarnEvil, Forsaken Lake, and The Hollow all deserve kudos for their energy and commitment to character on opening night. Knott’s Scary Farm monsters tend to be of a different breed in comparison to more regimented monsters at other haunts. At Knott’s, monsters are encouraged to develop their scares throughout the run and there is usually a marked improvement from the first day to the last. With what I saw on night one, the bar has been set pretty darn high.
Shadowlands, a maze which brought some seriously impressive set design in its last couple years, is ready to be put out to pasture. Despite some very eager monsters, the maze simply wasn’t working right when we ventured through and it seemed like they were limping it along until its replacement in the next spooky season.
Venturing towards The Hollow (or Camp Snoopy), we walked through Pumpkineater. A favorite of mine last year, the maze doesn’t seem to have changed much. It takes guests through the guts of a demon pumpkin spreading pestilence through a small village. And yes, I mean pumpkin guts! It’s a solid scare and well worth venturing into.
Unfortunately, the park still puts three mazes in the internal parking lot area where employees used to park a long, long time ago. Park management needs to push to get haunted houses back into the Scary Farm proper – especially in Camp Snoopy. Ever since the demolition of the Knott’s Beary Tales Playhouse (which served as an excellent and unique haunted house structure with its narrow corridors and overhead bridge) there just isn’t enough back there to bring guests towards that side of the park. Seeing the Scary Farm mazes and entrance decorations in the normal park during the day before the event only served to build my excitement of the scares to come. They are not even doing anything to theme that parking lot. There is a disjointed DJ booth now and just rows upon rows of stanchions leading guests to the warehouses containing the mazes. It’s not in keeping with good showmanship in any respect and needs to be rectified.
Dining options at Knott’s Scary Farm are very solid, with not only a full service restaurant in the Ghost Town Grill (where guests can even sit on the patio in Ghost Town’s “fog alley”) but also a full-size Panda Express near the Calico Mine Ride. Near the CarnEvil area, you’ll find the Bordwalk BBQ and a Johnny Rockets to boot! This is actually a cutdown list, with so many other options to be discovered. Hands-down, Knott’s Scary Farm has the best dining options of any theme park haunted attraction in Southern California.
Knott’s Scary Farm has shows too – including Brian Henson’s Puppet Up! Uncensored at the main Charles M. Schulz Theatre. This was a head-cocking announcement during their media event. A puppet show at a haunted attraction? From the son of Muppet’s creator Jim Henson?! Well, the good news is that they are hilarious. The bad news is that it’s still not a great fit for the Scary Farm. They need a spooky show in the main theatre.
Elvira was always a great choice but that’s not a real option anymore for them. There has got to be something they can come up with for that stage. Not to make wardrobe work too hard, but what about a version of “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”? They do a take on “A Charlie Brown Christmas” during the Merry Farm, why not double-down on the Peanuts goodness for Scary Farm? I digress… The Hanging, a long-running parody show at the Calico Stage, is doing the same thing it has for a long time now – that is, being sort of funny at times maybe after you’ve had a couple beers? The Hanging needs to be given to some new writers next year – maybe take that show in a different direction if suitably-funny material cannot be created. Again, I’m digressing… Despite my critiques, both shows are entertaining enough in their own ways.
Ticket prices start at $43 dollars and can go up to about $158 for a Scary Farm season pass. They also offer hotel packages, dining passes, and a lot more. Knott’s has a ticket tier for just about anyone, so you shouldn’t have any issue finding an option to fit your needs.
Overall, Knott’s Scary Farm 2019 is a good success and a terrifically scary time. The park’s new mazes are incredible and the overall vibe of the event is fun and scary. If you have never visited the Scary Farm in the past, you owe it to yourself to do so. If you have, visit again, because this is a great year for the park.