Knott’s Scary Farm is a staple to not only Southern California, but to almost the whole country. 44 years has made this the first and the Grandfather of Halloween Events for theme parks and there really is no slowing it down. Universal has picked up the ball and ran with it, but the direction Knott’s has taken the past 2 to 3 years has definitely been close in the foot chase. With maze designer, Jon Cooke, taking the reigns and making two of the most immersive mazes Knott’s has ever seen, this event is going to be on par with its competition in the next couple of years. I love this event for its original ideas and drive, but it’s still lacking in some areas and this year has some hiccups as well. This review will be spoiler heaven, so please be warned!
Let’s begin with the Mazes
Where do I even start with this incredible maze?! This maze has some of the best scares that I have ever experienced at Knott’s Halloween Haunt. With the beginning execution of a soldier, you are then transported into a Japanese forest inhabited by plant monsters. You then enter a building filled with Samurai Demons, Kimono ladies and more! You pass by execution rooms, shower rooms filled with the dead, a theater, wall crushers and end with probably the coolest room I have ever seen. A battle of Samurai Demons with scares popping out from left and right and a Warrior beheading his enemies!! This is easily the best maze I have seen at this Haunt and if Knott’s keeps this level of detail up, Universal Studios will be shaking in their boots!
The Dead of Winter: Wendigo’s Revenge
One of the worst mazes of 2015 has gone into my top 5 for 2016! If you’ve been through this maze in 2015, it lacked blood, terror and and a solid story and 2016 changed everything about that! What was once blues and whites is now smeared with blood and gore and this maze was actually really good/scary!! Even though they didn’t rid of the “Disney” feel of the maze with the abominable snowman and the Snow Queen, they killed the Snow Queen by a Wendigo who is absolutely terrifying! The Queen didn’t just get killed, but her death was completely humiliating and gruesome and I loved it!! I wish the spider room would just leave and fill this part of the maze with a lair of the Wendigo, but hopefully in the future it will come!
The Red Barn
I have mixed feelings about this maze. I enjoyed the talent, high energy and the feel of this maze, but it felt like they ran out of money for the maze and used cheap wood pallets and hay bales to make a majority of the maze. But the gore and scares are high and great! Some disturbing scenes are set to really creep you out like disgusting over-sized animals and torture devices, which I love, really make this maze a lot of fun! The use of chainsaws are brought back, really makes an exciting conclusion to the maze!
Still to this day, this maze is one of the most incredible mazes I have been through at the Scary Farm. The opening scene with the ghost girl still amazes me and the projection mapping brings this maze to life! Projections of spirits throughout the maze and animatronic items that synchronize with videos is absolutely incredible! The talent brings this maze to life and the atmosphere of moveable set pieces and rigging connected to some of the actors really makes this maze a lock to visit for whenever you enter the Scary Farm! The only problem with this maze, again, is when you enter the realm of the beast, there only seems to be one monster running around the whole area.
Voodoo: Order of the Serpent
This maze is still one of the coolest and deepest themed mazes at Halloween Haunt. The scares that use the loud noise/flashing lights are extremely affective and done very well. The bayou forest that you enter is great, but I feel bad for the talent that has to scare in there because it’s so wide open that it makes it hard to actually hide and pop out to scare. I’m also glad the serpent skeleton key room is now apart of the maze! It was a great skeleton key room last year and now I’m glad that everyone who enters this house can experience it.
Still one of the darkest themed mazes, The Toothfairy is unfortunately starting to get stale. I love it, I really do, and the talent is great with working in such a demented maze, but it’s just like watching your favorite movie over and over. You know where your favorite scares come from and the maze is known like the back of your hand. The audio in the maze still unnerves me with chattering teeth and wings flapping, as well as everyone’s favorite dental noises. But unfortunately it is time to see this maze retire with a few others.
Trick or Treat
So again, like Toothfairy, this maze is so well known like your favorite movie that you get numb to the scares. Yes, some still made me jump, but it’s the same old song and dance. The saving grace of this maze is definitely The Green Witches beginning and ending. If they redesigned the maze to bring in The Green Witches 7 deadly sins along with her tricksters, Trick or Treat would once again be a huge hit! I hope this maze is retired after this season.
Gunslinger’s Grave: A Blood Moon Rises
Hi, Knott’s Management. This maze needs to leave faster than “The Stepfather” scare experience back in 2009. This maze actually did make me jump once or twice, but the execution of this maze is bad! The Western theme fits nicely with Ghost Town right next door, but the fact that I can look up and see rollercoasters and palm trees is a definite mood killer and makes the maze unfortunately boring. The werewolves bring no excitement to this maze and it’s just time to retire it. I give the talent all the credit in the world with this maze!
Special Ops Infected
This! This is what I was waiting for!! It was so so silly running around an obvious Camp Snoopy trying to kill zombies, but now this has a permanent home and city theme to rock in! From a clown birthday party, department store and warehouse just to name a few. It really immerses you in the mission, but if you don’t keep up with your group. You will be left behind and it is extremely frustrating running through this thing alone because you got left behind. All in all, this was the best Infected to date and I can’t wait to return to experience it again!!
The mazes have been really good year in and year out, but I think it’s time to trash the idea of having so many monsters just standing in the maze trying to scare you. Shadow Lands is a great start to eliminating out in the open monsters and putting them in hidden doors to pop out and scare you. Hopefully more and more of that will be added in the coming years!
Skeleton Key Rooms
The 4 Skeleton Key rooms this year are completely different and are not connected to any mazes. It’s an upcharge from the current general admission ticket to experience and is included with your fright lane pass. Is it worth it? Not really. Only one of the Skeleton Key rooms were incredible, but the rest were either extremely awkward or just didn’t impress.
This was the best one out of them all. You sit around a table with a Ouija board to summon the spirits of the dead But when a demon named Zozo takes over, your only choice is to witness and experience the poltergeist move the Ouija dial and chairs until you come face to face with the demon itself. This was amazing and the scariest one of the night!
This was cool, but extremely weird. It felt like a cheap version of the Forevermore Killer in a box. He tells is tale and pops out from different locations and then a body drops down above you and then you’re shoved into an “L” shaped box with 5 other people. It was okay.
My most excited one disappointing! A man tells us to follow the trail with a flickering lantern, but if you hit a dead end, you better turn around and go back the way you came. It doesn’t make it fun or confusing when the path and dead ends are already set for you through out. I thought it was going to be more hedge maze where you have to find your way you, but it’s just like any other Haunt maze where you just follow the path and monster pop out at you and you then have to kneel through a cage. It was so blah!
This room gives you an iPad that uses VR technology when brought up to certain posters and gives you different scares/stories of the townsfolk in Ghost Town. The leaders than bring you to a final poster that has a noose that the green witch gets hung on, it shakes, then a random guy pops out of the poster. It was awkward as heck!!
Let’s start discussing the Scare Zones.
There is nothing much to say about Ghost Town! It’s always such a solid scare zone with some of the best monsters at Haunt! It’s dark, foggy and terrifying and you can barely see your own hand in front of your face while walking through. It’s excellent and just sitting on a bench eating a funnel cake while watching monsters scare is the perfect way to pass time!
This scare zone has always been hit or miss each year and this is definitely a hit! The clowns are terrifying and perfect in acting in a terribly creepy m, yet fun, way! I just wish there was a good clown maze to compliment this area!
Fiesta De Los Muertos
These monsters are fantastic and I just feel bad that the only real reason for people to come through this area is if they’re walking through Gunslinger’s Grave or if you purchased the Skeleton Key room for Zozo. These monsters killed it though and the sugar skull make up and the Mexican theme is just completely fun to have in the Farm!
I feel so bad for these performers. Just like I said before, the only reason to come through here is for Slasher or Prey which you have to pay extra for. There are no mazes in here which is unfortunate, but the talent was rocking it! They kept a high energy up all night and I salute them for all the great scares they were getting when I walked through!
With 13 haunted attractions and more than 1,000 monsters roaming the park and lurking in the fog, whatever you’re imagining, it’s here…at Knott’s Scary Farm. Visit KnottsScaryFarm.com for tickets and join the conversation using #ScaryFarm
Knott’s Scary Farm is a separately ticketed event on 24 nights September 22 through October 31. Due to the explicit and frightening nature of the event, it is not recommended for children under 13.