Event Report: The 2011 Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt

BUENA PARK, Calif. (August, 2011) – Knott’s Scary Farm is preparing for the witching season, the annual opening of the world’s largest Halloween celebration in the world – Knott’s Halloween Haunt. Starting September 23 and running for 28 horrifying nights the typically family friendly theme park will transform itself for its willing victims into 160-acres of sheer terror.

Knott’s Halloween Haunt continues to be the leader in theme park Halloween events offering a whopping 13 mazes, seven hair-raising shows, four horrific scare zones and 1,000 roaming monsters roaming throughout the entire park.

A few weeks ago, we visited Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights (click here for our coverage) where I have consecutively gone on record with my opinion that it is more worth the time and money than Knott’s Scary Farm. Although, Knott’s has the history and reputation as being the longest running Halloween Theme Park event, I still feel it’s more quantity over quality here. Where Universal Studios shines with their movie studio resources, Knott’s matches with roller coasters and park size. But With only three new mazes to offer, let’s see how Knott’s Scary Farm brings the fear this year.

“Folk’s from near and far come a-runnin for Farmer Willy’s world famous BBQ! You can smell the sizzling meat from miles away. And now you can learn his secret first hand as you enter “The Slaughterhouse.” Farmer Willy will think you are prime beef as he sets out to auction you off to the highest bidder, tenderize you with his chainsaw, and grind you into a tasty meat treat. Bon Appétit!

(Uhhh….Slipknot, anyone?)

The Slaughterhouse” worked for me much like it did last year. The different areas of this maze were littered with human body parts, skins, innards, etc. There was even a giant meat grinder that could battle the meat grinder we caught site of at The Hostel maze at Halloween Horror Nights. The difference here is, at Universal, there was actually a man stuck in the grinder screaming for his life. Even though, The Slaughterhouse didn’t go that extra mile, the attention to detail still made me happy. It was also amusing to watch those in front of me screaming for their lives.

“It’s harvest time and the crop is you in “Corn Stalkers.” Plunge into rows and rows of rotting corn and try to evade the blood thirsty monstrosities seeking to impale you on their razor sharp scythes.”

(Pumpkinhead, anyone?)

This was another of the mazes that were exactly the same. The high hopes I had for this maze last year had far since diminished as I now knew what to expect. Much like previous years, this maze was set up as a house leading to a cornfield, ultimately spilling out into a creepy barn. Once again, the scare actors didn’t seem invested at all in frightening those in line besides the jump scares one expects in these mazes. ‘Oh look, scarecrow is banging the wall! Scary!’ It really takes me out of this reality when the scarecrows are wearing Adidas. It seemed others were enjoying themselves. Maybe I’m just a tough crowd.

“Step right up! Don’t be shy! Welcome to “Uncle Bobo’s Big Top of the Bizarre in 3D.” Inside you will find a villainous variety of vaudevillian visages to vex even the most valiant voyeurs! It’s the greatest slaughter on earth with clown carnage galore!

Another staple of Knott’s Scary Farm, Uncle Bobo’s seems to return every year. This year’s incarnation also seemed exactly the same as last year’s. One of three mazes featured in 3D, we bypassed the glasses altogether (because we’re cheap and yes, they aren’t included). Yes, I don’t like clowns. But, once again, it didn’t really seem like the scare actors in this maze put forth much effort to frighten people besides the expected loud bangs against the maze walls to get the easy startle scares. More goofy and gross than frightening, Uncle Bobo’s, with its elephant farts and clown vomit, amusing to say the least.

“The world as we know it has ended. The survivors in this barren desert have scavenged to rebuild society. The rich and the powerful have turned all others into slaves for sport. Enter the post apocalyptic arena where gladiators are forced to battle to their deaths for entertainment. Are you game?

Here we are at a new maze! How exciting! Sadly, it felt a lot like the Fallout Shelter maze with the added bonus of really blaringly loud death metal being crammed down our ear holes (yeah, I’m getting old). Reminiscent of MAD MAX and even the video game BORDERLANDS, I did appreciate the concept of this maze. Apocalyptic, with surveillance cameras everywhere. In multiple rooms, we passed TV screens showing black and white footage of the masses walking through the maze. That added a cool, distracting element. And those distractions are what the scare actors rely on. It worked pretty well in this maze. Sensory overload, for sure.

Venture into the forbidden jungle of El Chupacabra where sacrificial blood rains down from the sky. The screams of La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, echo around you and the creatures of the night crawl from their crypts – “Dia de los Muertos,” the “Day of the Dead” has arrived!

Through a creepy chapel, onward into a Chupacabra filled jungle, and even venturing quickly through what looked like a bar/strip club in Tijuana, The Dia De Los Muertos maze saw no changes from last year. The design in this maze was beautiful to take in. It seemed more attention was paid to the detail here than in some of the other mazes. But much like the Cornstalkers maze, it’s difficult for me to stay in the reality and be even close to scared when the monsters in this maze are wearing masks (so bad even, one can see the person’s hair poking from the back) and Sketchers. I know you have to be comfortable as a scare actor since you’re stuck running around the park and maze all night, but come on, let’s pay the same attention to detail to the characters these actors are playing! Halloween Horror Nights once again comes out on top with their similar maze: “La Llorona”.

“Welcome to Pleasanton – Population: Zero. The highly infectious “Virus Z” has turned the entire town into cannibal zombies and you’re this week’s special. Hordes of bloodthirsty corpses roam the small town in search of fresh meat. Help has arrived, but they are not on a rescue mission – they are here to wall off the entire town from civilization.

Ok sure, this is maze was the same as last year. BUT, this is one of my favorites of the night. WHY? Because the actors in this maze mean business! Maybe I am a bit partial to anything zombie related, but this maze was damn fun. We ventured through a diner, to a playground, through an office space, hospital, etc. I didn’t lose my excitement about this one at all. It seemed there were more scare actors lurking throughout this one, and none of them wore those ridiculous masks we had been seeing through the other mazes. What’s more, these guys were having fun! You could just tell. Virus Z is still one of my favorite mazes of the event and goes to show just because it’s the same as last year, it can still supply scares and be fun.

“Step back in time and into the fog-filled streets of London where a host of infamous characters are on the prowl terrorizing city dwellers. Step lively or you may fall victim to Jack the Ripper’s blade or Dr. Jekyll’s twisted experiments as Big Ben rings out in “Terror of London.” God save the Queen…..and you!”

I feel that Terror Of London was the best maze regarding design quality and attention to detail. Upon entering, we were immediately immersed into the old world of London that Jack The Ripper called home. It was eerie in its ambiance and decor. Overall, the attention to detail here won me over (even if they did have people in those ridiculous masks). A repeat from last year and still one to see. Put this on your list of priorities when visiting the event.

“Locked in a cement grave for decades, hidden deep below the depths of the lake, an abandoned “Fallout Shelter (in 3D)” is crawling with human /genetic hybrids, toxic mutants, and a host of nuclear freaks all hungry for carnage. Grab your Geiger counters and put on your radiation suits these residents are ravenous.

I still like this one, even if I didn’t invest in those 3-D glasses the park was selling. If “Endgames: Warriors Of The Apocalypse” reminded me slightly of the video game BORDERLANDS, then this one obviously brings remnants of FALLOUT 3. Both games I obsessively played, and discussed here. There’s something about apocalyptic stories, imagery, and propaganda that will always draw my interest. Slightly cheesy throughout the maze, this one still is quite fun.

“The inmates really are running the asylum in this nightmare prison, “Lockdown: The Asylum,” and insanity reigns supreme. The inmates are out of their cells and their minds. And don’t scream for help, this hostile takeover has the authorities running for cover!”

“Lockdown: The Asylum” was just okay. Once again, blaring Ministry’s “New World Order”, this one is exactly what it looks like. A prison/asylum is on lockdown as the crazies have broken free and are running the joint. Nothing new from last year, but still a fun maze to check out.

“In the deep recesses of the mind, on the clouded brink of insanity, lies the hellish wasteland of delirium; a place so gruesome that your imagination fails to comprehend the horrors. Illusion and paranoia are your only anchors to reality. Welcome to your worst nightmare!

The only other new maze offered this year that we were able to check out, “Delirium” takes the place of last year’s “Club Blood”. I have got to say, that was a great decision Knott’s! This maze reminded wreaked of early Cronenberg. Surreal and disturbing, we entered through a wall embedded with giant eyeballs staring back at us. It’s hard to really explain this maze. It’s Delirium, after all. Crazy is as crazy does. The image of the lady on the bed covered in roaches stands out in my mind. I wonder if that was inspired by CREEPSHOW. Hmmm….

“A trip to “The Doll Factory” reveals a twisted museum of death and disfigurement as you are pursued by the Marionette Murderer, a psychotic killer who turns his beautiful victims into life-size porcelain dolls.

The last maze we were able to venture into and it still delivered the same creepy images and scares as last year. I still stand by my opinion that dolls are just as frightening as clowns. Even if there were no new twists or turns with this maze, I still found it above par. And the hot girls dressed as dolls were still there, but this time I have a girlfriend…so no pervy pick-up lines for me!

Much like last year, due to time constraints, we missed The Calico Mine Ride which was the location for the last new maze. Entitled “Invasion Beneath” , I can only speculate this one was great. I mean, by this point in the night, everyone wants to sit and rest their legs for a bit. What better way to do that but in a train car that drives you through a mountain filled with scary things? I suppose everyone else had the same idea because the line to get in was crazy long. So instead of pictures, how about the synopsis from the official press release:

“LIVE FROM KNOTT’S BERRY FARM: Details are sketchy but eyewitnesses report that the Calico Mine Ride has been invaded by creatures of unknown origin through a large fissure in the earth’s core. The creatures possess advanced weaponry and are extremely hostile. The military has just infiltrated the mountain to try and rescue the survivors and combat the violent attacks. Stay tuned.

Much like I’ve already stated, I prefer Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios over Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Scary Farm. Both events have pros and cons but I tend to appreciate the attention to detail Universal Studios seems to showcase in their mazes at their event each year. However, their event only showcases four or five mazes and Knott’s has thirteen. For its size and variety of attractions to hit, Halloween Haunt is a fun choice. However, since it’s inception, I’ve always preferred the quality of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios over the quantity at Halloween Haunt at Knott’s Scary Farm.

That all being said, I’m an opinionated bastard who’s difficult to scare. These Halloween events are all in the name of fun, and Halloween Haunt is definitely fun. But instead of taking my word for it, why not visit BOTH attractions and then come back and tell me if I am correct or full of crap! Tickets to Knott’s Scary Farm can be purchased here. Happy Haunting! – Aaron P


One thought on “Event Report: The 2011 Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt

  1. Went to the Canada’s Wonderland Halloween Haunt this year, it seems very similar to Knott’s with some of the same attractions (Cornstalkers, Terror Of London). Essentially each maze is the same, the only difference is the interior decoration, otherwise it’s all the same jump-scare performers lurking in the nooks and crannies, nothing scary at all since I can see it coming a mile away.

    Also, it was way too crowded (the park must have been over capacity), and there was no security enforcing the lines, so there were literally hundreds of line jumpers who just walked to the front of each line and merged in just before the entrance. A haven for pot smokers as well, the smell of pot was rampant all over the park.
    I’d avoid the Canada’s Wonderland one in future years, it’s not that fun at all.

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