We interrupt the Arizona road trip posts to bring you a special Halloween bulletin! Fog has rolled into Knott’s Berry Farm transforming it into Knott’s Scary Farm! And I was there opening weekend to experience all that is new for the year.
Each fall Knott’s Scary Farm creaks open the doors to multiple mazes, several unique shows, and the park is crawling with over 1000 monsters to make you scream. But, like Knott’s itself, Scary Farm has humble beginnings.
Knott’s Scary Farm started in 1973, and was originally called “Knott’s Halloween Haunt” which is why some people still refer to it as “Haunt.” The idea came from two people in the marketing department and another from the entertainment office, who wanted to create an event that would give the Farm an extra bit of money for what was normally a slow time. A rag tag group of stuntmen and regular employees were made up like monsters and were given the lone instruction to run around Ghost Town frightening Guests. The event, which lasted only three nights the very first year, has only grown as the decades have gone on. Nothing like this had ever been done before, and through trial and error, Knott’s developed a unique form of entertainment that has been copied at parks across the globe.
Today, Knott’s Scary Farm begins in mid-September and runs on select nights until early November, and features over 1000 live actors, nine mazes, four Scare Zones, and four different shows. Each year new mazes and shows are introduced and this year is no exception. Two new mazes entered this year, and one is certain to go down as a classic.
Moments in Scary Farm history have developed into legend and become part of the lore of the Scare Zones, including the legend of Sarah Marshall, the Green Witch of Calico. And this year, Scary Farm returns to its roots with a brand new maze, Origins: Curse of Calico, which provides a backstory to the curse that has been the centerpiece of Ghost Town Streets during Scary Farm. The maze also pays homage to the former attraction, the Haunted Shack, and is incredibly detailed, featuring good ol’fashioned tricks combined with new technology to create a frightfully fun and unique experience.
The second new maze is Wax Works, where within a partially burned down wax museum, a former plastic surgeon combines human flesh with wax to create “masterpieces.” It’s macabre, yet has oddly beautiful moments.
New mazes mean that some mazes must go, and this year marks the end for ShadowLands, which is inspired by Japanese lore, where demon samurais and more look to find victims to drag to purgatory, and Special Opts: Infected, an interactive laser tag type maze with zombies.
Also new for this year isPuppet Up! Uncencored. It’s one part behind the scenes documentary at puppets, and one part improv comedy. With suggestions from the audience, puppeteers from the Jim Henson Company, under the watchful eye of his son, Brian Henson, create hilarious moments using a wide cast of puppets, and you get to see just how these unique puppets are brought to life. It’s hilarious to the point of tears. I’ve seen it twice already, and I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried both times.
Knott’s Scary Farm also has returning entertainment, including The Hanging, which changes year to year, as it is a pop culture parody stunt show ending in the hanging of the “most egregious offender of the year.” This year however The Hanging incorporates elements of the legend of Sarah Marshall, and for the first time, a maze, Scare Zone, and The Hanging are all integrated for one story.
Returning shows include Conjurers, a magic act inside the Birdcage Theatre, and Awaken the Dead, a DJ dance party in Fiesta Village. All of the shows are away from the Scare Zones, and give you a break from the myriad of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls who roam the Scare Zones.
There are four Scare Zones, the first of which is Ghost Town Streets, the original Scare Zone, where the dead have risen from Boot Hill and the citizens of Calico have been cursed to show their true animal versions of themselves. The area of Knott’s known as the Boardwalk has been taken over my crazed clowns and side show freaks to become CarnEVIL. Within the Hollow, witches have cast a spell, bringing scarecrows to life as well as a plethora of other eerie creatures, all of which face off with a group of witch hunters. On the shores of Forsaken Lake, residents of a swampy cemetery rise from their damp tombs and gorgeous yet creepy reapers seek new souls to take.
Many of Knott’s Berry Farm regular rides operate during Knott’s Scary Farm hours, and like last year, the Timber Mountain Log Ride has been transformed into the Halloween Hootenanny, a spooky Halloween experience through log country’s backwoods. This Halloween overlay is also available during regular park hours.
Simply put, Knott’s Scary Farm a colorful and creepy quilt that provides something for everyone’s macabre tastes. So if you’re a SoCal local, or visiting the area for the Halloween season, I highly recommend going. And if you do, check out my Knott’s Scary Farm Survival Guide here, which has been updated for the 2019 season.
Knott’s Scary Farm is separate ticketed event located at Knott’s Berry Farm, in Buena Park, California, and occurs on select nights from now through November 2. Knott’s Scary Farm is not recommended for children under 13 years of age. To learn more, including purchasing discounted tickets, please visit Knott’s Berry Farm’s website.
Not into the really scary? Knott’s also offers Knott’s Spooky Farm. While Spooky Farm is more geared toward children 3-11, with shows and crafts, it’s still fun for adults too. Spooky Farm begins next week, and occurs only on weekends and Halloween day. For more information, visit Knott’s Berry Farm’s website.