As far as I’m concerned the Halloween season kicks off when the haunted attractions start to roll out. This year I got the season started at Knott’s Berry Farm with their annual Halloween event Knott’s Scary Farm.
This year featured two brand new attractions with seven returning mazes injected with new thrills and additions to freshen them up for the season. There’s also the return of the fan-favorite show “The Hanging” and the last appearance of Elvira. It was a hell of an experience this year, so let’s get to it.
The first of the new mazes that I experienced turned out to be one of my favorites. On concept alone “Dark Ride” is fantastic. The maze is set inside of an old carnival dark ride that has been overrun with killer clowns. It’s perfect. It has an amazing set and the characters within it are twisted and murderous enough to give you chills. This may be my favorite concept for a maze that I’ve ever been in and the execution lives up to expectations. Dark Ride is an instant classic that will appeal to horror fans and Halloween attraction enthusiasts.
When I first saw the teaser image posted above I was initially worried about the concept of this maze. The monster design seemed a bit too much and I was afraid that would carry over into the maze design, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Pumpkin Eater has a great start with you entering a giant carved out pumpkin and your senses being assaulted by pumpkin scents and wet stringy innards. Beyond there the maze takes you into an interesting assortment of creepy barn scenery and corn mazes. It’s a solid concept that offers plenty of good scares.
Trick or Treat: Lights Out
So technically this isn’t a new maze as “Trick or Treat” has long been featured in Knott’s Scary Farm, but the concept has been overhauled enough to make it feel entirely new. This was a pretty damn cool concept that was kind of teased last year when they had their Skeleton Key rooms. There was one room in particular that featured a mini-maze where you had to carry a lantern that would flicker on and off. In Trick or Treat you’re given a flashlight that you carry around in the maze and it randomly turns on and off to match the scares you’re experiencing. So you go into a room with a freaky looking character, suddenly your light dims, and the scare happens. Or you’re walking down a long hallway and your light starts strobing to disorient you. It’s a great way to bring new life to an iconic staple of Knott’s. And it’s a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
The rest of the mazes include returning favorites like Shadowlands, the Tooth Fairy, the Red Barn, Voodoo, and Paranormal Inc. They all feature new additions like revisions to the maze layout or new intro scenes, but at their core they’re still fairly similar to their previous incarnations. If you loved those mazes then they’re even better, if you didn’t love them, then it might be worth giving them a second chance as the revisions certainly improved them.
If you’re an Elvira fan then the shows that have been going down at Knott’s Scary Farm for the last century (or however long Elvira has been doing them) have been an amazing part of the Knott’s Scary Farm experience. They’re goofy, cheesy, and full of Elvira’s larger than life charm. So it was a bummer to learn that this year was the last year that she would be appearing at Knotts. But rest easy knowing that she’s going out on a strong note. The show is a bit more streamlined and shorter than previous years, but it doesn’t suffer for it. It’s a straightforward musical performance that details the origins of Elvira and the persecution she suffered from the townsfolk. Look, it’s mostly cheesy jokes like a dummy-sized version of Elvira being thrown around and scantily clad dancers getting wet while they gyrate on stage. It’s raunchy and goofy and completely lives up to Elvira’s standards. So if you’ve been coming to see her in previous years, it’s worth returning one more time to say goodbye.
Overall Knott’s Scary Farm proves that it is, once again, the best bang for your buck when it comes to amount of scares and cost to get in. The quality may not be as high as it is in other parks, but you won’t be left wanting by the time you leave. I did notice that the park was starting to get a bit more packed than previous years, so it might be time to invest in a front of the line pass if you’re hoping to see everything in one night. I feel like I say this every year, but this was definitely the best year yet. However, with only two real new mazes and Elvira leaving, they’re really going to need to change things up next year and I’m eager to see what comes next for the park.