Knott’s Berry Farms annual halloween event is back for another go around. With Elvira retiring from her yearly show during last years event it seems like the right time for the park to explore some new avenues of entertainment and try out new experiences. Will this year feel like a rough transitional period or will the park be laying the groundwork for Halloween seasons to come?
Let’s start with what’s new for 2018. The first maze I got to experience last night was “The Depths.” In this maze you’re exploring a mining facility where the miners have mysteriously disappeared after venturing into the caverns of a coastal town.
I say this with no hyperbole, but this may be the best maze Knott’s has ever unleashed. For one, the production value on it feels incredibly high. There are plenty of animatronic monsters and creatures, so the maze has great moments of spectacle and awe. A kraken peaks just above the waters surrounding you to lash its tentacles at you while sharks chomp through the hull of a ship. Every few feet you’ll find yourself wanting to stop and take in the impressive sights. The scares are pretty varied as well as the story of the maze takes you through meeting crazed miners, avoiding alluring sirens, and running from man/sea creature hybrids that look like something out of a H.P. Lovecraft story. Easily the best maze of the night and one you’ll want to experience right away.
The next maze I got to jump into was “Dark Entities” and while “The Depths” was my favorite, this maze was a close second.
In “Dark Entities” you board a spaceship that has overtaken by an unknown entity. Your mission is to find out what happened to the crew and determine the threat level of the creature onboard. Spoiler alert: the threat level is high.
This is another maze where you can tell it is absolutely dripping with production value. From creature designs to set pieces it’s easy to see where Knotts spent its money this year. The overall aesthetic of the maze reminded me of films like “Event Horizon” and games like “Dead Space” while the creature designs seemed to take inspiration from “The Thing” and even “The Last of Us.” I swear some of the bigger humanoid creatures looked like the Clickers from “Last of Us.” Of the two new mazes I felt the scares were stronger in this one as they utilize a lot of light tricks to blind you and keep you from seeing what’s coming at you. It’s a cleverly designed maze that doesn’t rely just on production value to freak you out.
Any show taking over for Elvira is going to have big shoes to fill, so I went into Hacks willing to cut them some slack. The previous shows with Elvira have typically been big spectacles with comedy, dance numbers, and sometimes magic. Not really knowing what Hacks was, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Well, now I can tell you it’s an improv show. Think “Whose Line is it Anyways?” with a horror spin. The show uses audience participation and the improvisational skills of its stars to try and put together some funny moments. So this is very much a hit and miss experience depending upon who gets pulled up on stage and what kind of material the actors have to work with. In my show they brought up an audience member to do a skit where the actors could talk, but not move. The audience member was supposed to then move the actors around. It took this dude a few minutes to finally understand what he was supposed to do. He just stood on stage staring at the actors while the audience screamed at him to do something. It was funny for how horrible it was, but the actors did an amazing job of keeping the humor going even when the audience had failed them. While it’s not quite Elvira, I think it’s a damn fine show that you should check out if you need a break from the scares.
There was also a new magic show called “Conjurers”, but unfortunately I never made it to that one.
Aside from the new mazes there were seven returning mazes including “Trick or Treat”, “Paranormal Inc”, Special Ops: Infected”, “The Red Barn”, “Dark Ride”, “Shadowlands”, and “Pumpkin Eater.” Like they’ve done in previous years Knott’s has gone and added a few new twists to these mazes to freshen them up for the new year. Unfortunately, none of the new changes really stood out to me as being significant improvements. I feel like the only one that made an impact on me was “Shadowlands” which added moving walls. Still, they’re quality mazes and mazes like “Dark Ride”, “Shadowlands”, and “Red Barn” remain my favorite of the bunch.
With several new shows and two strong new maze entries it seems like Knott’s Scary Farm is laying the groundwork for another great Halloween season. It’s a cliche to say, but the park really does have something for everyone. If you’re not a big fan of scares, but want to live life on the edge you’ll be perfectly content with taking in the rides at night while walking around the park and avoiding scare actors. Then you can top things off with a couple of new shows that’ll likely get a laugh out of you. If you’re a horror diehard looking for scares, Knotts will definitely have you covered. While the park doesn’t dabble in the big licensed properties, it still features some of the best original scares in Southern California. With possibly the best mazes the park has ever produced being featured this year, you should definitely make it a point to see Knott’s Scary Farm before the Halloween season ends.
With that being said, if you want to check out some additional photos from the media reception and the park, be sure to journey down below.