Haunt Season 2014 - Event #1 - Knott's Scary Farm
UPDATE [10/9/14]: For some video of the mazes I went through, In The Loop posted four, only one was in my top 3 though: http://inthelooppodcast.com/2014/10/video-walk-through-4-haunted-mazes-at-knotts-scary-farm-2014/
Knott's Scary Farm was my first ever Theme Park haunt, experienced last year in fact. The theme park is filled with haunts, scare zones, and fog. This year, surprisingly, was more awesome than last year. I really didn't think that was possible.
We met up with Jeff Tucker, entertainment director of Knott's Berry Farm, co-Creator of Trapped, podcaster for 91 Reasons, and probably one of the coolest guys I've ever met. Jeff showed us around some of the back areas, including some of the cafeterias and where the monsters go for makeup and costuming. I took no pictures in these areas, mostly because it's cool to see, but not really needed in relation to the haunt. At one point I got to meet Jeff's daughter who plays Maggie in one of the shows. Last year, she freaked me out. She is absolutely adorable and the father/daughter relationship, couldn't do anything but smile at those two.
TRAPPED - LOCK AND KEY
The first haunt of the night was at Trapped. Trapped is an upcharge and sends in a group of 6 to figure out puzzles in numerous stressful situations. For an example, last year we were standing in water while electricity popped all around us. Last years maze took less than 10 minutes from start to finish. This years took us a whopping 35 minutes to go through.
Now I'm not going to go into Trapped, it's an experience that everybody who is going to Scary Farm should experience without any knowledge of what they are going in to see. But I will tell you one thing, the last room made my hyperventilate. I never get scared in Haunts, I'm there to enjoy the environments and people jumping out at me no longer makes me jump. But what I had to do in that final room, well, it freaked me out. In November or December, The Season Pass podcast will be posting a show all about this years Trapped, check it out for a full run down of this haunt.
The environment of VooDoo blew me away. The outside of the haunt looks like it was straight from New Orleans Square at Disneyland. At any point I was expecting males to show up on the second floor with beads begging to be flashed. The purples and the greens were simply beautiful.
Jeff and company took us through VooDoo earlier in the day during the daylight, and even with the sun up, the maze was jaw dropping. The bayou in that warehouse is so amazingly themed that you believe you are in Louisiana. You walk along a boardwalk with these little shacks that you go through. Then at the end you walk on a dirt path through a graveyard.
We returned late that night and at night, it's even more spookier. But first, a Skeleton Key. Now what's a Skeleton Key? Last year, Knott's started something special for the true fans. With an upcharge, you get to go to a room before going into the haunt and get a performance and some back story to the haunt. Some were amazing, others were okay, but all had a little jumping moment. VooDoo's Skeleton Key messed some of the people up in my group. Why? They locked us in coffins. Yep, LOCKED US IN COFFINS. Now this didn't bother me at all, but for those nervous of close spaces, it messed them up.
At night, the bayou shines. There's humidity, voodoo rituals, candle like lighting, and reptiles all over the place. It was easily my favorite haunt.
BUT, I had a problem with the fact that you only get to go through half of the maze. You have to do this one multiple times in order to see it all. That was a huge bummer, considering we didn't really have much time to hit the mazes. But at Knott's, even the smallest complaint can't take away how freakin awesome these mazes are.
Dark Magic was my first maze last year, and I went through it so fast that I really didn't get to see it. While others in my group said this was their favorite maze, I really didn't care for it. But this year, I took my time and it really is a well done maze.
First up, the Skeleton Key. This time it's in a séance room and you are calling Houdini from the other world. What happens next is something you would see in a movie, and experiencing it was pretty cool. My only problem is that we were a group of 6...and there were only 5 chairs. I stood off to the side and when the actor asked us to hold hands, I didn't and she got mad and made a sign with her face that I better hold someone's hand.
The haunt was much the same as last year, I just took my time checking it all out. There's a mirror maze that I don't really remember from last year, which a scare actor got me when she raised her hand in front of me. I also missed the magic show from last year, but was called on stage to demonstrate this year. My group continued on, but it was cool to see the magic act. I finished the last half of the maze by myself. No problem doing that ;-).
One of my favorites from last year. The Skeleton Key was changed a little to add a husband in the room and I felt I was more of a participant. The shooting that takes place in that scene lasted a little longer and then the fist fight inside the cabin was just fantastic. Again, one of my favorite Skeleton Keys.
The maze itself wasn't changed too much. The thing about this maze is that you are following a possibly dead gunslinger who is taking revenge on the gang that killed his wife and child. So there isn't any scary people in this maze. Just the gang that the gunslinger is hunting down. Sometimes you would come upon a killing of the gunslinger, or possibly an animal or two.
If you know me, then you know I really enjoyed walking through the brothel behind the bar. Those ladies were hot and the theming in that room made me feel like I was in an old west town with the ladies of the night. LOVED IT.
Minor problem with this haunt: it seemed empty. Weren't too many people working this one and they weren't really into scaring you. It was more of a maze you just walked through, looked around, and left. Still freaking awesome, just surprising.
THE TOOTH FAIRY
For some reason, my boys like to lose their teeth at my place. So I made up this story that I was scared of the Tooth Fairy. It's wrong that a fairy flies into my house, steals money from my wallet, and then steals my kids tooth. IT'S WRONG!! Always gets laughs from my boys. But they laughed even harder when they found out Knott's was putting together a Tooth Fairy maze for me to go through.
We checked out this maze earlier in the day too, but this one needs to be seen at night because IT IS MESSED UP!! Probably the bloodiest, nastiest maze of them all. Just me telling you about this maze will probably give you nightmares.
You enter the maze through a house where you see windows of kids going to bed. Then a black cloud goes over the kids. Inside the house, you walk through a boys and a girls room. In the girls room, you see the Tooth Fairy and a very scared young lady. Then you go through a dark tunnel with fur on the walls...um yeah, fur. Inside the maze, you see kids being torn apart, jaws missing, disemboweled. It's absolutely shocking.
But damn it was good. Some of the props in that maze are absolutely gross and awful. But it's part of the STORY. That's right, these mazes have stories. And this one was in my top 3 for the night.
Forevermore returns this year. It has no Skeleton Key, and hasn't been changed too much. You follow a serial killer who bases is killings on Edgar Allen Poe. I think the first half is absolutely awesome, but the last half loses me. Following a serial killer, and the works of Edgar Allen Poe?!?!? Can't go wrong.
TRICK OR TREAT
Trick or Treat is another fun maze. You start the maze by ringing the doorbell, then entering a house that has been taken over by the Green Witch. The house is well themed, and it's really a fun maze. But it you've seen it before, nothing really has changed too much. And some of the big scares from last year weren't there this year, or they weren't working, or I missed them in my walk through.
Last year, I went through Pinocchio three times, the last two times by myself. I loved it. I knew the story, loved the environments, and the scare actors hated me because they would try to scare me and I'd end up standing in the middle of the room just looking. The huge Pinocchio animatronic was awesome at the end, just like last year.
New for this year, they added a Skeleton Key. Not sure this room really added anything to the maze, and the actor in the room was hard to hear. But it was entertaining. The maze itself didn't have too much to add, so it dropped a couple of spots from last year.
DOMINION OF THE DAMNED
In all honesty, I walked through this maze to get to The Tooth Fairy. I'm trying to remember what stood out in this maze and it was probably all the sculptures and the paintings. In each room, you are surrounded by vampire actors who jump at you, or just get real close. My buddy Robert got scared by some barrels...he was a bit jumpy.
We skipped the Skeleton Key for this one this year, and the maze itself was okay. The environment is still awesome, but nothing in it had me wanting for another go around.
THE WITCH'S KEEP
The Calico Mine train reopened this summer and looks amazing. They did a cool overlay with a lot of green lighting that made for a fun ride. I had issues with the strobe lights, which were used a couple of times on the ride. By the end of the night, my head was starting to hurt a bit. The Green Witch in the cavern was a bit of a disappointment and didn't really fit in with the ride. The animatronics are so awesome, but she kind of just stands there and doesn't move. The huge witch hand was pretty awesome.
SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED
Not going through the normal ways of the haunt, the line for this maze had me a bit confused. This maze has taken over Camp Snoopy and we were to start on the Montezuma's Revenge side of the camp. It took some time, and while we waited, I honestly was wondering if it was worth it. There were haunts to be seen!!
First, we got our laser guns. They were pretty cool guns, except they were lime green. Then our group of 13 were split into two groups. Our mission, find the scientist and find a cure for the zombie outbreak. And off we went, shooting zombies with our laser guns. The first part was a bit silly, and shooting a zombie with a light gun didn't really taken them down. They kept coming, then they would shake and fall down. With air guns, the zombie could feel when they got hit and go down accordingly. But this is where my complaining stopped.
At the second check point, our groups were mixed up again. Our new group was told to provide cover for the other group. But we were taken hostage, put our hands on our heads and taken to a cage where zombies and the militants harassed us. Then our leader told us to slowly put our hands down. "GET THOSE HANDS BACK ON YOUR HEAD" "At the count of three, we run." "GET THOSE HANDS BACK IN YOUR HEAD" "Get ready, on three." That was probably the best part of the night and left our group laughing and high on energy.
The whole experience was just amazing. To have a gun, to be put in a storyline, and then watch it unfold all around you is hard to put into words. I can not wait to see what they do next year. The best thing I did all night, awesome.
I'm interested in seeing how scare zones are done in different parks. At Knott's, you have themed characters walking around. Some sliding on their knees making sparks. They will interact with the guests. First time this year I saw a male and female who seemed to be a couple harassing the guests, then they would hold onto each other and find their next victims. I actually thought this was kind of cool.
When anybody ever asks about Knott's, I tell them go check out Ghost Town. They fill the town with fog and lighting and it really is amazing. I didn't spend enough time back here than I would have liked, but it was freaking awesome. Not too scary, you feel safe, but the environment is just...well, creepy. And I loved it.
CELEBRITIES...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Guess it was celebrity night. While I didn't see anybody other than one huge name I'll get to in a second, it was awesome knowing they were in the park. Dr. Reid from Criminal Minds and Luke from Modern Family were there. I didn't seem, but I did see pictures of them, and that was pretty awesome.
But the best part of the night, and the part I am still in denial about, our group got 10 minutes with Elvira. Yes, THE ELVIRA. There's only one, and she's as beautiful as always. She was funny, dirty sense of humor, and gorgeous. We were asked to take no pictures and no video, so all I have is my memories, but dang, did that really happen? Check out The Season Pass in the near future for the interview. Awesome lady, hope to see her again some time real soon.
Knott's puts on a pop culture show that makes fun of everything in the year then hangs the most annoying, crazy person of the year. The first half was amusing, but the last half was filled with this really stupid fighting. The joke of "they are wearing blue and green because they get changed into turtles or transformers on the computer" got old, and they kept doing it over and over again. I actually got bored and wanted to leave, but I had to see who they hanged. And I was disappointed. Not a good show this year, huge bummer.
I didn't see Elvira's Big Top, but I really hope to in the future. Sounds like an amazing show, with yes the real Elvira. Also didn't see the Gypsy Camp, but saw some people getting their palms read. I thought the Maggie Possession show was going on this year too, but I can't see any mention of it on the website.
I wish I had spent a little more time in the mazes, especially VooDoo. Going through a couple of times gives you the ability to see everything. Going once, you miss things.
Helluva way to start the Haunt Season. Love Knott's and I hope to return every year to Scary Farm. Didn't buy a shirt, there just wasn't time. And spending time with Jeff Tucker, king of pop culture, was freaking awesome. In VooDoo, he started singing the dentist song from Little Shop of Horrors. How awesome is that? The guy is just cool, and I hope to hang out with again in the future.
Please note, I'm not editing this, I really don't have enough time. Getting it up before the next event is more important. Got home at 5:00 AM this morning, up at 11:30. And now I'm preparing for the next event.
UP NEXT: DARK HARBOR at THE QUEEN MARY