UPDATE and EDITOR’S NOTE: Since we first published this article, Knott’s has closed their Fear VR attraction due to pressure from an ultra-conservative religious group on the grounds that it is offensive to those with mental disorders. Many Knott’s fans have expressed their outrage on social media that Knott’s is allowing a preacher to dictate their entertainment offerings.
The attraction, which is based upon a scary mental institution theme, is no different in its tone than any other haunted offering about any other scary theme. Haunt IS offensive to everyone. That’s what makes it scary. It isn’t real. It isn’t pushing an agenda. It’s just scary fun.
Should hospital themed attractions be closed because they might be offensive to doctors and nurses? Do mazes which depict death offend those who have lost loved ones? Is a maze about zombie farmers offensive to actual living farmers? Are mazes about sinister clowns offensive to circus entertainers? Was an entire season of American Horror Story Asylum somehow immune to the same criticism? The fact of the matter is that Halloween mazes are parody. The folks making the complaint admit that they NEVER even experienced the attraction in question.
We’d like to know your thoughts. What topics should be off-limits? Should knott’s have caved into pressure? Should Halloween become more politically correct? – Dusty
Knott’s Scary Farm, the theme park Halloween Haunt which started it all, has returned for the 2016 season of spooky scares. You’ll find 13 haunted attractions, 160 acres of scare zones, 4 standalone skeleton key rooms, 2 big shows, and a brand new virtual reality experience. And, for as little as $40, Knott’s proves once again that it is the best value Halloween event anywhere – with more to offer than you could possibly see in just one night.
MiceChat reporters Hastin Zylstra, David Yeh, and Dusty Sage were at the opening night press event to cover it all for you. Below, we’ll share the scary, the hairy, the creepy, the kooky and the all together amazing offering that Knott’s has cooked up for you this year.
|The NEW Haunted Attractions|
There are five all-new nightmarish haunted experiences for you this year:
Special Ops: Infected (New for 2016):
This one may not sound new to you. There were previous laser mazes which used a similar name, but this year’s “Special Ops” is in an all new location, with an all new story, and a streamlined process which serves more guests.This is indeed a new maze.
You’ll be armed with laser guns to fight off hordes of zombies and even aliens. Small groups of guests at a time will battle the zombie apocalypse through blood soaked city streets and an underground sewer system crawling with nearly one hundred ravenous zombies. It’s very much like a live-action video game, with real live actors, real time scoring system, kill streak rewards system and interactive targets. The new attraction is one of the largest mazes ever created in Knott’s Scary Farm history.
Unfortunately, though the gun is keeping score and they scan your gun as you exit the maze, we were never informed what our scores were, if we’d defeated the boss zombie, or any other stats about our team. We all agreed that this maze was a lot of fun, but it seamed strange to go through all the trouble of giving us a gun capable of keeping score and then not sharing that score. Perhaps that is just an element which wasn’t quote ready. Let’s consider this maze a B+ for now. We’ll give them an A if they can figure out the scoring issue.
Shadow Lands (New for 2016):
A fulfilling life ensures a soul safe passage into eternity, but what happens to the souls of soldiers slain in battle? Enter the hair-raising Shadow Lands maze and fight off demon samurais whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of purgatory. Guests will embark on a quest through a sacred shrine, an ancient Japanese temple and into the midst of the shadow lands.
This maze was the hit of the event for us. Absolutely beautiful sets, great special effects, a rich musical score, fantastic costumes and acting. Shadow Lands was a real treat and takes Knott’s Scary farm to a new high. Knott’s hit this one out of the park and it competes nose to nose with the kings of story, such as Universal Studios.
Red Barn (New for 2016):
We’ll warn you upfront on this one. Red Barn is a bloody body-part-palooza. If you are queasy, skip over this one (both in this review and in the park.)
Take a trip to a blood-soaked barn filled with carnivorous animals seeking to prey on human flesh in the Red Barn gore maze. Legend has it the farmer who owns the barn was transformed into a heinous creature that sends his sadistic sons to ensure his legacy. None dare enter the barn, for those who enter never escape.
Many of you will remember a long-running maze at Knott’s called Slaughterhouse. The Red Barn is essentially that sort of experience, but with more hay and a bit shorter. It plays to a very specific audience who like extreme gore. Some will love this maze for that very reason, but not all.
The Hollow (New for 2016):
The Hollow is a scare zone, but a very good one. Things start off on a high with the headless horseman himself appearing high above on the stage coach bridge. Within the zone, you’ll find undead scarecrows and other bucolic creatures of the night. The colors are rich, the artistry is apparent and the monsters are creative and fun.
Guests entering the frightful 6-acre area will be terrorized by the souls of fallen soldiers and local farmers that have escaped their shallow graves.
Virtual Reality Up-Charge Experience (New for 2016):
FearVR: 5150 (New for 2016): New for 2016, enter the mysterious Meadowbrook Institute and witness the abnormal case of a terrifyingly unusual patient named Katie in the groundbreaking virtual reality horror experience Fear VR: 5150. Using Samsung GearVR powered by Oculus and strapped to a hospital wheelchair, come face- to-face with the deadly chaos unraveling around you. Disturbingly vivid sights and sounds invade all of your senses. Encounter the darkness that has taken over the medical staff during your fully immersive hospital stay. Patients beware; it is easier to check in than out.
This is a tough one. While the idea of this experience is a good one, the implementation left a bit to be desired. Some will find the experience of being tied to a wheelchair while wearing a virtual reality headset to be terrifying. Unfortunately, the rough cuts and grainy quality of the video keep this from being a reality-level experience. If you are interested in experiencing the current state of virtual reality, this is a great opportunity for you – and, at just $10, this is an added experience which won’t break the bank.
|Skeleton Key Rooms|
Skeleton Key Rooms were an up-charge invention which invited guests to pay extra in order to experience a special extra room in a handful of participating mazes. This year, the Skeleton Key Rooms have been uncoupled from the mazes and stand alone. The experiences last about 3 or 4 minutes each. Be warned that lines can get very long and move slowly. However, these are fun and very well produced experiences.
Visions: Guests must investigate the Green Witch Museum in Ghost Town where it is not the building that is haunted, but the various items contained within. Using a Phantom Finder augmented reality device, guests will be able to identify and witness paranormal activity connected to items from the Sarah Marshall Witch Trial.
ZOZO: People from all over the world claim to have been visited by the demon ZOZO after a spirit board session. Is the demonic entity known as ZOZO real or are spirit boards just a myth?
Slasher: Guests are invited to step into an 80s’ slasher horror film. The masked Angel Maker Killer is on the loose. Every lead has run cold and that’s when you step into the picture. Will you become his next victim?
Prey: Navigate a hay maze full of dead ends with only a faulty lantern as your guide. You are not alone. Mutant beasts are lurking around every corner.
PARANORMAL, INC. – The Haunting of Hayden Hill
The runner-up maze for us this year is a returning favorite, Paranormal, Inc. It’s an ambitious effort that combines modern special effects technology, real acting, clever storytelling, and ghostly scares. This isn’t a bloody or gory maze. These are old-school creepy scares wrapped in modern technology. Lots of fun and not-to-be-missed.
Last year’s groundbreaking Paranormal Inc. maze has returned to Knott’s Scary Farm this year. Featuring high flying aerial stunts and scares, guests investigate a haunted hospital where the patients were tortured for decades by deranged doctors and nurses. Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls, while evil medical staff prowl for new patients to torture.
The Dead of Winter: Wendigo’s Revenge
The one dud of a maze in the 2015 season was Dead of Winter. We are happy to report that while not perfect, some major enhancements make the experience much more entertaining this year. It’s hard not to think of Anna and a murderous Elsa when visiting this attraction. Some of you will find that reason enough to visit the Scary Farm this year.
Deep in the frozen tundra, the realm of a treacherous snow queen has been usurped by her evil minion, the horrific wendigo. She may be dead, but her evil spell hasn’t been lifted: The dead cannibals have risen from their snowy graves as hungry creatures feast on the surrounding villages. During the chaos, the queen’s prized possession, the horrific wendigo, has seized control of her throne, ready to prey upon any unsuspecting visitors who enter the borders of its icy domain.
While this maze has been around for years, we STILL count this as a favorite. There’s just something special about the story of the Green Witch and her not-so-scary Tricksters. It’s not scare-factor that brings us back, it’s the beautiful sets, lighting, and the amazing actors who play the Witch herself!
Take a brave step forward and ring the witch’s doorbell…trick or treat, which will it be? After surviving her grisly welcome, wander into the Green Witch’s never before seen potion room and bewitched attic. But don’t leave too soon; you’re the special guest at the Green Witch’s deadly dinner party where she and her menacing Tricksters await your arrival.
The Tooth Fairy
This twisted tooth fairy steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry. Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out, a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy, himself. Say aahhh.
Voodoo – Order of the Serpent
The beautiful Voodoo maze has thankfully returned this season. Updates have only made this maze stronger than its opening season. Originally, this was a choose-your-own-adventure sort of experience. But that was problematic operationally and led to a slower guest flow. Though the maze is now a conga line just like the others, it’s still an exceptional and atmospheric experience which contains pools of water, gorgeous sets, and some great scares.
The haunting legend of Papa Legba continues as guests follow him on his foreboding journey to conjure the serpent demon goddess in the outskirts of New Orleans. Trudge cautiously through the cursed swamps of the Deep South, where creatures search the murky bogs for their next bloody sacrifice and demons curse the innocent with Voodoo hexes.
The Gunslinger’s Grave: A Blood Moon Rises
This is another maze which is a little long in the tooth. However, it fits in perfectly with Ghost Town and feels right for Knott’s. If they can continue to evolve this maze, it could perhaps survive for years to come.
Deadly howls and a full blood moon mark your impending doom as werewolves overrun the crime stricken old west town. Walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path of retribution against the Skinwalkers.
Elvira’s Danse Macabre
If you want proof that magic is real, look no further than the Elvira show. She defies all laws of gravity, age, or limits of any kind. She is a comedic gem and really knows how to anchor a show. While she could easily skate by with mostly recycled content, this year’s show is all new. I’d pay the $40 for Haunt just to see Elvira. Great opening number, high energy dances, acrobatics, comedy, and lots of fun. Highly recommended.
The Hanging: Finding Gory
There was SO much for us to do that we missed the Hanging. We’ll be visiting the event again on Saturday for the MiceChat VIP fan event, so we’ll do our best to share another update from Knott’s Scary Farm. But here’s Knott’s description:
A live stage show in Calico Square irreverently looks back at the year’s pop culture with killer comedy. Notorious for its special effects, pyrotechnics and high-flying stunts, The Hanging is a no-holds-barred assault on pop culture’s most infamous moments of the past year. A must see parody!
In addition to great mazes and shows, Knott’s Scary Farm offers 160 acres of scare zones. Every night monsters spill out onto the streets and turn theme park midways into murderous scare zones. From the world famous Ghost Town Streets to the Boardwalk area filled with evil clowns.
Ghost Town Streets is the granddaddy of all scare zones. Not only was it the first and longest running, but it’s also the most atmospheric and the largest. Bands of half-human, half-animal monsters prowl the streets and inhabit the fog, while the notoriously startling sliders, lunge from every fog-filled corner of the land.
Fiesta De Los Muertos fuses dance music, colorful costumes, and larger than life stilt walkers in a dance party scare zone. It’s the ultimate late night celebration of Dia de los Muertos.
On the Boardwalk, clowns crave your undying attention in the CarnEVIL scare zone. While there’s not much in the way of sets or lighting in this scare zone, the clowns are always popular with guests due to their creative costumes and interactivity.
The Hollow scare zone is new this year (photos at the top of this update).
The Deadly 7 isn’t really a scare zone at all. These sadistic minions of the Green Witch represent each of the seven deadly sins. Together they prowl the darkest corners of Scary Farm’s midways and scare zones. Think of them as a roving hit squad. They aren’t really a scare zone, but you might run into these little devils just about anywhere. Consider yourself luck if you spot them.
What you need to know
The Knott’s Scary Farm Pass returns in 2016 and offers unlimited visits to all 24 event nights. The pass can be purchased, while supplies last, for $90.
Single night tickets are $40 – $52 depending on the event night when purchased online (plus applicable fees). Knott’s Season Passholders receive discounts on single night tickets when purchasing online. Tickets purchased at least 24 hours in advance at the theme park ticket booths are $49 for all nights, and day-of-event tickets purchased at the ticket booths are $72.
Fright Lane with Skeleton Key offers unlimited priority access to all mazes and unlocks ONE time access to all four standalone Skeleton Key Rooms.Guests will also receive a commemorative lanyard and collectible keychain. Fright Lane with Skeleton Key passes start at $110.
Fast Lane offers unlimited priority access to many of Knott’s world-class coasters starting at $70 per person. Fast Lane is valid during regular Knott’s Berry Farm operation and for Knott’s Scary Farm operation on the date of intended use. (separate theme park admission required, and not included)
Boo-fet dinner at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant and Spurs Chophouse invites guests to feed the beast before Knott’s Scary Farm opens each night. Meals include a collectible 2016 souvenir cup, which includes unlimited complimentary refills on the event night and $0.99 refills for the rest of the 2016 season. After dinner, enjoy early entry into Knott’s Scary Farm a few minutes before it opens to other mortals. Boo-fet dinner is $27.99 +tax when purchased online and $32.99 +tax when purchased at the door. (Separate theme park admission required, and not included)
Knott’s Scary Farm parking is $20 per vehicle and can be purchased online (plus applicable taxes and fees) or at the parking booth upon arrival. All Season Long Parking is valid for Knott’s Scary Farm nights.
Event Dates for Knott’s Scary Farm run September 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 October 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. Halloween Haunt is open 7:00pm – 1:00am select Thursdays, Sundays, and Halloween Night and 7:00pm – 2:00am Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information on Knott’s Scary Farm, including admission, park hours and events, visit knottsscaryfarm.com or download the Knott’s Berry Farm app for your smart phone.
|MiceChat Scary Farm Special VIP Event
October 1st – MiceChat Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt Event (close to sold out, grab your tickets NOW)
Join us in the fog for a night of spooky treats and VIP experiences. For one low price, you’ll get an all you can eat BOO-ffet dinner, early entry into the event, tours, meet and greets with Knott’s creatives, front of line for the mazes, VIP seating for shows, Skeleton Key access and a night of fun with your mice pals at the haunt which started it all. We have a VERY limited number of tickets available this year, SIGN UP NOW – HERE