Knott’s Hires Monsters and Preserves More of Ghost Town

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in Features, In the Parks, Knott's Berry Farm, Knott's Scary Farm

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Published on August 06, 2012 at 11:39 pm with 8 Comments

Every year, Knott’s Berry farm puts on the biggest, longest running special ticketed Halloween party ever. Knott’s Scary farm will celebrate its 40th anniversary this Fall and they are preparing to knock it out of the park by hiring the scariest monsters available. Over the course of four days, producers of the event auditioned and interviewed endless amounts of would be monsters to fill a whopping 1,000 positions. These parts range from street actors that roam the park to those that inhabit the mazes to those that simply direct guests along the paths. Each part is important and each is needed.

New Hires, as the first-time frighteners are called, are given an appointment time to meet with casting. After getting their paperwork in order, they are asked to enter backstage and wait for their audition time.

The hopeful monsters are escorted backstage to the audition and interview area, where they are asked to act out a random scenario. For instance, they could be a monkey hosting a cooking show, or a mad scientist ordering at Starbucks. The idea is to see how their improvisational skills are and how they create a presence.

From here, the more talented actors are sent for a one on one interview and possibly cast in either a maze or scare zone.

After the audition and the interview, the new actors are sent to wardrobe. Along the way there are some interesting things to see.


Ooooo look Delierium!


Is that the exit to Dominion of the Dead?


Timothy in wardorbe is tasked with fitting hundreds of new actors with their costumes the minute they are hired. How DOES he do it?


Clowning around in wardrobe.

If a scare-actor is cast in a part which requires particular make up, they are then sent to the make up department to be fitted for prosthetics. Otherwise they are ready to go! The work that is put into this event every year is truly impressive. Knott’s is a pro at this and despite a few stumbles in the past, they seem to be tightening the show up dramatically this year.

CALICO GHOST TOWN
Speaking of better show, we have noticed a few more interesting things being touched up in Ghost Town and were even invited to get a look at one of the simpler, more charming nuances at the Saloon. If you wander over to the Boot Hill Graveyard you can be treated to some recently touched up peek-ins (the little dressed sets inside some of the buildings, many of which are animated).


The Barrel House


Inside the barrel house the dust has been cleared and the scene inside freshened up.


The pages of the book sit, clean and crisp as the day they were made


Same thing in the Engine house…


No dust here and the figure looks great.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: there is a little shadow effect over at the Calico Saloon that is only visible at night. Park Decorator, Jeff Shaddic too us backstage to see the quaint mechanism which makes the effect work.

At night, you’ll see shadows appear in the window.


On the inside, the original mechanism still functions and creates an animated scene of a cowboy getting fresh with one of the saloon gals.

It’s these small touches that add such a rich atmosphere to the park and really add value to one’s experience.

We would also like to wish a heartfelt congratulations to all the monsters who were selected for this year’s Halloween Haunt.  You are now part of a frighteningly fun family of monsters, designers and performers that you will never forget.

For those of you interested in going to the 40th anniversary of Haunt this year, MiceChat will be having its very own Haunt meet on Saturday September 22nd.  The night will include special access to shows and mazes, dinner, backstage tours, a chance to meet the folks who bring the Haunt to life (or should we say death?) and more!  Tickets will be going on sale any day now, but you can learn all about it here!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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8 Comments

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  1. Amazing, simply amazing, isn’t it? In the middle of all the hectic nature of the haunts, along with much bad rap Knott’s has been getting from ride placements to music choices, etc., they are taking rather big strides towards making the park better than it was before. It’s like being in a very cloudy, smoky, steel and industrialized city yet smack dab in the middle is a very beautiful park that very few people take time to discover.

  2. ^yes some people consider knotts and magic mountain in the same category but no knotts is a different type of park and is full of history and has theming

  3. The Halloween haunt can’t be beat. You have a two hour window between 7 and 9 PM before it gets unbearably crowded.

    I used to go to Knott’s every year, before it became either thrill rides or kiddy rides. Now I don’t go there at all.

  4. Amazing update. It’s so awesome to get these behind the scenes peeks at the Haunt Process!!

  5. Even though Knott’s has always been a bit ragged around the edges — it made up for that in huge doses with character and soul. There was a “realness” to it that Disneyland could never quite touch with its strive for spit-shined perfection. It’s good to see some renewed attention being brought to these vignettes because they are what really added to the Knott’s experience. Unfortunately, they are are difficult to appreciate when a roller coaster is being launched over your head. If the “new management” at Knott’s really wants to make the park relevant again, they need to take a serious look at the negative impact that installing all that heavy steel, (and wood), has created.

    • I couldn’t agree more. The original charm of Knott’s Berry Farm was its humble origins and homemade look. We all knew its origin story, how a couple came out west during the Depression and built the park around their chicken dinner restaurant. So we forgave the park’s many imperfections – in fact, the imperfections almost helped. There was a pleasant quaintness to the park, a leisurely feel, a sense that it slowly grew from the loving care of real people.

      Knott’s Berry Farm was built in the 1920′s, and it survived quite well for 70 years (until the death of the Knotts) without the need to turn it into Six Flags Buena Park.

      Then the coasters attacked. Soon, the park looked like you had dropped Magic Mountain on top of it. The once peaceful Lake of Reflections, with its steamboat, church and weeping willow, vanished under the footprint of another giant coaster. The Wagon Camp, where once cowboys sang around the campfire at night, is now under constant assault from roaring steel coasters that have no place in a Western environment.

      I still love what is left of the original Knott’s, but it’s actually painful to visit there now, to see how much of the park has been ruined in order to bring in ever-more-radical thrill rides.

  6. Loved the behind the scenes look at the silhouette mechanism. Thank you for sharing.
    Had it been broken for very long?

  7. Great Report. I appreciate the TLC of the peek ins. Totally agree about the coaster invasion, especially boot hill. Atleast they are trying, and I appreciate it. The Mine train ride looked good, with the lights hidden much better.