Let me start off by saying that some of the problems I encountered were me and my parties fault. However, it seems that Knotts had indeed let it slip.
For your conveniece I have sepperated my report into "My Trip", "Inside the Park", and "The Sum-Up" so you can read as much or as little as you want. I've also highlited all of the shows or mazes I talk about so you can skip to what you are looking for. Enjoy.
I've always gone on Saturdays, usually towards the end of the month, so I am used to crowds. But damn! My group decided to go earlier this year (the 14th), unfortunately we got a late start due to my friend working till 4:30. We got to the freeway offramp around 6 where a sign told us to get off an exit early (Magnollia I believe?) instead of Beach Blvd. Trusting the sign and not wanting to be faced with a closed Beach exit or something equally unpleasant, we exited early.
What followed was a trip through Anaheim with little 3x5 signs saying "Haunt Parking" with an arrow. The problem is these signs were few and far between, giving us the feeling of "uh...are we lost?"
Finally I decided to take maters into my own hands and battle traffic towards Beach Blvd. Finally, after seeing lights change 3 times before we moved, I told my friend to get out and make the rest of the way on foot to save us tickets. Unfortunately, tickets were sold out already. True it was a sat night. But it was the middle of the month on a night where rain were almost certain. And the park was sold out by 6. Sure, I should have purchased tickets online and payed the fee, and now I will.
The reason they were sold out however was soon apparant to us. The Knotts company sees nothing wrong with selling people tickets in numbers of 100 or more. Walking in, we had plenty chances to buy tickets from scalpers(sp?) who each had anywhere between 60-100 left after the event had been sold out for 2 hours. This tells you how many they had to start with. So...we payed $60 per person and proceeded to the first maze, the enterence.
Every year this seems to get worse and worse. Each line forms a triangle shape. The back is about 10 people wide and the front fits two. So what occurs is pushing, shoving, line-cutting, and eventually quarrels. We saw three fist fights that night. Wow!
So we got into the park finally at 8:45. Yes, time from getting off the freeway till enterence was 2 hours and 45 minutes. 45 minutes of that was being raped in that enterence line.
INSIDE THE PARK____________
For some reason, there seemed to be less monsters than previous years. I was never actually attacked in a scare zone although we walked through plenty.
Our fist stop was 13 Axe Murder Manor. The wait wasn't bad, only to the Western Enterence. The maze was great like last years, with a few more monsters spread out for that last sequence os board and burlap. A few of the mirrors in the hallways were smashed and taped back together. Don't know how safe that is, but Haunt can't repair everything completely after every jerk customer.
The next stop was going to be Lost Vegas, but we couldn't find the enterence. The maze is located where Malice used to be, in the bumper cars. When Malice was there, the enterence was in front of the maze. However this night, it snaked behind the buildings and appeared between Johnny Rockets and Perilous Plunge.
Not being able to find the line, we got in line for Cavern of lost souls. The wait was a tad long, but not too bad. About 30-40 minutes. The ride itself is much improved in some areas, and a small step back in others. Some of the improvements is in one of the water chambers where the dragon was for Army of the Underworld. Last year it had phantom dynomite blasts and water explosions. This year they added something to look at with a giant spider who lurches at the car and spits venom at them. Kinda cool, but they need to find a way to hide the box it sits on. The spider web effect with black thread is still wonderful. The only problems were the end that consisted of nothing but a spinning light for 20 feet, and the large chamber. In previous years, the large chamber was THE room. A large display, many monsters, and the train usually stopped so we could all appreciate the work before the monsters unfroze. This year, there were 3 monsters and the train didn't even slow down. But as a whole, very fun ride.
We were then going to hit Red Moon Massacre. 2 and half hour wait. What??? I remember this ride's line starting actually NEXT to the mountain, not in the old Indian villiage. My party was hungry so we went to eat at the Ghost Town BBQ. We sat on the porch to watch monsters. Once again, less than usual.
Afterwards we wanted to see the Haunt's classic show, The Hanging! The crowd was already huge but we nestled our place into the back. The show this year didn't hold up. Instead of tons of celebrities and characters, we saw the same few over and over. They included a obeise fart-joke ridden Brittney Spears and her husband Kevin, Brokeback Mountain boys, Jay and Silent Bob, Nacho Libre, and Jack Swollows. I did enjoy a few jokes and ideas, but as a whole, I found found the whole show slow and not as fun. Maybe it was the new style of getting rid of the modern wise-cracking MC in exchange for Jack, or maybe just a bad year to spoof. All of my party was dissapointed.
We then wrestled our way to The Grudge II. Once again, 2 hour wait. I had heard so many good things about the maze, its sponsorship by the film, etc etc.. so we waited. and waited. and waited. Finally, we saw the building made up of giant Grudge II posters and TVs showing previews of the film. Once inside, it was clear that the budget for this maze was more than had been done before. Many robotics, many nice props and set pieces, and great lighting. The problem was...it wasn't scary. Most of it relied heavily upon robotics that didn't pop out or anything, just moved in plain view (many ghost faces on the end of phalic columns of hair). The few live monsters we did see were little ghost girls who just sat creepily in corners, never actually jumping out and scaring. Once again, my party was dissapointed seeing we had given up another 2 hours of the evening.
It was now 8 till 1 am. Every year I have seen the big show in the Ghoul Time Theatre. My friends often argue who is better, Ed Alanzo or Dr. Cleaver. This year, neither were at the Haunt, but we decided to give Dead Idol Live a chance. We made it just in time. The premise is this: a Ryan Seacrest-ish persona talks to the judges via satelite. The judges are not original, rather impersonators of the three Idol judges. The running "joke" is that Paula is continually trying to kill herself so she can enter the Dead Idol competition. Inbetween these "comedic bits" we are entertained by celebrity impersonators who sign their own songs, then bust loose with modern music. The impersonators aren't zombified or anything, just look as we remember them. With the exception of the Fat Elvis number. I can't speak for the whole show as my team and I only sat through the first three acts (Ray Charles, Elvis, and Ricky Valance). The Fat Elvis consisting of only fart jokes clinched the deal. (I think farts are funny, but a show cannot ride on them alone). All of the talent was good, just the writing was horrible.
Leaving early from Dead Idol, we still had a small amount of time to hit some more mazes. The line for Lost Vegas was considerably shorter, so we decided to give this new maze a look over. BORING! Little theming, walkways with nothing more than slot machines with barely noticible strobes inside of them, and monsters in leasure suits. Nothing scary, nothing funny (sorry, even the cross-dressed strippers did it for me), and even the 3-D was bad. The cards painted on the wall just appeared blurry and lacked that whole 3-D feeling.
One my friends had never been so we couldn't let him leave having this be his impression of the haunt. So we took him over to the Asylum. They still make you walk through Feary Tales which is kind of annoying. Although, Feary Tales did seem so much better having just been through Lost Vegas. Then we finally got to enter The Asylum. Wonderful as always. Best maze of the park still! Got some great scares.
So all in all...This year's additions to the Haunt were not all that great. Dead Idol and The Hanging suffered from bad writing and too many fart sound F/X. Lost Vegas was just unimaginative and the Grudge II suffered from not enough scares.
The scare zones were not as impressive this year for lack of monsters, and CarnEvil is still just as fogless and incredibly well-lit.
Also, Knotts really needs to find a way to manage the crowds at the enterence so fights and frustrations can be minimalized, as well as time. Knotts also needs to stop selling tickets in huge lump sums so that events can sell out naturally. I am tired of seeing scalpers with 100+ tickets.
It also seems that they let in more people than usual seeing that many of the mazes had extremely long lines. The Grudge I understood, but Red Moon and others that have been here for years? Especially when Grudge and Lost Vegas had such a huge line?
The older mazes are still and wonderful as before. The monsters still have a wonderful skill, and the night was still enjoyable overall.