I went to Knott's on Sunday for the Halloween Haunt. This was my first visit to Knott's overall in about four years and it's been six years since I've been to the Haunt, so I was excited. I flew out from Tucson to LAX on Saturday and saw my sister and her kids, including my new niece. I had a Haunt package at the Knott's Resort Hotel booked for Sunday (the middle priced one).
I drove to Knott's early Sunday morning and two of my friends who live in Southern California met me there. The room wasn't ready yet, but we got our package things and had the breakfast buffet that morning, since they weren't going to stay down there. The breakfast was OK, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, french toast, cereal, and danishes. The presentation was nothing to write home about, but it was good enough. The package included the room, 2 tickets to the haunt, 2 breakfast buffets, 2 pre-scare dinners, 2 t-shirts, parking and 2 souvenir card keys that glow in the dark.
My old tradition is to go to the park during the day and ride all the regular rides that aren't decorated for the haunt so we don't waste time on them at night. So we bought our tickets and got into the park around 10:15 (the park opened at 10). We did Ghostrider with a pretty short wait, maybe 10 minutes. It was a bit rougher than I remembered, but fun. Then we did the mine train and log ride. We went to XCelerator, then Boomerang, Supreme Scream, Montezooma's Revenge, Jaguar, Sierra Sidewinder, Bigfoot Rapids and Silver Bullet. I had never been on XCelerator or Silver Bullet before, so I was excited and I really liked both rides.
We had a great time, although there two disappointments. There appeared to be a contest running between the coasters to see who could load and release a train the slowest. It took them over five minutes to load and launch the Boomerang train, and we were on the next one and it didn't go much faster. They were all slow, but Sierra Sidewinder took the cake. What should have taken us 5 minutes to get through took us 20. Part of it was the guests but a lot of it was the employees, too. I don't know why the whole concept of getting into, buckling a seat belt and pulling down a lap bar should be that different in a round car than a standard roller coaster car, but apparently it was confusing to a lot of people. Regardless, we still had a fun time. The second issue was that there are many spinning attractions and coasters at Knott's, but very few rides to give the stomach a break. We rode Jaguar for a break because it's so tame.
We were done around 2:30 and got a boysenberry punch for the road and went to the hotel and got our room. They have a business center there and I went up and printed out my Southwest boarding pass (Boarding Group A!) for the next day and we watched football highlights and took a break. Our pre-scare dinner reservations were for 5:30 at the hotel. We decided to go down early and that was a good decision. When we got there, the room was nearly empty, as most people from the 3:30 seating were gone. They let us go on in, and we ate and were done around 5:30. As we were leaving, there was a long line into the lobby of the hotel, so we beat the crowd there. The dinner itself was OK, still not much on presentation (Disney has nothing to worry about there), but the food was good: Mrs. Knott's chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers, hot dogs, mashed potatoes, beans, creamed corn, salads and desserts, including boysenberry pie.
At that point, we headed over to Knott's to wait to be let in early. Now we were told that it would probably be about 15 minutes early, which would have been 6:45. They let us in at 6:15 and we entered right by the entrance to the Feary Tales and Asylum mazes. The employee there said they'd be open in about 15 minutes. We checked to see if the rest of the park was open yet and it was still blocked off also by Ghostrider, so we went back and waited. So the mazes did open at 6:30 and we got right in. We did both mazes, then went to the Doll Factory in Ghost Town, 13 Axe Manor at Mystery Lodge, the Mine Train, Lost Vegas at the bumper cars, Killer Clown College by XCelerator, the Grudge 2 in Fiesta Village, Lore of the Vampire in Camp Snoopy, Beowulf, and Red Beard's Revenge at the front of the park. Other than about a 20 minute wait for the mine train, we had very little wait and were done with that by 9 PM. We went to watch the Hanging at 9:30 and by then the crowds were a bit thick, and my friends had work the next day so we got one last boysenberry punch and left.
I've read some critical reviews from various sites and on here and I'll give my thoughts, but it has been six years, so I'm not nearly so critical about the talent and the monsters. I thought they did a great job and for the most part, the mazes were great. I thought Asylum was the best maze from beginning to end, the sets and monsters were great, and it was absolutely disgusting...which is exactly what I expect from a Halloween Haunt maze! The Doll Factory was excellent as well, although it sort of had a disappointing ending. 13 Axe Manor was outstanding. Part of why the Doll Factory and Axe Manor were so good was that right behind us were two younger women who kept screaming and getting scared. We're three middle aged guys so we rarely draw too much attention from the monsters, so it's fun to be at least close to people who get the monsters coming. My next favorite was the Grudge 2. I wish they would break up the number of people coming in at one time, but overall it was good, scary and the effects were outstanding. Lore of the Vampire was pretty good. Having good looking female vampires following you around might get old to some people, but I'm not one of them! The other mazes were OK. The only maze I didn't like much was Beowulf. Just not too many scares and the sets were just OK.
We didn't ride the log ride at night. The line was too long and I didn't really see anything to grab my interest when we rode during the day, nothing that made us think we HAD to see it at night. I found the mine train disappointing as well. The first half of it was great...and then it just fizzled. They passed up great opportunities to have live monsters in there and didn't. And there just wasn't any scare factor after the first half of it. They had some great scares in the past on that ride, so that was a bit disappointing for me.
The Hanging was OK. I enjoyed who got hanged, but for me it got old after about 5-10 minutes. It just got too repetitive to march one pop culture icon after another out there and then have them fake killed.
Overall, I had a great time and my wife is the greatest person on the planet for letting me go (she hates scary things, so she had no interest in coming back). I've never stayed at the hotel before and it was nice, can't beat the location. The other great thing is that when I was checking hotels, the cheapest hotel I could find in Buena Park was a cheap looking motel for around $48 per night. But with the package, once you factor in the prices for parking, t-shirts, meals and Haunt tickets, the cost for the room was about $42 including tax.