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Knott's Scary Farm 2016: Review

Knott's Scary Farm: An Immersive Experience

Always a favorite, this year did not disappoint. With nine mazes, four scare zones, two shows, a live DJ, four up-charge experiences, and nearly two dozen rides, Knott’s offers the biggest and largest Halloween event in Southern California. New this year, are three walk-through maze experiences. A guest favorite from the past few years returns in a new location, with a new theme. “Special Ops: Infected” invites guests to strap on cutting edge laser guns and battle zombies throughout blood soaked city streets. Previously, “Infected” needed a timed ticket to enter and slots were extremely limited, which pretty much excluded all guests that did not arrive prior to rope drop. With newly improved guns, the experience has moved to the backstage area behind the Mystery Lodge (the old “Forevermore” location), leaving behind its previous Camp Snoopy locale.

The new location for “Special Ops” allows for a more traditional walk-through experience, allowing a constant flow of guests all night long. Expect long lines, but unlike before, everyone that wants to participate, will be able to. The guns this year function much better and the maze-style set up works better than roaming through Camp Snoopy. The set pieces are by far some of the best ever created by Knott’s, and the overall experience rivals Universal Studios. Also new this year, and also designed by “Special Ops” creator Jon Cooke, is “Shadowlands.” Encounter demon samurais, whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of a sacred shrine and an ancient temple. This maze immerses you into its theme and is easy to see the team poured their heart and soul into making it. Again, a unique experience from the talented minds of the Knott’s crew. The third new maze this year is the “Red Barn.” This is a much more traditional Knott’s maze. While it delivers a few scares, it lacks the imagination and technology of its counterparts and feels a bit thrown together. The footprint is almost identical to its predecessor “Pinocchio Unstrung.” It is not a bad maze, but compared to “Special Ops” and “Shadowlands,” it falls a bit short.

Last year’s entry, “Dead of Winter” has gotten a slight makeover with the addition of the “Wendingo’s Revenge.” This bright, snowy maze has been made darker and bloodier. The changes are noticeable, and the overall consensus from guests is positive, yet one cannot help but feel someone went nuts inside with a can of red paint. A major flaw of this attraction is the entry. “Winter” perfectly uses its space inside of the Boardwalk Ballroom, yet there is no façade and guests must enter a brightly lit lobby filled with dirty white sheets prior to entering the maze.

Rounding out the line-up this year is “Trick or Treat,” “Voodoo: Order of the Serpent,” “Paranormal Inc.,” “The Toothfairy,” and “The Gunslinger’s Grave: A Blood Moon Rises.” None of these mazes offer any significant change, and still feature talented monsters with the desire to scare the daylights out of you.

The major advantage of “Special Ops” moving this year, is the return of Camp Snoopy as a scare zone. From within the fog, the legendary Headless Horseman and his army of the undead are ready to unleash a reign of terror in “The Hollow.” It is nice to have this area back open, now management just needs to add a maze and/or a show or two. The talent inside this scare zone are working hard to scare guests, as it is an expansive area with no open major attractions. Much to their credit… they are doing an amazing job! This is a great theme and a fun area to hang out in.

Returning Scare Zones this year include the iconic Ghost Town, Fiesta de los Muertos and Carnevil. The Deadly 7 and the Green Witch are back wreaking havoc on park guests. Knott’s has the best talent in the industry and it is fun to just sit back and watch them do their thing. You can literally sit on a bench for hours and be entertained. Two familiar shows return this year with a new theme. “The Hanging” is back with its crass brand of humor, action and pop culture references. Trying to stay positive, it is safe to say the show is better than last year, but if you miss it, don’t feel bad. Elvira on the other hand and her “Danse (sic) Macabre” is much improved and the audience participation skit is hilarious. (Yes, that was yours truly from theFUNnelCakeBlog on stage opening night!) For those that do not have the patience to stand in line, Knott’s offers “Fright Lane with Skeleton Key.” It is a front of the line pass with perks. If you have the Skeleton Key, you are granted access to four additional stand-alone haunted experiences scattered throughout the park.

The Skeleton Key rooms were once housed inside of mazes themselves, which often backed up the queue lines. This year, they are all new and completely separate. “Visions,” “Prey,” “Zozo” and “Slasher” each offer unique horror experiences and are a great perk for shelling out the addition money for the pass. Be forewarned: despite these rooms only being open to Fright Lane pass holders, each experience can last up to five minute and only accommodates 6-8 guests a time, so lines can be long! Do them first!

There have been no hiccups this year despite unruly wait times for some of The Skeleton Key rooms, which have been backed up due to popularity. As always, Knott’s delivers a superb experience that is more immersive than any of its competitors. No matter where you go in the park, you will see a monster, decorations, or find a maze. Multiple visits is a must, as there is so much to see and do. Knott’s Scary Farm… the first, the biggest, and always the best! See you in the fog! Mazes: - Special Ops: Infected (10/10) - Shadowlands (10/10) - Paranormal, Inc. (10/10) - The Toothfairy (9/10) - The Gunslinger’s Grave (8/10) - Voodoo (9/10) - Red Barn (7/10) - Dead of Winter (7/10) - Trick or Treat (7/10)

Scare Zones: - Ghost Town (10/10) - Carnevil (10/10) - Fiesta de los Muertos (10/10) - The Hollow (8/10)

Shows: - The Hanging (6/10) - Elvira: Danse Macabre (8/10)

Skeleton Key Rooms - Zozo (10/10) - Slasher (10/10 - Prey (8/10) - Visions (8/10)

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