After getting a sneak peek mid-day last week at what Knott’s Scary Farm was planning for this Halloween season, I was anxious to walk through those doors on Thursday, September 22nd, opening night! As the sun went down and the fog rolled in, it was definitely time for some scares as myself and Blumhouse.com social media manager John Humphrey descended upon the grounds of the fully transformed park!
On the agenda? 9 mazes, 4 skeleton rooms, 160 acres of scare zones, the satirical live show “The Hanging” from Calico Square, and a brand new show from Elvira, Mistress of the Dark in the Ghoul Time Theater? So yeah, basically, once evening rolled around and we made it into the park, for us it became a mad dash to cover as much ground as humanly possible before the night was over.
We managed to stumble over to the Shadow Lands maze first. A mere week and a half ago, I got a look at the maze as it was still under construction, and now, here it is, fully completed with everything from bungee performers, giant animatonic beasts and samurai decapitations galore! Needless to say, Shadow Lands is not only one of the newest and hottest attractions at Knott’s, it’s also one of their all-time best. We managed to return and do this one a second time!
Next up, we made our way over to “Infected,” which basically serves as an interactive zombie maze. You and a group of 7 other patrons are strapped with plastic guns and led by a military sergeant through the danger zone of a post-apocalyptic zombie battle zone. But the guns emit a laser and the goal is to aim for the collar wrapped around each zombie’s neck. So, it’s laser tag with zombies! Or more accurately, your video games come to life. As we entered, my cohort John said to me, “I’m ready to get my Casper Van Dien on.” To which I replied, “From STARSHIP TROOPERS 1? Or STARSHIP TROOPERS 3” “3, of course.”
We walked around for a bit before coming upon “The Red Barn” maze. There have been variations on this concept over the years, but this was the best version of it we’d seen. It felt like a strange hybrid of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE meets MOTEL HELL, where sure enough, pig faced chainsaw wielding maniacs were after us, as we made our way through hay-build pathways and slaughterhouse backrooms. Another highlight.
“Dead Of Winter: Wendigo’s Revenge” was next on the agenda for us. A slightly repurposed version of last year’s winter-esque maze, this one was interesting. Half of it played into the cold, icy atmosphere of the Wendigo, while other portions veered into strange forest-like creature-feature settings.
This was the one maze we managed to go “live” on the Blumhouse Facebook page for, so although it’s a bit difficult to see, head over there if you want a more detailed look!
What’s the Halloween season without the fan favorite “Trick-Or-Treat” maze? And once again, it’s here for another go-round at Knott’s Scary Farm! This maze feels like walking through an old fashioned haunted house. There are actually people in the old-school ghost sheet outfits, wanna-be Freddy characters in red & green sweaters, wolfmen and Jack-O-Lantern guys! If any maze in the park encapsulates the spirit of Halloween, it’s this one.
“VooDoo: Order Of The Serpent” ended up being our next destination. This one I recall from last year, only this time, it’s been modified & upgraded slightly to reflect the dark & damp vibe of the Louisiana Bayous. There are altars set up, voodoo priests and creepy red-neck guys everywhere to taunt and chase you. If you’re curious just how much interaction you’re bound to have with these guys, let me give you an example. As John and I crossed a bridge, one of the scary giants from this maze quickly approached us and shouted, “this ain’t a Black Keys concert. Get the hell out of my swamp!” So there you have it!
“The Tooth Fairy” is another returning favorite. You’re immediately attacked by a little girl hiding under her bed as you prepare to navigate these nightmarish halls. There are faceless dentists operating on children, skulls in the hallways with clanking teeth, and at one point, you walk down a corridor of teeth embedded walls with a screen playing a disturbing video of the close-up of someone’s tainted mouth!
“Paranormal Inc.” is another returning maze that starts out with an interactive performance séance. Before we know it, a ghost is conjured up and emerges from the screen and flies above us, forcing us to run for the maze. In it, we’re psyched out by apparitions, bracing ourselves as we cross unsafe bridges and terrified at the conclusion by a giant demon head, straight out of a HELLRAIASER sequel!
Twice a night, both at 9PM and 11:30PM, if you plan accordingly, you can catch Elvira in person for Elvira’s Danse Macabre. We made it there nice and early and got a front row seat! Prior to her stage show, early comers are treated to some fun vintage clips from Elvira’s long history within the entertainment industry. Then the Mistress Of The Dark emerges during the elaborate opening musical number, surrounded by a group of top notch dancers as she slings her trademark satirical brand of one-liners and pun-filled jokes. And by the way, she still looks amazing. We’re fairly certain she bathes in the blood of young virgins. It’s the only logical explanation.
Her show also incorporates some impressive acrobats, one that plays with fire! Others that hang from the enormous theater chandelier performing anxiety-inducing & death-defying stunts. She goes back and forth between a few minutes of stand-up comedy and musical numbers, but the highlight was when she pulled up 3 audience members up on stage for a karaoke battle. The winner ended up being the gal in the middle who absolutely slayed “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred. If anything, Elvira’s show is a good change of pace from the scares within the rest of the park, and showcases the fun nature of the Halloween season.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. While Knott’s doesn’t license the well-known properties and franchises of some of the other parks, the thing I love about their mazes are the “home-grown” feel of them. They’re all bursting with unique ideas, inventive ingenuity and fun spectacle. The heart and effort that the crew bring to each and every attraction is evident, and while I’d always had fun there every year, it really does feel like they went above and beyond to really outdo themselves for 2016.
Knott’s Scary Farm is now up and running now from Thursday through Sunday nights, all the way through until Monday, October 31st, Halloween day. You can buy your tickets right here.