by Greg MacDonald
Halloween is a time when ghouls and ghosts roam aimlessly in the night and children feed their sweet tooth with pillow cases filled with an endless surplus of candy. For one night of the year, fears and screams are signs of having fun.
For 25 years, Knott’s Berry Farm has been providing that scary fun with its annual Halloween-themed Knott’s Scary Farm.
From 7 p.m.-2 a.m. on selected nights in October, Knott’s Berry Farm transforms into the world’s largest Halloween party, according to attendance. More than 3.5 million people have attended since its debut in 1972.
“For 25 years now, true Halloween aficionados have relished Knott’s as the best Halloween experience in the world,” said Matt Schliesman, Haunt producer.
On Oct. 3 and 4, the park offered two nights of a sneak preview to guests for the 25th anniversary price of $25.
“We wanted to do something special for the thousands of Haunt devotees who have made Knott’s Scary Farm into a national phenomenon,” said Schliesman. “Think of it as a Halloween Haunt homecoming.”
The 25th year of the Halloween Haunt offers a variety of special events and mazes for this “shiver” anniversary.
The record 16 nights of haunts is headlined by Elvira. The Mistress of The Dark makes her 11th appearance to host the all-new dead rock legends show at Knott’s Scary Farm’s Ghoul Time Theatre.
“From vaporous appearances by some of the most famous icons in rock music to a numbing tribute to living performers whose careers are, well, past their prime, no musical tombstone is left unturned; It’s a rock and shock concert with a definite Scary Farm bite,” said Schliesman.
“Elvira’s dead rock legends show becomes the centerpiece of our strategy of packing the Farm with the most creatively creepy entertainment possible for our shiver anniversary.”
The park is filled with 11 haunted mazes, eight live shows and two “scare zones” with more than 1,000 monsters, ghosts and ghouls.
“With our 25th anniversary, we knew we had something very special to celebrate,” said Schliesman, “and we have gone to some wonderfully wicked lengths to make year 25 the scariest Haunt yet!”
The “scare zones,” Ghost Town and The Gauntlet: Festival of Freaks, are areas of the park, which are pumped with fog to create a scene of terror. The monsters use the fog screen to sneak up on unsuspecting passersby.
Eight haunt mazes and three haunt rides give the scare zones some terror support in the fright celebration.
Aside from experiencing the monsters around the park, eight haunt shows provide sit-down entertainment. Among the shows are The Deadly Dating Game, a cross between the Dating Game and an execution, and the infamous Hanging.
The Hanging is the annual extravaganza in Calico Square which uses special effects to depict the popular scene. It has been a part of the regular Halloween Haunt since its debut in 1978.
Chris Nicol, a 17-year-old from Brea, felt “the lines were too long but there were some cool people there.”
“Sure I like [Knott’s Scary Farm]. I have been here three times,” said Steve Smith, an 18-year-old from La Mirada. “I think there are some cool [things] here.”
Since children under the age of 12 are not recommended in the Haunt, a Halloween celebration for children ages 3 to 11 has become a fixture in the Knott’s tradition.
Since 1993, Camp Spooky, a daytime event, has provided families the thrill of Halloween without the overwhelming fright.
Halloween Haunt has grown so popular that a permanent store, Knott’s Spooktique, has been opened. On sale in the year-round store are masks, make-up, magic tricks, horror music, books and official Halloween Haunt merchandise.
“Judging by the number of requests we get throughout the year for Knott’s Scary Farm shirts, hats, buttons and other logoed items, there’s bound to be a big market for this store,” said Fred Wagner, Knott’s merchandise director. “That’s because, as anyone who’s joined us the past 25 years knows, Halloween Haunt isn’t just an event–it’s a phenomenon.”
Tickets, if available, are $31.95 in advance and $36.95 on the day of the event. For more information call the Halloween HauntLine at (714) 220-5200.