Knott’s Scary Farm offers thrills and chills

More than 1,000 costumed employees dressed as monsters, ghosts, demons and druids scare park-goers annually at Knott's Berry Farm. In its 29th year, the Halloween Haunt consists of mazes, shows and games with the morbid in mind. Pictured are two cast members from "The Hanging." / photo by Jason Cooper
More than 1,000 costumed employees dressed as monsters, ghosts, demons and druids scare park-goers annually at Knott’s Berry Farm. In its 29th year, the Halloween Haunt consists of mazes, shows and games with the morbid in mind. Pictured are two cast members from “The Hanging.” / photo by Jason Cooper

by Tim Tevault
Arts & Entertainment Editor

They have been scaring teens and adults alike for 29 years. They wait until the sun sets, then hide out in dark chambers and deserted ghost towns. From the darkness they emerge, revealing their hideous faces and grotesque expressions.

They all head down to the Buena Park-based Knott’s Berry Farm, or “Knott’s Scary Farm,” as it is called each October.

When darkness falls over the cool Orange County landscape, thousands flock to Knott’s annual scarefest: Halloween Haunt.

“It’s something different, out of the ordinary,” said Steve Marantette of Anaheim Hills, “It changes things up.”

Marantette attended Knott’s Oct. 4 opening night, when admission was $25 -regular admission is $36 presale, $40 the day of the event.

Although it seems as if they are characters in a monster movie, they are in fact everyday people. For nearly a dozen terrifying nights, these everyday people suit up into costumes and pull masks over their heads, all in the name of Halloween.

The event is a Southern California Halloween staple. Characters like Elvira and the Cryptkeeper have kept many people loyal to Scary Farm, luring them to their crude humor shows, such as “Elvira at 20… Almost Legal” and “The Hanging.”

While Elvira and friends may be the main attractions for many, it is the monsters that keep people energized and ready for fun.

Jason Daniel of Santa Ana who also attended on opening night however, had a different perspective.

“It was better four years ago,” he said. “There’s less attention to detail. It was a more fun atmosphere (back then).”

Teens made up the majority of the crowd, though some adults were enjoying themselves as much as the younger crowd. Others, however, were not.

“We’re ready to go home,” said Linda Phelps of Lake Arrowhead, who brought her husband, daughter and a friend. They were ready to leave after an hour.

The event expands every year, and this year boasts more than 15 mazes and shows.

Some of Knott’s Berry Farm’s attractions assume a different identity at night and convert into mazes, which could sometimes take up to an hour to get into because of their popularity.

The new mazes this year include “Malice in Wunderland,” “Blood Bayou” and “Lore of the Vampire,” in addition to the older, more classic “Inquisition,” “Underground,” “Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns” and “Alien Attack” mazes. Each features monsters and props matching the various themes of the mazes, which allow guests to walk through, peering around sharp corners and fighting past glaring strobe lights.

Visitors can also walk through the various “scare zones,” located in Ghost Town, Boardwalk and Camp Snoopy. Here, monsters hide in dark crevices, then proceed to spook, scare, and even chase people who are frightened. Terrifying screams can be heard throughout the park.

If being scared by monsters is not enough, there are thrill rides to get the adrenaline pumping, such as Supreme Scream, Ghost Rider, Boomerang, or Knott’s newest thrill ride Vertigo, a sling-shot bungee adventure for those not of the faint at heart. However, the wait for these rides are even longer than the wait for the mazes.

Since Knott’s is apparently trying to improve every year, more and more people seem to show up to see if it can live up to its word.

Visitors should be warned that not only are the lines for attractions are long, but the lines for parking and park entrance can be even scarier than the event itself, as security has more than likely been increased because of the recent terrorist attacks.

Knott’s Scary Farm continues its run Oct. 12-14, 18-21, 25-28, 30-31 and Nov. 2-3 and is open from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., depending on the night.

Knott’s does not recommend the event for children under 13 or the faint of heart. Knott’s Berry Farm is located at 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. For more information, contact the Haunt Line at (714) 220-5200.

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