Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
You feel that? You feel the fog in the air? The snap in the wind? The ominous spirit in the breeze? Do you feel the veil of Halloween slowly descending?
No? Well, of course. It's approximately 257º at 80% humidity these days, and not exactly Halloween ambiance (although in Southern California, that's actually about the exact ambiance of the start of Halloween season every year). But last night, Knott's Scary Farm held their annual announcement event, where they laid bare everything fans can expect from this year's Halloween Haunt.
This will be the 45th year of the event, and there was plenty of exciting news for both new attractions and returning but upgraded features. All of this was wrapped up in a wonderfully fun and excitingly produced hour-long presentation with slick media packages, impressive theatrical choreography, and plenty of excitement from the folks who put Knott's Scary Farm together every year! The announcement event has become a must-see in and of itself, and this year was the best yet. Major kudos to everyone involved in putting the entire show together. Here's a look at last night's shennanigans...
As is the custom, guests and media alike were welcome into the Charles M. Schulz Theater by a cavacade of veteran street monsters eager for fresh victims. Particularly fun to observe were those coming in through the ground level entrance, bound within a tight foyer, sitting (or strolling) ducks for the monsters.
Once the show got underway, the monsters were immediately put on spotlight--literally. A dramatic unveil of various monsters creeping up the aisles and onto the stage led to the dramatic introduction of evening emcee, Jeff Tucker. And with that, the announcement event was on!
Right from the start, Jeff warned the audience that the pace of the event would move quickly, because there was plenty of information to share. First up: housekeeping items. Scary Farm season passes are on sale now. In addition, this year, Fright Lane, the maze front-of-line upcharge available to all guests, would come paired with Fast Lane, enabling guests to skip the line on rides as well. No Skeleton Key this year. Elements from past Skeleton Key Rooms have been incorporated into this year's actual mazes in order to give all guests equal access to all experiences. In addition, Haunt merchandise would begin sales tonight.
But the most interesting "general" announcement was a new family-friendly Log Ride overlay that would run day and night. The Timber Mountain Log Ride: Halloween Hootenanny will feature a fun and festive dress up and include a new song by Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. This sounds like a fun addition to Knott's Berry and Scary Farm for the fall season, and it takes on a new park mantra of making the entire park a Halloween attraction, rather than isolate the holiday to mazes or specific areas only.
Then it was onto the returning mazes for this season--six in all. Voodoo, Paranormal Inc., The Tooth Fairy, The Red Barn, Special Ops: Infected, and Shadowlands all return. Pretty much all of them will have some sort of slight adjustments this year too, so that even returning guests from last year will receive new experiences. This is excellent news, as it demonstrates the park's commitment to overall quality and maintaining freshness to its attractions. All of these mazes have been at or near the top of guest rankings at some point or another, and it seems like the days of Knott's Scary Farm having weak link mazes may be numbered.
Everyone knew that Knott's would return with the same four scare zones as the previous year, but what most did not know was the enhancements and tweaks coming to these areas. Ghost Town will see the arrival of new creatures and characters, including a new nighttime and sinister machination of famous resident Sad Eye Joe, while Boardwalk will see a maze inspired by the area and blur the lines between streets and maze by having monsters overlap both. Fiesta De Los Muertos is taking a serious turn away from the dance party vibe and more toward an atmospheric scare zone. And perhaps most dramatically, The Hollow is receiving a significant upgrade in attention with the investment of a theatrical storyline, pop-up show segments, and even a "fiery finale!"
As has been the case the last few years, there will only be two shows this year: The Hanging and an Elvira show. As was announced at Midsummer Scream, however, this will be the final year that Elvira performs at Knott's Scary Farm. And like the retirement of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland, this time, they really, actually, truthfully mean it!
Of course, as fun as all the preceding news was, people were really here for the new maze announcements, and this year, there will be three new ones for guests to sink their teeth into. Even though one of them is a reimagining of a popular veteran maze, it will be a brand new and uniquely different experience. Dark Ride (Cloud 9 Ballroom), Pumpkin Eater (Camp Snoopy), and Trick or Treat: Lights Out (back stage in the same location as past years) promise some new and chilling and twisted thrills, and by the sounds of them, I can't wait to experience them!
And with that, the announcement event concluded its main portion of the program. After season passholders were ushered out of the theater, however, the media had a chance for a Q&A session with Knott's Director of Entertainment, Ken Parks; Producer and Production Manager, Eric Nix; and Design Specialists Jon Cooke, Daniel Miller, and Gus Krueger. Although there were some absurd questions ("Will there be a maze with only women in it?"), the session proved pleasantly insightful over the process the maze designers and the event producers engage upon when coming up with the next Scary Farm.
Afterward, it was outside on the theater balcony level for a nice reception, featuring fantastic food and beverages and general fun socialization. Knott's always treats its media members wonderfully, and this was no exception.
This was a truly fantastic and impressively put-together event that definitely accomplished its goal of getting fans excited for this year's Halloween Haunt event (I will always think of it as THE Halloween Haunt, capital H and all). Tickets are available now at the Knott's Scary Farm web site, including the Scary Farm season pass, which allows unlimited admission to Scary Farm all season. The event runs select nights (generally Thursdays through Sundays) from September 21 - October 31. Is it Haunt yet? Well... soon, it will be!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.