Event Review: Knott's Scary Farm Maze Announcements!

This past Thursday, Nightmarish Conjurings was lucky enough to attend the Knott's Scary Farm 2016 Maze Announcements.  This was our first time attending this type of an event and to say that Knott's Berry Farm put on one hell of a presentation would be an understatement.  I've been to a lot of haunts in my life and I've seen a lot of announcements but nothing comes close to what Knott's did for their fans and to get everyone ready for the Halloween season. 

When we first arrived we were ushered into the Charles M. Schulz Theatre and the mood was already set.  All throughout tendrils of fog crept around the chairs and monsters and ghouls stalked innocent bystanders.  As we took our seats you could feel the electricity in the air - it was the start to the haunt season and everyone was on the edge of their seats in anticipation to what was going to be announced.  As the lights dimmed, the music started, and we were greeted by Jeff Tucker, entertainment supervisor at Knott's Berry Farm and author of "The Sixth Key", who made one hell of a grand entrance, with promises of exciting new mazes and the return of some of our favorite haunts from years past.  Jeff Tucker also brought on stage some of main designers responsible for the haunts - Jon Cooke, Daniel Miller and Gus Krueger.  

Now that the audience was ready, it was time to reveal what we had all been waiting for.  First up was the list of returning shows/scare zones/and haunts:

Back by popular demand, Elvira, the legendary Mistress of the Dark, returns to Knott's Scary Farm in a spectacular all new show, Elvira's Danse Macabre, featuring insane dance and comedy performances.  The one of a kind performance from the Queen of Halloween will transport guests to a masquerade ball full of music, dance and humor.  Knott's Scary Farm will be the exclusive home of Elvira this Halloween season. 

My personal favorite from last year, PARANORMAL, INC. - The Haunting of Hayden Hill will return to Knott's Scary Farm this year.  Featuring high flying aerial stunts and scares, guests investigate a haunted hospital where the patients were tortured for decades by deranged doctors and nurses.  Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls, where evil medical staff prowl for new patients to torture. 

The Dead of Winter: Wendigo's Revenge - I really loved the set design of The Dead of Winter last year so I'm even more excited to see it this year.  Deep in the frozen tundra, the realm of a treacherous snow queen has been usurped by her evil minion, the horrific wendigo.  She may be dead, but her evil spell hasn't been lifted: The dead cannibals have risen from their snowy graves as hungry creatures feast on the surrounding villages.  During the chaos, the queen's prized possession, the horrific wendigo, has seized control of her throne, ready to prey upon any unsuspecting visitors who enter the borders of its icy domain. 

Set design is something that is super important to me and the minute I walked into Trick-or-Treat last year, I knew I would not be disappointed, so to see it come back this year makes me extremely happy.  Take a brave step forward and ring the witch's doorbell...trick or treat, which will it be?  After surviving her grisly welcome, wander into the Green Witch's never before seen potion room and bewitched attic.  But don't leave too soon; you're the special guest at the Green Witch's deadly dinner party where she and her menacing Tricksters await your arrival. 

If I had to pick one haunt from last year that made me the most uncomfortable it would be The Tooth Fairy.  It must have been a hit with other people too because it's coming back again to heighten all of our fears of going to the dentist.  This twisted tooth fairy steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry.  Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out, a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy, himself.  Say aahhh. 

Papa Legba is returning once again for Voodoo - Order of the Serpent.  His haunting legend continues as guests follow him on his foreboding journey to conjure the serpent demon goddess in the outskirts of New Orleans.  Trudge cautiously through the cursed swamps of the Deep South, where creatures search the murky bogs for their next bloody sacrifice and demons curse the innocent with Voodoo hexes. 

The Gunslinger's Grave: A Blood Moon Rises: Deadly howls and a full blood moon mark your impending doom as werewolves overrun the crime stricken old west town.  Walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path of retribution against the Skinwalkers. 

The Deadly 7, a sadistic crew of terrifying monsters representing each of the seven deadly sins, return to the fog of Knott's Scary Farm this year.  Together they prowl the darkest corners of Scary Farm's midways and scare zones serving their master, The Green Witch.

For the first time ever, I will finally be seeing The Hanging; this time called The Hanging: Finding Gory.  This live stage show in Calico Square irreverently looks back at the year's pop culture with killer comedy.  Notorious for its special effects, pyrotechnics and high-flying stunts, The Hanging is a no-holds-barred assault on pop culture's most infamous moments of the past year.  A must see parody!

Along with the returning mazes there will be 160 acres devoted to scare zones.  Every night monsters will spill out onto the streets to turn the theme park midways into murderous scare zones.  From the world famous Ghost Town Streets to the Boardwalk area filled with evil clowns, there's nowhere to hide in Knott's Scary Farm!

Ghost Town Streets is the original and largest, most terrifying scare zone that started it all. Bands of half-human, half-animal monsters prowl the streets and inhabit the fog, while the notoriously startling sliders, lunge from every fog-filled corner of the land.  Fiesta De Los Muertos fuses dance music, colorful costumes, and larger than life stilt walkers in a dance party scare zone.  It's the ultimate late night celebration of Dia de los Muertos.  On the Boardwalk, clowns crave your undying attention in the CarnEVIL scare zone.  New this season, the Hollow scare zone will terrorize guests as the ominous Headless horseman prowls the fog-filled streets along with his army of the undead, treacherously blending into the shadowy night as they frighten all whom they encounter. 

After the announcements I had a chance to speak with maze designer Jon Cooke, I asked him what we can expect in PARANORMAL, INC. that's different from last year.  

With any attraction it’s always a work in progress and there are always things we wished we had done when we open the doors.” states Cooke. “There’s no major changes this year [in PARANORMAL, INC.] but some little things that I think will help further the attraction overall. I’d rather take any time, resources, and effort and put in that into creating a crazy new attraction.

If Knott's Scary Farm had ended with everything I had just listed, I would have been beyond excited but they had even more in store for their fans.  Four all-new nightmarish haunted attractions were announced and each one of them brought loud cheers from the audiences. The following four will feature unearthly surprises, ghoulish monsters and frightening legends that come to life as you step inside.

Black Ops: Infection (New for 2016): Armed with cutting edge laser guns, brave guests will face off against hordes of zombies in the groundbreaking all-new Black Ops: Infected interactive maze.  Small units of guests will battle the zombie apocalypse through blood soaked city streets and an underground sewer system crawling with nearly one hundred ravenous zombies. The high tech innovative experience thrusts guests into the middle of a live-action video game complete with live actors, real time scoring system, kill streak rewards system and interactive targets, including a juggernaut boss zombie.  The new attraction is one of the largest mazes ever created in Knott's Scary Farm history so form your squad and put your zombie apocalypse survival skills to the test in this action packed, one-of-a-kind experience. 

Shadow Lands (New for 2016): A fulfilling life ensures a soul safe passage into eternity, but what happens to the souls of soldiers slain in battle?  Enter the hair-raising Shadow Lands maze and fight off demon samurais whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of purgatory.  Guests will embark on a quest through a sacred shrine, an ancient Japanese temple and into the midst of the shadow lands. 

Red Barn (New for 2016): Take a trip to a blood-soaked barn filled with carnivorous animals seeking to prey on human flesh in the Red Barn gore maze.  Legend has it the farmer who owns the barn was transformed into a heinous creature that sends his sadistic sons to ensure his legacy.  None dare enter the barn, for those who enter never escape. 

The Hollow (New for 2016): From within the fog, the legendary Headless Horseman and his army of the undead are ready to unleash a reign of terror in the new scare zone, The Hollow. Guests entering the frightful 6-acre area will be terrorized by the souls of fallen soldiers and local farmers that have escaped their shallow graves. 

Standalone Skeleton Key Rooms (New for 2016): For the first time, Knott's Scary Farm will feature standalone Skeleton Key Rooms that are independent from mazes.  The four Skeleton Key Rooms will each feature a unique story and theme delivering unparalleled scares, interactive secrets and terrifying surprises: 

  • Visions: Guests must investigate the Green Witch Museum in Ghost Town where it is not the building that is haunted, but the various items contained within.  Using a Phantom Finder augmented reality device, guests will be able to identify and witness paranormal activity connected to items from the Sarah Marshall Witch Trial. 
  • ZOZO: People from all over the world claim to have been visited by the demon ZOZO after a spirit board session.  Is the demonic entity known as ZOZO real or are spirit boards just a myth? 
  • Slasher: Guests are invited to step into an 80s' slasher horror film.  The masked Angel Maker Killer is on the loose.  Every lead has run cold and that's when you step into the picture.  Will you become his next victim? 
  • Prey: Navigate a hay maze full of dead ends with only a faulty lantern as your guide. You are not alone.  Mutant beasts are lurking around every corner. 

If that isn't a lineup to get excited for than I don't know what is.  By the time the announcements were over it was apparent that Halloween was truly beginning with Knott's Scary Farm.  After everything was said and done we were invited to attend a reception in which I got to speak more with maze designer Jon Cooke.  With such a huge lineup of haunts, scare zones, and entertainment I wondered what more could someone want in a themed event such as this.  When speaking with Jon I asked him if there was anything he wanted to see at Knott's Scary Farm that hasn't happened yet or that he missed and he replied: 

There’s a lot of things [I would like to see] and that’s something I’m always evaluating and when I see empty spaces I think to myself, ‘What could we do with this’? Personally, when I used to come here as a kid, I would really like how the haunts embraced the rides and would be re-themed and that’s something that has kind of fallen away that I would like to see build back up and be a thing again.

So now that we have given you all this amazing information about Knott's Scary Farm, I'm sure you are curious as to how to get passes.  The Knott's Scary Farm Pass returns in 2016 and offers unlimited visits to all 24 event nights.  Current 2016 Knott's Berry Farm Season Passholders can purchase the pass at the limited time price of $75, now through Sept. 18 (while supplies last, plus applicable fees); the general public can purchase the pass for $85, now through Sept. 18 (while supplies last, plus fees).  All Season Long Parking is valid for Knott's Scary Farm nights. 

Admission Prices

- Single night tickets are $40 - $52 depending on the event night when purchased online (plus applicable fees).  Knott's Season Passholders receive discounts on single night tickets when purchasing online.  Tickets purchased at least 24 hours in advance at the theme park ticket booths are $49 for all nights, and day-of-event tickets purchased at the ticket booths are $72.

- Fright Lane with Skeleton Key offers unlimited priority access to all mazes and unlocks ONE time access to all four standalone Skeleton Key Rooms filled with unnerving terrors, interactive secrets and exclusive scenes.  Guests will also receive a commemorative lanyard and collectible keychain.  Fright Lane with Skeleton Key passes start at $75. (Separate theme park admission required, and not included)

- Combo Tickets, offering admission and Fright Lane with Skeleton Key are an especially great value offering savings of up to $37, versus purchasing each item separately at the ticket booths. 

- Fast Lane offers unlimited priority access to many of Knott's world-class coasters starting at $70 per person.  Fast Lane is valid during regular Knott's Berry Farm operation and for Knott's Scary Farm operation on the date of intended use. (Separate theme park admission required, and not included). 

- Boo-fet dinner at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant and Spurs Chophouse invites guests to feed the beast before Knott's Scary Farm opens each night.  Meals include a collectible 2016 souvenir cup, which includes unlimited complimentary refills on the event night and $0.99 refills for the rest of the 2016 season.  After dinner, enjoy early entry into Knott's Scary Farm a few minutes before it opens to other mortals.  Boo-fet dinner is $27.99 + tax when purchased online and $32.99 + tax when purchased at the door. (Separate theme park admission required, and not included)

- Knott's Scary Farm parking is $20 per vehicle and can be purchased online (plus applicable taxes and fees) or at the parking booth upon arrival.  All Season Long Parking is valid for Knott's Scary Farm nights. 

Knott's Scary Farm has welcomed millions of visitors over the past 43 years and has become an institution in the Southern California theme park landscape.  This year, the event returns September 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 October 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. Knott's Scary Farm is open 7:00pm - 1:00am select Thursdays, Sundays and Halloween Night and 7:00pm - 2:00am Fridays and Saturdays.  With more than 1,000 monsters roaming the park and lurking in the fog - whatever you're imagining, it's here... 

All in all, we here at Nightmarish Conjurings could not be more excited for Knott's Scary Farm and we thank them for an amazing night and look forward to experiencing all that Knott's has to offer.  Knott's Scary Farm has something to offer for everyone and as Jon Cooke said, "I love Halloween and I love watching people have a fun time with the morbid weird Halloween stuff.  I think that's what we really try to embrace with this event so when you walk through those gates you know this is where Halloween lives." 

For more information on Knott's Scary Farm, including admission, park hours and events, visit knottsscaryfarm.com or download the Knott's Berry Farm app for your smart phone.  Join the scary conversation by using #ScaryFarm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat


About Knott's Berry Farm and Cedar Fair Entertainment Company:
Knott's Berry Farm is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, a publicly traded partnership that is listed for trading on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FUN."  In addition to Knott's Berry Farm, Cedar Fair owns and operates ten other amusement parks, three water parks, one indoor water park, and five hotels.  Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in California under a management contract.  Visit knotts.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram