As September rounds to a close, nothing welcomes the fall season quite like the start of Halloween festivities. Bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins are plenty fun in their own right, but those looking for more frightful fare can be sure Southern California is already scaring up its collection of the best haunts and horrors for even the toughest of thrill seekers. Always at the top of any Halloween checklist is the yearly transformation of beloved Buena Park destination Knott’s Berry Farm into its autumnal alter ego, Knott’s Scary Farm.
Hailed as the largest Halloween event at any theme park, Knott’s Scary Farm kicked off its 42nd season Thursday night with the debut of four exciting (and sometimes terrifying) new haunts. Returning favorites, including the back-by-demand Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, were also on hand for both newcomers and Scary Farm veterans looking to rekindle their seasonal spirit. With a total of 11 heart-pounding Halloween attractions in addition to its cutting-edge thrill rides, Knott’s Scary Farm casts a spell no other showcase of its kind can break.
Of course, Surf & Sunshine was there until the bloody end to experience all the great and gory details! The highlights are as follows:
Special Ops: Infected
A breakthrough achievement in bridging gaming technology with live-action suspense, Special Ops: Infected is simply a one-of-a-kind experience. Hunt zombies in an all-out war during this interactive thrill game that challenges participants to terminate an epidemic of undead predators threatening the entire human race. Reportedly the first theme park attraction of its kind in North America, Special Ops: Infected will provide each group of guests with specially designed laser guns to prepare them for their mission through a variety of landscapes, including dark caverns, mysterious backwoods and mountainous terrain. Led by a take-no-prisoners Squad Leader, groups must work together to fend off zombies through the six-acre war zone, and complete various orders before time runs out. These zombies aren’t shufflers. They move fast, and the actors are committed. Get in line early, wear comfortable shoes and get your Walking Dead on!
Nothing can compare to the real New Orleans experience, but Voodoo recreates a certifiably spooky trip through the Louisiana bayou and no shortage of Mardi Gras beads along the way. Transporting participants into the swampy Deep South, this maze features multiple routes to choose from and a variety of terrifying outcomes with each journey. Whether witnessing a demon sacrifice or hexing ceremony, Voodoo makes sure you’re playing an active role. The experience will make you feel like you’ve stepped right into an episode of True Blood, a testament to the attraction’s successful production design. Finally, be sure to watch for restless corpses as you sneak past the open mausoleum door.
The Tooth Fairy
Parents, go this one alone. Hands-down the creepiest maze of the bunch, this morbidly fascinating maze plays like every child’s worst nightmare. Incredibly disturbing imagery reveals a vision of the tooth fairy far too twisted for youngsters’ eyes, but even adults will find the experience hard to shake. Supported by a cohesive storyline and consistent scares, the Tooth Fairy could serve as the basis for a legitimate horror movie, and succeeds as Scary Farm’s best overall achievement. Revealing more would only spoil the fun. This one stays with you, folks.
Trapped: Lock and Key
For a few extra bucks, Trapped offers a uniquely terrifying experience that lives up to its name. Participants are forced to face their darkest fears as they enter a maze filled with multiple rooms, challenging puzzles, intricate terrors and – most importantly – no way out. Not for the faint of heart, Trapped creates an unprecedented descent into madness and true fright fit for only the most serious of scare-seekers. The attraction’s shocking finale is billed as the most intense experience of anything Scary Farm has to offer. Buyers, beware.
While it’s imperative for any visitor to determine which new attraction is their favorite, Scary Farm first-timers need to round out their maiden voyage with a stop at the classic mazes that keep the scares coming year after year. Back for more haunts are Gunslinger’s Grave, Trick or Treat, Black Magic, Dominion of the Damned, Pinocchio Unstrung, and Forevermore. The latter is perhaps the most ambitious and cerebral of the bunch, chronicling a post-apocalyptic voyage through the classic works of Edgar Allen Poe.
Another Scary Farm favorite, Witch’s Keep is easily the best option for the whole family to enjoy, as this frolicking adventure ride through the Calico Mine Co. keeps the scares to a minimum with eye-popping visual depth and a fun faux-history lesson. Afterward, walk through the fog-lined streets of Ghost Town if you dare. Scary Farm’s original fright zone, Ghost Town is teeming with a bevy of goblins and ghouls lurking beneath the shadows and prowling the streets. Don’t bother looking for them; they’re already looking for you.
Finally, if you find yourself in need for some comic relief, the cast of The Hanging – Everything is Gruesome! showcases their pop culture send-up twice nightly in Calico Square. Sarcastic and sadistic, The Hanging uses classic musical theater tropes, along with a penchant for onstage violence and foul language, to parody the year’s most noteworthy tabloid fluff. While the actors do their best, it’s hard to top Elvira’s return to Scary Farm with her all-new Big Top show, featuring an incredible performance from hip-hop troupe and So You Think You Can Dance alums Academy of Villains.
Get this year’s haunting started off right with a stop at Knott’s Scary Farm, and see why it’s been SoCal’s Halloween standard since 1973.
Don’t think you can fit it all in one visit? Knott’s Scary Farm runs until Nov. 1, and unlimited season passes are available exclusively online at knotts.com.