Last night was the opening night of Knott's Scary Farm. We have a plethora of videos and pictures and updates to share with you over the next week (and more when we visit more this season) but we wanted to take a few minutes and give your our impressions of opening night.
Written by Gregg Condon
Overall, the event is as good and fresh as ever. The Deadly 7 opening was great, and I fully expect them to have their own maze next year. The addition of two new mazes and a re-theme for the Calico Mine Ride really shined this year as we'll outline below.
Award for "Holy crap, this maze is amazing in every way possible"
I personally tried to stay away from any spoilers regarding Paranormal Inc. I had heard a few rumors about where they were going with it, some were true, some not so much. But what did come true was one of the most amazing mazes from start to finish that we've ever seen from Knott's Scary Farm. An amazing mix of new technology and classic scares meant this maze never disappointed.
Head to this maze first as it does have rather low capacity compared to some other mazes. Although we did see some tweaks between our first time through the maze shortly after 7:00 and our last time through the maze at around 11:30. So more tweaks to increase capacity are not out of the question.
Dead of Winter
Award for "Best re-make of a previous Knott's Scary Farm Maze ... but now with Air Conditioning!!!"
Let me start off by saying I really loved Dead of Winter. I don't need in your face scares every 2 seconds. I've always been more a fan of the more "mood" mazes anyway, and this is a great one.
That said, this maze reminded me so much of the former Labyrinth that used to be in Camp Snoopy, again, not that it's a bad thing. But the similarities are definitely there for sure. The lack of any kind of facade for this maze I think hurt it a bit and it had a short line all night, so I'm wondering if people simply didn't know it was there.
I know park management is trying to keep Scary Farm things away from day guests, but they need something here whether it's some lights or something other than an orange sign.
My Bloody Clementine
Award for "I see where they are going, let's hope they tweak it so it works better"
The Mine Ride is always a mixed bag when it comes to Knott's Scary Farm. It's an amazing concept of using the ride as a Haunted attraction. When it works it works, when it doesn't, it doesn't. Right now, My Bloody Clementine is somewhere in the middle.
The theme is great, but the story side of it is a bit lacking and I'm guessing most people don't get it.
The effects are great, there are a couple of monsters in there but they are limited on where they can go and what they can do. People kept looking for them and there really weren't many there.
I get that some fans wanted monsters in there, but they aren't needed to tell this story. The Witch's Keep worked great and it didn't need any actors in there. This could work great to with or without them. I'm anticipating this one will get some tweaks in the days/weeks to come and by Halloween Night will be amazing.
Every year Knott's Scary Farm has a few repeat mazes, some for good, some that may be getting a little long in the tooth (only one of those this year).
Gunslingers Grave - A Blood Moon Rises
Award for "Wait, is this, no it can't be the same maze from last year, this is so awesome"
Last year Gunslingers Grave was our least favorite maze. I LOVE the concept of an Old West maze in Ghost Town, I mean, how could you not. But there was nothing "scary" about the maze last year.
When we heard at ScareLA that Gunslingers Grave was coming back, but now with Werewolves I was cautiously optimistic. Werewolves are my absolute favorite "scary monster" and I was so glad to hear they were back.
And this maze hit on every level. Amazing storytelling. Amazing actors. Amazing effects (save one that was having issues) and just a great time. If you are going to re-do a maze and upgrade it, this is the way to do it.
We ended up doing this twice as one of our fellow media people on the first go-round took it upon themselves to film the maze with lighting, and then tried to talk to all the monsters through the entire maze. And apparently this person works at HHN and should absolutely no better.
That little rant aside that had NOTHING to do with the maze, be sure you do this one if you'd given up on the maze after last year.
Award for "Didn't notice anything different but wow is this so much better than last year"
I'm not sure if it was the addition to the Skeleton Key Room (which was amazing), the talent or something else, but this maze was leaps and bounds ahead of the 2014 version of the maze. It was good last year, definitely in the middle of the road, but this year it's probably in our top 3, at least on Opening Night.
Award for "Still great, but for some reason didn't seem as creepy as last year"
Last year the ToothFairy was hands down out favorite maze of the event. And this year it's still amazing. But for some reason it just didn't seem as creepy this year. Maybe the sound was too low? Maybe my teeth weren't hurting last night? But whatever it was I'm sure it's going to be fixed and we'll be properly freaked out on our next visit.
Award for "Let's make the maze twice as long and still just as awesome"
Last year Voodoo had multiple paths for people to go through, they've done away with that this year and basically made the maze twice as long. And that's just fine with us. We did keep looking for the other path a few times before realizing they just weren't coming.
The talent in this maze is great, the setting is amazing and it was so hot last night it totally felt like a swamp.
Only draw back, and I think we had this complaint last year ... employee break/smoking area seems to be near the exit of the maze (although you can't see it, you can smell it).
Trick or Treat
Award for "Let's take a look at what didn't work, change it and make this new thing work"
Trick or Treat was one of the first mazes in awhile to encorporate some kind of "show" room within the maze, but unlike previous mazes like Curse of Spider Woods this was at the end of the maze. And it was kind of hit and miss. Not hit and miss if it was working, hit and miss if you'd actually get to see the final room because there was no way to group people.
Even last year, the final room was quiet and not working. And that's gone this year.
They've incorporated more of an opening walk-through with the Witch and it totally works. The talent in here was great, the maze is of course beautifully set and this was another fantastic maze.
I fully expect this maze to be retired after this year (possibly for a Deadly 7 maze) and if it is the final year then it's going out on a high note.
Award for "Let's remove the Skeleton Key Room, incorporate it into the maze and not miss a beat"
Black Magic has been one of the most consistently good mazes over the past few years and this year is absolutely no different.
We were a bit disappointed in the lack of the Skeleton Key room this year (as it was amazing last year) but they've incorporated it a bit into the opening of the maze (so I won't spoil it).
The rest of the maze and talent is phenomenal as always and I did manage to get turned around a couple of times in here. I'm sure we'll put that in one of our videos. =)
Award for "Kill it, Kill it with fire, or an axe or however you want to kill a wooden boy who wants to be human"
Last year we never got to do the Skeleton Key room due to "technical issues". This year we did, it didn't matter. I'm not sure why this maze never seems to get it together, it's a great concept, the sets are amazing and the talent really works hard. But for some reason this one just doesn't seem to "work" and hopefully this is the last year for this maze. It's time.
That said, hoping some tweaks are made and we'd be more than happy to revise this in the weeks to come.
Award for "We don't like up-charge attractions, but it's the only way this is ever going to work"
We didn't do infected, I don't think many (if any) media people did. We all had a return time of 9:30 and by that time they were already an hour behind. We hope to be able to do it on a subsequent visit.
And that's all we have to say about that ...
The Hanging: Straight Outta Calico
Award for "We don't need no stinking Bill and Ted to make you laugh until you cry"
Not much to really say about The Hanging as we don't want to spoil anything. But it was simply the most irreverent, hilarious, wrong but so right show. I've been going to Knott's Scary Farm since the late 80's/early 90's and this is probably in my top 5 hangings.
Award for "Only 2 showtimes?"
Elvira only had shows at 9:00 and 11:30 and since we were at the other side of the park at 9:00 making our way to Infected and getting additional footage of Gunslinger at 11:30 we unfortunately missed both shows last night. But we'll be back and we'll definitely see the show soon.
Overall it's an amazing year for Knott's Scary Farm. The mazes are great with really only one being a complete miss for us. The Hanging is spectacular and of course the scare zones are fantastic. Our opening night maze rankings are below.
Paranormal Inc - Voodoo - Black Magic - Forevermore - Gunslingers Grave - The Toothfairy - Trick or Treat - Dead of Winter - Pinocchio Unstrung
Keep in mind, tweaks will still be happening well into the event so our views can change at any time. We'll let you know if they do. =)
We'll also have much more from Knott's Scary Farm in the days to come including more pictures and videos. So stay tuned and see you in the fog.