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.
Today we have something a bit different, but incredibly awesome nonetheless. And it just shows how the employees at Knott's are some of the best in the industry, or really anywhere. Our good friend Andros posted this on his Facebook page this morning and this story is used with his permission. Enjoy, and get the kleenex ready. It's the feel good story of the day.
Note: Any ad revenue generated from this article will be donated to Children's Hospital Orange County, so feel free to share!!
I'm still considered a new guy working at Knott's Berry Farm as a train bandit. The job is challenging, fun, sometimes frustrating and sometimes, it's rewarding.
Tonight for me and my partner Chris, it was rewarding.
It was another day at the farm, entertaining guests with our smarty improvisation and at times just being plain silly with kids of all ages. It was just after we left the second to the last train of the night that a family walked up and asked us if we could take a picture with their children. Chris and I always oblige, especially if there are children involved. I have always felt that if I can leave an impact on a child during a tender young age in a good way, then I have done my job for the night. Warm happy memories are what I have always believed we are here for.
The family approached us and we both immediately noticed that one of the children was dancing around and just full of happiness. A huge smile was on her face and she was dressed in her Beetlejuice pajamas, a funny, silly girl of no more than 8 years old. She danced up to me with the family and made a face. I told her, "Hey! You're dressed like that Beetlejuice fella!"
She replied, "Yes! He's my favorite!"
She was full of happiness. Just so happy not to be in the hospital and fighting. For today, the fight was on hold and she was allowed to roam Knott's with her family. It was their day and she was making the best of it.
I pulled her near me and she leaned hard against me. I felt her feeling comfortable with me so I put my hand on her shoulder and another hand on the shoulder of her sister. The little one started giggling and had a huge smile on her face when the camera snapped our memory together.
I leaned over and hugged her and said quietly, "Are you a fighter?"
"Yes!", she said, still dancing. She spun around in happy circles with her one arm, the other missing due to an amputation due to bone cancer.
"Will you come back and visit us when you're done with your fight? You'll have more hair than me, ya know!"
Again, she answered, "Yes! I will come back and see you Mr. Bandit!"
She smiled and waved and went off dancing with her family and they surrounded her with as much happiness they haven't seen in a while. Her head lacked hair, but the joy that she expressed touched me and nothing could replace that. She wasn't suffering in the hospital. No tubes. No monitors. No doctors. No blood samples. She was allowed to be a happy little girl and all was well in the world. Nothing could ruin what she was enjoying for that moment and it was beautiful.
After our goodbyes, Chris and myself were summoned to prepare closing the crossing gates when a Knott's supervisor called out to us and asked us for our attention for a quick moment. She saw how we treated the special guest and handed us Thank You cards for a Job Well Done. We thanked her and continued with the train and guests that were waiting for us.
When I returned to our break area, that small card stayed with me all the way home. It's not about being thanked, or gratitude. It's about being recognized for something that I do not mind doing. Especially if it's to be making the day, or something that our little happy guest can remember for her whole life.
I can only pray for our guest that crossed our paths that she can have a normal life like other children her age and an entire life ahead of her. I pray for her family as I'm sure they've endured so much in her fight for her life. I pray for all of my friends, hoping you all have the opportunity some day to be able to reach out and make someone's day as special as this ray of sunshine that danced right by me tonight.
Have a great night and a great weekend, everyone.
A few weeks ago we headed up to California's Great America for a bit of summer fun. This is a park we visit every few years and always seem to have mixed results. This visit however was probably my best visit to the park since the late 80's.
This park gets a lot of flack for it's coaster line-up even though they've got two stellar coasters (Gold Striker and Flight Deck) a couple of really fun coasters (Wild Mouse, Demon) and a couple that are, to put it lightly, forgettable (Grizzly and Vortex).
But what the park does boast is one of the best collection of flat rides of any park in the country. It's seriously amazing.
As a 49ers fan, this was my first time seeing the completed Levi's Stadium ... it's ugly. Plain and simple.
We arrived at the park about 3:00pm and were able to spend about 4 hours in the park at a leisurely pace and ride all of the coasters other than the mouse with minimal waits and probably 7 or 8 of the amazing flat rides.
First we headed over to Gold Striker which probably had the longest wait of the day at about 15 minutes. The ride crew was outstanding.
Decided to take one last ride on Vortex which is rumored to be receiving floorless trains next year. Have definitely had worse rides on this, but I do think this will make a great floorless coaster.
Let's hope along with new trains, a paint job and a re-design of the station is included.
Let's take a look around the park, it wasn't a very busy day.
The Demon, sure to be included in the upcoming Arrow Documentary
The Grizzly ... what can be said about this ride that hasn't already been said? The ride isn't rough but it's just boring and the trains and the operations of those trains with the seatbelts ... awful.
If there's any coaster that could use an RMC re-do it's this one. And it could probably make a pretty good one.
We also took some time to look at some of the Haunt preparations. We've actually heard this one is pretty good.
Absolutely love this ride.
Mmmm ... Centrifiuge
Yay for Log Flumes!!!
Flight Deck ... not only one of the best inverts in CA, but one of the best inverts period.
More Haunt ... not sure if this is a maze or just a re-do of the Bumper Cars.
Thanks to Great America for a great day. We can't wait to hear what you have in store for 2016. We love seeing the turnaround this park has made over the past few years.