Today we have the first of a few updates from this years Knott's Scary Farm.
We attended all 3 nights of opening weekend and we are pretty confident when we say that this is one of the best years of Halloween Haunt ever (yes, we know it's not called that any more).
Let's head into the fog and check out this years event.
Written by Gregg Condon
After our almost 3 1/2 hour drive down on Thursday afternoon (yeah) it was nice to check into the Knott's Hotel and enjoy some relaxing time at Amber Waves prior to media check in.
We ran into some friends
Amber Waves looks great all decked out (and the service was amazing all weekend)
Technically taken Friday morning, but we have to share the entrance. =)
We're all checked in and ready to get our scare on
The fountain display is amazing this year
Let's start our walk-through of the mazes, because they were amazing this year.
Origins: The Curse of Calico
I honestly don't have enough adjectives to describe how amazing this maze is. It's got everything. Amazing talent. Incredible sets. A stellar story. Easter Eggs galore.
This maze tells the story of Sarah Marshall (not that Sarah Marshall) and the curse she set on Calico with her transition from human to, well, the green witch of course.
Even the queue line looks amazing
Picture slide-show of Origins
In ANY other year, Wax Works would have been the maze of the year, probably even moreso than my beloved Dark Ride during it's first year.
I've always been a fan of Daniel Miller's work, and I think it's safe to say this may be the best maze he's ever done. It's creepy, exciting, tells a great story and has so many hidden things in it that you have to go through multiple times.
We will be posting a tour we had of this maze in a couple of days.
Now in it's 3rd year, Dark Ride shows no signs of slowing down on the amazingness. Quite a few new things this year, including our favorite on-ride photo ever. We really do wish this was something we could buy.
Also waiting to see if there are any complaints on this yet.
Now in it's second year, Gus Krueger's Dark Entities is setting itself up as one of the strongest mazes of 2019. In fact, our last trip through this maze on Saturday night was easily our best time through this maze ever. And may be the most fun we've had in any maze so far this season.
Don't sleep on this maze, the talent is finding it's stride and there are a lot of great new lighting effects this year.
In it's second year, the stand-out new maze from 2018 is also not showing any signs of letting up on the fun and scares. Some new additions this year including a pre-show that may make waits a bit longer than they normally would be. So get to this maze early.
In fact, later in the night on Saturday they were skipping the new show scene altogether. So it will be interesting to see if it makes it through the season.
There are some mazes that are instant classics and yet others that kind of take a bit to hit their stride. Pumpkin Eater is one of those that really took about half way through it's opening season to hit all cylinders. But when it did, wow. This is a maze that has gotten better each and every year.
We didn't go through Paranormal on media night so no video this year (we'll post last years below). There weren't any additions this year but the amazing ending from last year is more than enough to keep this maze one of our favorites.
Still, we wouldn't be surprised if next year was the last go-round for this one.
Now in it's final season, Shadowlands is still one of the most visually stunning mazes at the farm. This one suffers from being the first of the "new wave" of mazes that have taken over the past few years. Still, it's a lot of fun and we look forward to getting our last tours of this maze on upcoming visits.
We didn't go through Infected on media night so no video on this one either. Infected is also in it's final season and again represents the first of the new wave of technological advances Knott's Scary Farm has implemented the past 5 or so years.
When we went through on Saturday it just didn't seem like there were enough zombies in the maze. We walked out with 8 and 9 kills respectively.
Our favorite video of Infected remains our "Gun POV" that we did a few years back.
We'll start off with the Hanging, the proverbial "love it or hate it" show every year.
I'll be honest, we're kind of in the middle this year. Unlike the last 2 years they didn't hang a "YouTube" or "Influencer" that 75% of the audience had to ask "who is that". So that was good.
But this years show in particular has produced some interesting discussions as to what the ending could mean for the future of this show. We'll just have to see.
Lastly, we want to take a second to talk about Puppet Up.
I'll be honest, we had no idea what to expect from this show and even on media night we basically just wanted to sit down and take a rest so we decided to do it in the theater. We really aren't "theme park show people".
So when we found ourselves back at the show the next 2 nights that should pretty much tell you how much we loved this show.
Basically it's "Who's Line is it Anyway" but with Puppets, complete with dirty language.
We love that Knott's has allowed the show to go all out. Hopefully there haven't been any complaints about the content because word is spreading about how good the show is. The crowds were bigger on each subsequent night.
On media night here is a great improv on an audience suggestion of a "Tiki Bar Fire at Disneyland". You can tell the cast truly understands Disney culture as this has reference to Annual Passholders, Pin Trading and much more.
The show also features some classic Jim Henson puppet acts. They seem to switch it up at each show, the early show is typically "I've grown accustomed to your face".
A highlight of each show is a performance of "Windy".
So that's what we've got from our first Scary Farm update. We'll be putting together more pics and video from outside of the mazes and shows for our next update in a couple of weeks. The scare zones are amazing as always and deserve their own time in the spotlight.
Last weekend was the opening of Knott's Scary Farm 2018 and we were privledged to be able to attend 2 of the first 3 nights of the event. And we can tell you, we're already looking forward to our next trip. It's simply amazing.
We got some great pictures both of the event and a couple of maze tours from the HorrorBuzz event thanks to Scott who attended. Enjoy!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Pics and Videos by Scott Linder and Gregg Condon
Welcome to Knott's Scary Farm
We'll start off with a tour of our favorite maze of 2017, Dark Ride.
It's pretty amazing in 2018 as well.
Be sure to check out all of our videos in this update, all in glorious 4k!
Slideshow of the tour
Next up was a tour of Pumpkin Eater, another of our favorite mazes of 2017. Which is also pretty amazing in 2018.
Thanks to Norm and HorrorBuzz for the awesome tour!!! And to Scott for sending us the pics!!
Not your typical red carpet
The fog is coming
Our first maze of 2018 was the all new "The Depths" which is seriously so fun. And very fun to shoot pics and video in. (Just remember, don't disrupt the monsters, maze security or other patrons).
As the sun goes down, the fog rolls in
Carnevil has always been one of our favorite scare zones, but this year it's just on another level. The addition of HangTime has really completed this area.
Halloween Hootenanny is back, no monsters when we rode on Thursday, not sure if they will be back this year.
But a fun, fun time for all!!
Paranomal Inc is back with an all new ending, which is fantastic!! This maze has NEVER been better.
Who else wishes this ride was open for Scary Farm?
The Hollows is fantastic
And Pumpkin Eater is the perfect fit for the scare zone
Gabe is ready for Trick or Treat Lights Out
Always one of our favorites, and was easily the longest wait all weekend.
The hanging was also back this year. Always a fun look back on the past year.
I'll admit, I'm getting to the age where I don't get some of the references. Eek.
The last new maze for 2018 is Dark Entities.
You could tell from the first weekend they are still finding their way a bit.
Like Pumpkin Eater last year, I get the feeling that as the weeks go on, the crew here is going to find their groove and this maze is going to be fantastic!!
The effects and Lighting in Dark Entities are great!!
Some pics from around the park
Thanks Knott's for another great year of Scary Farm. We can't wait to get back soon!!
Wow, where do we begin with Knott's Scary Farm 2017.
To say that Knott's Scary Farm is hitting on all cylinders this year would be an extreme understatement. From top to bottom this is probably the strongest Scary Farm in a decade. The mazes are amazing, the scare zones are amazing, scares around every corner and more fun and screams are lurking in the fog than ever before
Pictures by Matthew Nelson and Gregg Condon
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to Knott's Scary Farm
This year unlike the past few years, the entire park is full of decorations
Look at that beautiful glorious fog
New for this year, Trick or Treat Light's Out
They've taken what was already one of our favorite Scary Farm mazes and improved it by turning the lights off and giving everybody flashlights.
Back for it's third year is Paranormal Inc
The maze is still amazing. Only thing we'd say here is maybe for next year a different pre-show storyline. They've done an amazing job of freshening up mazes with tweaks and this one could use a couple of tweaks to make it even better than it is.
Still one of the most technologically advanced mazes at the farm
A behind the scenes look at how we film and shoot Scary Farm
Welcome to Knott's Berry Farm by day
Dark Ride by Night!!!
Honestly, we aren't sure what we can say about Dark Ride that wouldn't make it sound like we were just blowing Haunt Fog up Jon Cooke's ass
This maze is simply perfect. Take everything we love about amusement parks and scary events and mash them together.
We really felt like we were in an episode of Scooby Doo (not the crappy movie, the awesome original cartoon). It was just fun and scary and perfect.
We know a lot of you don't like scary things, but we implore you, go to Scary Farm ... walk through Dark Ride. You'll fall in love with it.
So a couple final thoughts on Dark Ride:
First, we can't believe this wasn't a concept that wasn't thought of before. It seems kind of like a no brainer. Why it hasn't been done before is beyond us, but we're glad it hasn't been because this feels fresh and fun.
Second, the cool thing about Dark Ride is, and I'm sure it's something the maze designers have already thought of, they can keep the general "theme" of the maze but they can change out the actual "Dark Ride" part of it. I mean, could you imagine them re-creating Knott's Beary Tales as the "Dark Ride" part? People would freak, in a good way.
All in all this is probably in my top 5 Scary Farm mazes of all time. And that's saying A LOT. Because there have been some amazing mazes throughout the years.
Ghost Town in the fog is always amazing
New this year
It's simply brilliant and fun both during the day and at night
Surprise, she's still here!!
Sometimes it's the little touches that make this an all around amazing event
Red Barn ... we really enjoyed it last year, some small tweaks and it's even better this year
Let the bodies hit the floor
Amazing decorations in The Hollow
You'd think after the heaps of praise we just did on Dark Ride that would mean the other new maze for 2017 Pumpkin Eater would have been a tremendous let down. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The amazing 1, 2 punch of these new mazes using classic scares scattered with new technology are amazing. You can really feel the difference between the two given their two designers but yet they both totally work in the grand scheme of Knott's Scary Farm as a whole.
So some final thoughts on Scary Farm 2017 ...
We know it's still early in the season, and we have a LOT of events to go to still, but it's going to be REALLY hard for any event to top Knott's Scary Farm. From the time you walk through those gates you are immersed in everything scary.
The team this year has really outdone themselves and the original quite frankly is still the best.
We were hard-pressed to come up with a maze ranking this year because everything was so solid. Even a couple of mazes we were kind of 'meh on last year had comeback years. It honestly seems almost unfair to rank these mazes.
Yes, Dark Ride was obviously our favorite, but everything else is really a solid #2. There is not one "bad" maze. We didn't have one bad experience in any of these mazes. All were filled with fun and scares. Each time we went through the mazes over our two nights of Scary Farm they were all solidly on-point.
So do yourself a favor, get to Knott's Scary Farm. You won't be disappointed.
This past weekend we FINALLY made it out to Knott's Berry Farm to check out this years Ghost Town Alive. Oddly enough for Fathers Day the park was pleasantly empty which meant a fun day for us and the awesome characters of Ghost Town.
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to Knott's Berry Farm
Be careful or you might find yourself in jail
Somebody stole the Catawampus
Or did it escape?
It was an absolutely gorgeous day at the park
We spent some time trying to solve some crimes and get edumacated ...
Maybe we'll find the Catawampus on Boot Hill
Excuse me sir, do you know where we can find Catawampus
After wishing up a happy Fathers Day the Calico Gazette broke the news that Mayfield has been captured. Fake News?
At the end of the day all is peaceful in Calico
There are also some projects going on around the park
Boardwalk BBQ is coming along quite nicely
Over on the other side, lots of room for something ...
Hopefully we'll hear what's going here very soon
Last but not least, some Scary Farm prep has begun
That's going to wrap it up for this update, we hope you enjoyed. This week we'll be heading up for our (mostly) "Great White North" trip with visits to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Sunday, Canada's Wonderland on Monday, Seabreeze on Tuesday and Darien Lake on Tuesday Night/Wednesday. Be sure you're following along all weekend.
We are now almost to the 3rd year of this website being in existence (wow) and this is now the 3rd time we've had to write an article about issues at a Halloween event or something being removed from an event because it "offended" somebody. In 2014 it was the Auctioneer at the Purge at HHN Hollywood, last year it was scare actor abuse (that sadly still goes on).
This year a group of "concerned citizens" has gotten FearVR removed from Knott's Scary Farm, Halloween Haunt at California's Great America and Canada's Wonderland. We definitely have some thoughts on the closure that we're going to share below.
But first, we want the hard work of those who created this experience to be highlighted, because they deserve it and luckily Stephen was able to check out the experience at California's Great America and Matt and Rose were able to experience Fear VR at Knott's Scary Farm.
California's Great America Fear VR Review by Stephen Harrington
Knott's Scary Farm Fear VR Review by Rose Costello
Commentary by Gregg Condon
Review of Fear VR at California's Great America
So now word on the street is that FearVR has been closed at both Knott’s Scary Farm and California’s Great America. It’s a real shame because it was a very well done and unique attraction. We weren't going to give spoilers so people who wanted to experience would go in with a fresh viewing, but what's the point now. Spoilers below.
As you enter the pre show which gives a back story of the Mental Asylum. Long story short, one of the patient’s get’s possessed and is on the loose. After the pre-show, groups of 8 were led into the “medical ward.” That is where the real fun begins. You sit in a “wheelchair”, place the GearVR on, followed by earphones, your wrists are strapped to the wheelchair and then the fun begins.
You are given a panic button if the experience get’s too intense, but during my visit no one had to use it, including my son, and everyone was enjoying the experience. You are a patient in the mental institute and chaos has started. You are watching a “nurse” give you a shot in your arm and there is an actual little bump on your forearm.
You then “wheeled” into the next room where it’s "safe". As your chair moves forward, slowly about a foot or so you can look around and see things during the course of the attraction.
The attraction ends with a typical jump scare, with you on an elevator, and the possessed patient does a final “scare.” The End.
The staff at FearVR owned their roles. Just amazing in the pre-show and when the experience was over. The anticipation leading into the experience was making everyone nervous because it was new, and not a single person knew what to expect. It made the attraction that much better.
The attraction itself was fun and unique. From the start of the pre-show to the conclusion was around 10 minutes and was definitely worth the $10 price. It was nice looking around, with always something to look at.
For example, if you looked in front there was a door with nothing going on, turn your head to the left, a hallway filled with zombies coming toward you. It also appeared that they filmed actors and implemented it onto the GearVR, not CG characters.
The video quality was much better than on the VR coasters. Plus, like a lot of haunts where you can catch up to the group in front of you and start the “conga line." that's not the case here as it’s an individual experience where you have no one to grab onto. You are completely on your own.
At CGA it’s sad because now that area is going to be nothing more then an empty space for the remainder of Halloween Haunt. FearVR was housed in the building across from the kids bumper cars, the old shooting gallery in the Kidzone area of the park.
Thank you Cedar fair for at least trying something new, hopefully they can find a decent replacement, or at least for next season try a different theme. There are plenty of options to choose from.
Review of Fear VR at Knott's Berry Farm
I was one of the lucky ones who experienced Fear VR at Knott's Scary Farm over opening weekend. Fear VR is an experience and not a maze. There is an up charge of $10. Much to myself and my husband Matthew Nelson's surprise they had openings for the entire night. I don't know why we didn't look for the kiosk reservations on actual opening night but I was sure glad we did on our second visit. After finding out the extra charge was $10 each I gladly paid for us both with a reservation time of 9pm. (It was 8:40pm by the time we had paid and gotten our receipt, tickets and special wristband.)
We went over to the tables and chairs to wait. Thankfully we only had to wait about 10 minutes before checking in. (You go over to the person holding the Fright Lane sign for Dead Of Winter and they let you into a second line that leads you to Fear VR.)
From there we waited a few minutes while the rest of our group who had 9pm reservation times check in. We were then led into another room (remember the first room of Trapped from the last year it was held?) There were couches, chairs, a huge flat screen tv, and signs saying "MeadowBrook Medical Institute". Of course I knew a little bit about Fear VR and of course my mind was already wondering just what would take place.
A nurse enters the room telling us it will be just a little while until they are ready for us and to please watch a safety spiel. She turns on the tv and we all watch explaining how to put on and also adjust the oculus glasses focusing them as well as headphones. We would have a panic button just in case it was too intense and we needed to press it. We are told a patient named Katie has escaped possessed by a demonic force or entity. (Think any kind of movie or tv show on possession.) The nurse returns and says we weren't supposed to see that. They are ready for us.
We follow her into a hallway where each wheelchair is curtained off much like an E.R. I was hesitant about being strapped down at first. Just the fact that I wouldn't be able to move my arms freely. I sat down in a chair and put on the headphones first before the oculus glasses. I used the focus wheel on the top of the glasses to make sure everything was nice and clear. Unfortunately I had to focus twice since for some strange reason when I had my glasses in focus they came out of focus. But no big deal. I grabbed the panic button but held it by the base not near the top just in case I would "accidentally hit it". Once everyone was ready they strapped us in.
The experience starts with you being wheeled in and are asked how you feel. You look/ follow a light as a nurse checks your reflexes/eyes. Everything didn't feel CGI but was more real and super clear. If you look straight ahead I think that bed/cubicle was Katie's but i wasn't sure. Next she administers a shot. Yes you do feel an actual pinch. Also if you look to the right there what appears to be a dead person covered up with a sheet on a gourney. But much to my surprise he comes to life but he is a zombie not human. As you are then pushed which feels as if your wheelchair is actually moving is when you're told it isn't safe that Katie has escaped. I looked to my left and saw doctors but they were like zombies.
You are pushed to the elevators as your nurse is injured. She pushes you inside the elevator all alone and I knew then that I would come across Katie. Sure enough and she gets closer and closer until she's directly in your face. The experience ends and you are unstrapped. I removed my oculus glasses and headphones. Told to gather in the middle of the room single file. And then to run. As I ran down the hallway to the exit you encountered Katie not once but twice as she tries to get you before you can escape.
In my opinion everyone in our group including myself and my husband really enjoyed and had only positive things to say. Fear VR was definitely worth the extra cost. I am very upset at hearing that Knott's removed Fear VR from Scary Farm for the remainder of the run. It was brilliant and the employees who took the time to create and make this amazing experience from start to finish deserves credit. The employees I hope are placed somewhere so they can actually work. I am so afraid that Knott's now won't try anything like this in the future which saddens me. This experience shook me. Yes afterwards my heart was racing and I was shaking. It took me awhile to actually calm down.
To say we're disappointed in this is an extreme understatement. Personally I'm not a huge fan of VR but that's just me, but I would never try to take that experience away from somebody.
I'll admit, when we posted the original story from Mercury News I was a bit upset. Then when we saw the article that came out a short time later from the LA Times I was livid. In this article we learned that the person who was one of the spearheads of this "protest" never even experienced the attraction and instead supposedly waited outside of the attraction to bug people who were leaving and used their words to get this taken down.
Look, we're not insensitive. We all have people in our lives who have had issues with mental health. Many of us have as well. But we're able to separate the very real issues of Mental Health in this world with a fantasy (make believe) scenario in a theme park Halloween event which involved telekinetic abilities.
And then of course it came out that Rick and Kay Warren (google them if you don't know who they are, they're a "treat") were also behind this, and that set off the Angry emotion something terrible.
Look, from a purely business standpoint we of course understand where Cedar Fair is coming from. But the people who are upset about FearVR were NEVER going to experience it. They are using the parks for their own personal agenda against everything that the event stands for. Just look at the comments on Kay Warren's Facebook post about this.
It's filled with people who feel that Halloween is evil, is of the devil and they aren't going to rest until the entire event is shut down. And if parks and events continue to cave, that's going to be just what happens.
(Of course, we would NEVER suggest you let your opinion be known on her page. ;) )
There are so many talented people who work on these events, and now their months and months of hard work has gone away. In an instant.
Not to mention the people who were staffing these attractions for the next month at 3 different parks. People who despite working the event for the love of the event maybe needed the extra pocket money for a school textbook, to pay some bills, buy some clothes for their kids. Are the Warren's and those who got this shut down now going to pay their salaries?
Luckily we're already hearing from some friends who work Knott's Scary Farm that those who worked in FearVR will be moved to other roles at the event. Let's hope this also includes the line control people and those who worked the experience at CGA and Canada's Wonderland.
There's going to come a time where these talented people are going to say forget it and leave. Everybody who does events like Scary Farm or Haunt does it for the love of the event. If you've never spent any time scaring people at an event I suggest you do it. It's exhilarating to give so many people a great time, and that's exactly what this attraction was about.
It's just funny that out of all the things at this event, FearVR is the one that they focused on. A few years ago somebody tried to get the Dia De Los Muertos maze and scare zone shut down because it was "offensive to Hispanics". The park wisely ignored that but it would be interesting if that person had gotten the backing of the Warren's if Cedar Fair would have caved on that too.
But where does it end? There are things in EVERY maze or experience at a Halloween event that is bound to offend somebody. Voodoo, Ghosts, Kids killed by the Tooth fairy, Sexual innuendo, Graphic Violence ... so what's going to get shut down next?
Sadly we don't have an answer but if the last 3 years of political correctness is any indication when it comes to these events, we haven't seen the last thing removed.
Update: September 30, 2016 - While all of the attractions are still closed and any maze/attraction at any Cedar Fair park that has anything to do with mental health has been closed or had the name changed, there is a petition to bring back FearVR with over 4,000 signatures so far. While the likelihood of Cedar Fair bringing back the attraction is very small let's hope this petition lets them know that as fans of these types of events, we're not going to let people dictate how we spend our time and money and censor events like this.