On Sept 21st, the first day of Fall, Knott’s Berry Farm debuted its annual haunt to giddy fans and members of the press. Despite the damage it did to my barking dogs (footsies) by the end of the night, it was a near-perfect evening. There were a couple of bugs getting things started during the first half hour, but they more than made up for it in professionalism and hospitality. We got to visit three mazes at the far end of the park in the first half-hour prior to the general public, but I got hopelessly lost three times in the Trick Or Treat Maze, and our spooky stroll through The Tooth Fairy and Paranormal Inc. were aborted by faulty fire alarms. When we returned to those mazes later in the evening, they were running very smoothly.
About the Mazes. Returning to the ones that were shut down temporarily, we treaded carefully into Trick Or Treat. Most of the mazes this year are substantially darker than in the past, but it was nearly impossible to see everything anyways. A gimmick they used here for the first time ever was a remote controlled flashlight to guide your way. The beams were always very low, and in different scenes they would change colors, and at some points vibrate. For the final room they stopped working entirely halfway through. Genius.
The Tooth Fairy Maze was mostly the same as it was for the last five years, but they added leftover dolls from the old Doll Factory maze to keep you distracted with eye candy and hidden actors.
Paranormal inc was tweaked up a bit, and included two new rooms. I would recommend this to first timers for its flying rigs and CGI effects. Shadowlands had a new opening to guide you into its world of ghostly Samurai, and the Ninjas have better masks now but its fantastic set design outdoes the scare factor.
My two favorite new mazes this year were Dark Ride and Pumpkin Eater. The latter of the two mazes is a clever spin off of the old Mother Goose Rhyme of Peter Peter Pumpkin eater about a psychotic creature and his minions that literally encase women’s heads in pumpkin shells. In the impressive showroom. you get to make your way through a giant rotted pumpkin with basketball-sized pumpkin seeds and wet stringy ropes simulating pumpkin guts. I really wish I had a better camera on my phone, but it was way dark in there as well. Don’t miss this one.
Dark Ride is another new maze where the creativity ran rampant. The concept is that you are trapped inside of a derelict dark ride spook house called Castle Chaos. Inside, you meet homeless weirdos and deranged clowns. Lots of jump scares in this one, which left me completely on edge, especially with the loud noises. I hate loud noise scares.
On a tamer note, the Timber Mountain Log Ride is re-themed as the family-friendly Halloween Hootenanny. This classic is opened during daytime hours as well. Fun stuff climaxing with a very sophisticated Knott’s Green Witch animatronic.
There are only two stage shows this year. No hypnotists or magicians, but of course the Hanging In Calico Square is back again to attack this last year’s media idiots and celebrity fails. It was pretty raunchy and not recommend for prigs, but the 8 year-old riding his mom’s shoulders in back of me squealed with delight to see Vladimir Putin receive a “Purple Nirpple” and again when Trump appeared onstage as his “Bitch,” donning a skimpy S&M outfit complete with dog collar and leash. When they finally settled on someone to hang, my party didn’t know who it was, but the audience both nodded and groaned.
Elvira Mistress Of The Dark was a glitzy Vegas-type show peppered with the prerequisite T&A jokes. She still looks and sounds great, as proven by the middle-aged men around us who seriously and vocally perved out. Seeing as this is her last season at Knott’s, I thought it could have been longer and a bit bigger but I’m quibbling here. Most everyone left happy.
In closing (The coffin lid), Knott’s gives you a lot of “Boo!” for your buck, but do yourself a favor and buy that extra front-of-the-line Fright Lane Pass. Your companions and your feet will thank you for it.