Knott's Scary Farm Halloween Haunt 2016

Halloween at Knotts Berry Farm

Knott's Scary Farm
Prayitno/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Knott's Scary Farm takes over the Knott's Berry Farm theme park after dark with nine mazes, five scare zones, 5 bonus scare experiences and all the coasters running in the dark. Knott's Scary Farm is a more lighthearted experience than the gorier Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. The 1000 roaming scare characters are usually more fun than scary. Enough to make you jump, but probably not elicit nightmares. (For the more family-friendly daytime event, see Knott's Spooky Farm.)

The Hollow is a new scare zone that will take you into the world of the Headless Horsemen and his henchmen. It joins Fiesta de los Muertos dance party, The Carneval freak show on the Boardwalk, Deadly 7 with monsters representing the seven deadly sins, and the original Ghost Town Streets scare zone populated half-human, half-animal monsters.

For 2016 the zombie apocalypse, Black Ops: Infected, has been re-imagined. It's still a live-action video game where guests are armed with laser guns to fight off zombies in streets and sewers.You'll face the ghosts of demon Samurai in the new Shadow Lands maze. Red Barn is full of carnivorous animals that prey on humans. 

Returning favorites include PARANORMAL, INC., which features high-flying aerial stunts and scares. It was one of our Halloween correspondent's favorite new mazes last year. You'll also have another chance to see the chilling Snow Queen and her Viking Warriors in The Dead of Winter maze. The Tooth Fairy; Voodoo - Order of the Serpent; The Gunslinger's Grave: A Blood Moon Rises;

This year the four Skeleton Key rooms, including one in the Green Witch Museum in Ghost Town, are stand-alone attractions, not part of the mazes, which didn't work out so well last year. 

Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark, returns with a new music, dance and comedy show, Elvira's Danse Macabre. The Hanging is back on the Calico Stage with killer comedy and acrobatics.

Fright Lane with Skeleton Key is a VIP front of the line ticket which gives priority access to 9 mazes and unlocks 4 secret rooms not available to guests without the Skeleton Key.

If you also want to ride rides - 14 are open - the separate Fast Lane wristband offers priority access on some of the top park rides. Both the Fright Lane and Fast Lane options require an additional fee on top of Scary Farm admission.

Refreshments, including beer, are available inside the park.

Knott's Scary Farm Details:

Address: Beach Blvd exit from the 91 Freeway in Buena Park
Dates: Sept 22 - Oct 31, 2016, Thursday through Sunday, plus Monday, Oct 31
Hours: 7 pm - 2 am Fri-Sat, all other days 7 pm - 1 am
Tickets: presale $40-52, Gate price $72, Admission+meal combos and fast lane tickets also available, Scary Season passes available. check for discount tickets.
Parking: $20, pre-purchase available
Tip: Guests are not allowed to wear costumes

Here's the 2016 Report from our Halloween Correspondent, Luiggi Svagelj.

2016 Review: Knott Very Scary, but Definitely a Lot of Fun!

I went to Knott’s Scary Farm never having visited before and was truly excited for what the night had in store for me. As I entered, the smoky atmosphere automatically made me begin to prepare myself for a long night of what I had hoped was going to be scary mazes and fun activities.

Skeleton Key Rooms

This year Knott’s has something they call Skeleton Key Rooms. I was really excited about the idea because it was something new to me and also new to the park in its current form as free-standing attractions. The Skeleton Key Rooms are four different smaller scale adventures that one can go on for an added price. I decided to start by completing these first. The four rooms are “Visions”, “ZOZO”, “Prey”, and “Slasher”. I will say it was not easy to find these rooms since there were no signs pointing to them anywhere.

Prey  was the first room I went into when I arrived. This is where I got my first taste of Knott’s Scary Farm.  I was greeted by a tall Farmer who was yelling at me to follow him into his farm where his hungry brothers were waiting to “eat me”. My mind started to wonder what exactly I had gotten myself into. The farmer gave me a lantern and told me to go, I don’t know why, but I started to run in a full on sprint. Soon I realized the area wasn’t that big and I froze, worst of all, the lantern’s light wasn’t working and it was completely dark now. I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder and I swear I ran so fast to try to get out of there. The actual experience was over fairly quickly, but it was really enjoyable.

Visions was one of the coolest and most entertaining things of the night. It felt like I was in an episode of ghost hunters and it was my job to figure out what was happening in the room. I was told a back story about a witch and some spirits before being given a phantom finder, a gadget that would register the image of a ghost when pointed at certain objects.  After uncovering a number of phantoms, the guide continued the story. It’s really the most interactive of all skeleton keys and in my opinion the one you want to try to go to first since there is no line jump here, and the lines are usually long.

ZOZO gave me the weirdest feeling. A fortune teller guides you through a spirit board session that that is a slow build to some demon hocus pocus. This was one of the weaker rooms, because the story took so long to set up that it never really scared me, but had me feeling more surprised.

The final Skeleton Key room is Slasher, which was the worst of the bunch. I would suggest if you're pressed for time, skipping this one. The voiceover story just doesn’t make sense and ruins the whole experience. Finally when it's time for the big reveal, the person looks so fake that it didn’t scare me, it just made me laugh.

After going through all four of the skeleton key rooms, I decided it was time for some actual scaring and headed towards the mazes. I went through all the new mazes first, before finishing the night with the mazes that had been there previous years.

Mazes at Knotts Scary Farm

Red Barn (New)

This was the first maze I went through. The premise is really interesting, but the execution is lacking. The idea here at the Red barn, is that animals are dying, decaying and eating humans. The humans are slaughtering animals and humans then eating them or creating art pieces out of them. It wasn’t clear, but it was gory. I’ll be honest and say I was impressed by the decor and set that was built, but it was a miss when it came to being scary.  It would be a good maze to start with if you are being introduced to scary things for the first time, and don’t want to be too scared.

Shadow Lands (New)

The Shadow Lands maze does an amazing job of entertaining and evoking fear. There’s such a cool and creative story being told, that I would recommend everyone try this maze at least once. The Samurai-themed maze itself was really quite a marvel to walk through.  In one room, a man's head is chopped off by a samurai sword. It was pretty awesome. Then you are told to choose your fate. I had to decide whether to go left or right. It was a cool idea, except that no matter which way you choose, you go through the same door and the same maze. Samurais are leaping, flying and coming out of the woodwork. All in all it was one of the better mazes and does a good job of executing its theme.

Special Ops: Infected (New)

This was my favorite part of the whole night. It is like something straight out of a movie. You're  given a gun and tasked with shooting zombies. Could I have asked for a better maze? The answer is no, because I had some of the most fun going through this maze. I was a soldier fighting in  the great war against the undead and it was just so much fun walking through this destroyed utopia. The designer of this maze did an absolutely amazing job. He created a whole new city and it made the experience 100 times better. It is, however, a fast-paced environment and I found myself actively moving. The story told throughout the various stops and briefings is an intriguing one as well. Honestly I would highly recommend you go here first as soon as you enter the park, because this maze had the longest line, but trust me it's totally worth it.

Paranormal Inc.

This is one of the more theatrical mazes at Knott’s and has a great use of special effects and illusions. The best part about this maze is that when you're prompted to choose a path, you can actually go through two different mazes. So if you have time, get back in line and do this maze again, but this time go the opposite route. I chose the left and was taken through a Psych ward with creepy nurses and psych patients. The other side is a demonic route with demons, more blood than in a hospital,  and jump scares. So pick your poison.

The Dead Winter

I actually really enjoyed this maze. Think of a crossover between the movie Frozen and Krampus. It definitely had some of the better costumes and animatronics, which added to the scary atmosphere of the maze. The scares however were not always up to par. You would anticipate the jump scare before it even happened. It did have a cool part, that included a mirror maze, which was fun. To sum up this maze wasn’t super scary, but it was fun to see how the setup and costumes were used. So keep that in mind when deciding where to start your night.

This is where my night started to get  a lot less scary. These next few mazes would be recommended for those looking for beginner mazes and one’s that kids would probably enjoy.

Trick or Treat

I really did not enjoy this maze very much, because it just had such a basic storyline that anyone going through it has seen it before at some point in their life. There's a witch and she is trying to eat some kids. The costumes were cool and the rooms themselves were decorated and designed in a very interesting way, but that's all this maze really offers. As far as scaring goes, they completely missed the mark, I would recommend this to kids and people who want to slowly work their way up to the scarier stuff.

The Tooth Fairy

This next maze was creepy and did send chills down my spine, but it was because of the props and set pieces. The actual actors didn’t really seem like they even wanted to be there. Which is sad and maybe they were just having an off night, but they were so slow to pop out that they wouldn’t scare you, just stop you in your tracks before allowing you to continue walking. Be warned if you have any type of crippling fear that involves, teeth or a dentist, don’t come anywhere near this place.

Voodoo: Order of the Serpent

As I entered this maze, I had high hopes of seeing some cool voodoo effects and thought of so many ways they could have really made this maze so much fun and scary. Yet, in the first couple of minutes, I got so bored, because there is no story being told here. It’s not scary at all and on top of it, one of the actors walked passed me and was talking to her friend and saying "I gotta go, I'm exhausted and I’m going on break." Not to be critical, but breaking the fourth wall is the last thing a hired actor should be doing. It completely ruins the rest of the experience, because you want to feel like you're in a new world. When that illusion is shattered, it ruins the whole experience. By the end of it, I was grateful to be out. It was so confusing and boring, it definitely missed the mark, and hopefully will be replaced next year by something better.

The Gunslinger's Grave

How do I put this. If you want to walk through a maze that will never scare you, and practically makes you want to go home, then this is the maze for you. There was no use of creativity or jump scares that it basically is the worst thing at Knott’s. I hate being critical, but it becomes so predictable that you know when you turn the corner there will be someone there to scare you. The lack of storyline didn’t help its case either. If there is one maze you want to skip, it's definitely this one. I really did wish it was much better, because it had a cool theme, but it just didn’t work at all and the execution of it was so terrible. Don’t come anywhere near this, unless you're just curious to know why it’s so bad.

Scare Zones

The scare zones definitely added to the fear factor. They had different themes for different sections of the park. There is a lot of smoke being released and the lighting is very low, so it was easier to be startled by the monsters, clowns, and Day of the Dead ghosts walking around. I was fortunate enough to run into the Headless Horseman roaming around. It's a cool illusion they have created, so be on the look out for him. I really enjoyed the scare zones because they didn't take too much attention away from anything, but added to the overall atmosphere of the night.

Tips for Visiting Knott's Scary Farm

I now understand why so many people go to Knott’s Scary Farm, and I genuinely had an awesome night. It was so much fun to experience something new and for the most part very well executed. I will admit, I was scared a couple of times and enjoyed certain mazes over others. One thing I would highly recommend you get, is the Fright Lane pass, because there are a lot of mazes here and you want to try to go through as many as you can.

Map out your adventure when you get there and plan a route, so it's easier to be aware of where you're going, because there is literally no light. I pulled my phone out to see the map at least 15 times, because there is so much smoke everywhere. The plus side is if you do find time, all of the roller coasters are still up and running and practically have no lines, so if you need a break from the scares I would recommend hopping on a coaster and relaxing. Bring comfortable shoes and games to entertain yourself, because some lines are long, and the park is big so you will be walking a lot. Knott’s Scary Farm is more focused on family than some other Southern California theme park Halloween experiences, and they serve that market well. If you keep that in mind, you will not be disappointed. You might not always be feeling scared, but you will definitely have a lot of fun.

You can follow @KnottsScaryFarm and #ScaryFarm to keep up with the latest scares.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.

For younger kids, Knott's Spooky Farm is a daytime non-scare celebration of Halloween throughout Knott's Berry Farm on weekends in October. The event is targeted for kids from three to eleven. Kids are welcome to wear costumes and participate in a costume contest. The event expanded last year from Camp Snoopy to the whole park, and this year additional themed events and activities have been added to help tie the event together. Kids will have the opportunity to go trick-or-treating, make crafts and participate in other interactive fun around the park. There is also one not-too-scary haunted maze. 

For 2016, they'll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the animated TV special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with special festivities in Ghost Town, and the Peanuts characters will perform the live show, The Monsters Are Coming, Charlie Brown, over in Camp Snoopy. At the Ghastly Gallery in the Boardwalk Ballroom, you'll find the Monsterpiece Theater, a museum of spooky culture, and an opportunity for kids to display their "monsterpieces".

Fiesta Village will host a non-scary Dia de Los Muertos celebration and learn about the Mexican holiday.

Location: Beach Blvd. in Buena Park, one mile south of the 91 (Artesia) Freeway and two miles south of the 5 (Santa Ana) Freeway
Dates: Weekends in October, plus Oct 31
Hours: 10 am to 4 pm
Cost: Included with park admission
Info: www.knotts.comDiscount Tickets

2015 Knott's Spooky Farm Review (2016 update after event opens)

My family-friendly Halloween correspondent, Jamie Rector, and her family report:

The kids were excited and couldn't wait to get to Knotts Spooky Farm!  Upon entry, my 5-year-old was busy begging us to go on her favorite rides.  Hubby and I promised her and her two-year-old brother some rides after we get to some of the special Halloween fun.  

Let me preface to say, we are not season pass holders. This is not my first time to the park, but it is my first time to Knotts Spooky Farm and my husband's first time to the park.  The kids went once before.

The map they provided us was quite vague and didn't really give us any landmarks to find our way.  There weren't any signs to help either.  So we spent a frustratingly long time looking for the Spooky Hollow Maze.  After cruising past all their favorite rides in Camp Snoopy, and searching for awhile, we happened upon the maze. 

Inside was nice. My 2-year-old had space to run around and things to explore within a very cute and kid-friendly, semi-confined area.  There were huge, colorful pumpkins, small pumpkins, and every size in between. It was decorated with hay stacks, spiders and their webs and other cool visuals.  Our unanimous favorite was the spinning pumpkin tunnel.  

I wouldn't have called it a maze, as it was more of a Halloween meandering area. At the end of the path, you could buy a small pumpkin for $5 to decorate before braving the park again.  After about 10 minutes, my 5-year-old was asking about the rides again. She even opted against the pumpkin in favor of the ride!  So we went on the Sierra Sidewinder and while she wanted to get right back on, we talked her into looking for the Creepy Crawler Cabin, which sounded quite enticing to the kiddos. They love bugs!

Again, the vague map wasn't helping.  We wandered into places we thought might be right.  Once that didn't seem to be helping, we asked several employees, none of whom had a clue.  So we continued to try to translate the map and scope the environment for any signs to show us the way, but nothing.  We decided to take a break from hunting and find some food and then wait for "The Monsters are Coming, Charlie Brown."  

There was quite a crowd for the show.  The Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the other characters sang and danced to favorite Halloween classics, such as Monster Mash, Witch Doctor, Adams Family, Ghost Busters, and more. It was a fun and interactive show for the kids.  Just the right length for the little ones, who don't have too long of an attention span. 

Trying to stick with the Halloween theme, there were more promises of rides as we looked for the Creepy Crawler Cabin.  After more struggle with the map and our whereabouts, more hunting for employees that actually knew where to guide us, we found the Monster Masquerade Ball.  Inside the nicely air-conditioned ballroom, with the cool, moody, dark lighting set up, we got to listen to kids serenading us with karaoke as my kids made masks.  They definitely liked the mask making. I asked one employee there where the Creepy Crawler was and she didn't really know.  I found someone who could tell us how to get there, but it was certainly not an easy path.  Turn right here, past all the buildings (ignore all the possible other roads that you wonder if are the right thing) and it's across the railroad tracks and down some other paths.  Whew!  Sounds like an epic journey.  

She agreed that having better maps and signs would help, and mentioned there was actually a policy against signs.  I, as a guest, hope that stance will be changed.  I would have greatly appreciated some signage and better maps.

This employee's directions did get us to the Creepy Crawler Cabin. We were lucky to find her. It was worth the wait and the search.  It turned out to be my kids' favorite part of the Halloween extravaganza. They both held stick bugs and cockroaches.  Ewwww!  They loved it.  We looked at the cool skulls and all the great, preserved creatures.  Bats, black widows, scorpions, and more. They can pick up so many things and explore.  We also learned that this is a year-round learning place at Knott's, not particular to Halloween.  There are a few Halloween decorations added to give it the Halloween mood.  My kids spent the most time here of anywhere.  

The log ride is our new favorite ride and the highlight of the trip, followed by the Creepy Crawler Cabin.  I think those with season passes may have had a different experience.  They probably knew how to find everything quickly and had experienced all the regular rides and features and were looking for something new.  For us, the lure of Halloween wasn't strong enough against the lure and curiosity for the park itself. 

I do wish all the Halloween events were all in one place, so we can focus on that and veer out as we wish, rather than spending so much time wandering around the entire park searching for hard-to-find events. We would have had more time to enjoy rather than time wasted searching. Overall, everyone had a great time and would do it again. 

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