Behind-The-Scenes of Knott’s Scary Farm 2014

By Richard and Sarah Woloski

School is in session. When you hear those words does your mind automatically start flipping through excuses on how to skip? Well, SCARE SCHOOL at KNOTT’S SCARY FARM is something you don’t want to ditch!

The oldest theme-park Haunt in the United States (40+ years and counting) invited us on a Behind-the-Scenes tour of KNOTT’S SCARY FARM (Southern California Theme Park – KNOTT’S BERRY FARM turned Scary for the Halloween Season). From monsters in training to just how many loads of laundry it takes to keep those monsters’ ripped rags fresh night after scream-filled night.

Knott's Scary Farm

First, Richard and I arrived on the Knott’s backlot and witnessed Scare School for the maze, Dominion of the Damned. Thirty monsters-in-training were rehearsing their roles as Vampires, Zombies and What-Evers. The Monster Coach directed her minions to embody their character by vocalizing their performance, develop a walk for their character then interact with each other as their “creature of the night”.

The Vampires, Zombies and What-Evers were placed in a ‘rehearsal’ maze so they could practice their technique on the members of the press. I know they were trying their damnedest (no pun intended) but it was a little difficult to be scared by people in street clothes jumping out at you screaming in your face (whatever happened to “boo!”). It’s just not the same as when they’re all made up in costume and face paint or prosthetics.

Next up was the part that excited us most – Behind-The-Scenes of the wardrobe and make-up department! Now, having made costumes ourselves, worked in the special effects industry and cleaned costumes after every weekend, we know a little about what goes into maintaining and creating costumes.

Knott's Scary Farm Wardrobe

Knott's Scary Farm Wardrobe 2014

The Head Costumer Tim Barham, along with his team, design, clean, create, clean, sew, fabricate and clean hundreds of costumes each Scary Farm Season. Some costumes can be used again from year to year, if the maze stays the same, but other times the costumes wear out and they must make them fresh. Double-stitching seams and patching knees, elbows and shoulder blades is common practice to keep them from deteriorating too quickly since these Monsters get down and dirty when trying to terrify unsuspecting guests. Here’s a little more of what Tim had to say about costumes and laundry:

After seeing this amazing costume department, we were escorted to the Make-up department. The Supervisor of Wardrobe Services, Bill Meier, told us all about the creation of foam latex masks. They have created over 800 masks for 250 performers to wear over the course of the Haunt.

Knott's Scary Farm Make-Up

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To demonstrate a simple bruising effect, a fellow member of the press was called up and had a quick job done.

It was fun talking shop with Bill about foam latex vs. silicone make-up. He showed us the gruesome mask (made mostly of a purse found at a thrift store) of the demented Dentist who is character in a new maze this year The Tooth Fairy.

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Looking at so much blood and gore made us all really hungry. So we were brought to the Knott’s Scary Farm Food Truck serving edible delights. The chefs served up fish tacos and Po-Boy sandwiches. There’s no more to this part of the story, we just wanted to give a shout-out to Knotts Berry for feeding us.

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In real school, I could never get my head around history class. Looking back I think if they told spooky ghost stories I would have paid attention. Here, the KNOTT’S SCARY FARM Team took us through quick stories from the last 40 years. Back in 1973, Scary mazes had yet to be invented. Instead, there were “peak-ins” – buildings where you could look in the windows and see a scary scene or tableau.

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One night a “peak-in” actor was locked out of his building, and the manager trying to unlock his door nonchalantly suggested that he scare people walking past while he found the right key. Doing what he was told, the actor started scaring people by running up to them and getting in their personal space. The guests had never seen anything like that before and ran for their lives! It was on this day that Monster scarers were born!

It wasn’t until a few years later in 1977 that the first Scare Maze was born. Mrs. Knott’s saw huge lines forming at Calico Mine Train (another ride) and the specialty shows, and Knott’s created a maze with monsters to give park-goers something else to do. Mazes were born as a means to alleviate lines.

Lastly, we were able to go through the new maze, Pinocchio Unstrung. Great theming in this one. You got Geppeto’s workshop, the puppet theater, Treasure Island and going through “the whale.” Each of these elements is turned on it’s head so that it’s extra scary. though with the scarers not dressed up, it was hard to tell who was trying to scare you, once again.

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Overall this event was a great Behind-The-Scenes look into all the hard work that goes into Knott’s Scary Farm.  As soon as the creative teams are done cleaning up the current year they are back to work developing the next year’s incredible Scare experiences.

Knott's Scary Farm Logo Black

 

For more information on event dates, pricing, Fright Lane, Fast Lane and Hotel Packages, please visit Knotts.com or download the Knott’s Berry Farm app for your smart phone. Join the scary conversation by using #ScaryFarm on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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About Richard & Sarah Woloski

Richard and Sarah Woloski are the co-hosts and creators of the Disney / Star Wars Podcast Skywalking Through Neverland. The husband and wife team strives to create a polished, positive and fun weekly show celebrating fandom. They also love writing for Adventures By Daddy. Find them @SkywalkingPod