FULL REVIEW: Knott’s Scary Farm 2014 Has Arrived!

KNOTT’S SCARY FARM, the oldest Haunt in the US is trying to stay ahead of the curve by switching things up and making some changes. As with any changes, there are a few growing pains.

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Richard and I have been to Knott’s Scary Farm every year for the past 9 years, so we knew what to expect and what to compare it to. It is generally our favorite SoCal Haunt. The atmosphere is creepy, there’s lots of Mazes and shows, and the Monsters love to scare you. Let me take you through our night. For each new element we experienced in 2014 I have a review clearly marked below.

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We were invited to attend at the highest ticket level: Combo Ticket, with admission and Fright Lane with Skeleton Key. This means that we got unlimited front-of-the-line access to all Mazes, (NOT rides) and in certain mazes, we got to experience a special “Skeleton Key” room where different things happened depending on the Maze. When you buy the Combo ticket you also receive a lanyard with all the Mazes listed, plus this really awesome Skeleton Key Keychain.

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COMBO TICKET: FRIGHT LANE WITH SKELETON KEY Review

There are 9 Mazes total in 2014, and 5 of them have a Skeleton Key Room. Combo Tickets start at $99, with the price changing depending on the night of the week and proximity to Halloween. Since Single-night regular tickets are $39-$49, the FRIGHT LANE WITH SKELETON KEY is quite a hefty extra chunk of change to fork over. Is it worth the money?

Weeeeeell… I probably wouldn’t do it, especially for 2 or more people. All of a sudden that’s over $100 extra very quickly. The Skeleton Key rooms definitely didn’t pack a punch. Each experience lasted about 5 minutes, with a Scare Monster taking you to the room and acting out their part. The BLACK MAGIC Maze has a Seance room where you tried to bring Harry Houdini back from the dead.

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DOMINION OF THE DAMNED had a greenhouse where a Vampire offered you dried bugs to eat. A very odd experience. In VOODOO each of us had to get in our own coffins, which was kind of creepy. Overall, though, the music was too loud and these poor actors had to really project to be overheard. They really should have been mic’ed to save their throats and our ears. You can tell Knott’s is trying to advance their Mazes using technology. Again, I applaud them for it. But as an adult, you can tell exactly what technology they’re using, and so the mystery is gone. They just need to take it to the next step and hide the technology they’re using to create these experiences. Now, the Fright Lane itself was pretty nice. We walked right up to each Maze and in most cases were ushered right in. TRICK OR TREAT was by far the longest line that we skipped. That line must have been over an hour and a half long! Time saved with FRIGHT LANE. WITCHES KEEP Maze was 30 minutes and VOODOO another 30 minutes. So if you’re looking to feel like a VIP, and don’t want to miss a minute of Scares, by all means fork over the additional $65 per person. To those looking to get more enjoyment out of KNOTT’S SCARY FARM for a more reasonable value, consider the KNOTT’S SCARY FARM ANNUAL PASS. New for 2014 – for only $75, you can visit all 28 nights of Knott’s Scary Farm. I think this is a great addition for locals who want to enjoy the night at their own pace and not miss a thing.


Back to our evening. KNOTT’S really knows how to put on a show. We were ushered into an area with marvelous food and drink, buffet style. But the best part was the dessert! White chocolate Skeleton head with Boysenberry mousse and a chocolate coffin filled with Boysenberry mousse. I would recommend a catered event at Knott’s Berry Farm any day of the week! Soon after dinner, it was time to experience the brand new Scare Zone – SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED.

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SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED Review

Knott’s Scary Farm added a new event this year – SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED. This was something we were very eager to experience since we didn’t really know what was going to happen. Here is Knott’s description:

HUNT ZOMBIES IN AN ALL-OUT WAR. This ambitious new attraction is the first of its kind in North America and will challenge guests to exterminate the infestation of zombies who threaten mankind’s existence. Armed with specially designed laser guns, brave groups of Knott’s Scary Farm guests will embark on missions, led by their Squad Leader – a loud mouthed, take-no-prisoners commander charged with turning guests into soldiers.  Groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete various missions before time runs out. If zombies drag their bodies too close, the un-infected’s guns temporarily deactivate, compromising the safety of the entire team. Soldiers with the deadliest aim will be celebrated with a tally of the number of zombies killed on a display board for other survivors to see each night in base camp. Special Ops: Infected seamlessly integrates interactive gaming technology with an immersive mountainous landscape, delivering a breakthrough interactive haunted experience that is as terrifying as it is challenging. Missions will take guests through a variety of wilderness terrains, including the unpredictable barrel bridges across the rushing river, through the dark caverns, and through mysterious backwoods. Six acres of the beloved theme park is now home to mutinous, scream-inducing zombies, and the time has come for a harrowing Special Ops survival mission (limited spaces available; guests should visit the attraction early to avoid longer queue times).

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Basically, it’s a Maze that’s far more interactive than the regular Scare maze that you just walk through. Two Commanders take groups of 6-10 people at a time. They sit you down on hard benches and start yelling at you like military personnel, telling you the mission.

Unfortunately the background music is so loud that it was hard to make sense of what they were saying. This is what I understood: we had to stick with the two commanders, enter the infected zone, find someone, and bring them to safety. Next, the Commanders told us to get up, and handed each of us a rifle. These rifles “shot” 3 points of light. “Shoot only at their heads” they said. Well, if we shot anywhere else the zombies wouldn’t know we hit them!

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All of a sudden it was time! The Commanders started yelling and pushed us into the Infected Zone. We stuck with them as they led us through the various areas. We went through a building and to an abandoned campground. Zombies tried to attack but we shot them back. We entered a facility with a computer bay and someone onscreen trying to tell us something. Perhaps it was a recorded message. Once again the music overhead was too loud to make sense of anything!

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The Commanders led us through several more areas until we found the girl we were supposed to rescue in a Breaking Bad-style camper. I almost expected Jessie to pop out! We brought her with us to the final area but were assaulted by several Zombies, one of which managed to attack and “bite” her. I was trying to shoot the Zombie and was so focused on that that a Commander had to come and grab me and take me through the door with the rest of the group to safety. “Safety” being a photo op! The whole experience probably lasted about 7-10 minutes.

I applaud KNOTT’S SCARY FARM for trying to do something a little different and take Mazes to the next level. SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED is the kind of thing I would enjoy more the second time around, knowing what to expect. And apparently there are 2 entrances to the Maze and, therefore, two different experiences. Our scheduled time was for the ALPHA entrance, but there was a BRAVO entrance as well, on the opposite side of the area. Now, the Press Release mentions “Soldiers with the deadliest aim will be celebrated with a tally of the number of zombies killed on a display board for other survivors to see each night in base camp.” Since these guns were made of light, there is really no way of knowing who “shot” the most zombies. I never saw a leaderboard tallying up peoples’ scores either. Maybe I just missed it. But if they did use technology similar to Disneyland’s Buzz Lightyear Ride, that would be another step up. I know people who ride that ride every time they go to Disneyland to see who can get the better score. My favorite part of SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED was the photo op at the end. I think that may have been the Commanders’ favorite part as well!

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We now had some time before our next scheduled event in the evening, so we went through 6 of the 9 mazes in an hour and a half thanks to our FRIGHT LANE pass. TRICK OR TREAT was by far my favorite. It takes your usual Halloween items like witches and ghosts and pumpkins, and makes them spookier, creepier and steampunkier! I loved everything about that Maze, from the Scarers to the room decor. It also happened to be the longest line.

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11:30 PM rolled around, and it was time for an extra event we had added on and paid for online beforehand – TRAPPED: LOCK AND KEY.

TRAPPED: LOCK AND KEY Review

4. Trapped Lock & Key Logo

Last year, Richard, our friend Dave and I experienced TRAPPED. It involved 4-6 people working together to get through 5 different rooms. You had to do puzzles, stick your hands in gross things and crawl through small spaces to work your way out. Here is Knott’s Press Release for 2014:

This year Trapped returns with more rooms, more intricate puzzles and a shocking finale more extreme than any experience ever presented at Knott’s Scary Farm.  You become part of the terror and are forced to face your darkest fears, confront your inner terrors and descend into the madness of a maze with no way out.  Trapped is not for the squeamish as the challenges are darker and more terrifying than any that have come before.  (Additional fee and reservation required.)

Now for our review:

 

 

 

 

Yup, you read that right. We didn’t get to go. We had made online Reservations for 11:30PM. When we got to the location at 11:25, there was a huge line. Now we thought that maybe these people hadn’t made reservations, so we walked up to the main desk where we were told that nope, even people with reservations had to wait in that line. The line was an hour and 45 minutes long!! This seemed a bit ridiculous to us. When you make a reservation, you expect it to be honored within 15-20 minutes. We decided to get our money back instead of waiting for that long. I’m not sure if this was an opening night glitch, or a regular thing this year. I certainly don’t remember waiting too long last year. It’s unfortunate, because we really wanted to experience all the changes for 2014.


Because we were trying to get into TRAPPED, we missed the last ELVIRA show of the evening, so unfortunately I don’t have a review of that.

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At this point in the night we were ready for another show. Usually KNOTT’S SCARY FARM has about 5 different shows. THE HANGING and ELVIRA are staples, and then there’s an Improv comedy act, Belly-dancing, a hypnotist show and more dancers. But this year, they’ve nixed all the shows except THE HANGING and ELVIRA’S BIG TOP! We were shocked! This is probably due to SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED and a few of the other changes. To me, SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED does not make up for the loss of the additional shows I used to enjoy. Overall, I wouldn’t want to miss KNOTT’S SCARY FARM. It’s an annual tradition! However, I do feel that in trying to improve they’ve actually taken a small step back. I look forward to next year when KNOTT’S can perhaps learn from their growing pains and bring back the shows!

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DISCLOSURE: Sarah and Richard Woloski received two complimentary tickets to experience the opening night of Knott’s Scary Farm for the purpose of writing this review.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

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