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Review: Knott’s Scary Farm 2018

There’s lots to look forward to in California each October – but that one night each year when we get to return to the fog and step back into the iconic tradition that is the world’s longest running Halloween event is unquestionably always the most special.


Knott’s Scary Farm, sometimes also referred to as “Halloween Haunt” is the granddaddy of all theme park Halloween events. Currently operating for its 46th consecutive year, the Haunt is to Halloween what Disneyland is to theme parks. Knott’s literally invented the genre of grand scale Halloween events. Are you a fan of Halloween Horror Nights? Howl-O-Scream? Any of the incredible independent haunts around the country? Well then, perhaps its time you plan a trip to California to pay your respects to the event that started them all – and an event that still holds a regional strong-hold as one of the best in existence 46 years later.

Knott’s Scary Farm, located at Knott’s Berry Farm, is a separately ticketed event that runs twenty-five select nights between September 20, 2018 and October 31, 2018, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, most Sundays as well the last two Wednesdays of October. In its 46th year, Knott’s Scary Farm features nine different haunted houses, one ride seasonal overlay, four scare zones – including the original – the massive Ghost Town Streets, three shows as well as all of your favorite Knott’s Berry Farm attractions, including the brand new HangTime (with a killer Halloween lighting package), Xcelerator and GhostRider as well as classics like Calico Mine Ride.

*Haunts which return unchanged from the previous year will be duplicated from our 2017 review.




Are you afraid of the dark? You will be. 

Armed with only a faulty flashlight, explore the creepy house at the end of the street, in the upgraded Trick-or-Treat: Lights Out maze. Face the terrors  of the house in complete darkness as your interactive flashlight reveals the horrors hiding in the shadows.  Featuring new state-of-the-art effects, unexpected scares and other eerie surprises, Trick-or-Treat: Lights Out will terrorize you like never before. 

Perhaps the most traditional “vintage Halloween” approach Knott’s has ever taken also results in one of its most satisfying story-driven Haunts. Trick or Treat: Lights Out is just that – an adventure straight from our childhood that finds us going house to house collecting candy on All Hallow’s Eve. That is, of course, until we ring the wrong doorbell;  the doorbell of that dark, spooky old house at the end of the street that the other kids claim is home to an evil witch, trapping us in a world of delightfully devilish playful evil.

Trick or Treat: Lights Out returns far more ominous than ever, truly dropping us into a twisted, dark world of shadows inhabited by the Green Witch and her Tricksters. It’s never been so easy to become lost within the Trick or Treat storyworld – whether you want to or not.

Several years into its run, Trick or Treat remains one of the best examples of superb quality scenic at Knott’s Scary Farm. An ominous large exterior house facade greets guests as they literally enter the dark world of the legendary Green Witch, by stepping up onto the porch, physically ringing her doorbell and actually trick or treating once the door opens. From there, they’re whisked inside the sprawling manor – and its “exterior” grounds – and run from room to lavishly detailed room in hopes of finding a way out.

Numerous physical effects from floating objects, flying creatures, wind, and fog just to name a few further enhance the environment to create the sense of a truly enchanted yet ominous supernatural world.

As if that’s not enough, the entire experience occurs in pitch black darkness, adding a truly wicked spin to what was already our favorite haunt at the event.


The scareactor cast of Trick or Treat: Lights Out takes an already stellar top tier Haunt and pushes it even further to the next level. The old manor is bursting at the seams with the Tricksters – the menacing hoard of evil children doing the bidding of the iconic Green Witch. They create a perfect balance with the Green Witch herself, matching her bone-chilling evil with a devious childlike whimsy.

Knott’s Scary Farm has found the ultimate “trick” to further compliment one of our favorite haunts, and boy are you in for a treat. Each guest entering the old, dark, abandoned manor is handed their own flashlight. They are, however, far from standard issue. These flashlights are the ultimate theatrical lighting tool – Gantom Torch Escape – a specially made, programmable IR-controlled flashlight that can dim, flicker, turn off completely, physically shake in your hand and even magically transition from flashlight to blacklight – all on its own.

This perfect blending of fresh new tech takes Trick or Treat: Lights Out from an iconic classic maze and turns it into a truly creepy one on a whole new level. Scares are significantly more impactful, and come much more unexpectedly. What results is a far more immersive feeling wherein guests are truly dropped into a scary movie, with very real urgency and seemingly real-world consequences.

The Depths



A heavy fog drapes over an abandoned port village where ancient creatures lurk inside the pitch-black underground caves hidden below the seaside shores. The Nightwatch Mining Crew has mysteriously disappeared and village rumors point to the eerie tunnels the town sits upon. Myths of the terrifying horrors that lurk within the cave have often been whispered but never confirmed.  Did the crew meet their demise at the hand of vicious creatures that live within the cave? Journey into the ominous caverns and follow the crew’s path into The Depths, discover if the superstition revolving around the cave is true or not. But be warned! All who have entered have never resurfaced.

The story begins before stepping foot into the mine shaft itself; an animatronic fisherman, perched next to his latest catch – a shark, of course – sets the tone of the legendary curse on this part of the sea. But since when has any cautionary tale stopped us?

Throughout out journey into The Depths, a sense of clear danger grows – drawing us into the storyworld in a compelling way.

The Depth’s scenic levels progress with it’s storyworld – becoming more and more compelling the further we venture below the surface. One past our old fisherman friend, we dive straight into the abandoned shafts of the Nightwatch Mining Crew. Rocky walls seemingly ready to crumble upon us are held up by old wooden supports which may or may not be suitable for their weight.

From the mine, we find ourselves venturing into a swampy abyss – a compelling effect produced with a combination of low-lying fog and a rippling water-like laser. It truly feels as though we are waist-deep in the murky tide.

But the final act of The Depths is unquestionably it’s strongest; once underwater, the mood takes a decidedly pirate tone, complete with a room-sized animated Kraken – it’s moving tentacles literally all around us – leaving us no place to escape other than straight into a swashbuckling ship wreck. And if you think being sunk at the the bottom of Davy Jone’s Locker for hundreds of years is enough to protect your landlubber’s sea sickness, think again! This giant gallon quite literally rocks back and forth on a constant wave as you pass through it!


True to the storyworld progression, characters encountered throughout The Depths evolve with their settings. At the start, what’s left of the old Nightwatch Mining Crew is still lurking in the caves, protecting their worldly belongings left behind in their make-shift camp.

Once in the water, puppet-like sea-creatures dance on the laser surface, poking above and under the faux water’s surface in the most compelling of ways.

Aboard the ship, well, the crew might remind you just a little bit (read: a whole lot) of a certain Pirate movie from a certain park just down the road. The tentacle-faced captain and his mutant shark henchman may be just a tad too similar – but just the same feel at home within this world. And the Kraken isn’t the only giant sea beast lurking around the shipwreck; one last surprise we won’t spoil for you creates quite the memorable finale.




Paranormal Inc. features high flying aerial stunts and scares as guests help investigate a haunted hospital where the patients were tortured for decades by deranged doctors and nurses. Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls, while evil medical staff prowl for new patients to torture.

A modern take on the haunted house genre, Parnormal Inc. makes us the live studio audience on location for the filming of a popular ghost hunting investigation tv show, set in the notoriously haunted Hayden Hill Sanitarium. What should be a passive experience for us, the audience, quickly turns active “live on TV” as a glitch in the containment equipment releases a vengeful demon and opens a portal to another dimension – with our only hope to escape being through it.
New for 2018, the story of Paranormal Inc. is fleshed out much more solidly than ever before – with us witnessing not only the release of demons into the facility, but ultimately finding ourselves caught in the middle of it all – eventually transported back in time to the facility’s notorious heyday.

If there was an award for “most improved returning maze,” Paranormal Inc. unquestionably wins it a million times over. This haunt has been part of Knott’s Scary Farm for several years now – and although its first half had been among the best quality Knott’s has ever done, its second half kind of fell apart.

But that was then, and now, a brand new ending has turned this haunt into easily one of the best all-around attractions ever produced for Knott’s Scary Farm. If you’ve not visited Hayden Hills before, let’s first catch you up to speed on what returns:

Starting with a large scale facade of the Hayden Hills Sanitarium, leading guests to a large lobby for an epic show moment, and then through hallways and rooms of the asylum,  chock full of physical effects and convincing projection apparitions – Paranormal Inc. always made an immediate statement.

Distinct, unique split paths out of the lobby create two completely different experiences and promote a true repeatability of this maze.

Once all hell breaks loose within the Sanitarium – literally – we find ourselves pushed through a tight, dark air bladder – an effect we’ve seen done a million times before, and one that kind of makes us groan. Except we’ve never exited an air bladder to such an impactful “wow” moment before! On the other said, we’re literally transported back in time. Hayden Hills is fresh and new, and we’ve just found ourselves in the lobby, with a nurse waiting to check us in.

It’s also here that we realize that the haunting of Hayden Hills goes all the way back to the beginning, with a very off-putting and incredibly exciting finale scene that will be remembered for the eternity of Knott’s Scary Farm.


Much like the story and scenic, scares in Paranormal Inc. perfectly flow with where in the narrative we find ourselves. Starting with perhaps the most ambitious scare Knott’s has yet achieved in a haunt – a flying rig that sees an evil spirit soar screaming just inches above your head – a very high bar is set for this experience. Image mapping projection transforms the opening lobby space, releasing evil spirits while creating previously unseen access points deeper into Hayden Hill.

The hallways are full of a solid mix of live actors and projection effects paired with physical effects to create a high tech scare, and now, it only just gets better from there.

Actors literally get dragged through the ceiling as we escape through the air bladder, back in time to days long past. From here, the space ominously transforms around us, from hospital to hell and back again – as though to imply the evil that festers through these halls is getting stronger by the second. It’s a “wow” moment that will stop you in your tracks – and likely will make you turn around as you walk past just to see it unfold one more time.

Dark Entities


Teleport beyond earth and into a realm where the darkness is absolute. In the depths of space, a lone station faces terror beyond all imagination. An extraterrestrial mutation has invaded the station, and it’s on the prowl for new hosts. The unearthly inhabitants’ force increases as it feeds on its unwilling victims. Escape the dark entities before its deathly force eliminates all living form aboard the station. There’s nowhere to escape when time is running out!

It’s been quite a while since Knott’s Scary Farm ventured into the dark recesses of outer space, but Dark Entities aims to steer that ship back on course. This time, it’s less about little green men and more about an intergalactic virus that’s mutating humans into other-worldly monsters. The change of pace is fun on paper, but in execution comes across a bit “one note,” as we’ll discuss below.
In other news, did anyone notice there’s now a haunt called Dark Ride and another called Dark Entities at the same event? That’s a bit … confusing?

Scenically, Dark Entities begins strong as a run down space station from the future as told by the 1980’s. Everything is dated clearly in a state of disrepair – and as a setting, it actually works quite well. This “obsolete” motif is a welcome change from the typical shiny metal spaceship one may expect to find.

Unfortunately, the problem becomes one of a bit of repetitious flavor. With Dark Entities existing solely within the confines of the space station, it’s difficult for things to scenically progress. Although the action certainly changes, each scene has a similar look and feel that somewhat tarnishes a sense of discovery throughout this haunt.


Dark Entities is a mix of mutated actors and some clever mutated puppets that together work well to bring the world of this abandoned space station to life.

Vibrating floors add a level of believabilty, implying the clear presence of turbulence as we hurtle helplessly through the cosmos.

One particular actor/puppet combo provided a truly compelling scare, even for our not-usually-started group. Using the large puppet as the distraction, rather than the scare itself is sure to catch even the bravest in your astronaut crew off guard.



Survive the Zombie Apocalypse in an All-Out War!

Armed with cutting edge laser guns, brave guests will face off against hordes of zombies in the groundbreaking all-new Special Ops: Infected interactive maze. Small units of guests will battle the zombie apocalypse through blood soaked city streets and an underground sewer system crawling with nearly one hundred ravenous zombies.

Groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete terrifying 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 display board for other survivors to see each night in base camp.

Each year, the interactive Infected haunt strives to make guests active participants in the story on a level other Knott’s Scary Farm attractions cannot, by arming them with laser weaponry and leaving them to fend for themselves in the middle of a full-blown zombie apocalypse.  And this year, it achieves that goal on an even grander scale.

It’s worth noting that this haunt is very popular, and that, coupled with it’s slightly slower capacity due to weapon distribution can lead to very long lines. Special Ops: Infected may be a smart place to start your evening at Knott’s Scary Farm.

What started as an outdoor activity spanning all of Camp Snoopy, Special Ops: Infected now exists in its own dedicated haunt location. Full of detailed city-scape, tunnels and even subway train sets, this transition proved a night and day difference in experience quality. Special Ops: Infected creates a far more immersive setting than its predecessors of past years.

Some of Knott’s Scary Farm’s most detailed sets fill out this popular haunt, making it easy for us to suspend disbelief and accept we really are fighting for our lives amid a real zombie apocalypse.

It goes without saying, but actors can make or break the quality of scares found within a haunt. Jump scares, or “boo scares” can startle, for sure, but they are not nearly as impactful as story-driven interactions.

The cast of Special Ops: Infected, without a doubt, inhabited the zombie character to a much higher level of success and believability than any we’ve seen elsewhere. They slowly, effectively lurch around, clearly giving the impression that they are not in full control of their physical function. They react accordingly when shot, recoiling back and stumbling to regain composure. A lot of things make Special Ops: Infected the best version of the “Infected” brand to date, but the actors definitely top that list.




Take a trip to a blood-soaked barn filled with carnivorous animals seeking to prey on human flesh in the Red Barn gore maze. Legend has it the farmer who owns the barn was transformed into a heinous creature that sends his sadistic sons to ensure his legacy. None dare enter the barn, for those who enter never escape.

Red Barn is a modern taken on a classic Halloween hay maze, meets cannibalistic rednecks. And as odd as that may sound, it actually works really well in the context.

The 2018 season saw a new twist added to the story that incorporates a religious-esque cult into the mix. Beginning while guests actually wait in line to enter The Red Barn, they encounter a preacher addressing the crowd from his elevated pulpit, offering promise of a better world inside the barn. Naturally, this is simply a trap to lure unsuspecting visitors inside to be prey for the brutal bumpkins that run the place.

At its core, the interior scenic of The Red Barn is what you may well expect – wooden textures flanked with blood-soaked hay bales, accentuated by copious amounts of dismembered animal corpses. (If you have a soft spot for chickens or pigs, or are a card-carrying member of PETA, this maze may not be for you!)

What makes the scenic work so well in The Red Barn is in fact its simplicity. By staying more minimal in its approach, it feels more gritty, more real, more authentic. What results is a very traditional classic Halloween flavor which is oftentimes lost as mazes try harder and hard to be more high tech.

Perhaps The Red Barn’s coolest gimmick is its willingness to play with spacial heights. Ceilings ramp down as floors slope up seamlessly, creating an unnerving sense of disorientation that is sure to take you out of your comfort zone.


The story of The Red Barn centers around a deranged family of rednecks with a taste for blood – and the scareactors inhabiting this make-shift slaughterhouse play their roles well.

An energetic cast, they truly brings this demented family to life, and creates a sense of urgency for your escape that instantly transports you into the storyworld.  In its first year, The Red Barn is sure to become a solid fixture of Knott’s Scary Farm.




Journey through an abandoned carnival ride where cruel carny folk still linger in the shadows in Dark Ride: Castle of Chaos, Knott’s Scary Farm’s newest maze. The shunned performers have created an ominous world of terror which they plan to unleash on those who enter. Dark Ride will lead brave visitors through a treacherous path and into the bowels of a long neglected attraction, as sinister shadows and horrifying scenes cast gloom over the once pleasant ride. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, being helplessly surrounded by clowns without a way out.

Dark Ride may be one of Knott’s Scary Farm’s most original maze concepts in quite some time, if not ever – and it also marks the first time we can remember that the park embraced a true comedy haunt. The story starts before guests even exit the queue, as the attendant stands not next to stanchions and ropes, but behind a carnival ticket booth podium. From there you step onto the loading platform of the Castle of Chaos ride, onto the tracks and deep into its warped and run-down world.

Dark Ride is so easy to become instantly immersed in that it feels far more like real life urban exploring in an abandoned carnival than it does walking through a haunt at a Halloween event. Without question, this is one of our new solid favorite attractions at Knott’s Scary Farm, and we will gladly welcome it back with open arms for years to come.

The way Dark Ride’s scenic unfolds is true storytelling art. Beginning, as we mentioned, in the queue itself, where guests reach the carnival ticket booth prior to entering the haunt-proper. From there we step onto the loading platform and onto the ride’s tracks itself. A security guard who no doubt would have stopped us has clearly met an ominous demise prior to our arrival, but surely it’s safe for us to continue on!

The scenic stylings are – by design – perfectly low-quality, instantly evoking the spirit of a really bad carnival ghost train. The actual ride track’s bus bar snakes through the center of our path making it clear that we are somewhere we shouldn’t be. Appropriately, the track is scattered with broken down ride vehicles, some of which still trap unfortunate victims under their lap bars.

Our exploration takes us into back of house “behind the scenes” hallways – an attention to detail that will certainly amuse anyone who has ever worked at a theme park (or just been broken down on their favorite attraction.) We even find our way into the Castle of Chaos’ maintenance bay – an area clearly not suited for guests littered with tools and disjointed pieces of the ride awaiting repair.

Dark Ride is full of large scale open sets that produce more “wow” moments than we could count – and they’re truly brought to life by large props full of kinetic motion, further enhanced by short-circuiting ride show lighting and a skipping, glitching background music track.

This haunt is the perfect blending of story, scenic and scares – achieving solid 5 Key scores in every single category. The highly engaged actors throughout Dark Ride do as much to immerse guests into the storyworld as its epic scenic.

Within Dark Ride, you’ll essentially find two different types of characters: demented animatronics come to life, covered in wires and flickering lights, and the homeless people who now live in this abandoned attraction.

You read that right. Dark Ride is full of scruffy, dirty homeless people screaming at you to “get out of my house!” – and it’s the most amazing bit of comic relief we could have ever imagined!

Beyond the scareactors portraying animatronics, you’ll also find several actual (intentionally cheesy) animatronic figures adding to the creepy fun – complete with appropriately exposed, sparking wires.

Simply put, Dark Ride is the total package haunt, and sets a new standard for what to expect from Knott’s Scary Farm!



A fulfilling life ensures a soul safe passage into eternity, but what happens to the souls of soldiers slain in battle? Enter the hair-raising Shadow Lands maze and fight off demon samurais whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of purgatory. Guests will embark on a quest through a sacred shrine, an ancient Japanese temple and into the midst of the shadow lands.

Unquestionably one of the most unique backstories Knott’s has attempted for a haunt – Shadow Lands is, at first glance definitely a weird choice of theme, and gives the impression of a strange haunt you might find within a traditional Japanese theme park.

Thankfully the old adage, “never judge a book by its cover” couldn’t ring more true here. Shadow Lands is a truly fantastic addition to the Knott’s Scary Farm lineup, and arguably one of their strongest offerings in recent memory.

Spectacular, authentic-feeling sets create the world of fallen Japanese warriors – bringing it hauntingly to life with scenic that is easy to become immersed within.

Beginning in a traditional Japanese garden outside the pagoda, what follows are some of Knott’s best sets to date, including a large scale outdoor finale that is a definite wow-moment of not just Shadow Lands, but all of Knott’s Scary Farm.


Many scares within the world of Shadow Lands are highly character driven – from battling samurai warriors, lost souls and even a geisha girl performing on stage. Knott’s proves with this haunt that they definitely have learned how to create an immersive storyworld-driven experience that makes it easy for a guest to suspend disbelief and become apart of.

Some great tech is used quite well in this haunt, including physical effects, flying rigs and self-resetting props.

Shadow Lands flows quite solidly, creating a truly top-tier haunt.



Survive the wrath of the murderous 7-foot tall creature that haunts the old woods surrounding The Hollow in the new maze, Pumpkin Eater. The notorious creature is on the prowl hidden within the dark confines of the haunted town he once terrorized. To escape the sinister Pumpkin Eater’s wrath all that enter must go on a quest through the silent town of victims, face a cave of crawling insects and solve the labyrinth of thorns that blocks the way out.

Pumpkin Eater drags guests into a warped fairytale world that exists largely within an evil pumpkin. If that sounds wacky, it’s because it is. However, that doesn’t mean it “works” any less.

This bizarre place is home to a world that was easy to become immersed within, resulting in another stellar addition to the Knott’s Scary Farm line-up that we look forward to seeing return for future years.

An epic fairtale village entry facade greets guests as they begin their journey into the world of Pumpkin Eater. Houses deteriorate quickly, leading us to a very large, very evil pumpkin we literally must venture into.

Inside that pumpkin hang vines dripping with over-sized pumpkin seeds. The further we proceed, the more the vines become thorny and much more sinister. We were clearly never meant to go this far.

A well placed projection effect drips blood down the carved interior of the pumpkin itself, offering a sense of foreboding warning that we clearly choose to disregard.

Once out of the pumpkin we find ourselves on a farm, with a bizarrely tilting barn house and of course, a moonlit cornfield as our only means of escape.


Pumpkin Eater is full of great scares – from terrified village folk to demented scarecrows and, naturally the legendary Pumpkin Eater himself.

Well placed hiding spots make for some unexpected scares, further brought to life by this haunt’s great scenic and a few impressively large scale puppet characters.

Pumpkin Eater left us feeling stalked at every turn, creating a truly immersive warped world.



This season the Timber Mountain Log Ride becomes the Halloween Hootenanny. This is a family friendly Halloween overlay to our classic Timber Mountain Log Ride. This attraction will be open every day during the Halloween season, offering spooky fun during the day and actor-driven scares after dark. Halloween Hootenanny features a brand new original song sung by Knott’s own guest-favorite performers Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies

Timber Mountain Log Ride has long been one of the most beloved attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm. For many years, it was included as an attraction for the Halloween Haunt, complete with new decor and a few well-placed live actors. In 2013, the attraction received an impressive refurbishment full of improved scenic and lighting and a whole host of new animatronic characters from industry leader Garner Holt Productions. Unfortunately with it came the end of annual Halloween overlays for the attraction.

But that was then.

Timber Mountain Log Ride – Halloween Hootennany is a return to form for classic tradition that was solidly missed in recent years at Knott’s Scary Farm. This overlay takes a different approach, aiming far less for “scary” and much more for “spooky” to keep it appealing to younger audiences who may wish to ride during the day (or even during the week when Knott’s Scary Farm isn’t offered.)

For starters, on its own Timber Mountain Log Ride is unquestionably among one of the world’s best log flume attractions, perhaps second only to Disney’s Splash Mountain. The permanent scenic that one can always find instantly makes this worthy of a visit even outside of the Halloween season.

But speaking in terms of what’s new for the event – well, think of a cheesy Halloween cliché, from bats and spiders to aliens or werewolves or vampires – I promise you’ll find it here. And while on paper that may not seem like a compliment, it’s exactly the classic old-school Halloween mood they were aiming for.

And it kind of works.

Timber Mountain Log Ride – Halloween Hootenanny is full of new props and decor, including some fun new animatronic figures along the way (as well as the iconic Green Witch herself!) All new lighting and effects and a custom soundtrack help transform the classic Timber Mountain Log Ride into an entirely new attraction for the Halloween season.


Knott’s found the perfect balance of fun by day and fright by night, thanks to some truly ominous lighting after dark. Unfortunately this year (at least during our ride) the most missed addition was that of live scareactors hiding along the Log Ride’s river during Scary Farm event nights. We hope that this was merely a staffing issue at the time of our specific ride, as the inclusion of live actors really brings this attraction to another level..

And while Timber Mountain Log Ride – Halloween Hootenanny may not quite measure up against some of the past Knott’s Scary Farm overlays the ride has received, it’s still a lot of fun and offers a great family-friendly attraction. It may not be our favorite year for the Log Ride, but boy are we happy to have it haunted once again at long last!


Four official scare zones, plus additional roaming characters make up the street entertainment for the 46th annual Knott’s Scary Farm event. Normally, Scare Zones are just a nice added flourish to the haunts that make a Halloween event worth visiting, but not at Knott’s. Here, some of the most motivated and energetic scareactors you’ll ever see turn the Scare Zones into as much a must see event as any maze or ride in the park.


Bands of half-human, half-animal monsters prowl the streets and inhabit the fog. Beware the notoriously startling Sliders who lunge from every fog-filled corner of the land.

If Knott’s Scary Farm is the granddaddy of all Halloween events, the Ghost Town Streets Scare Zone is the great granddaddy. The earliest predecessor for the Halloween Haunt as an event, the success of the Ghost Town Streets grew into the juggernaut that is Knott’s Scary Farm, and vis a vis every other theme park Halloween event the world over that would follow.

Perhaps the greatest Scare Zone ever created within an amusement park – the reason why it works so well is the authenticity of its environment. Aside from some camo netting, cheese cloth, theatrical lighting and a whole hell of a lot of fog, there’s not much physically different about this section of the park than what you’d find during the daytime hours. However, combining all factors together, and adding in the most energetic, enthusiastic monsters you’ll ever find makes for the perfect storm of the very definition of everything that makes a theme park Scare Zone work.


Knott’s Boardwalk is taken over by “CarnEVIL,” where the freak show is the main event and countless clowns crave your undying attention.

Simplistic and almost non-exist from a scenic perspective, some banners, a few strings of colorful lights and transform The Boardwalk into another world thanks in full to a talented batch of very devious clowns that have taken residence in its shadows.

Different from other Scare Zones in the park thanks to bright lighting and the hustle and bustle of large rides surround it, CarnEVIL becomes almost entirely dependent on the quality of its cast to sell the story.

Crawling with more clowns than you can count, each one has his or her own unique persona and character, making this an organic, living world – and each one goes out of their way to draw any brave – or foolish – enough to step foot on the Boardwalk right back into that world with them.

Forsaken Lake

The lake underneath Silver Bullet reveals the horrors and creatures it’s kept hidden, until now. Forsaken Lake will unleash gothic creatures, which have been ravaged by the dark and murky waters, as they wander their crypts preying on unsuspecting visitors, looking for victims to drag back to their watery graves.

Normally, Knott’s Scary Farm really shines with its Scare Zones, but in turth, Forsaken Lake doesn’t particularly work. A small area to begin with, this section is absolutely dominated by the tangled inverted steel of the nearby Silver Bullet coaster. A few small vignette set pieces break up the limited path, but it’s difficult to become truly immersed into this mini world given its location.


From within the fog, the legendary Headless Horseman and his army of the undead are ready to unleash a reign of terror in the newest scare zone, The Hollow. Guests entering the frightful 6-acre area will be terrorized by the souls of fallen soldiers and local farmers that have escaped their shallow graves.

There is inherently something special-feeling about any Scare Zone inside Camp Snoopy, and it’s always one of the most iconic and most well-executed of the event. There’s just something devilishly delightful about taking a children’s land and turning it evil

Although we will always miss the old caves and inclusion of the barrel bridges, the actors in this year’s incarnation of The Hollow truly give it their gusto to create a memorable and ominous environment.



THE HANGING: Shh… it happens

The Citizens of Calico face their toughest foes yet, the censors; in this live stage show that looks back at the year’s pop culture with some killer comedy. Notorious for its special effects and high-flying stunts, The Hanging is a no holds barred assault on pop culture’s most infamous moments of the past year.

We’ve long been certifiable fanboys of The Hanging. It’s a Halloween institution, and the originator of the seasonal pop culture spoof show. When it works, it works oh so well; But when it doesn’t, it’s like an out of body experience where you watch the air slowly let out of your favorite balloon, helpless to stop it.

Thankfully, The Hanging is rarely not amazing. Sadly, this is one of those very rare years.

The Hanging: Shh… It Happens focuses its story around a new group of over-bearing censors who have descended on the old town of Calico. Their intention is to remove all violence, gore  and inappropriate content from the world. Their code name: URANUS. So, I think you can probably already see that you’re in for a whole lot of low brow puns centered around what essentially amounts to poop jokes. I’ve been to a lot of Hangings – but this was the first one that really didn’t make me laugh even once.

But here’s the thing: 2018’s show may not have been great – but The Hanging will ALWAYS be worth going to in future years. It’s so rare that this show isn’t absolutely positively hilarious that it’s a near guarantee that next year’s version will be a return to form. And good citizens of Calico, for that, we are most certainly ready.

Knott’s Scary Farm always firmly holds its place as our single favorite theme park Halloween event in the United States. This event is a local tradition – an institution – and frankly one of the shortlist reasons why traveling to California each and every October is an annual tradition of my own.

Knott’s is the undisputed trailblazer of the Halloween park genre – and has pioneered some of the concepts that we today accept as standard fare everywhere we go in the month of October.

2018 is another incredibly solid year in the for the event. We always expect to have a great time on our visit into the fog – and frankly we always do – but this year definitely put forth solid effort to improve even some returning haunts – something that was certainly a surprise even for our group of long-time loyal visitors. The infusion of new technologies and new approaches to their haunt style truly breathes new life into an event that was already so full of life on its own.

Knott’s Scary Farm has a penchant for making me happy in a way that theme park Halloween events rarely can. It’s a classic. It’s a tradition. It’s an innovator. It’s an institution.

Knott’s Scary Farm *is* Halloween.


You can find an extended photo gallery from our night at the 46th annual Knott’s Scary Farm in this exclusive album on the Escape Authority Facebook page! While there, why not give us a “LIKE” if you haven’t already? We’ll give you candy!

Venue: Knott’s Berry Farm

Location: Buena Park, CA

Dates: Select Nights September 21st – October 31st

Hours: 7PM – 1AM or 2AM depending on the night.

Cost: $75 at the gate, or save as much as $35 per person if purchased in advance online. Annual Passholder discounts are available.

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