This will be our review of opening night of Knott's Scary Farm 2016 which took place on Thursday, September 22nd. We will start with our maze reviews, followed by shows, scare zones and our conclusion. Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, questions. All is welcome.
One of two new mazes this year, Shadow Lands is beautifully detailed and one of the best mazes Knott's has debuted in quite some time. Maze designer Jon Cooke (Paranormal Inc., Infected) has another winner in this maze. It's flow is seamless in it's transitions and looks to be a bright spot at the Farm for years to come. Definitely a must see.
The Red Barn
Another new maze this year, The Red Barn, is a classic southern comfort maze complete with pigs, hillbillies, hay bales, cages and a surprise ending. This maze designed by the talented Gus Krueger (Gunslinger's Grave, Dead of Winter) in collaboration with Daniel Miller (Toothfairy, Delirium and The Asylum) is another must see this year. They peeled back the layers while keeping it simple and it works. The hair of the back of your (red) neck will stand up if you venture through this Red Barn.
Paranormal Inc. returns for it's sophomore year and it is just as good as last year. Not much has changed in this maze but it doesn't really need to. A beautiful design charged with talent that can still creep you out.
Dead of Winter
This year Dead of Winter returns with slightly redesigned rooms by Daniel Miller. The snow queen is dead and evil lurks around every corner. It's a very good year for this maze. It's a bit darker, a bit bloodier and a lot of fun. Another must see this year.
The Toothfairy is in it's 3rd year at Knott's Scary Farm. This twisted, demented maze designed by Daniel Miller has held up well over the years. It is still scary, creepy and makes and begs you to rethink your decision about going to the dentist. The sound of drills echo throughout this maze and are a grave reminder of how painful a trip to the dentist can be. This maze certainly has another couple of good years left in it.
VooDoo: Order of the Serpent
VooDoo: Order of the Serpent is now it's 4th year at Knott's Scary Farm. While the concept and set design was great 4 years ago, I think this year should be it's last year. As you walk through VooDoo, you really feel like you are walking through the bayou and venturing through the swamp. However, the maze has just gotten a bit stale for my taste. It's still a good maze, but if you are running out of time during your visit and you have to choose between this and say, The Toothfairy or Paranormal Inc., choose one of those. The good news is, the line is usually really short for this maze even on busier nights. And the talent is still pretty decent. Overall, not a must see this year.
Gunslinger's Grave: A Bloodmoon Rises
Last year Knott's decided to add werewolves to Gunslinger's Grave to change things up a bit. It was met with praise and criticism. Some people loved it, other's not so much. We have liked this maze since it's inception. The layout and set design add to the "road less traveled" feel. The talent is really what can make or break any maze and this year they just go for it. The saloon is always on point as is the general store. We are pleased to see the return of this maze.
Trick or Treat
While this was a great maze when it debuted 5 years ago, Trick or Treat has become extremely stale over the years. It is a very pretty maze to look at, but not much has changed. Last year they redesigned the final 3 rooms which was a major plus, but the rest of the maze has gotten old. The talent in this maze is decent, with major props to the sheet ghosts who are always entertaining. But if this is it's last year, it will not be missed by us next Halloween season. If you're running out of time in your night and this isn't a walk on, it can be skipped.
While better than last year, it's still not a great show. I still remember the old spooky version of the hanging. That was creepy and fit right in with the whole Halloween Haunt vibe. The comedic version of the hanging has never been a favorite of ours. The last rendition of the hanging that we truly laughed out loud for was when they were mocking Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration. This year's version, Finding Gory, has some funny moments and some of the stunts are pretty cool. The Harley Quinn/Hangman part is our favorite. We do agree with who they hang this year. Makes a lot of sense and glad it's not one of two people you'd think it would be. But for the most part, we're just kind of over the hanging. We've seen it this year, no real reason to see it again. If you're a fan of the hanging and enjoyed last year, you'll enjoy this year as well. If you didn't care for last year, you probably won't enjoy this year much either. Didn't get any photos of the show opening night so it's just a review. On to Elvira.
Elvira's Danse Macabre
Mistress of the Dark. Who doesn't love Elvira?? She is a Halloween icon and it's great to have her back for her 4th consecutive year. This year's show might be one of the best one's since her return. The jokes are funny and typical of Elvira. In one portion of the show a woman dances beautifully with fire. Then later, a chandelier is used in a great dance/acrobatic number. Our favorite moments though come from the solicited audience participation. I mean hey, when the mistress of the dark invites you up on stage for some karaoke....You karaoke! The 2014 show with the Academy of Villains, Brett Loudermilk and Bendable Bonnie was our favorite, but this year's show is a close second. If you love Elvira, dancing or even just need a break from running around, go see Elvira's Danse Macabre. Sit back and enjoy everyone's favorite ride......Elvira.
The scare zone that started it all. There was a time when this area felt as though the talent was in a transitional stage, as veterans hung up their boots and new faces emerged from the fog. But now with this fresh talent breathing life into new characters and veterans revitalizing old favorites, there is a masterful blend of chaos and fear. There is noticeable individuality yet a cohesiveness among the talent. Major props to the men and ladies who stalk the streets of Ghost Town. This scare zone continues to live up to its legacy.
With Infected moving backstage, it once again freed up the Camp Snoopy area for a scare zone. Rather than bring back successful scare zones The Gauntlet or Necropolis, Knott's decided to use the Headless Horseman character that's been seen in the park the last couple of years and created a scare zone based off of stories of the Horseman. The Hallows is full creepy characters that lurk in the shadows waiting to scare. It doesn't have a thematic tone in its lighting as have previous themes in CS. There are no distinguishable props which leaves the design a bit lacking for our taste, but the talent makes up for this. They've done a great job navigating the darkness and adjusting to the atmosphere. Definitely a scare zone with great talent and energy.
One of our favorite scare zones year after year is CarnEvil. This is the largest scare zone at Knott's and the brightest as far as lighting goes. Scaring under bright lights is challenging but every year this group comes together and reigns terror on guests night after night. Boardwalk has a lot of returning veterans and they were back to their old tricks on opening night. It's high energy fueled with comedy and screams. They continually engage with guests, making them feel comfortable in their presence, only to break that trust resulting in screams and running in fear. This is always a fun zone to sit in and watch the talent work. If you have time this season go to Boardwalk and watch these clowns work their magic. You'll either laugh or cry. It's up to them.
Fiesta De Los Muertos
This is the smallest scare zone at Knott's Scary Farm and our least favorite. The theme is ok and the talent is decent. One of the main issues with this zone for us is the dance party. It's hard for the talent to scare when the guests are only interested in dancing and jamming to the music. But it is a very popular spot for the younger crowd who come to socialize instead of be scared. There is a matador in this zone that is amazing. Always in character and always giving it 110%. This zone has made strides in the right direction but it still has a long way to go to match the success of the other 3 zones. Hopefully one of these years Knott's will get it right with the zone and they will kill it. Until then, it's ok to walk through but we don't usually spend a lot of time in Fiesta.
On your list of haunts to visit this year, make certain to include Knott's Scary Farm. Fog, screams and fear envelope you once you're passed the turnstile. The Farm now owns you. Let it.