This Ghoulish Heart Will Haunt You Forever – Knott’s Scary Farm 2018

***FYI I am a Brand Ambassador for Knott’s Berry Farm, part of the Cedar Fair group of themed amusement parks.  As a Brand Ambassador, I have been given tickets, and other promotional material to help promote the park.  While being given these items, all the views expressed herein are strictly my own.***

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” – Edgar Allan Poe

When it comes to life, nothing quite makes us feel like we are on the edge of reality quite like a great piece of horror, whether it be a film or in books.  We straddle the boundaries of reality and fantasy all in one moment, and with every breath, we are grateful to be alive.  Even those dark and terrifying flicks were every single person of value dies, we still are grateful for the ability to stand up from our 15-dollar movie seat and walk out the exit, maybe taking a peek behind to make sure no one is actually following us.  Knott’s Scary Farm (the original Halloween haunt), decided to take this to a completely new level 45 years ago, allowing our nightmares to become an ever-present reality.  With this bone-chilling year, Knott’s Scary Farm 2018 celebrates its 46th year with amazing new mazes and horror zones dedicated to our own life-affirming pursuit of horror.


This 46th annual event of Knott’s Scary Farm has so many different things going on with it; I hardly know where to begin.  (Check out my nine reasons we crave Knott’s Scary Farm here.)  But let’s jump into it with our rankings of the 9 mazes (according to me).  This year I wanted my rankings to be more than just the subjective feelings of this observer. (Which they still are, but whatever!)  I wanted to kick things up a notch and give you a rating system whereby I would rate the various different mazes there were.  The ratings for each maze will include each element.  Costumes. Set Pieces. Interactivity. Scare/Creep Factor.  I will take each of these four ratings and then give the maze an overall rating.


The Mazes

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

9) The Red Barn

When it comes to mazes, The Red Barn is certainly a classic.  It has all of the original creepy chills and thrills of the mazes in the past.  And as the movie Deliverance will attest, we still are hooked on those creepy southern gents and their places out in the country.  I feel like the set pieces weren’t quite up to what they were last year.  And as creepy as those pig faced men were, I feel like this was the weakest of the mazes this year.  Still plenty of chills and thrills.  And for those kids you are initiating into Knott’s Scary Farm, this is a good place to start.

Costumes B-
Set Pieces: C
Interactivity: C+
Scare / Creep Factor: C

Overall: C+

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

8) Shadow Lands

When it comes to scares, give me a dead ninja and a sword every time.  I would be running away screaming.  I still think the set pieces were amazingly beautiful and took you back to another time.  There were two complaints when it came to this maze this year.  It doesn’t have the interactivity of some of the more fun mazes here.  And I felt like the opening scene this year for Shadow Lands wasn’t as good as last years.  I know it’s a harsh judgment to compare it to how much I enjoyed last years version.  But I do have to make those distinctions.  Nevertheless, for those of you who love your scares Japanese style, Shadow Lands still thrills in all the right places.

Costumes: B
Set Pieces: B+
Interactivity C
Scare / Creep Factor: B

Overall: B-

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

 

7)  The Depths

A solid new entry into the beginnings of the horror that awaits you underneath the sea.  Of course, we have been loving sea horror since the days of Captain Nemo and his famous voyage (a la Jules Verne).  What we find in these depths, one can only guess.  I think this one works really well with the set pieces.  And going out and wading into the depths, there will be some pretty incredible stuff to see there.  I think this has the opportunity to be a great one in the years to come.  I just think the people down in the depths could use some better costumes and situations and if they could do more to move the monster, it would be ranked much higher.  Definitely go this year for some of the technical aspects. 

Costumes: B
Set Pieces: A
Interactivity: B
Scare / Creep Factor: B

Overall: B

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

 

6)  The Pumpkin Eater

The Pumpkin Eater is coming to get you . . . literally.  And you won’t know what to do when the giant Pumpkin makes sure you enter its bowels.  It feels like it’s somewhere out of Linus Van Pelt’s Nightmares for the Great Pumpkin, where he swallows you whole instead of giving you candy for being good.  And you have been bad this year, so you know what you deserve.  Set Pieces are great, as are the costumes.  And it is creepy, although maybe not as gross creepy as I would have liked.  Still a great scare.  And some pretty great technical aspects involved.

Costumes: A-
Set Pieces: B+
Interactivity: B-
Scare / Creep Factor: B+

Overall: B+

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

5)  Paranormal Inc.

Nothing beats a ghostly hospital and feeling like you are being watched around every corner.  I still think the narrow passages and some of the ways it makes you feel part of the maze are overwhelming.  And the entryway into the maze outside is spectacular as well.  Like Shadow Lands, I feel like it didn’t quite live up to my surprises from last year.  Although, part of that had to do with the number of people they tried to shove into the small space at the beginning.  And I wasn’t as shocked about things as I was the first time I saw it.  Nevertheless, it’s still awesome.  The opening scene gets me every time.

Costumes: B+
Set Pieces: A-
Interactivity: B+
Scare / Creep Factor: A-

Overall: B+

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

4)  Dark Ride

Very few things in life get better with age.  A good fine wine gets better.  Or maybe Knott’s Berry Farm as it changes and morphs into something even more beautiful than it was to start.  But for the most things degrade.  And with mazes, it’s not so much degrading but just the expectations that not much changes.  Well with Dark Ride, it seemed to be even better than last year’s edition.   The costumes were that much more intense.  The sets were that much wilder.  And the final scene was a thing to remember.  Could be nice if it felt more interactive, but when it comes to straight out chills and thrills, you don’t get much better than Dark Ride.

Costumes: B+
Set Pieces: A
Interactivity: B-
Scare / Creep Factor: A

Overall: A-

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

3)  Trick Or Treat – Lights Out

As we reach the top three, the difference in the greatness of the mazes is a matter of degrees and not so much a matter of levels.  All three are great.  And so as we hit the first of the last three, Trick or Treat Lights Out begins the second year with even more chills and thrills (yes Trick Or Treat the maze has gone on for seven years), all with a flashlight in your hand.  The coolest thing is the interactive nature of the event.  Your lights change as it enters different rooms.  I’d say don’t go too quickly because there is so much to see inside.  And so many things will happen as you move your light across the room.  But you don’t want to be caught in the dark.  And who knows how long your flashlight will last?  For straight out Halloween Horror, Trick or Treat Lights Out is one of the best.

Costumes: B
Set Pieces: A
Interactivity: A
Scare / Creep Factor: B+

Overall: A-

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

2)  Dark Entities:

I had a hard time with these last three as you can tell.  So many great things to observe and see while you are there.  The only sad thing is they want to rush you through it all. Incredible lighting, great costumes, fabulous set pieces and some great jump scares and you will be terrified too with Dark Entities.  The fact that these monsters are human makes it all the more horrific.  My only problem, as I stated, is in their rush to get you through, you might miss a couple of the interactive elements they have for you.  So go again.  And again.  And enjoy the terror that is Dark Entities.

Costumes: B+
Set Pieces: A+
Interactivity: B+/A-
Scare / Creep Factor: B

Overall: A-

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

1)  Special Ops: Infected

As much as I love watching zombie fare, I cannot say that I am the zombie aficionado some of my friends are.  Zombies are fun for a few scares, but I wouldn’t say the creatures frighten me in some intense way.  But seeing a zombie on a screen is nothing like fighting off zombies in real life.  Infected returns with more incredible zombies, more guns to fight them off with, and a special ending scene to knock your socks off.  I think the fact that I lose myself in the midst of the maze to fight off zombies makes me appreciate life every time.  My favorite maze for the second year in a row definitely goes to Infected.

Costumes: B+
Set Pieces: A-
Interactivity: A+
Scare / Creep Factor: B+

Overall: A-


The Scare Zones

Knott’s Scary Farmgoes out of its way to make sure you are frightened wherever you may be.  With the addition of themed scare zones, you can take your creep outside the maze and let it wander with you around the park.  Every year Knott’s develops new ones, and this year is no different with the addition of Forsaken Lake. When it comes to the scare zones, each little creepy place has its own allure with themed scares and themed baddies chasing you.  I will rate the scare zones based upon costumes, immersion, and scariness. 

Costumes will be based upon how realistic and good looking the costumes are.  Immersion will be how much I feel like I am in the zone while I am in the zone.  And I will rate the scariness about the overall scariness felt walking through the area.  So without further ado, here are my scare zone ratings:

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

4) CarnEVIL 

For some people, clowns are scary.  I am not one of them.  But I do get the idea if someone keeps smiling at you . . . that’s creepy.  Well, Knott’s Scary Farm has left the killer clowns in Dark Ride while bringing out the creepy clowns for all your purview at CarnEvil.  They have these amazing suits and outfits out there to drive you insane and make you stay away.  They really are wonderfully creepy.  I think Scary Farm does a good job, but it would be better if they dressed the place up to look more like a circus in the back.  Have a carnival barker there as well. 

Costumes: A-
Immersion: C
Scariness: C+

Overall: B-

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

3) The Hollow

If you ever want to find yourself in the midst of witches, warlocks and vile creatures of every kind and sort, make your way over to the Hollow.  Whether hanging witches is your thing, or creepy creatures is your schtick, you cannot go wrong inside there.  The costumes really are great.  My only problem is I didn’t feel like it was as immersive as I would like.  Dark and brooding, but could be so much more.  Still very good and definitely worth checking out, not just passing through.

Costumes:  A
Immersion: B
Scariness: C+

Overall: B

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

2) Forsaken Lake

I really do think the new Forsaken Lake is Amazing.  Their costuming is incredible.  And they really do work on the creepiness scale.  They work really hard at the immersive nature of the experience and you will be creeped out beyond imagination.  If I was to say one thing they would work more on in the future would be the immersive nature.  There are multiple routes into the area, and I feel like they really concentrated on one area but left a bit of a gap.  Still amazing and fun.  And you won’t want to miss the funeral pyre.  So amazing.

Costumes: A+
Immersion: B+
Scariness: A-

Overall: A-

 

Knott’s Berry Farm © 2018

1) Ghost Town Streets

There is nothing like the streets of Calico during Scary Farm when the lights go out.  Chills and thrills around every corner which will make you hold on for dear life.  While not quite as good as costumes as Forsaken Lake, they still have amazing costumes.  And there is not a more immersive environment than in Ghost Town.  Check back in 20 years and we will see if the other scare zones can catch up.  In the meantime, if you want terror, brave the streets of Calico if you dare.

Costumes:  A
Immersion: A
Scariness: A

Overall: A


The Shows

They have three main headliners this year when it comes to Shows at Knott’s Scary Farm, plus one little side thing of note.  If you want to dance the night away, check out Awaken The Dead.  It’s got a DJ, lots of Day of the dead fare, dancing, and so much more.  If you need a break from the frights but still feel like a ghoulish delight, head along there.

As for the Hanging, It’s back and better than ever.  As the Town of Calico mourns the loss of their inability to be completely politically incorrect (as if), they must search for the most despicable person imaginable to satisfy their towns bloodlust.  Who will it be?  Donald Trump again?  Kim Jong Un?  The Creepy Keebler Elves?  Find out who, nightly in the Calico Streets.

Looking for another respite, check out the Birdcage theater with Conjurers.  Nightly Magicians will come forth to mystify you and maybe include a laugh or two as well.  Make sure to check show times so you won’t miss it.

Finally, in the Charles M. Schulz theater, they brought Hacks, Cutting Room Floor.  These are funny comedians who use a bit of the macabre to liven up the dead . . . films that are.  Film Clips from crazy horrors of years past, disembodied three-headed space aliens, and cell phone anguish (gasp!) are all part of the fare in Hacks.

If I were to pick from these, definitely check out the hanging, and the magician if you get the chance.  I know they have different magicians, but Knott’s always seems to bring in high-quality entertainment, and you should enjoy your time no matter the magician.  And if you get to go back, definitely take in the rest.

Wrapping It Up . . . Mummy Style

So these are my ratings and reviews of the various Knott’s Scary Farm Delights going on now through the month of October on select Days.  There is just something so amazing and Original about what Knott’s does.  And they have upped their game this year with the new fare they offer.  You won’t want to miss it. Be there or and be scared!!!

As you can see, Knott’s Berry Farm keeps bringing on the excitement and ghoulish terror.  Letting you know that season passes for 2019 are now available.  Plus get one ticket to use in 2018 as well.  If you live in the Southern California area, get yourself a pass now, here, and you won’t regret it. Click here to check out all the details.


Continue The Conversation

So what maze at Knott’s Scary Farm sounded the most interesting to you?  And what scare zone would you be interested in checking out the most?  If not near Knott’s, what is your Halloween must go to event for you?  What makes you like it so much and why is it better than all the rest of the Halloween events near you?  I would love to hear from you.

Like / Share / Follow

If you liked this post, please be sure to like it and make a comment down here at the end.  Also be sure to share this with your friends, especially those in Southern California or visiting Southern California looking for something unique and totally different.  Also, be sure to follow us here at the Guide to keep up with the latest and greatest adventures we have going on.  As always, thank you for stopping by. 

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

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