Knott’s Scary Farm opened it’s 43rd season featuring 11 mazes, three scare zones and two shows. Haunt fans lucky enough to be at the park as it opened got to witness the festivities as the Green Witch introduced the Deadly Seven. They were the first to experience the two brand new mazes Paranormal, Inc. and the Dead of Winter as well as returning mazes (Trick or Treat, Voodoo, The Tooth Fairy, Forevermore, Pinocchio Unstrung, Gunslinger’s Grave, and Black Magic). Also was the return of live actors to the mine ride in My Bloody Clementine, an all-new Special Ops: Infected interactive experience and the two new shows, Elvira’s Asylum and The Hanging: Straight Outta Calico. Opening night wasn’t without its glitches though as lines for Special Ops reached two hours even for those having a reserved time and The Hanging actually had to cancel one of its shows due to technical difficulties. We’re confident these issues will be resolved.
The Dead of Winter
The Dead of Winter is loosely inspired by the Disney film “Frozen” and is also based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. This is a new, lights on concept using bright colors and has a beautiful winter setting. However, the space is wide open, making it difficult for the monsters to hide. Therefore the maze was more visually appealing than it was scary. There were rumors that there was going to be a room where it actually snowed but that didn’t happen. It could have been for cost, time or logistic reasons. If you’re looking to escape the heat this is a good break in the action, but don’t expect the frights you might in some of the other mazes.
Paranormal, Inc.;Case #1 – The Haunting of Hayden Hill
if there’s one maze you MUST see it’s Jon Cooke’s Paranormal, Inc. Set in the abandoned Hayden Hill Sanatorium built in 1864, guests follow a group of paranormal investigators called Paranormal, Inc. filming an episode of the show with the same name. They’re trying out their new piece of equipment called the Ghost Pod which is said to summon ghosts and demons when something goes terribly wrong. This maze features the best opening we’ve ever seen with impressive effects, but the rest of the maze is somewhat campy and over-the-top. It still is one of our favorite mazes of all time, but we feel there was too much going on to build any real suspense. The set should have been the star rather than the talent such as in the movie Session 9. This is a case where less is more.
My Bloody Clementine
The Calico Mine Ride returns with live actors in this maze based on the famous song. It tells the story of Clementine and her father who died in a fire and now Clementine’s spirit is out to seek revenge. There wasn’t much to advance the story other than a couple of digital projections and a looping soundtrack. We didn’t see any sign of Clementine’s father in the maze and when we went through the actors must have been on lunch as we literally saw only one or two. The projections they had were really cool and this maze has a lot of potential if it returns, we just don’t think it’s there yet. A lot of other outlets we spoke to really loved it and had some good jump scares so maybe there was something we missed.
We were impressed with the returning mazes. All of them seemed to be redone with the exception of Pinocchio. In Forevermore (returning for its 4th year), the story of the killer is easier to follow thanks to an impressive voice-over track as well as a scene of a TV showing news coverage of the murderer killing victims inspired by stories by Edgar Allen Poe. In Gunslinger’s Grave: A Blood Moon Rises there is a new paranormal concept as werewolves have invaded the old west town. Now, not only do you have to deal with the outlaws, but also lycanthropes and skinwalkers as well. Trick or Treat has two new rooms now featuring a potion room and a creepy attic where we meet The Green Witch. Voodoo: Order of the Serpent is also new as now guests get to explore every inch instead of choosing their own path. Also are new characters such as an alligator skinner and a new Voodoo priest. If you want ultraviolence, then Tooth Fairy is your best best, now featuring an all-new x-ray room and impressive ending. Black Magic (one of our favorite mazes) is also back with the seance room now being part of the maze rather than needing the Skeleton Key. The seance brings Houdini back from the dead in this abandoned theater where all the magic goes wrong.
Gunslinger’s Grave; A Blood Moon Rises
Trick or Treat
Voodoo: Order of the Serpent
Of note, the Skeleton Key room for Forevermore was less than impressive, but we really liked it for Voodoo, The Tooth Fairy and Pinocchio Unstrung. We don’t want to give any spoilers away, but in these rooms we liked what was conjured up in Voodoo, the special effects in The Tooth Fairy and the acting in Pinocchio Unstrung. We tip our hats to whomever was working as Pinocchio Thursday night in the Skeleton Key room because we’ve never seen a haunt actor with so much energy.
What can we say about this show? It’s basically the same as past year Elvira shows at Scary Farm except this time it’s set in an asylum where the patients have taken over. The show features scantily-clad male and female choreographed dancers dressed as ghoulish patients who perform as Elvira sings and makes jokes about her boobs.
The Hanging: Straight Outta Calico
The Hanging returns with its social and political satire this time poking fun at everyone and everything from Disney and Star Wars to Magic Mike and Tom Brady.
Dia De Los Muertos Scare Zone
CarnEvil Scare Zone
Ghost Town Scare Zone