Theme Park Review was invited to the opening day of Knott's Scary Farm 2019, and we were thrilled to return "into the fog"!
This year the event highlights include 9 mazes, 4 Scare Zones, The Hanging, and Puppet Up! Uncensored.
Two mazes are retiring this year (Special Ops - Infected & Shadowlands), with two others that debuted (Wax Works & Origins - The Curse of Calico). Nine mazes is down from the numbers we have seen in past years, but we believe that the quality of those nine mazes has greatly increased in the scenic quality and possibly the length of several mazes as well. We greatly appreciate the "less mazes, but higher quality" formula!
The Scare Zones are enjoyable paths to travel between mazes, and offer a somewhat more personalized interactions.
The Hanging is of course a Scary Farm staple, and we look forward to the show settling in a bit more after the opening weekend. The pop-culture references are vast and so varied, that each person can expect to "get" at least half the references. Some references were from news stories that broke three days before Scary Farm kicked-off, so it is really impressive that the writing and show changes happen up until opening night!
Puppet Up! Uncensored is housed in the Schultz Theater, and was a really enjoyable way for our group to end the night! After traversing the park for several hours, it was great to sit and relax, and enjoy a wildly irreverent shows. This show features the adult side of the puppeteers of the Jim Henson Company. Combining puppetry skills, adult themes, and improvisation, this 30 minutes show left us laughing the entire time. Even if puppetry and improv are of no interest to you, there is plenty in the show that you may still find *very* enjoyable; we highly recommend it!
Thank you to the wonderful Knott's Team for inviting us to another wonderful event, we wish you a great Halloween Season!
Knott's Scary Farm runs on select nights through Saturday, November 2.
Our rating: 5/10 - There are many nice scenes, but a few of the scenes with characters on rigging were unnecessary and not well utilized. "In its final year: Enter the hair-raising maze and fight off demon samurais whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of purgatory."
Our rating: 9/10 - This maze has lived a long and happy life through different incarnations, we are sad to see this interactive maze sink into the abyss, but understand it is operationally difficult getting enough patrons through the maze. "In its final year: Enlist and arm yourself and your squad with specially designed laser guns to embark on a mission through the city to find the zombie infection cure. The last stand is now!"
Our rating: 6/10 - We enjoyed the story line, but found many hallways to be void of characters. Those that we did encounter did a great job driving the story. "A realm where the darkness is absolute. A space station faces terror beyond all imagination as an extraterrestrial mutation is on the hunt for new hosts."
Our rating: 6/10 - Some elements were a hit, and some were a miss. There is a great "creep" factor compared to other mazes where if you are "on the path of the dark ride" you can hear the dark ride music, and when you are in a "backstage area" of the dark ride, it is silent. That was a great level of detail that we appreciated. "Journey through an abandoned carnival ride where cruel carny folk still linger. Venture down a treacherous path of sinister shadows and horrifying scenes."
Our rating: 8/10 - The first room (though greatly shortened from past years to help with efficiency) is worth the wait on its own! "Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls while evil medical staff prowl for new patients to torture."
Our rating: 6/10 - We appreciated the cohesiveness of the scenic and costume design for this maze. The story line is straight forward with no real surprises. "Escape the Pumpkin Eater's wrath by navigating your way through a cave of crawling insects and solving the labyrinth of thorns."
Our ratings: 8/10 - With a nice story line from start to finish and a few great effects, this maze is one of the stronger of the event. "Find your way around ominous caverns to discover if the superstitions are true or not. But be warned, all who have entered have never resurfaced."
Our rating: 7/10 - This reminded us of one of our favorite mazes "Doll Factory". The costumes and performers really make this maze inventive and enjoyable. "Blood curdling screams can be heard echoing the halls as victims are submerged into a scorching hot cauldron of wax. Escape or become the newest masterpiece."
Our rating: 10/10 - This maze pays homage to the most famous monsters of Scary Farm lore. As the title suggests we learn the backstory of these monsters, in what we believe is one of the best mazes in recent Scary Farm history. We love that the experiences starts before you even enter the maze. "Doomed to roam Ghost Town every Halloween season, discover the birth of the legendary Knott's Scary Farm monsters in this terrifying new maze."
If you enjoy the Origins maze, you may enjoy The Hanging even more this year.
Puppet up! in the Schultz Theater.
Here are the real stars of the show!
The monsters of the Ghost Town Streets are quite a group of characters.
Something I love about Haunt that really can't be replicated is the passion from it being entirely "homegrown". Knotts does it all in house and many of the monsters and management play a role in the design and build too!
Very early on in the planning stages right now. But I may be able to squeeze a visit to Knott's on either Sunday 11/3 or the next day 11/4. Park is open 10-8 on Sunday and 10-6 on Monday. We are pretty efficient when it comes to moving through a park. But, I would just like some perspective on what lines might be like? Would love to get on the coasters plus log ride and rapids (assume they stay open)? Any advice on whether the crowds Monday will be light enough to warrant going that day for two less hours. Thanks!
Taylor Finn wrote:Very early on in the planning stages right now. But I may be able to squeeze a visit to Knott's on either Sunday 11/3 or the next day 11/4. Park is open 10-8 on Sunday and 10-6 on Monday. We are pretty efficient when it comes to moving through a park. But, I would just like some perspective on what lines might be like? Would love to get on the coasters plus log ride and rapids (assume they stay open)? Any advice on whether the crowds Monday will be light enough to warrant going that day for two less hours. Thanks!
The park will completely dead on Monday 11/4, so you would be able get more rides in despite the shorter operating hours. We typically go to the park in the last week in October during the week and that has been my experience. The only ride that maintains any kind of line is Ghostrider, and even then it's only a 15-20 min wait. We usually can get multiple re-rides without getting off on most of the rides.
Coaster Count: 220 Last Coaster: Red Force Top Ten: 1) Superman The Ride 2) Millennium Force 3) X2 4) Skyrush 5) El Toro 6) Twisted Colossus 7) Maverick 8) Shambhala 9) Lightning Rod 10) Mako
And also, the Log Ride and Rapids run year-round unless they are going under annual maintenance. Calico River Rapids just re-opened in May and the Log Ride typically goes down in February/March, so you should be just fine riding everything in November.
Went to Knott’s last night for Haunt. Since we’re kind of over Universal (too crowded, too pricey, too gimmicky, too repetitious), we used the money we saved and upgraded to a fast lane combo — a wise decision as the place seemed absolutely slammed. A number of the mazes had waits over an hour, most of the rides were similar, and, by 11pm, Ghost Rider was at three hours. The pass got us on pretty much everything we wanted to ride with ease as well as all of the mazes. While we could take our time in the park, we still only *just* covered all of the big attractions. It’s hard to gauge just how bad the lines felt for non-fastlane guests; they didn’t seem to let up at any point of the night. And, while Knott’s could easily be filed under “same old, same all” (like Universal), we think it’s far more charming and creative — a much better all-round experience overall. A few thoughts on this years’ mazes:
Dark Entities: This was pretty terrible last year (underpopulated and overly lit). There seemed to be better lighting control and more fog this time, making the maze feel more claustrophobic and effective. Nothing else about it has changed. While it’s certainly not the best maze the park has (lots of unpopulated scenes), it seemed like some of last years’ problems were at least addressed. It’s now an effective, gory maze through a fairly claustrophobic set.
Dark Ride: Still a great and ambitious concept for a maze with great design throughout. Yet, something about it never feels like it’s connecting. Unless you’re familiar with the dark ride concept, it’d be easy to get lost in terms of the narrative. A slight redesign of the ending this year cemented the fact that it’s definitely one of more sophisticated and fun mazes, but perhaps it just needs a little more in terms of staffing it and setting up strategic live-actor scares.
Origins—The Curse of Calico: This replaced the old Red Barn maze (which I always liked more than most). For a new maze, it’s not that elaborate and seems to borrow from some of the previous mazes’ set design (no spectacular set pieces). It wasn’t fully clear what the narrative was as it seemed to veer from the “Old West” to “Witches Lair” to “Spooky Forest.” So, more like a patchwork of older mazes than something new and unique. Personally, I thought Red Barn was better, but I always liked that one.
Waxworks: The other new maze for this year that also didn’t feel like it quite came together this time around. This was in the same spot as last years’ Trick or Treat — which, we felt, was a better maze overall, especially in the dark. This one feels more like a reboot of the older Doll Factory maze but with more gross-out effects than uncanny valley. There were some cool set pieces in this one, but it also felt a bit understaffed in places (there’s one corridor clearly meant to house fake/real waxworks, but there was nobody in it at all). Strong overall design, but Trick or Treat was more impactful in terms of creepiness and scares.
Pumpkin Eater: Same as previous years, it’s a great and elaborate set more than anything else. This maze seems to have had a continued issue of “not much happening” inside, even though the set and lighting effects are stellar. As with a few of the other mazes, it could benefit from a little more staffing inside as a number of the rooms were left empty.
Shadowlands: This hasn’t changed at all, and it’s fairly easy to see why it’s being retired at this point. Still, the design of the maze allows for some sudden interactions with the scare-actors, making it one of the more effective mazes in terms of jumps.
Special Ops: Infected: Again, largely the same as previous years but with what seemed to be a few new forking paths (including a crawling section that’d benefit from adding scares). It works fine, and it’s a pretty chaotic, but it’s fairly clear that its inefficient in terms of how much management it needs to run well.
The Depths: I found this a bit incoherent in its opening year (a mine theme that suddenly turns oceanic?) The layout is exactly the same this year, as is the incoherent mine/oceanic plot jump, but it’s still one of the better mazes in terms of set design and large-scale set pieces (the rocking boat is a great effect). Of course, guests go nuts for the liquid laser room, which creates some slight traffic congestion.
Paranormal Inc.: Still the reigning champion of the park. This was such a well-conceived and sophisticated maze when it opened, and it still carries much of that same charm. Each year, though, more and more of it seems to get hacked off. This year, it felt like a sizable chunk of the ending had been removed entirely. Given how popular this one is (90-minute lines when we were there), it’s fairly clear that they need to make it more economical in terms of shuttling people through. Almost all of the first half remains the same, but the bizarre and random scenes after the red-light corridor have mostly been removed.
Log Ride: The old Halloween overlays are still missed as they (along with the overlays in the mine train) were super effective. The new seating arrangements in the log is awful, squishing one rider so close to the front that they can’t escape any of the splashes. While the impulse to fix the ride was right-minded, and it’s good that the park didn’t have to really rethink the ride system, the compromise is certainly felt.
A great night overall for a group who was very familiar with Haunt’s history. Again, the park seemed to be especially busy, making fast-lane a must if you want to cover all the mazes and rides on a Friday or a Saturday night. In my experience, there’s no longer any real logic as to when Haunt doesn’t require a fast-lane pass, so our choice to visit on a busy time and splurge made the most sense.
Here's a bunch of pictures I took last Sunday from Scary Farm. My buddy's parents live across the street from the parking lot and Knott's gives them a couple tickets to Scary Farm every year, so we took advantage of them.
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