Knott’s Scary Farm 2019 Review
The fog has finally rolled into the small quiet town of Calico within Knott’s Berry Farm. The monsters have left their graves and are now roaming the streets, preying on unsuspecting victims who purchase tickets to Knott’s Scary Farm! We here at Theme Park Duo would gladly volunteer ourselves if each and every year of Scary Farm is as fun as this years! With a great mixture of classic, new, scary and funny; Scary Farm for 2019 brought plenty to the table for all to enjoy.
PUPPET UP: UNCENSORED
Exclusively performing nightly at Knott’s Scary Farm for the 2019 season, Puppet Up! Uncensored is an outrageous, off-the-cuff live show featuring a combination of improvisational comedy and the magic of puppetry performed by a cast of world-class comedian puppeteers from The Jim Henson Company. Created by legendary puppeteer and award-winning director Brian Henson and directed by Patrick Bristow (Ellen, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Puppet Up! – Uncensored is no ordinary puppet show. In true uncensored form, the content is driven by audience suggestions and participation, topped with the zany antics and bawdy shenanigans of the colorful and brazen puppet cast. Puppet Up! – Uncensored will be performed three times each night at Knott’s Scary Farm and is intended for mature audiences and is not recommended for children.
Out of any of the offerings at this years KSF, this had the biggest question mark above it. How would it fit into the event? Would it be funny? Are puppets are good fit for KSF? The answer to all three of those questions is a resounding YES! This show made us laugh so hard that we were crying and couldn’t catch our breath. In fact, we thought it was so good that it almost overshadowed the quintessential show at KSF, The Hanging.
The undeniable talent of the comedians taking control of these puppet characters is so much fun to watch. Something about watching Jim Henson style puppets on stage made me feel as though I was watching Fraggel Rock again. But instead of family friendly comedy, it was none stop adult humor that completely caught us off guard. From the opening act to the final curtain call, Puppet Up is filled with curse words, dirty jokes and wonderful physical comedy from the puppet cast. We cannot speak more highly of this new show at KSF! Make sure when you visit this year, you make this show a priority because you will not regret it! PUPPET UP!
THE HANGING: WITCHES’ REVENGE
The Citizens of Calico face their fiercest 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. A must-see parody!
As mentioned before, The Hanging is the quintessential show at KSF. This stunt and joke filled show entertains the crowd nightly at KSF and this year was phenomenal in multiple ways. To be fairly honest, the past few years of The Hanging had missed the mark in many ways for us. The jokes didn’t land, the story felt much more disjointed than it should have and we fully know that many of the jokes were intended for audiences that were younger than us.
This year was so very different and refreshing. The story revolved around the story of Sarah Marshall and how her Sister was trying to avenge The Green Witches death against the Lawman and The Hangman. This underlying story is connected to the new maze, Origins: The Curse of Calico. Because the story was so succinct, the entire show felt much more cohesive than it has in the past. The jokes also seemed to hit hard each and every show.
The biggest change to the show was the ending. Now, this ending was big enough for us not to spoil it here. Although if you are reading this, chances are that you have already seen the ending or had it spoiled for you. But, we care and love the ending so much that we won’t do it here. What we will say is that we love the deeper message and the change in tone. We also discuss this on our podcast episode about KSF, so you can hear our theories and thoughts on the ending there. But overall, this years Hanging is far superior to the rest!
AWAKEN THE DEAD
This high-energy party at Fiesta Village features rhythmic music, performances by a live DJ throughout the night, dancing and sugar skull go-go dancers with Awaken the Dead.
Awaken The Dead returns to Fiesta Village as a dance party that never ends. Although this isn’t our type of entertainment, we do appreciate the change in tone going from one scare zone to the other. Areas like this help create a much more well rounded event by offering different types of entertainment that aren’t just scary or funny. We would love to see the monsters return from the scare zone years ago, but focus more on having fun than scaring.
CONJURERS: MAGIC AND MIRTH AT THE BIRDCAGE THEATER
The Bird Cage Theatre will once again become the home of comedy and magic at Knott’s Scary Farm. Join us as award-winning magicians and Fox’s “Masters of Illusion” regulars take the stage to amaze and amuse.
We unfortunately did not get to catch this show this year. There is so much to do at KSF, that it’s literally impossible to do it all. But we did enjoy this last year and know that it will bring the same type of fun it has before.
- Sept. 19 – 21 – Eric Buss
- Sept. 26 – 29 – Dana Daniels
- Oct. 2 – Nov. 2 – Chipper Lowell
TIMBER MOUNTAIN LOG RIDE: HALLOWEEN HOOTENANNY
Every year the citizens of the Timber Mountain invite the mysterious creatures that live out in the woods and caverns of the area to join them as they celebrate the season at the Halloween Hootenanny. The ride’s interior features surprises as guests venture past the Calico Coffin Creeper Band, the town’s Green Witch and splash down Skull Mountain through a labyrinth of jack-o-lanterns. All set around an original song performed by Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies.
We absolutely love Halloween Hootenanny on the Timber Mountain Log Ride! The traditional Halloween style and tone is so welcomed in an event that focuses more on the scary than the goofy. We know plenty of people who personally miss the scarier layovers of Log Ride (Red Moon Massacre and Sleep Hollow Mountain), and although we miss them too; this fills that void perfectly. In most scary events like KSF, the idea of Halloween itself can get lost. thankfully thanks to this ride, KSF retains the traditional ideas and flair of Halloween and we love it!
INTO THE FOG: A SCARY FARM TRIBUTE
“Into the Fog is an art show specially curated for the discerning Scary Farm fan. The show is home to a collection of original art by unique and talented artists from across the country. These artists have drawn inspiration from Knott’s Scary Farm’s rich 47 year history and we’re certain you’ll find an original or print you’ll want to take home with you.
Along with the Scary Farm art show, the Bizarre Bazaar will be filled with all sorts of souvenirs any Halloween fan will be dying to get their hands on.”
If you listen to our show, you’ll know about this already. Coming back from last years success, the Into The Fog Art Show showcases many talented artists and their pieces celebrating anything and everything Scary Farm. We actually have a piece hanging up in this art show, so if you see it, make sure to take a picture of it or buy a print!
This unearthly scare zone is making its sinister return to the park, Forsaken Lake. Once again, the lake underneath Silver Bullet reveals the horrors and creatures its 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.
Back from it’s first year at KSF, Forsaken Lake seemed to have learned from its mistakes and has grown big time! We really enjoyed the talent within this scare zone and it felt way foggier than it did last year. Although our photos are from the day, we can tell you that at night, this place completely transforms. This year it feels as though the sets, talent, sound design and fog are all working together harmoniously to create an iconic scare zone for KSF.
GHOST TOWN STREETS
Ghost Town Streets is the original – and still most terrifying scare zone – that started it all. 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.
What can we say that hasn’t already been said about Ghost Town Streets. It’s the original, it’s the scariest and we cannot get enough of it. Each time we visit KSF, we make sure to walk through fog alley at least 5 times because you are almost guaranteed to get scared! Something about the foreboding nature of the scare zone really make us excited and nervous all at the same time. I think it’s because we know the monsters are out there and we can’t see them…but they can see us!
Knott’s Boardwalk is taken over by “CarnEVIL,” where the freak show is the main event and countless deviant clowns crave your undying attention.
BRING IN THE CLOWNS! The Clowns of Carnevil have never looked so good! The high energy and zany antics of these monsters really help make this scare zone a success. Unfortunately fog will not stay and the zone is rather bright. So these actors have a lot working against them but they make it work!
We may have mentioned it last year, but the energy of the scare zone is helped our majorly by the massive Hangtime coaster. The kinetic energy and the wonderful lighting package of the coaster helps create an environment thats significantly different from the rest of the scare zone and in the best way!
From within the fog, Witches of the Hollow along, with their armies of creatures, have risen once again to battle with the Witch Hunter and terrorize guests.
This year, The Hollow fell a bit flat for us. It may have been bad timing, but the scare zone didn’t feel as populated as it has in the past and significantly less foggy as well. This scare zone excels when it’s saturated with fog and orange hued lights. On our next few trips, we will make sure to visit the Witches and Witch Hunters multiple times to see how the zone has progressed.
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!
Dark Entities is back for its second year and it seems to have improved greatly! Last year, we had only one really good run through this maze and left some what disappointed. This year the energy of the maze seemed to be taken up a few notches and the scare actors were bouncing off the walls like crazy people!
This type of energy really helps sell the whole idea and concept of this maze and we hope that continues through the run. Kudos to all the monsters in this maze for really utilizing every single inch of this maze to help extenuate scares. Unlike some mazes that can get away with lack of scare actors, this one really relies on it a lot. And we are happy to say the cast is outstanding. Along with its cast, the lighting design helps tremendously in creating a sense of urgency and chaos. One sad note is how the end monster was removed and replaced with an animatronic. This was one of our favorite parts from last year and we were saddened to see it go.
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.
Back for it’s second year as well, The Depths brings back all the familiar scares while trying to immerse the guests in the story even more than it had last year. This year, the designers have added a new show moment where guests enter a dilapidated mine shaft elevator to go down into the mines. In theory, this is a fun new element. In execution, it really doesn’t do much for the experience as a whole. There aren’t any scares and really only serves as a vessel for an illusion when you get out. When going through these mazes at KSF, there is already a certain level in which you need to suspend your disbelief. Without this extra scene, we don’t think it would hinder the guests experience. But, if they do decide to keep this scene, maybe have the actors give us information that we never had prior. Just something that can help give context and background to the story so that it’s easier to understand.
In all honestly, this was our only negative with The Depths. Each scare still got us and we still were floored by the beautiful set and maze design. For us, The Depths has made its mark and will go down as a true KSF classic that fans will remember for years to come.
The Haunting of Hayden Hill: Paranormal Inc. maze once again reopens its doors to those brave enough to uncover an eerie and supernatural adventure. Guests 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.
Well we never really thought this maze would be around for this long and still hold the crown for scariest maze. Paranormal Inc consistently scares us to our core and uses its sets to really have some intense scares in each and every room. The new ending that was included in recent years, really gave the maze a new lease on life. Previously we thought the ending fell flat, especially after such an intense and crazy first two thirds of the maze. But now the ending, which feels very Kubrik and Shining-esc, makes the entire experience feel much more cohesive and scarier! Endings to these maze (likes movies) can make or break the entire experience. It’s the last impression you’ll make on your guests before they leave. And chances are they will remember the maze based on the ending. Thankfully, this ending is so good it makes the rest of the maze that much better.
Mysterious lights and strange noises have begun to emanate from the eerie abandoned wax museum. The once prominent plastic surgeon, Dr. Augustus Scratch, has been seen tinkering at night and is now ready to show off his beautiful yet terrifying life-like masterpieces of hot molten wax and bloody flesh. It’s rumored that blood-curdling screams can be heard echoing through the halls of Wax Works as victims are horrifyingly submerged into a scorching hot cauldron of bubbling wax. Take a closer look at his gruesome works of art and try to escape his deadly grip or become the newest masterpiece to add to his collection.
New for 2019, Wax Works continues a long trend of mazes (designed by Daniel Miller) that are not only scary, but unbelievably unsettling. The visceral imagery of Wax Works gave us goosebumps and it never really ends until you leave the maze. The melting flesh of victims ooze down their skeletal remains and seared images of their untimely demise in our brains.
The sound design in this maze really helps excels in placing guests right in the middle of these experiences. Along with the beautiful yet disturbing set design, Wax Works is a feast for the senses and yet can still scare the living day lights out of you! If we were to have any critique for this maze, it would be its pacing. We felt like the music choice for this maze really affected the intensity that could potentially be reached by this maze. With more intense and driving music, guests would really feel like they are being chased by Doctor Augustus Scratch. Wanting us to become his next masterpiece.
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.
As much as we love Shadowlands, it’s definitely time for this maze to enter the afterlife. The wonderfully decorated sets and jaw dropping show moments have lost their shine. Although we still love going through this maze to look at all the wonderful details and listen to the sound design; we know the maze like the back of our hands. After having been through so many times, we no longer truly get scared anymore. We are happy that Shadowlands got a long life at KSF, but we are excited to see what comes next. Especially because Knott’s now loves to tie its mazes and scare zones. Since Carnevil is the scare zone surrounding this maze location; we are calling a freak show style maze next year!
Armed with cutting edge laser guns, brave guests will face off against hordes of zombies in the groundbreaking 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. The high tech innovative experience thrusts guests into the middle of a live-action video game complete with live actors, real-time scoring system, kill streak rewards system and interactive targets, including a juggernaut boss zombie. This attraction is one of the largest mazes ever created in Knott’s Scary Farm history so form your squad and put your zombie apocalypse survival skills to the test in this action-packed, one-of-a-kind experience.
Groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete terrifying missions before time runs out. If zombies drag their bodies too close, the uninfected’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 if they make it out alive. Take your last shot at saving humanity as this heart-stopping attraction is going out with a bang of new surprises for its final year at Knott’s Scary Farm.
There is no additional charge for Special Ops: Infected.
Also in its last year, Special Ops: Infected (along with Shadowlands) has had a long life. Although the slow transformation of this attraction is the most notable. Once it finally reached its current location, it then truly began to shine. The biggest maze at KSF, the sets are still astounding and transports its guests/recruits into the zombie filled streets of Calico City. Yeah, we said Calico City! Bet you didn’t know that it was a modern version of Ghost Town Calico!
We love the interactive nature of this maze and would love to see it return in some fashion in the future. But for now, we bid a fond farewell to Special Ops: Infected. But not without a last; HEADSHOTS ONLY!
Journey through an abandoned carnival ride where cruel carnie folk still linger in the shadows in Dark Ride: Castle of Chaos. The carnival has become a refuge for freaks and carnies. Now those shunned performers have created a dark 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 the gloom over the once pleasant ride. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare, being helplessly trapped inside an abandoned carnival ride without a way out.
Back with its incredible set design, maze design, sound design and scares; Dark Ride continues to impress us on a multitude of levels. We are always impressed with the transition from scene to scene. Going from goofy and silly dark ride to ultra realistic back rooms is not only scary but just down right brilliant!
The scares still pack a punch as much as they did its first year and it really has a lot to do with the wonderful cast. Not only does each and every monster feel like its own unique character; but each brings a different style of scare and nuanced performance that allows the whole attraction to feel alive. Almost as those these crazed monster truly do live here and KSF is just kind enough to let them stay they year round.
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 is back again and ready to torment you! We absolutely love Pumpkin Eater (designed by Daniel Miller) because of its dark take on a well known nursery rhyme. Once again, the sound design and set design are outstanding from beginning to end. Throughout the maze, you can hear what sounds like the stretching and crunching of vines. This noise is very unsettling and really puts us on edge and susceptible to the scares around each and every corner. Although we noticed a couple changes, we would love to see some major changes to this mazes ending. We love the concept of being thrown into an oven in all, we just find it a bit confusing visually.
ORIGINS: CURSE OF CALICO
Pierce the veil of time and discover the secret of the evil fog that hangs over Knott’s Scary Farm in Origins: The Curse of Calico. Unearth the sinister paranormal activity that plagues the town as Sarah Marshall is put on trial for her suspected crimes of witchcraft. All will be unveiled when the Green Witch rises up and curses the townsfolk, transforming all who have accused her into a wicked horde of malicious creatures with an eternal quench for the living.
We have never felt emotional after exiting a maze..at any event…ever! This maze has now done that and simultaneously set a new standard for mazes at KSF. From its absolutely stunning set and maze design to its incredible story; Origins: The Curse of Calico is almost a perfect maze. Designed and developed by two individuals (Jon Cooke and Ted Dougherty) who share a common love, admiration and respect for the history of Knott’s Scary Farm and Knott’s in general; each and every inch of this experience oozes it.
Knott’s never does IP related experiences anymore, but if they did own an IP, this would be it. Utilizing Knott’s own history to their advantage not only creates an experience that helps guests understand the entirety of the event, but it really helps create another level of cohesion.
Each and very room has easter eggs in it, celebrating the long and storied history of Ghost Town and Scary Farm. If you are a fan of KSF, make sure to count how many easter eggs you find because there are a ton. Probably our favorite monster from the entire maze and made us literally scream, cheer, applaud and shed a tear was the Catawampus Monster! A CATAWAMPUS MONSTER! ARE YOU JOKING US?!
Knott’s has created another stellar year for Scary Farm that is appealing to the general public while giving the hardcore fans plenty to talk about. It’s combination of humor and scares helps set itself apart from the rest. Even with its minor flaws and imperfections, Scary Farm still excels in every other facet. Nobody can do what Scary Farm does, and it seems as thought the creators and entertainment team is starting to really hone in on what makes them special and different from the rest. Why create experiences you can get at other haunts like HHN or Fright Fest? There would be no need! In the past, people came for quantity not quality. Now we are getting almost both! Now you can come to Scary Farm for movie quality sets and intense scares, with a good dose of humor to break it all up. With this new trend of story telling and detail work, we are beyond excited for the future of Scary Farm. Especially with the 50th Anniversary looming in the distance.