Tag: Mazes (page 1 of 2)

Haunt Review: LA Haunted Hayride 2018

In 2009, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (LAHH) made a somewhat quiet debut at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas as the first large-scale hayride attraction in Southern California. Sure, there were a few local farms offering hayrides, but they just didn’t live up to standards set by the many famous East Coast hayride attractions (such as Headless Horseman or Bates Motel). After earning great reviews in their first year, LAHH moved to a more central LA location: the Old Zoo at Griffith Park. Their dedication to providing an excellent attraction combined with heavy marketing (and promotion of celebrity attendees) made their event one of the top “must-see” Halloween attractions in the area. 10 years later, they are still unchallenged as the only major hayride in California.

In addition to the hayride, the event also includes two walk-through mazes and event grounds (“Purgatory”) populated by roaming scareactors and shows. Now, let’s take a roll in the hay and get to the review!


Los Angeles Haunted Hayride: 10 Years

The theme of this year’s hayride is, appropriately, “10 Years.” Instead of a single theme or backstory, this year’s ride plays like a “best of,” featuring scenes and characters from the past decade. This was a smart change in direction, because creating a coherent story line has proven to be difficult for many hayrides, not just LAHH. By abandoning the constraints of a single backstory and instead featuring stand-alone vignettes of horror, the hayride has become a lot more fun as well as more scary. The 10-year theme has also enabled them to feature all their best props, sets, and masks in a way that doesn’t feel forced. This freedom keeps the riders from having any idea of what might be coming next, increasing the suspense and surprise. And if you don’t like one scene, chances are the next one will have something to scare you.

The hayride begins with a journey through the fog. As you leave the grounds of the Haunted Village below, you are quickly bombarded by one scene after another, which vary widely from a spooky church scene, to an amusing  game show of death, to a terrifying tent full of demented clowns. We were struck by how well-choreographed the actors were in each scene, as some effects required very close synchronization to get the effect just right. The actors also used each other as distractions; while one actor terrified guests from the left, another silently snuck up on the other side for a scare. The energy level was high in nearly all scenes, with creatures running after the trailer, jumping on the rails, and leaning far into the crowd as guests scrambled to get away. This was the best group of actors we’ve seen on the LAHH to date.

Although the LAHH tried its best to conceal the actors in the shadows and use surprise tactics to elicit scares, we just didn’t find it to be that scary overall. This might be just us–maybe we find the confines of the twisted hallways of a walk-through attraction to be scarier than sitting in an open trailer. But with a hayride, the actors are limited to jumping on the sides of the trailer, and the suspense that is needed to create an effective scare is just really hard to pull off in this setting. However, the LAHH provides a great spooky, Halloween atmosphere with plenty of eye candy to make it well worth the journey.

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Trick or Treat

Treat or Treat returns this year as one of the most unique walk-through attractions at any Halloween event. Very small groups are let onto the trail, which resembles a rambling path through house-like facades. Guests have to knock on the doors, where they will get a treat (piece of candy) or a trick. The tricks are, of course, the fun part here, and these scares can be really effective. We definitely screamed more on this path than we did on the Hayride. Trick or Treat is not to be missed, and the long lines are a testament to its popularity.

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House of Shadows

This bare-bones walk-through has one unique thing going for it: it’s an actual maze. And you will get lost. The plain black walls and headache-inducing strobe light ensure you’ll be disoriented and begging for the exit before long. Monsters lurk in the shadows and behind walls, and they purposely lead you in the wrong direction. This maze is a fun distraction but is probably not be worth it if there’s a long line.

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The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride continues to be a solid Halloween offering and is a great choice for anyone looking for something a little bit different than the standard walk-through haunted house. There’s plenty to do to fill up your evening, and the Purgatory grounds are full of Instagrammable spots. The vegan offerings at the food truck are delicious, and there’s plenty of free parking. We attended late on a Sunday evening and found the hayride line to be completely empty, although there was still a healthy line for Trick or Treat. Attending later in the evening or during the week is a good option if you want to avoid the lines and the need to buy a VIP ticket.

Los Angeles Haunted  Hayride Overall Fright Value:

General Admission/Fright Lane


Overall Rating of Los Angeles Haunted Hayride 2018:

Check our ratings guide for further details

Tickets and Dates

LA Haunted Hayride is open through October 31. Tickets are now on sale 

New Frightful Features at Worlds of Fun

A new stunning acrobatic show and 6 new dread-inducing secret rooms await guests as Worlds of Fun’s 2017 Halloween Haunt returns weekends starting September 16. The high-flying performers of Skeleton Crew will join hundreds of monsters in the midway, alongside dozens of gruesome attractions and thrill rides, in presenting the biggest Halloween event in the Midwest.

Skeleton Crew brings a thrilling cirque-style show of talented skeleton-costumed acrobats to shock witnesses with electrifying aerial performances. “This group is a must-see,” said Brent Barr, director of live entertainment for Cedar Fair, parent company for Worlds of Fun. “These death defying performers will charm you with their humor and amaze you with their astounding performances.” See the Skeleton Crew’s exhilarating acrobatic performances nightly in the International Plaza.

New Skeleton Key rooms take fear to a whole new level. Guests will experience their worst nightmares coming to life in six new phobia-themed Skeleton Key rooms, exclusively available with a Fright Lane PLUS Skeleton Key. This premium add-on experience includes priority access to 13 mazes and attractions, and features more intense and interactive scares in the Skeleton Key attractions.

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This year marks our 24th year of attending Knott’s Scary Farm, which adds up to  a lot of monsters, mazes, and Elvira shows we’ve experienced along with miles upon miles of walking (running) in the fog.

When we first went to Knott’s Scary Farm we were young, naive, and easily scared teenagers. Everything about Scary Farm was terrifying, fresh, exciting and new to us. Now as “adults” we sometimes ask ourselves “is there really anything more that they can do that will really wow and scare us after all these years?”. I mean,  we’ve pretty much perfected our haunt POV to the point we can easily detect where all the monsters are hiding in the mazes or predict what they’ll try to do to scare us in the scare zones. Plus we’ve toured the country and have expereinced all the different types of haunt scenarios you could imagine.

There even was a period when Knott’s had become  the dated “granddaddy” haunt that held a nostalgic value but very little else; especially when compared to the new renaissance of high production, ultra suspenseful, and personalized  haunt experiences that have emerged within the past ten years.  Add in Universal who got very serious about its Horror Nights events in the mid-2000’s and we saw the bar for theme park and local haunts get raised so high it seemed that Knott’s should just do like they do in Calico Square and hang it up.

14463157_963053570468030_2916029003104925387_nHowever, when you’re an originator that created the game you can redefine the rules. So not being unaware of the competitive changes, a few years ago the creative team at Knott’s Scary Farm embarked on a pleasantly dark path where they wouldn’t necessarily try to compete with what everyone is doing but instead move to further perfect what they’ve started. With this came the emergence of some incredible new maze themes and concepts that are designed the capture the imaginations and fears of today’s teenagers (and adults). In recent years we’ve watched as each season they’ve created unique maze themes and haunt concepts that showcase just about every frighting and fun aspect of Halloween. What Knott’s uniquely possess in comparison to other haunts is the soul of the Halloween Season.

To us they may no longer be the scariest haunt in town but for others, especially the new generation of haunt goers, they could easily hold the terror crown. We believe that it’s the wide variety of themes and enhanced story-telling that brings Knott’s Halloween Haunt to life. Where else can can you go Trick Or Treating in a witch’s house, investigate Paranormal activity inside a haunted hospital, battle zombies with laser guns in a post apocolyptic city, and try to escape from demonic Samurais or gun sling with cowboys and werewolves? It’s all pure Halloween season fun.


This year we continued our tradition of visiting the Scary Farm and like Elvira it still hasn’t gotten old. This was the first year we’ve attended on their opening night. Usually we like to wait for a week or two to give the monsters and performers a chance to perfect their scares. While it was noticeable in some areas that they could improve over time, overall we are impressed by how well managed and produced this year’s Halloween Haunt is. The tagline for this year is “Whatever, you’re imagining is here” and trust us, there was a lot of imagination put into this year’s show.

Let’s take a closer with look with our 2016 review featuring maze videos from ThemeParkHD: Continue reading

The Fog Has Rolled in at Knott’s Scary Farm 2015



This weekend at ScareLA the folks at Knott’s Scary Farm revealed the first details for this year’s Halloween Haunt, which begins in only 45 days on September 24th. This year’s event will feature 2 shows, 3 Scare Zones, 5 Skeleton Key Rooms, 11 mazes, and 1,000 monsters! There’s also a ‘Scary Farm Pass‘; a haunt season pass available for “only” $80. A great deal for local fans. Tickets are on sale now starting at $39.99.

Here’s The full Scary Farm lineup for 2015…

New Mazes



Escape the icy grasp of the chilling Snow Queen in the The Dead of Winter. Backed by a ravenous beastly army of resurrected Viking warriors, she is hellbent on avenging her beloved family’s murder, and preys upon any unsuspecting visitors who foolishly enter the borders of her icy domain.


Paranormal-Page-HeaderIn this groundbreaking new maze featuring high flying aerial stunts and scares, 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 hunt for new patients to torture.



There is no tale more vicious and vengeful than that of My Bloody Clementine. Take a grim ride through the transformed Calico Mine where Clementine and her father were brutally murdered centuries ago. Their wretched spirits roam the tunnels in search of those who killed them. This year, the ride through maze will feature live monsters out for revenge at the train track’s every turn.

Returning Mazes



This twisted tooth fairy steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry. Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out, a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy, himself. Say aahhh.


Gunslinger-Page-Header 2“A Blood Moon Rises” continues the story of The Gunslinger. The Red hand gang has disturbed a burial ground that contained a SkinWalker relic, that has transformed them into Werewolves under the Blood Moon Curse. Return to the Old West and walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path to retribution. This journey back in time takes guests on a trail of terror through abandoned gold mines, a treacherous corral, a seedy saloon and a final showdown at town hall.



Survive the Zombie Apocalypse in an All-Out War! Back by overwhelming demand, guests can enlist to fight the zombie apocalypse in an all-out war against the undead in the interactive experience, Special Ops: Infected – Patient Zero. In this ambitious attraction groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete terrifying missions before time runs out. Special Ops: Infected seamlessly integrates interactive gaming technology with an immersive mountainous landscape, delivering a breakthrough interactive haunted experience that is as terrifying as it is challenging. Missions will take guests through a variety of wilderness terrains, including the unpredictable barrel bridges across the rushing river, through the dark caverns, and through mysterious backwoods. Six acres of the beloved theme park is now home to mutinous, scream-inducing zombies, and the time has come for a harrowing Special Ops survival mission.*There is no additional charge for Special Ops: Infected.



Years have passed since the blue fairy denied him his final wish, but Pinocchio has returned with an army of murderous marionettes intent on killing his former masters. The purpose of his killing spree – human flesh to cover his twisted wooden body. Revenge comes with no strings attached.



The twisted mind of Edgar Allen Poe comes alive as the “Forevermore Killer” works his way through one haunting tale after another. All the victims unwittingly find themselves a part of “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” The Masque of Red Death” among other horrific stories. Guests will want to catch up on their reading to stay a chapter ahead of their demise.



The veil between the living and the dead is severed when Houdini’s ghost materializes during a séance and ushers a host of demonic illusions to play tricks on anyone who intrudes on his theatre. From the prop room to the main stage this dilapidated theatre will make visitors skin crawl. Will you be part of the disappearing act?



Beware the cursed swamps of New Orleans, where mindless zombies trudge through the murky bogs in search of bloody sacrifices and demons use Voodoo curses to possess innocent souls. Choose your path carefully children, for one wrong turn and you will be hexed forever. This year’s maze is even longer featuring a new finale. 



Trick or treat, which will it be? Step forward and ring the witch’s doorbell. Oh, she is home, but where? You are not quite sure. Don’t be afraid, her minions will guide you. You can come away with a treat, but is it worth it? This year’s maze features a new attic scene and a witch’s potion room to conjure up more scares.


Scare Zones


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. New for this year, Ghost Town Streets has been expanded to the backstage maze area to create the largest scare zone in Scary Farm history, full of new surprises.

FIESTA de los MUERTOS: Fiesta de los Muertos fuses dance music, colorful costumes, and larger than life stilt walkers in a dance party scare zone with even more characters than last year to create the ultimate late night celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

CARNIVAL: Knott’s Boardwalk is taken over by “CarnEVIL,” where the freak show is the main event and countless clowns crave your undying attention.

DEADLY 7: Prowling the darkest corners of Scary Farm’s midways and scare zones, the Green Witch and her Deadly 7 are a sadistic crew guilty of more terror than meets the eye. Each of the monsters represent one of the seven deadly sins and make terrifying surprise appearances throughout the park each night.



ELVIRA’S ASYLUMElvira, the legendary Mistress of the Dark, returns to Knott’s Scary Farm in a spectacular all-new nightly show, Elvira’s Asylum, which transports guests to an asylum of music, dance and comedy.

THE HANGING: – Haunt’s traditional show (that we only watch while waiting in line for Calico Mine Train or The Log Ride) in Calico Square will continue its’ irreverent look at the year’s pop culture with special effects, pyrotechnics and stunts.


ELVIRA MEET & GREETIn honor of Elvira’s return to Knott’s Scary Farm, the Nautilus merchandise shop will become Elvira’s Boo-tique, where fans can purchase stylish apparel and sinfully fun products featuring and inspired by the Legendary Mistress of the Dark. Each night, a limited number of guests who spend at least $50 at Elvira’s Boo-tique during Knott’s Scary Farm will get a chance to meet Elvira between performances of “Elvira’s Asylum” and collect her signature on one of the purchased items.

BOO-FET WITH EARLY ENTRYKnott’s Boo-fet dinner invites guests to feed the beast before Knott’s Scary Farm opens each night. Dine on a frightfully delicious buffet meal while monsters scare and delight you throughout your meal. Meals include a collectible 2015 souvenir cup, which provides unlimited complimentary refills during the night of first use, and 99¢ refills for the rest of 2015. After dinner, enjoy early entry into select parts of Knott’s Scary Farm before it opens to other mortals. Boo-fet dinner is $26.99 online / $32.99 at the door (plus applicable taxes and fees).


Knott’s Scary Farm 42nd Haunt – Sneak Peek


In just a few more nights the fog will come rolling in at Knott’s Scary Farm. Last year solidified Scary Farm’s reinvention with the most highly themed and exceptionally crafted mazes in it’s 41 year history. In comparison to other big SoCal Theme Park Haunts, Knott’s still wins big in creating the perfect feeling of celebrating Halloween. Knott’s also benefits from having unique mazes themes that are not constrained by the pre-scripted story lines of movies and TV shows, thus allowing for more surprises throughout.

The total number of mazes has slightly decreased in recent years but it wasn’t noticeable given the increased quality of the mazes overall. We still miss was the haunt layover of the Timber Mountain Log Ride. Even though the ride’s scare factor had declined over the years it still was one of the most unique haunt attractions anywhere (and a nice way to get scared without having to walk).The caliber of the shows was also increased with production upgrades made to The Hanging and the voluptuous return of Elvira.

Now, to get you fully prepared for this year’s 42nd annual haunt, we’ve compiled some sneak peek images of what you can expect to find lurking in the fog for the 42nd year. We also have a peek under Elvira’s Big Top (as if you don’t already know)!

Maze Sneak Peeks

A glimpse into the ghoulish gallery known as Dominion of the Damned

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A sneak peek inside a fan favorite, Trick-Or-Treat

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Did somebody mention they wanted to see VOODOO? Here’s your first glimpse….

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How about a taste of The Tooth Fairy?  You’ll soon know the drill….

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Pinocchio Unstrung where revenge comes with no strings attached…

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With a little Black Magic, this Rabbit will reach out and grab ya’ out of a hat…


Forvermore offers head splitting terror…

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With Special Ops: Infected you’ll be the only thing standing in the way of oblivion…



Under her the Big Top, Elvira becomes the “Ring Mistress of the Park” dazzling audiences with music, madness and mayhem in her Sinister Circus of the Macabre.


Knott’s Terror Tips

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before the posted opening time (we recommend doing one of the Knott’s pre-scare dinners or walking to one of the restaurants across the street)
  • If you can, attend on a Thursday of Sunday night for lighter crowds (but avoid the Sunday before Columbus Day holiday)
  • Visit the mazes counter clockwise, this year it’s best to do Special Ops first due to the time involvement of attraction – lines will predictably get longer through the night.


  • Following a counter-clockwise flow should bring you to Elvira’s Big Top in time to see the first show at 9Pm. If you miss it, there’s another at 11:30
  • If you choose do Trapped, schedule an appointment for later in the evening after 10, so you’ll have a chance to get through all the other mazes first.

Check HERE for our coverage of all of Knott’s 2014 mazes and attractions along with the complete announcement video.

Knott’s Scary Farm takes place on select (24) nights from September 25 – November 1. More info available at Knotts.com

**All Photos Sourced by Knott’s Scary Farm ‘s Facebook  page

Knott’s Scary Farm 2014

Tonight (8/6/14) Knott’s Scary Farm’s evil team of creators and tormentors announced the 2014 Scary Farm line up.

10298359_553297338110324_2325016403689301507_o   The scare-tivites were hosted by Jeff Tucker featuring an introductory appearance by “breast actress” Elvira, whose return to Knott’s Scary Farm was announced earlier this summer. Usually by this time we would already know what to expect to be lurking in the fog but this year they kept us in suspense.  Unlike their “Nowhere to Hide” tagline from last year, the folks at Scary Farm had really been hiding out but alas we now can confirm just about everything we expected to see returning (and buried) for the 42nd Halloween Haunt. In addition, 3 new mazes (they claim 4 with the new theme for Trapped), promising even more unique interactive elements and expensively themed settings were revealed as replacements for the deceased mazes.


 2014 New Mazes

SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED Infected_Thumbnail Billed as a “haunted  experience” Special OPS: Infected will require participants to hunt zombies (with laser tag) in an All-Out War. Brave groups of Knott’s Scary Farm guests will embark on missions, led by their Squad Leader – a loud mouthed, take-no-prisoners commander charged with turning guests into soldiers. Groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete various missions before time runs out. If zombies drag their bodies too close, the un-infected’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 on a display board for other survivors to see each night in base camp. Special Ops: Infected seamlessly integrates interactive gaming technology with an immersive mountainous landscape (Camp Snoopy), delivering a breakthrough interactive haunted experience that is as terrifying as it is challenging. Missions will take guests through a variety of wilderness terrains, including the unpredictable barrel bridges across the rushing river, through the dark caverns, and through mysterious backwoods. Six acres of the beloved theme park is now home to mutinous, scream-inducing zombies, and the time has come for a harrowing Special Ops survival mission.

VOODOO Voodoo_Thumbnail This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Voodoo swap maze at Knott’s (even though they said they always wanted to do a Voodoo maze). Back in the early 2000’s we ventured the deadly swaps of the Voodoo Witch Project and then Blood Bayou. Now in 2014 you’ll have to trudge cautiously through the cursed swamps of the Deep South, where creatures search the murky bogs for their next bloody sacrifice and demons curse the innocent with Voodoo hexes. Guests must choose their path from a number of foreboding choices, resulting in a different terrifying outcome with each journey into the swamp. 

THE TOOTH FAIRY TheToothFairy_Thumbnail The joy of hiding a lost tooth under the pillow becomes a nightmare of pain and blood in this new maze that will leave teeth chattering. This twisted tooth fairy steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry. Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out, a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy, himself. Say aahhh.

TRAPPED: LOCK AND KEY Trapped_Thumbnail After disappointing us last year, Trapped returns with promises of having more rooms, more intricate puzzles and a shocking finale more extreme than any experience ever presented at Knott’s Scary Farm (last year we were pretty shocked in the finale by how much we paid for it). They acknowledged that maze was more zany than scary and it’s promised that this year’s version of Trapped will feature challenges that are darker and more terrifying than any that have come before. You’ll become part of the terror and are forced to face your darkest fears, confront your inner terrors and descend into the madness of a maze with no way out. (Additional fee and reservation required.)


2014 Returning Mazes

Black Magic 10091539434_b1f8e53342_o This maze was one of our favorites last year. We were amazed by the detailed themeing and settings they created around this story. Using magic as backdrop for a maze provided continuous surprises throughout. There was definitely more than rabbits popping out of hats inside of here. The talent in this maze were some of the most impressive of all the mazes with scary magician’s assistants, victims of tricks gone bad, and an actual magician who did a quick card or handkerchief trick as you passed by. This maze also had a nice blend of light and dark scenes allowing for some good scares as your eyes adjusted with the lighting transitions We look forward to capturing more of the Black Magic inside of this maze.

Forevermore 10091614105_f692778c74_o The Edgar Allen Poe theme has become more popular at haunts across the country in recent years with both Universal Orlando and Busch Gardens taking a stab at the infamous writer. Knott’s version diverted from strictly recreating eerie scenes of Poe’s stories and creates the story line of a serial killer who is on a murder spree utilizing murder tactics from Poe’s fables akin to The Following. What we liked about it were some of the clever modernization of Poe’s stories into death scenes. The Pit and the Pendulum scene is incredible. While there was some good eye candy in this maze, it wasn’t always clear what was going on. In one scene it looked like we stumbled into Club Blood. The scares were also far in between. In comparison to the other new additions this maze had room for improvement. With it’s freshman year behind it, this maze should hopefully pull off some more poetic terror this year.

The Gunslinger’s Grave Yeehaw! This maze is the epitome of the Knott’s legacy. In Gunslinger’s we’re taken through the haunted labyrinths of mine shafts, corrals, and salons. The layout of this maze is mostly outdoors with trails winding in and out of the Ghost Town buildings making it really feel as if we are out in the old wild west amid the Silver Bullet and Jaguar coasters rolling by overhead. The soundtrack was solid with frenetic Bon Jovi stylized guitar riffs. It was obvious that the “residents” of this town are less than happy to see us and it wasn’t fully clear but we assume we’re looking for refuge from alive or dead outlaws and towns folks. This maze had a few good startle scares but it wasn’t overly frightening. The talent was convincing in their roles as they were fully costumed in western attire, but for scares they just did a lot of yelling “get outta here” and kept cattle prodding us through the scenes. With a few more characters in more horrific makeup and a slower pace, this maze should able to hit it the bullseye this year.

Dominion of the Damned While this maze was revamped from it’s 2012 to 2013 version we didn’t find it to be changed significantly. We anticipate that the immortal blood suckers will be back in one fashion or the other. This is another maze with a cool soundtrack and superb set design but among the beautiful set pieces we encountered vampires who looked in desperate need of a blood transfusion. Dominion is a nice showcase the different reiterations of vampires from the Nosferatu to the Anne Rice versions but it was hard to track the story line, which seemed to be like we were on a tour of The Natural Museum of Vampire History (hmmm that could this year’s revision). Since it seems that we’re Dammed to always have a vampire maze at haunt we expect this one to return in some reincarnation we just hope to see it get more energy and scares.

Pinocchio Unstrung Pinocchio This maze established the new bar of themeing and design for all the preceding new mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm. The entire setting feels like walking through a bloody, after hours, version of Disneyland’s Pinocchio ride. Pinocchio successfully twists the popular children’s story in a way that makes its feel as if we were trapped inside a dark storybook nightmare. What’s unsettling about the maze is how the once innocent characters are now placed into scenes of distress, gore, and horror. It’s rather tragic to see Gepetto, Stromboli, and the Blue Fairy meet their fates at the hands of a torturous wooden puppet who instead of becoming a real boy now wants to be a real killer. The monsters in this maze were consistently scary and high energy. In some scenes they even team up on victims. This is a now a haunt classic and we don’t see Pinocchio getting strung up anytime soon.

Trick or Treat This maze recreates a night of Trick O Treating gone bad. Once you enter the front door of the Green Witch’s house the journey cascades through a haunted mansion packed with sinister Halloween decorations and ghostly effects. The infamous Tricksters are also creating mayhem in the various rooms along the way. This maze is shorter than the others, but it’s also has some of the strongest atmospheric environments and an interestingly theatrical finale. The scares were turned up slightly last year but the focus of this maze is more on the fun of Halloween versus the scares. Knott’s has also been posting teaser pictures of the Tricksters on their Facebook so we’re certain they’re going to be up to some new tricks this year.

The Witch’s Keep  As reported on Mice Chat last month, the Witch’s Keep will be returning to the Calico Mine Train in 2014. There was some speculation that it might be scrapped due to the complete refurbishment of the attraction this year with brand new animatronics, but it looks like the Green Witch will be back to curse us all for another year.


Mazes Gone to the Graveyard

Delirium-facade-21-1024x682  Endgames 10091645463_40f88be0c7_o 10091552234_c6a93cd884_o

Delirium  –The Delirium was the maze credited for setting a standard for the modern Scary Farm mazes featuring some very disturbing scenes such as, people spewing cockroaches, monstrously large flesh-eating maggots, and hideously bloody monsters hiding under beds. We loved the nightmare/dementia theme but agree that they’ve already pushed the boundaries of Delirium as fas as they could.

Endgames – What does it look like when you combine The Running Man, Mad Max, UFC and the Hunger Games? You get a standard post-apocalyptic, industrial maze with some cool animatronics and an infusion of technical glitz. We never found this maze to be scary, and we’re glad that the game has finally ended.

Uncle Willy’s Slaughterhouse – While this maze packed some great scares last year, the meat along with theme had passed the expiration date and rotted away on the shelf. We’ll  miss the zany yet scary slaughterhouse cannibals but welcome a new story and settings.

Mirror, Mirror -This was a new find your way carnival style mirror maze. We applaud Knott’s for trying to do something new but last year this maze seemed like it was thrown together at the last minute and was too small inside with a finale that was disappointingly anti-climatic. This maze had the potential to be better but it never was.




Ghost Town Streets

Fiesta De Los Muertos


Gypsy Camp


Elvira’s Big Top: Ring-Mistress of the Park Back by overwhelming demand for 2014 is Elvira – the legendary Mistress of the Dark. Elvira will headline her all new show Elvira’s Big Top, in the 1,800 seat Charles M. Schultz Theatre twice nightly for the entire run of Knott’s Scary Farm. In her new show, Elvira becomes the Ring-Mistress of the Park as she hosts a circus carnival of macabre freaks and sinister side show acts. The show also features explosive dance performances by The Academy of Villains, who return to the stage in 2014 fresh off their appearance on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance? Each night, a limited number of guests who spend at least $50 at Elvira’s Boo-tique during Knott’s Scary Farm will get a chance to meet Elvira between performances of Elvira’s Big Top and collect her signature on one of the purchased items. Knott’s Scary Farm is the only place Elvira can be seen this Halloween season.

The Hanging® – Everything is Gruesome! Haunt’s traditional show (that we usually only watch while waiting in line for Calico Mine Train or The Log Ride) in Calico Square will continue its’ irreverent looks at the year’s pop culture with special effects, pyrotechnics and high-flying stunts.


Knott’s Scary Farm takes place on select (24) nights from September 25 – November 1

Tickets purchased online will range from $39 – $49 depending on the night. Tickets purchased at least 24 hours in advance at the theme park ticket booths are $49 for all nights, and day-of-event tickets purchased at the ticket booths are $65 scaryfarmpass_thumbnail

Additional prices for Fright Lane with Skeleton Key will begin at $65 (does not include admission). Fright lane offers unlimited priority to mazes and haunted attractions all night long. The Skeleton Key, provides access to secret rooms inside of five mazes.

Knott’s also announced a $65 season pass to Halloween Haunt (available only to Knott’s season pass holders, with quantities limited) with NO BLOCKOUT DATES.

Parking will cost a killer $20!

More info available at Knotts.com

Now here’s the complete announcement presentation. In addition, Knott’s Scary Farm will be revealing more surprises at this year’s ScareLA taking place this weekend! Don’t miss it!

Knott’s ReVAMPs Dominion of the Dead for 2012

After an entire season without any vampires at Knott’s Scary Farm, they’re now coming back. There were numerous reports from this weekend’s West Coast Bash at Knott’s Berry Farm that the classic vampire maze, Dominion of the Dead, will get “revamped.”

The original Dominion of the Dead ran for 5 years: 1995 through 1999. Knott’s promises that the new version will resurrect the spirit of the original, which—unlike the contemporary setting of Club Blood—had a dark and Gothic atmosphere with classical music, old-world costumes, and candlelit corridors. Dominion of the Dead will be replacing Lockdown: The Asylum, which was paired up with Delirium in the park’s Ghostrider corridor. As double-header mazes, guests wait in one line and  upon exiting the first maze, they are immediately transitioned into the second maze.

Dominion of the Dead could turn out to be a great gateway maze into Delirium.  And looking at how Knott’s has recently (or finally) increased the level of set design and effects for their newer mazes, we expect something that could be very aesthetically impressive. We also hope that they make it genuinely scary, which, as we rediscovered to our surprise last season, vampires actually can be.

It was also said that Dia de los Muertos will be (sadly) returning, and there will be another new maze, yet to be announced. In addition, we heard interesting news that the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Train will not be receiving full theme overlays this year, but instead will just have some “special haunt stuff inside.” We know that both rides have undergone recent refurbishments, and although they haven’t been the best haunt attractions in recent years, the potential is still there to make these rides scary as hell, as they were in the 90s.

Now here’s a look at Dominion of the Dead from 1999. Footage courtesy of our friends at Theme Park Adventure

Friday the 13th Haunted Maze and Movie

For our young Haunt Stalkers (under 18) living in The City of Malibu, CA; there will be a Friday the 13th Haunted Maze and Movie at Malibu City Hall (23825 Stuart Ranch Road) on Friday, January 13, 2012 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is free and open to students 18 and under.

Teens will have the opportunity to travel through a haunted maze and watch the movie, The RingThe movie, rated PG-13, begins at 7:30 p.m. Free milkshakes, popcorn, cotton candy, and a nacho station will be available during the movie.

More information may be obtained by contacting the City’s Parks and Recreation Department by phone at (310) 317-1364   or online at www.malibucity.org.

Rumor Zone: 2011 HHN Themes

Recently, Universal Hollywood sent out a survey asking which themes would we like to see at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights. Scare Zone took good note of all the themes they asked about, and we believe this gives us some ideas about what we can expect to see this year. Last year was full of remakes with Freddy, Jason, Chucky, and Jigsaw making return appearances. We can only hope that this year will be completely refreshed, and by looking at the list (below) there is a full slate of new options available.

We’ve separated out the movies from Universal, New Line Cinema, and Lionsgate studios which we believe would be more likely to be made since Universal has already partnered with them in previous years. In addition, we noted 2011 movies that could also be strong candidates due to their relevancy. We’re not sure if the video game or TV show themes would be worthy of their own mazes, but all is fair game and we’re hoping that they expand beyond last year’s 5 mazes (Mr. Murdy, please give us at least 6 original ones, not counting House of Horrors and Terror Tram).

Take a look for yourself and leave a comment letting us know which 6 themes you’d like to see come to life. We’ll share your feedback with Mr. Murdy himself.

Which themes would you like to see this year?

Themes from Universal

  • Evil Dead/Army of Darkness
  • House of 1000 Corpses –featured in ’00 and ’10
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Universal Studios Classic Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.)
  • The Wolfman (2010 remake)

Themes from Lionsgate

  • Hostel
  • My Bloody Valentine  -featured in ’09
  • The Descent
  • Saw -featured in ’09 & ’10

Themes from New Line Cinema

  • Freddy Vs. Jason
  • Friday the 13th -featured in ’07, ’08, ’10
  • Scream *2011
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street -featured in ’07, ’08, ’10
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre -featured in ’07, ’08

Themes from Other Studios

  • Poltergeist
  • The Crazies
  • Stephen King Films (IT, The Shining, etc.)
  • Paranormal Activity *2011
  • The Hills Have Eyes
  • 28 Days Later
  • From Dusk Till Dawn
  • The Walking Dead
  • Resident Evil
  • Halloween (Michael Myers) –  Character copyright owned by Malek Akkad and featured in ’09
  • The Exorcist
  • Trick ‘r Treat
  • Zombieland
  • Silent Hill
  • Jeepers Creepers
  • Hellraiser -Clive Barker themes featured ’98 – ’00
  • Killer Klowns From Outer Space
  • Hatchet

Themes from TV Shows

  • True Blood
  • Dexter

Themes from Video Games

  • Left 4 Dead
  • Biohazard

When speculating about which movies may or may not end up as mazes for 2011, we have been getting some hints from John Murdy himself via Twitter. Mr. Murdy tweets A LOT. And he’s also very kind to answer almost every question he gets. And if you read through his responses, you will get some clues as to what concepts stand a chance for consideration:

Wolfman: “we just don’t see that many people asking for that particular film”

Silent Hill: “doesn’t test well with our guests”

Dawn of the Dead: “rights are a bit tricky”

Zombieland: “didn’t see a whole lot of things that translate to a maze”

The Exorcist: John has said he’d love to do a maze based on this movie, but he can’t get the rights

Trick ‘r Treat and Evil Dead: “on the short list”

3D maze: is a “strong possibility” for this year

6th maze: “nothing official yet but I’m pushing for that”

More updates (1/12):

on the possibility of a maze based on a video game : “Honestly, no. Tested a few and they didn’t do well with our fan base.”

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Haunt Review: The Scream Zone at Del Mar Fairgrounds

As part of Scare Zone’s trip down to San Diego this past weekend (see our reviews of the Haunted Hotel and the Haunted Trail), we also visited the Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Scream Zone

Ticket Booth at the Scream Zone

The Scream Zone is located along the race track area of the fairgrounds. They have three attractions: The Haunted Hayride, The Chamber (a maze), and House of Horrors (another maze). Interestingly, when you enter, they have signs posted that suggest in what order you should visit each attraction. They suggested the following order: The Chamber, The Haunted Hayride, and then House of Horrors. We thought this was a little odd, and we wondered (and guessed) why. It became obvious by the end of the night.

We actually tried to follow their suggestion, but The Chamber was having some kind of technical difficulty when we arrived and was shut down, so we headed for the hayride instead.

The Haunted Hayride

Scream Zone - San Diego County Fair

Haunted Hayride

Just like the L.A. Haunted Hayride, this was a tractor-pulled wagon with a bed of loose hay—no hay bales to sit on. Guests sit along the edges—or as was the case on our wagon, lie down in the middle of the wagon, crowding everyone. Which brings us to one problem we’ve realized with hayrides: if you get on a wagon with annoying people, you are STUCK WITH THEM for the entire ride. At least in a maze, if you don’t like the people around you, you can let a few others pass to put some distance between you. But on the hayride, you have to grit your teeth and bear it.

The hayride is about 20 minutes long, and it winds around the horse stables/barn area. Despite the nontraditional location, the sets and lighting do actually seem to blend in with the stables. It’s sort of a post-apocalyptic theme, with a lot of industrial-type sets and red lighting. The monsters are mostly zombies, with a few hillbilly types thrown in. There are a few fun surprises along the way, although we can’t say we got scared during the ride. However, plenty of people on our wagon were screaming, so the potential for terror does exist. The “big ending” is meant to be cool and frightening, but we found it to fall flat. And it’s a shame, too, because it does have potential. We won’t spoil it here, though. All in all, the sets were cool, the monsters were really into their roles, and a few of the scares were fun (but not exactly scary).

Our rating: 3 skulls

The Chamber

Scream Zone - San Diego County Fair

The Lackluster Entrance to The Chamber

This is a generic maze that consists of mostly black-light effects. There is the usual (played out) dot room, the splatter paint room, and some black-light murals on black walls. This maze actually might be improved if they made it 3-D. (If you have 3-D glasses left over from some other haunts, you might want to bring them along to enhance the scenery.)  There is one area with dead ends, so you do have to find your way out, which we didn’t find to be too difficult. Freddy Kreuger also made an appearance at the end–2010 is really his year! He’s been in almost all the haunts we’ve been to so far. Freddy really gets around.

Overall, this maze was too generic and lacked enough scares to make it really worthwhile.

Our rating: 1.5 skulls

House of Horrors

Scream Zone - San Diego County Fair

Outside the House of Horrors

Now this is what a maze should be! We were screaming from the moment we entered this maze. There isn’t one coherent theme in this maze, but many of the rooms were unique and offered great scares. There were monsters who appeared out of nowhere from within a rock wall, an exorcism room with rolling floors, monsters who appeared to be a piece of furniture (!), and pneumatic props that we actually thought were going to chop our heads off! There were also some black-light effects, in particular one room with many different doors that open into an actual maze (that you have to find your way out of). And beware, as one of the doors has a special surprise. There is also a section of complete, utter darkness, which is disorienting and truly scary. But that only heightened the fun for us.

The actors in this maze did a great job scaring the front, middle, and back of the groups. Sometimes, monsters will scare only the first person in the group every time, which does not make it very fun for the guest at the end. But the monsters in House of Horrors were great at remaining completely motionless until you passed, so that you really thought they were just a prop. This maze also had pretty good crowd control, letting only about 5 or 6 people in at a time, with plenty of time between groups (it probably helped that we were there on a slow night, as well).

This maze had a lot of different elements and some very effective scares. It’s also pretty long—it probably takes a good 10-15 minutes to go through. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Our rating: 4 skulls

And now we know the reason behind the Scream Zone’s “suggested” order of attractions: They suggest you see the worst attraction first and end with the best, probably so you go home happy. It worked (pretty much) for us.

Terror Tips

  • We’d say skip The Chamber, but it’s included in every combo ticket. And we do think both the Haunted Hayride and House of Horrors are worth seeing, so you might as well get the three-attraction pass ($27.99).
  • Bring some 3-D glasses for The Chamber.
  • Sit near the back of the hayride.
  • The food offerings are not very good, so eat before you get there.
  • Follow the suggested order of attractions.
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