Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, California, USA
SoCal Day 6
In the morning we woke up and headed again to the beach after picking up breakfast at McDonalds. This time, we went to Seal Beach, since we had plans in Long Beach later, and it isn’t far from there. Seal Beach was again, amazing. West coast got beach game on Fleek. Isaac had his birding book, I had my camera, and we walked in the surf while looking at birds and taking pictures. It was great. And a beautiful morning. I found several more shells that I liked, as I did at Huntington Beach. Isaac found me a really nead dried Choral, which unfortunately fell apart on the last day during packing, but whatever.
So we made our way up to Long Beach and onto a whaling cruise (A three hour tour…). Both of us were looking forward to this. I hadn’t been whale watching since the early 90s as a child, and it was a life changing experience. We saw lots of blue and right whales. This time we were looking for hump backs like Star Trek IV. And dolphins. And birds. And the trip did not disappoint. There was lots of scenery going along the coast and between the coastline and Catalina Island. And we saw a Hump Back! Plus 2 pods of dolphins. And one bird flew onto the ship. It was a great time, and on the way back, as the sea got choppy, we enjoyed the airtime and aggression of the sea.
Apparently Long Beach used to be pretty bad, but they’ve invested a lot (score for gentrification?) on the beach front areas and it was really nice, so we had seafood downtown near the beach. I had a great lobster roll, homemade quac, and a drink.
We headed back to the house and rested up a bit. At 6pm we were heading to another very special event. One that I was extremely excited about when I realized it coincided with our trip: Knott’s Scary Farm!
We got to the park around 5:40ish. The park opened around 6 to let you in, and Scary Farm started at 7. Before I start talking about Scary Farm and the time we had, I have to make some comments on the event overall when compared to other park scary events I’ve been to.
Knott’s Scary Farm is on another level entirely. Granted, I’ve not yet done HHN on either coast. I’m mostly familiar with SCarowinds, which gets great respect in the area, and they do try. I’ve also done Phantom Fright nights. But Scary Farm is so far beyond anything else I’ve seen either in photos or videos or in person. I can’t even begin to comprehend the level to which Scary Farm blows away what I’d seen before.
A few things: The production value and sheer volume of the haunts was amazing. Very well done, obviously very expensive (with large animatronics, projections, and the use of modern technology), with amazing sets and great actors. We did the upcharge Fright Lane with Skeleton Key. Also, there are just so many more haunts. And one thing that Knott’s does that is amazing compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere is the music. Instead of ‘scary’ themed pop music, etc., Knott’s has amazing instrumental works playing throughout the park, and it really helps set the mood. The sets aren’t just made to be ‘scary’, they’re just well done. As are costumes.
The roving scaractors were really great too. Now, I will say this. SCarowinds’ scare zones are more themed than what I saw at Knott’s, kind of. In the Ghost Town, they had zombi western spooks. Not much more in the way of theming than what is normal there. In the Fiesta Village section, it was Dia De Los Muertos, and again, not much difference in the normal theming. In the 50s section, it was a clown theme, though other than a few little posters and lots of clowns, there wasn’t much else there. I do think that SCarowinds does more in the way of theming the general scare zones, but overall, Scary Farm is just so great. Oh, and there are absolutely no ‘don’t scare me’ necklaces or other such nonsense.
So, back to the report. We headed over towards Ghost Town first. The evening started eventually with some moody Johnny Cash music and the monsters coming out. It was quite creepy in the smoke at dusk. A very good production.
We headed first to Ghostrider for a front seat ride in the dark. And it was better than my previous ride on this trip. The ride was hauling, there was more airtime this time, and I just really, really enjoyed it. Isaac noticed it was better this time too. Not too surprising, as GCI coasters are often really great in the front.
We headed to our first haunt, Trick or Treat. It was interesting. They had witches, and a decent theme. It was one of the more forgettable ones, but it was fun. And I could tell immediately that the bar was raised with haunts.
We walked thru Ghost Town and over towards the Hanging stage for the first show. I got some boysenberry to drink, and we toyed with another haunt, but even with Fright Lane, we didn’t want to miss the Hanging, and then Elvira soon after, so we went over and got a spot close to the stage. If you’ve seen The Hanging before, you know what to expect. Crude language and humor, riffing on the year’s pop culture, fake violence, and lots of parody. This year was a ‘feud’ between the Sheriff and a woman host. He wanted to host Calicochella, and she wanted to host NooseCon. And of course, there were loads of references to Trump v Hilary, who were oft parodied throughout the show. It was a decent show, very funny. And who got hanged?
We hurried over to the other show that night, Elvira’s Danse Macabre. So, I’ve always been a bit of an Elvira fan, and was glad to get to see this show, as she is rumored to be retiring soon. First, she looks great. Second, the show was great. I liked it better than The Hanging, though both shows were really good. The format is an opening number with Elvira and dancers, as she sang Meghan Trainor’s “I’d Wanna be Me Too” (Very fitting for the Elvira character), and then she hosted and joked around in between dance numbers and acrobatics. This show could easily be done at the other Cedar Fair parks if they could find a polarizing local celeb to do the hosting part. It wouldn’t be Elvira of course, but it could very well work in other parks. She was funny, charming, and still looks and moves great.
So now that the world class shows were done, we headed to do some rides and haunts. Special Ops: Infected was up next. This one was a shooter where you’re given a lazer tag style gune and you’re ushered thru the greatly themed ‘streets’ where Zombies (with neck targets) were roaming. Your job was to shoot them in the head. And it was a lot of fun. Smaller groups, and of course, with Fright Lane, we didn’t have to wait. This one’s entrance and pre show area were in the pre show area of Mystery Lodge. It was so well done and, while not scary, was a lot of fun. It seems this is what Fury turned Infected at SCarowinds was going for (without the lazer tag guns) when it was going, but this was better and the soldiers were much better.
While in the area we did the Red Barn haunt. This one had you ducking and climbing under structures, and while well done, wasn’t particularly creepy. Even with the hillbilly theme. But it was nicely done and the dance hall barn building.
Because we had Skeleton Key, we decided to hit the first one of those up. The first one near us was Visions. It ended up being a way too long wait. We kept getting pushed back because of a few disabled guests. and they only allow 6 people in at a time. When it was our time, you use iPad ‘ghost vision detector’ thingies. The room has ‘spirits’, and when you point your ipad at certain posters, the spirits manifest on the screen on your iPad. But...my iPad wasn’t working. And the actors were terrible. And as soon as I hooked up with my friend to see what happened on his iPad, they took our iPads away. The big ‘scare’ at the end was mistimed, and the monster acted before the lights went out, so the ending was predictable and not very good. This wasn’t making us look forward to the other 3 Skeleton Key rooms we had access to.
We walked over by the boardwalk and got heckled by clowns. We hit up the Log Flume at night, and were the only ones on the ride, which was great. Then we hit Dead of Winter: Windego’s Revenge. This was an interesting haunt. The first room is a bright white room, but with lots of ‘mist’, ‘smoke’ or however they did it, you couldn’t seen anything, no matter how bright it was. At this point in the night, I didn’t enjoy the haunt that much. I was upset about Visions sucking after a 35 minute wait. I wanted cheese on a stick, but that was another long wait, and the people in front of us pushed ahead on this maze and, though much older than most people so concerned with Selfies, were annoying and too concerned with taking selfies in the haunts.
The haunt was good though. A large animatronic snow monster was in there, HD screens on the floor with apparitions. It was cool. Literally. We stopped by Xcelerator for a night time ride first before heading over to the Hollow and running into the Headless Horseman. And at that point, we wanted a night ride on Monte, which we got. Then we walked over to where the other Skeleton Key rooms were since they were close, and...they had little to no wait. So we went in to Slasher next.
This one was really well done. There were 4 of us in the room. We were looking around to find the villain as his voice was going, but he was standing behind us. It was kind of funny, he had to ‘poke’ my friend with his ‘knife’ to get us to turn around and pay attention to him. But it was really eerie. The voice (which was over a speaker) was creepy, the ‘reveal’ was well done, and this was another one where you had to almost crawl out of the room, which added to the intensity.
After that, we were close to another one, Prey. While not the scaries, this one was great because of the actors. It was hillbilly themed, and all three, but especially one of the ‘brothers’ was authentic and well done. They called us city slickers. I pointed out I was from West Virginia. They played off of it great without getting offensive (which the whole event tends to teeter on). And it was good. The story is that you get sent into a small maze, and their new monsters, cross breeds of people with animals, are being released every 30 seconds and sent after you and your faint lanter. This one had way more crawling and false maze corridors. It was cool.
We walked thru a creepy Camp Snoopy and headed to the former home of the Windseeker that barely ran at Knott’s, where the last Skeleton Key Room waited for us. This one was called ZoZo, and I knew nothing about it. The crew sent in before us left without doing the room. When we got in, we found out why. This one was centered around a Ouija Board, a fortune teller, and ZoZo, a mean spirit. It was actually the creepiest one. Of course they used magnets to move the Ouija board, but what I didn’t expect was all of our seats sliding back as the lights go off, and ZoZo appearing on the table, then taking our host. It was rather intense and well done.
So at this point we were going to finish up the rest of the haunts. We went over and did The Gunslinger’s Grave: A Blood Moon Rises next. Again, great production. This one was more people standing around and yelling at us, but it was outdoors and pretty cool. Then we went back to Ghost Town to find the other 3 haunts there we tried to find earlier. First was Tooth Fairy, which, surprisingly was themed to an evil tooth fairy disemboweling and torturing children. The kid under the bed scared me. It was cool.
Then we went to Paranormal Inc. This one has a pre show where you’re in a hospital and they’re doing one of those corny paranormal finding reality shows. The whole pre show was rather corny, and I was groaning internally just wanting to get thru it. Then the show started. And, um. Wow. There was a moment that no one expected, and for our first time, the other people going thru the maze were shocked, screamed, and it was soon that I realized the corny pre show was all misdirection for what ended up being an amazing and well done haunt. It blew me away. They used projectors and live action to really scare you. The whole thing was outstanding.
There were three different mazes in this area so we headed to Voodoo: Order of the Serpent next. While not particularly scary, it did startle me a few times. And! Even though it was all inside, it felt like it was outdoors in a swamp with such good sets, including swamp water and ‘docks’. There were a lot of false turns to take, and it really disoriented you. Another winner. Then when we were done, we went around and did Paranormal Inc. again, this time going thru the other side of the first half, which was slightly different.
It was getting late and we had to be at another park in the morning. So we headed back to the other corner of the park again, doing another ride on Xcelerator and doing Shadowlands. Unfortunately we missed the first part of the pre show. The theming was cool, I love Japanese theming. And it looked creepy in spots, and there was wire-fu, but the maze wasn’t scary at all. But again, great production and well done.
While in the area, Isaac wanted to ride the boomerang, and I had the credit, so I let him. I went back thru Dead of Winter, this time all by myself, and actually got startled a few times. I enjoyed it this time without the idiots in with us last time. Then had some interactions with some of the same clowns I’d ran in to previously. I think the one was flirting with me.
The night was coming to a close so we headed to our last ride of the night, one more time on the Calico Mine Train. We got on the last train of the night. Then we headed back to the house to pack. Since Friday was slated to be a busy day, we decided to clean up as much as we could and get ready on Thursday for our early morning Saturday morning flight.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
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