Get Scared at Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween Haunt

Does it feel like it’s still a bit early for Halloween, considering we’re not even into October yet? Well, for me the official start of the season comes each year with the launch of Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween Haunt event. Friday, September 24, 2010 kicked off the 38th year that this extravaganza has been going on. When it began in 1973, the Haunt only lasted a couple of days prior to Halloween. But now it features more than a month of festivities.

knotts berry haunt

Knott’s is often credited with starting the phenomenon of transforming theme parks for Halloween. Over the years, Disney and Universal studios, along with countless regional parks have followed suit. But Knott’s is still widely regarded as the gold standard. Back in 1973, the fall season wasn’t very kind to amusement parks. The summer rush was over and kids were back in school. Warm weather parks would encounter a lull between the end of summer and the end of the year when visitors would return for the holidays. But, Knott’s changed all that by introducing the Halloween event.

In 1973, Knott’s put up some decorations and added some costumed characters for Halloween. Today, the park features 13 mazes, hundreds of cast members in professional makeup, and rides that have been redecorated in scary themes. Many of the cast members have worked at the Haunt for decades – each year returning to reprise a beloved (if terrifying) role. Amazingly, Knott’s is said to receive fully one half of its annual revenue thanks to the Haunt.

I went to the opening night festivities, and have a few words of advice if you’re planning on visiting The Haunt this year. Consider signing up for the VIP buffet dinner. The food’s not bad and it grants you early access to the park. Wearing costumes isn’t allowed so that everyone can tell the guests from the cast members. And, the Haunt is not recommended for guests under 13 as the place can get pretty scary. Especially the evil clowns. Brrrrr…. clowns…….

vinvectrex

Author at Retroist
Vinvectrex has not only reviewed every game made for the Vectrex, but discovered a long lost game for the IBM Jr. and probably changed the history of Star Wars fandom.

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4 thoughts on “Get Scared at Knott’s Berry Farm Halloween Haunt

  1. Awesome write up, Vinvectrex! I’ve wanted to go and check this out for myself, I’ve seen some nice looking vids over on YouTube. The wife and I did get to visit Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and…we liked the idea of it and there were some creepy moments…but there was also an amazing number of people puking from drinking too much and you had to wait hours to get into one of the haunted houses. :(

  2. vinvectrex says:

    Are you sure they weren’t puking from fear? :) Knott’s gets to be crazy on the weekends, but on a weeknight, it is surprisingly managable. I’d say the typical weeknight wait to get into the mazes is under 5 minutes. Plus, early in the evening (say 8-10 pm) there are few enough people in the mazes that you’re not right on top of guests in front of you. That maximizes the scare potential. It’s also why the early entry VIP dinner is a deal – you can see a lot of the park in the hour before they open it to the general public.

  3. OffisaPups says:

    I worked at one of those regional theme parks (Six Flags Great Adventure) when they would switch over to “Frieght Fest.” Of the 5 “Frieght Fests” I worked, I remember on where they combined a little Octoberfest in and sold beer in the park for the first time ages. I got to witness an out of stater muscle shirt wearing gentleman get drunk, attempt to cut a line by leaping over guard rail, fall, hit his head and then, as he was getting helped up my a pair of park employees, punch one of the employee (a 16 year old girl) in the face.

    I love Frieght Fest, brings out the best in humanity.

  4. vinvectrex says:

    Wow – by comparison, the Haunt is positively civilized (at least in my experience). They do sell beer, though, so I’m sure some folks get carried away. Perhaps literally.

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