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The Essential Survival Guide to SoCal's Favorite Halloween Haunt!

Written By: Abel S.

October 15th, 2011

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Fall.  Leaves change to vibrant colors.  There may be a slight breeze in the air.  Nights are cooler.  Kids are back in school.  For me, it means only one thing: it’s time once again for Knott’s Berry Farm’s Annual Halloween Haunt.  The World’s first and largest Halloween event returns for its 39th year, featuring 13 mazes, seven shows and four “scare zones”.  

I’m here to give you my firsthand account on this year’s event…the highs, the lows and a few tricks to make your night monstrously memorable.   First let me give you the skinny.  Halloween Haunt is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but otherwise opens nightly at 7p.m. every night until Halloween.  Tickets are available at the box office or online.  Admission prices vary but there are coupons located at Burger King locations throughout the county.  Parking is $15 for general or $20 for preferred.   

Once I decide which evening I want to go, the first thing I do is book what is called a Pre-Scare Dinner.  Knott’s offers a special dinner for $24 but the best part is that you get early admission into the park at 6:30pm.  Sure, an extra half hour may not sound like much but by the time the main admission gates are opened, I’m already entering my fourth maze on average.  Not to mention that I get a nice full buffet meal.  Important tip:  the dinner is NOT included with admission.  You need to order the buffet online.  Walkups are welcome but there’s no guarantee that it isn’t booked solid for that night already.  Not to mention that it costs a few bucks more.  Also, if you take part in the pre-scare dinner you get a souvenir cup and a coupon good for one free refill at any location in the park.  If you’ve never tried the berry punch, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Okay, I’ve got food in my gut and my handy map so let’s hit the mazes.  You can find descriptions of each on the Halloween Haunt website.  I’m just here to give you my impressions and throw a few spoilers your way.  First up: The Doll Factory.  This was the perfect way to kick off the night.  It’s dark and moody and creepy.  With the vibe of a twisted toy factory and demonic creatures running about, I had high hopes for the rest for the rest of the evening.

Next up was a favorite from last year, Terror of London.   This maze takes you through a mock up of Jack the Ripper’s stomping grounds.  This maze wins the award for best use of mood.  Creepy music and fog throughout and…hey, did I hear a streetwalker scream?

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Now onto the first of the 3D mazes of the night; Dia de los Muertos.  (For the staggering cost of $1, you can buy a pair of 3D glasses at the entrance of the maze.  If you do purchase the glasses, save them for the other two 3D mazes as well.)  Another returning favorite of mine from last year, this is one of the more colorful mazes that is loaded with skeletons and other ghouls of a Latin bent.  I liked the dancing ‘dead’ girls.

Just so you know, the regular rides are open as well but two of them, the Calico Mine Ride and the Log Ride have been converted into scare themed rides.  The first of the two, the Calico Mine Ride has been transformed into Invasion Beneath.  The line queue has televisions set up explaining that mysterious creatures have invaded the ride by coming up through the earth’s core.  The military is trying to fight back the creatures and a battle has ensued.  As for the ride itself, I say meh.  This was the first let down of the night.  Simply put, it was boring.  If you’ve been to Haunt before, then you’ll recall the tired Spider Mountain theme of years past.  In fact, I was looking forward to this.  There weren’t many creatures in the ride and their timing was all off in trying to elicit screams from us as our train went by.  This would be good for later in the evening if you want to take a break and sit for a short time.  Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

The Log Ride has been converted to Sleepy Hollow Mountain.  Pretty self explanatory, but I personally love the story of the headless horseman.  The water was flowing fast though because we were zipping though this ride.  I did love the look but parts of it were too dark to see much.

Next up, Virus Z.  In a nutshell, this is a maze populated by zombies.  I loved the design of this one.  It started out like a 50’s diner that made me think of a B-movie.  My only problem was that the maze itself seemed somewhat short.  If this was longer, it would have scored higher for me.

Corn Stalkers was next on my menu of fright.  This was another maze that thematically scored points with me.  This was primarily outdoors and felt like you were lost in a cornfield with killer scarecrows lurking about.  The continuous sound of crows was a nice, albeit unsettling touch.

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Another new maze for this year is Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse.  This maze left me somewhat confused.  I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.  Heavy metal music and metal ruins led to the post apocalyptic feel but there wasn’t enough to see here.  It wasn’t bad, it just left something to be desired.  Maybe next year once Knott’s hears feedback, they’ll work the kinks out of this one.

Ever want to visit a Slaughterhouse?  Well then step inside this gruesome maze as you dodge bloody entrails that swing from the ceiling and the pig demon monsters that run past you.  This would be most terrifying for any vegetarians.  Farmer Willy would like to give you an up close look at his famous meats.  Watch for that chainsaw though. 

The next maze we came upon was Fallout Shelter (3D).  This maze looks like the remnants of nuclear fallout.  My question is…why did I need 3D glasses?  The first half of the maze, I didn’t need them at all.  When I finally did, there really was much use to be made of 3D effects.  Also, there weren’t too many ghouls running around this maze.  If you can’t make it to this maze, you won’t be missing much if you skip it.  It looked cool but I need something to scare me aside from radiation stickers and toxic waste barrels.

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We ended off the night with the last two mazes on the map, Lockdown: The Asylum and Delirium.  The way these two are set up is that you enter Lockdown and as you exit, you are funneled right into Delirium.  You don’t have to enter the second maze but you cannot enter Delirium without going throughout Lockdown.

Lockdown is pretty much what it sounds like.  You are trapped in an asylum that the inmates have taken over.  Lots of different sound effects hit you from all directions.  This maze had you twisted around and back and forth.  I quite liked this one.  I wound up unintentionally saving the best for last though: Delirium.  A new maze for this year, Delirium was pure monster mayhem run amok.  Everyone in my group of friends screamed at least once.  (I admit it.)  I don’t know how to describe this one without ruining the good scares.  It was just fun chaos.  Awesome design, too!

Well, that’s it for the mazes.  I don’t normally care for the various shows throughout the night.  I did check out one, The Hanging.  Two words:  Yawn, ZZZZZ.  This show used to be really good but way too many pop culture references have devolved this show in a string of one note jokes.  Skip it.  I plan to from now on.  (See how I make sacrifices for you?) 

There are various “Scare Zones” throughout the park where fog machines are heavily pumping the goods while monsters lurk about.  You thought you were safe once you exited the mazes, you were wrong!    

Knott’s is offering its version of a Fastpass for the mazes this year.  If you don’t want to wait in line and want to jump to the front, then for an extra $50 you can do so.  I think this would be a waste though as the longest I waited was when I took a second trip through the Terror of London maze.  I think we waited about twenty minutes.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my review of Halloween Haunt this year.  I hope you’ll make it an October tradition as it has been one of mine for several years now.  Enjoy the screams!

For More Information Please Visit: http://haunt.knotts.com/