Knotts Scary Farm – Full Review

Knotts Scary Farm is a Haunted Attraction located in Buena Park, CA.

8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple HauntsTheme ParkHaunted Maze


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This attraction was reviewed on October 7, 2023 by Team California Cadavers.

Final Score: 7.44

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As the fog rolled in, and the eerie ambiance settled over the grounds of Knott’s Berry Farm, I found myself stepping back into the world of Knott’s Scary Farm, now celebrating its grand 50th-anniversary. This was a special year for the event, and I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the spine-tingling thrills after a five-year hiatus. What I experienced during my visit was a mix of excitement, nostalgia, and a touch of disappointment.

The night began with high expectations, and the event didn’t disappoint when it came to its standout mazes. Among these, “Cinema Slasher” was a genuine treat, whisking me away into a world reminiscent of the cult classic film “Last Action Hero.” Here, the horror movie parodies took center stage, weaving tales of college slashers, Friday the 13th, and more. The maze was a visual spectacle, boasting exceptional set design and heart-pounding scares. The pièce de résistance was a room that defied gravity, pivoting like a ship in a storm, a unique experience that set it apart from other mazes.

Another gem was the legacy maze, “The Depths.” It skillfully led visitors through a series of aquatic scenes, featuring sunken ships, mysterious lagoons, and deep-sea diving expeditions. The true highlight was an unforgettable room that rocked and swayed like a ship battling a tempest. It was a visual and sensory marvel, unlike anything I had encountered in any other haunt event.

One striking difference I observed at Knott’s Scary Farm, in contrast to Halloween Horror Nights (HHN), was the emphasis on impressive set pieces and animatronics at the culmination of mazes. One of the most memorable animatronics was the projector monster in “Cinema Slasher,” which added a layer of uniqueness to the experience.

“Mesmir Circus/Sideshow” didn’t disappoint either, featuring a mesmerizing array of sensory effects to simulate a hypnotic trance. It was a testament to the event’s commitment to detailed and immersive storytelling.

However, my enthusiasm began to wane due to the issue of understaffing. Despite boasting ten houses, the night I attended exposed a noticeable shortfall in this regard. Many mazes, as well as the scare zones, felt undermanned, leaving certain areas of the event disappointingly devoid of the intended atmosphere.

The clearest illustration of this problem came to light in “Dark Entities,” a maze with an intriguing concept involving a spaceship takeover by a villainous alien race. Regrettably, I encountered just three actors during my journey through the maze, which significantly dampened my overall experience.

This issue of understaffing was recurrent across various mazes, including “Origins: The Curse of Calico,” “Bloodlines,” and “Wax Works.” While these mazes delivered decent scares and storytelling, they suffered from substantial empty spaces, negatively impacting their immersive potential.

In the same breath, the scare zones felt noticeably lacking in terms of actors and scares, failing to deliver the atmosphere and intensity that visitors eagerly anticipate.

The event did have a few saving graces, however. I attended two captivating shows, “Dr. Cleaver Returns” and “The Hanging Uncancelled,” which served as entertaining diversions from the mazes and helped alleviate some of the disappointment associated with the understaffed attractions.

A noteworthy highlight of the evening was Knott’s Scary Farm’s delectable treats, including food and drink offerings that ranked among the best in Southern California. The culinary delights provided a welcome contrast to the mixed experiences throughout the event.

In conclusion, my return to Knott’s Scary Farm for its 50th-anniversary celebration was a blend of excitement and disappointment. While the event showcased the creativity, nostalgia, and legacy of five decades of haunting, the issue of understaffing significantly impacted the experience, leaving many mazes and scare zones feeling incomplete.

As Knott’s Scary Farm continues its journey into the future, it’s evident that there’s room for improvement to ensure that every nook and cranny of this beloved haunt event is filled with the chills, thrills, and horrors that its visitors crave. Despite the shortcomings, one cannot help but commend Knott’s Scary Farm on its remarkable 50-year legacy. Here’s to another 50 years of terror, and the hope that future iterations of this iconic event will rise to the occasion.

Cast Score: 7.05

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Cast Review:

The cast of Knott’s Scary Farm 2023 left a lasting impression on my visit, with a noticeable commitment to their roles. What struck me most was the dedication and effort put forth by the majority of actors in the mazes. It was clear that they were fully invested in delivering an immersive and chilling experience, and I rarely encountered actors who didn’t give their all. Moreover, I appreciated how many of them took the time to interact with guests in the streets, adding an extra layer of engagement to the event. The only downside to this fantastic cast was the sheer scarcity of actors, especially considering the event’s size and the number of attractions. The issue of understaffing left the mazes and scare zones feeling less populated than they deserved to be, ultimately affecting the overall atmosphere. Nevertheless, the cast members I encountered showcased their dedication to their craft, ensuring that the scares delivered were memorable and spine-tingling.

Costuming Score: 7.85

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Costuming Review:

The attention to detail in the costuming at Knott’s Scary Farm was truly commendable, with each maze featuring an array of outfits that transported visitors into the heart of their respective horrors. However, one particular standout in the costume department was “Origins: The Curse of Calico.” The period-appropriate attire in this maze, reminiscent of the movie “Tombstone,” truly elevated the experience. The meticulously crafted costumes, complete with authentic Western garb and rugged, weathered details, added an extra layer of authenticity to the storytelling, making the journey through the cursed town of Calico all the more convincing and immersive. The commitment to historical accuracy in the costumes in this particular maze underscored Knott’s Scary Farm’s dedication to creating a truly captivating and atmospheric haunted attraction.

Customer Service Score: 10

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Customer Service Review:

Customer service at Knott’s Scary Farm remained consistently top-tier, a reflection of the park’s well-established reputation for hospitality on any given day. Every cast interaction I had during my visit was truly exceptional, from the ticketing booth to the maze entrances. The staff members were friendly, accommodating, and fully invested in enhancing the guest experience. They added a layer of enthusiasm and commitment to the event, demonstrating that their dedication to customer service was unwavering. However, the only downside to this stellar service was the shortage of cast members. It was evident that the remarkable individuals who were present did their utmost to create memorable moments, but the scarcity of staff left certain areas feeling undermanned and less able to provide the full, immersive experience that Knott’s Scary Farm is renowned for. The issue of understaffing was a minor setback in an otherwise top-notch customer service experience.

Immersion Score: 7.77

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Immersion Review:

The level of immersion at Knott’s Scary Farm was commendable, creating an atmosphere that allowed visitors to step into the depths of their darkest nightmares. While it may not reach the same grand scale as other large amusement park attractions, the attention to detail and creativity in the set design left a lasting impression. One standout was “The Depths,” which transported guests to the eerie world of sunken ships and turbulent waters. The exceptional room that simulated the sensation of a ship swaying on treacherous waves was a true marvel of immersive design. This experience brought a genuine sense of disorientation and fear, enhancing the thrill of coming face to face with the menacing Kraken. Knott’s Scary Farm’s immersive environments successfully enveloped visitors in a nightmarish realm, proving that it’s not always about the size of the budget, but the dedication to delivering a spine-tingling experience that makes an event memorable.

Special FX Score: 7.94

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Special FX Review:

Knott’s Scary Farm 2023 delivered a well-balanced array of special effects that greatly enhanced the overall experience. Throughout the mazes, the use of lighting effects, atmospheric scents, varying levels of fog, and other sensory elements was both thoughtful and effective. These special effects were meticulously executed, seamlessly immersing guests in the terrifying scenarios. The lighting effects, in particular, played a crucial role in creating an eerie ambiance, casting sinister shadows, and revealing shocking scenes. The introduction of scents added an additional layer of realism, amplifying the immersive storytelling. The controlled use of fog heightened suspense and obscured frightful surprises, ensuring that these effects were a perfect complement to the mazes. Knott’s Scary Farm masterfully incorporated these special effects, striking a delicate balance that intensified the overall scare factor without overwhelming the senses, ultimately leaving visitors with a memorable and chilling experience.

Scare Factor Score: 5.75

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Scare Factor Review:

The presence of noticeable dead space within many of the mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm 2023 did indeed affect the overall scare factor. It’s clear that the potential for a much more terrifying experience was present, but the understaffing issue had a substantial impact. With the proper casting and an adequate number of actors, the mazes and scare zones would have undoubtedly been significantly scarier and more immersive. The dead space created missed opportunities for intense scares, leaving a feeling of untapped potential. It’s a reminder that even well-designed mazes and haunting environments require the right number of dedicated actors to bring the nightmares to life and deliver the spine-tingling thrills that visitors expect from an event like Knott’s Scary Farm.

Entertainment & Value Score: 7.5

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E&V Review:

Investing in the Fastlane pass at Knott’s Scary Farm proved to be a wise decision and a fair value for the price. In comparison to other theme park Halloween events, the cost seemed on par, and it provided you with a hassle-free and enjoyable experience. Even when the mazes fell short on the scare factor, they remained entertaining to explore. The inclusion of captivating shows added an extra layer of enjoyment to your night. The true highlight of the Fastlane pass was the near-instant access to every attraction, ensuring that your night was not only fun but also incredibly efficient. It’s a testament to the value of such passes in enhancing the overall experience, allowing you to make the most of your time at Knott’s Scary Farm and immerse yourself in the eerie delights of the event.

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Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 9.98 out of 10

Jason Immel – 9.98/10September 29, 2022
Very scary, Worth the money. Each maze was well decorated and very staffed. Got scared several …show more times.

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