Friday, October 10, 2014

Knott's Scary Farm 2014

This is the second year in a row that I've been to Knott's Halloween Haunt and it was a mixed bag this year. I went with my sister and we got the Fright Lane passes that allow you to bypass the lines for the mazes and the Skeleton Key pass that allows access to an extra scare room at the beginning of some of the mazes.

The Good

* The Tooth Fairy

This was my favorite maze of the night. The concept is freaky and that drill whine throughout the maze gets to you. The actors were much better when I saw it. The child's room with the giant mout door is genius. The room with the mouths lining the walls was different than anything I've seen there. Everything passed the children's room was rusty and dirty looking and deliciously creepy. There were figures on the wall with wings made of their own flesh and bone. Before the room with the cage, one of the characters was screaming at us to turn back and save ourselves, but of course we went forward anyway. I felt like a typical horror movie character ignoring warnings and running towards danger. Good maze all around.

* Forevermore

This is a repeat from last year. A murderer kills people inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe. It was good last year and it's good this year. The image of the nurse chained to giant raven wings with a bird mask is very striking and one of the most memorable of the night. The bird masks are way better than last year and evoke more discomfort in the viewer because they are victims instead of attackers. The tableau right inside the psychiatric hospital was well done and more eerie with the blinding lights. I love the recitation of the tales based on them. The only ones lacking were the Cask of Amontillo and The Masque of the Red Death.

* Black Magic

Infinitely better than last year! The Skeleton Key room is much creepier with an actual Houdini actor. The room with the women's faces all over was really creepy and well done. There was even an actor with her face removed in the room with impressively realistic makeup. The mirror maze is disorienting. The giant rabbit was weird, but not horrible. So many better choices were made to make the maze much scarier than last year.

* Voodoo

This one is brand new and had the best Skeleton Key room. You are led into coffins for a spell to protect you from demons. It's a little freaky and not for the claustrophobic. The atmosphere captures the hot Louisiana weather and vibe. This maze is actually a little bit longer than the others because of the trip through the cemetery. Most of the maze is outside, which is different than the others. The waters are filled with the dead and crocodiles that were a subtle touch that you really had to look for. One of the best of the night.

The OK

* Pinnochio Unstrung

This is another repeat from last year. I think I might have missed it last year somehow. The Skeleton Key room tells how Pinnochio became a real boy, but it was taken all away by the Blue Fairy because he told a lie. Now, he wants to kill her and wear her skin to become real his own way. The concept is very cool, but the maze is OK. My favorite room was the one where we enter Monstro's mouth and walk with his skeleton above us. I liked the overall puppet and circus theme and the last room with the giant Pinnochio is impressive. Other than that, the scares were a bit lackluster and the characters underwhelming.

* Trick or Treat

This one is a little worse than last year. The gothic, classic horror mood was missing except for the very first room with all the jack o'lanterns lining the staircase. The only new part I liked was the devil coming out from under the bed. The last room and the ghosts wearing sheets were particularly disappointing.

* Witch's Keep

Much better than last year. The Calico Mine Ride is more infused with the witch's story. It's a much better integration than last year, but the ride itself is still kind of boring.

* Dominion of the Damned

A little worse than last year. The paintings I loved are still there. The final room was disappointing. The overall air of sophisticated, cultured vampires was maintained. The Skeleton Key room was interesting since I was made to feed Renfield's "plants." The best part was the walls made of human flesh. Not sure what it has to do with vampires unless it's just their kind of decor, but it looked amazing. Very Hellraiser.

The Bad

* The Boo-fet

My sister and I went to the Boo-fet buffet before the park because it came with early access to the park. The event was way, way overbooked. We didn't get to eat at our time, rendering the early access useless since we were still eating when the park opened. They wouldn't allow us to just get our passes and go into the park to eat there. The food was cold and disgusting after all the waiting. Characters are in the hall to harass you as you eat. I just want to eat my food. We won't be making that mistake again.

* Gunslinger's Grave

Again, these are just cowboy bandits. Nothing supernatural about them. It's just not scary at all. Cowboys do not incite fear and neither do saloon girls. I wish they would have kept the Apocalypse maze from last year instead of this uninspired garbage.

* The Hanging

The Hanging is an uninspired show that parodies everything pop culture over the last year. It's crass, crude, and just immature. The only part that made me laugh was the Do You Want to Have a Hanging song to the tune of Do You Want to Build a Snowman. Everything else was shoddily done, horrible costumes, and a bunch of fake blood.

* The overall quality and condition of the park

The quality of the mazes, actors, and makeup are far inferior to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. I still enjoyed the event, but I was never scared. I enjoyed the sets and storylines of the mazes, but the actors seemed annoying to me and not a part of the attraction. They favored screaming (sometimes right in my ear) and making loud noises which quickly loses effect and becomes bothersome.

The park is not well kept. No one was picking up trash and it piled up over the course of the night. Many of the attractions were shortstaffed. On Jaguar, the guests were seating themselves which was chaos and made the line infinitely longer than it should. Some mazes had multiple rooms with no actors in them when there should have been based on repeat visits or videos online. Smoking and vaping are unfortunately allowed everywhere in the park. So many people were smoking everywhere that I couldn't get away from it. The smell saturated my hair and clothing and it was just gross.

Every little thing costs extra money. To get the VIP experience at Universal, it costs $200, but includes front of the line passes for mazes and rides, the VIP lounge, the all you can eat buffet, 2 alcoholic drinks, valet parking, a special Terror Tram experience, and a tour guide for the Terror Tram and 3 mazes. The Skeleton Key and Fright Lane pass costs about $100. The horrible buffet is an extra $30; the front of the line passes for the rides costs an extra minimum $35; and the parking alone was $20. That makes Knott's cost almost the same as Universal with nothing near the same quality in general.

The overall experience is far inferior than practically any other theme park in my area, so I may not bother with Knott's anymore. Next year, my sister and I plan to try the Queen Mary Dark Harbor event instead.

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