Saturday, October 10, 2015

Knott's Halloween Haunt 2015

This is my third year attending Knott's Halloween Haunt and it's better than ever. The production value doesn't rival Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, but the innovative mazes and impressive makeup elevates it from past years. The only drawback to this park is that I don't feel that gut dread that I feel at Universal because they create a total experience. I still think it's fun of course and I will continue to attend.

The Good

* Paranormal Inc.

This is by far the best maze I have ever experienced at Knott's. It's so much larger than any other I've seen there and there are two different ways through the maze that meet up near the end. It starts out as one of those cheesy ghost hunter shows and then their experiment releases hell in an old abandoned mental hospital. Ghosts and demons are flying through the air, suspending from wires to drop in front of people, and giant demon creatures pop out to scare the crap out of you. The hallways are eerie and everything works together to create a cool, scary experience. I love the beginning performance that tells the story of why it's all happening. I didn't expect anything like this from Knott's and I hope it's a staple that will stay for at least a few years.

* Trick or Treat

This is the third year I've seen the maze and it's better than ever. It captures the Halloween spirit in a classic way with witches, creatures under the bed, and demented children. I also liked the creepy dinner party with the awesome pumpkins. The final room was a little lacking compared to previous years, but it's still a decent maze.

* Forevermore

This one is also always a pleasure. I love Edgar Allan Poe's works and seeing them enacted in gruesome ways is amazing. It's a particularly nice touch that lines of stories and poetry are incorporated into the decor as well as the soundtrack. The Raven room is my personal favorite with the gruesome, feather covered tableau of the dead complete with creepy flickering lights. This one is also the only maze that had a remotely interesting Skeleton Key room. The only really cheesy part is the Masque of the Red Death, but that's part of its charm.

* My Bloody Clementine

The Calico Mine Ride is overlaid with horror for Halloween Haunt, but it's always been a boring disappointment with random figures and lights. Now, there are scare actors in the ride plus a way better overarching theme than some random witch. Clementine and her father were brutally murdered and Clementine has come back as a vengeful spirit to kill the culprits. It's a bit creepy and the changeup built the suspense. I had no idea what to expect and it was very enjoyable.

* The Tooth Fairy

This maze was one of my favorites from last year and it's still awesome. Everything dental is made to be as creepy, dirty, and bloody as possible. Parts of it are artful and Hannibal-esque and other parts are just gross. The disconcerting whining of drills is everywhere. The facade and the giant floss pieces draped through that first hallway  really set the tone for the rest of the maze. I especially love when the visitors are made to crouch down in this big cage. It's like willingly putting yourself into a very creepy scene from a horror film. Not a lot of changes from last year, but enjoyable nonetheless.

* Fright Lane and Fast Lane

These front of the line passes for both mazes and rides were a bit pricey but well worth the cost. My sister and I went on every maze at least once plus every ride and made it home by 11pm.

The Meh

* Pinocchio Unstrung

This one is also the same as last year. It's not terrible, but it's not amazing. Pinocchio snapping, killing, and stealing people's skin to make himself human should be amazing, but the execution is still off. Most of the maze is just Pinocchios doing random stuff instead of showing a coherent story line. The best part is the giant animatronic at the end.

* Dead of Winter

I guarantee this maze was made because of Frozen's popularity. It's pretty much the mirror maze from a few years ago pumped with lots of air conditioning and themed to an evil snow queen. The makeup and costumes were quite pretty, but the maze wasn't really all that scary.

* Voodoo: Order of the Serpent and Black Magic

Also pretty much the same as last year, even Voodoo which changed its name. I expected some improvements, but if anything both were a bit lacking in comparison.

The Bad

* Gunslinger's Grave

Why is this maze still here? It's been the worst maze for years running. It usually features run of the mill cowboys and bandits, but this year's twist is werewolves. If anything, the addition just makes it hilarious and kills any fear it could have had. So many of the tableaus are ridiculous like a werewolf being electrocuted to death. How does that make sense in any way?

* Skeleton Key Rooms

All of them except the Forevermore one were not worth the wait and didn't add anything to the maze or the story behind the maze.

Overall, this was Knott's Scary Farms best year and I look forward to next years.

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