It has scared Southern Californians long before Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. Its Orange County counterpart — Disneyland — has only recently started the much gentler Mickey’s Halloween Party and Halloween Time at Disneyland. Knott’s Berry Farm put on the world’s first theme park Halloween Haunt event in 1973. Its popularity rose like cemetery fog at night, making it the industry standard and largest Halloween event in Southern California. This is Knott’s Scary Farm’s 45th year of bringing your nightmares to life.
Knott’s Scary Farm is where nightmares never end. Having said that, one dream is ending this year. If you have ever dreamed of seeing Elvira live at Knott’s Scary Farm, then make plans to visit in 2017. The Mistress of the Dark is stepping away from the event at the end of this season.
We recently attended the opening night of Knott’s Scary Farm, and our knees are still shaking. There is no scare zone like a Knott’s Scary Farm Ghost Town scare zone — with the monsters emerging from the darkness, silhouetted in the fog. They may be low on signage and decoration compared to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, but they make up for it in evoking primal fears and unexpected, startling surprises.
The scare zones are a little looser, less defined and spread out over several streets. You never know when the terror will sneak up on you — or rather — slide out at you with shrieks, scrapes and sparks. You may be eyeing the monster in front of you, thinking you’ve got this, while another is sneaking up from behind and snorting in your ear to send you jumping three feet in the air (while your friends laugh at you—don’t worry they will be next). We checked out all the new mazes, and the returning favorites too. Here’s how to prepare for the Knott’s Scary Farm 2017 Halloween haunt.
When to Visit Knott’s Scary Farm 2017
Knott’s Scary Farm is a separately ticketed event that runs on 25 select nights from Sept. 21 to Oct. 31. It runs from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on select Thursdays and Sundays (as well as October 30 and 31), and from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Fridays and Sundays.
Knott's Scary Farm 2017 dates:
- Sept. 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
- Oct. 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
Generally, crowds are lower earlier in the season and on Thursday and Sunday nights. When you enter the park grab a map for all the show times and scare zones and maze locations.
Best Knott's Scary Farm 2017 ticket options:
There are a variety of ticket options for sale. The prices vary based on date and have applicable taxes and fees. There are discounts for annual passholders.
- Single night ($40 to $50 online at least 24 hours in advance; day-of-event tickets are $75)
- Knott’s Scary Farm Pass ($90) with unlimited access to all 25 nights. It is available while supplies last.
- Fright Lane & Fast Lane ($80 and up not including admission): covers unlimited priority access to all mazes and Fast Lane rides.
- Admission plus Fright Lane & Fast Lane ($115 and up)
- Boo-fet dinner and early entry ($28.99, must purchase admission separately)
- Scary Farm All Inclusive Ticket ($140.99 and up) includes Scary Farm admission, parking, Fright & Fast Lane and Boo-fet dinner with Early Entry.
- Parking is $20; Scary Farm Pass Parking is $65
We recommend adding Fright Lane & Fast Lane if it is within your budget. There are a lot of mazes to get through, so it helps to skip the lines. That said, the lines are nothing like the lines at Universal Horror Nights, so a Fright Lane pass is not absolutely necessary. If you want to do it all and also want to ride the roller coasters, then add the Fright Lane & Fast Lane. What are the Fast Lane Rides? Rides offering Fast Lane include:
- Coast Rider
- Calico Mine Ride
- Bigfoot Rapids
- Voyage to the Iron Reef
- Montezooma’s Revenge
- Silver Bullet
- Pony express
- Supreme Scream
- Sierra Sidewinder
- Timber Mountain Log Ride (Halloween Hootenanny)
Knott’s Scary Farm 2017 Scare Zones
With 160 acres of scare zones, there is no place to hide. From the second you enter the gates of the park, your heart will be thumping in terror because you can sense the monsters emerging from the fog. Some sneak up on you quietly while others slide out at you or have noisemaking devices to startle you out of your skin. Even if you have thick skin, they will find a way to get you. Whatever you are imagining, they are finding a way to reach your deepest fears and prey on that. There are four scare zones:
- Ghost Town Streets—This is where it all began, with monsters emerging from the fog-filled streets.
- Fiesta de los Muertos—Stilt walkers and colorfully costumed dead are waiting for you in this terrifying trail.
- CarnEVIL—The freak show is the main event of this demented circus. No clowning around here.
- The Hollow—From within the fog, the Headless Horseman and an army of the undead have escaped their graves to unleash a reign of terror.
Knott’s Scary Farm 2017 Mazes
There are a total of nine mazes at Knotts Scary Farm. Three new mazes will join six returning favorites that feature brand-new twists. New mazes for 2017 include:
Step into an abandoned carnival ride — does it not sound like every Scooby-Doo episode that takes place in an abandoned theme park? — that has become a refuge for sideshow freaks and shunned performers who hide in the sinister shadows, waiting in their ominous world to unleash terror on those who dare enter the once pleasant ride. There are plenty of scary circus freaks to freak you out in this maze.
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.
This creepy nursery rhyme stems from a legend of the man who killed his unfaithful wife and hid her body parts in a pumpkin. The notorious 7-foot tall pumpkin-eater is on the prowl, lurking in the dark shadows of the town he once terrorized. To escape his wrath and hunger to kill, you’ll pass through a silent town of victims, enter the bowls of a giant pumpkin, make your way through the gooey, wet pumpkin guts and solve a labyrinth of thorns that block your escape. Pumpkin Eater was our favorite maze of the night, and it is located just inside the entrance to the park making it an easy first maze to hit.
Trick-or-Treat: Lights Out
If Trick-or-Treat sounds familiar, it is not just a recurring nightmare. This haunted house and the Green Witch who resides in it are returning a whole lot darker and a whole lot scarier. Go ahead and enter with your faulty flashlight that seems to have a mind of its own. Are the batteries dying? You may be plunged into total darkness only to have the light return with monsters looming. This sinister maze promises to reach down into your darkest most primal fears and terrorize you like never before. This maze offered a fun twist with the flashlight that kept us guessing and even offered some unexpected special effects.
The returning favorite mazes include:
Special Ops: Infected
If you have never done this maze and love laser tag games, then this is a priority maze of the night because the line can get long. Arrive as soon as possible to join the army in fighting zombies. Don’t worry--they’ll arm you with cutting-edge laser guns. The good news is that they have increased the supply of guns this year. Face off against hordes of nearly 100 ravenous zombies in bloody streets. This high-tech, innovative experience will thrust you into the middle of a live-action video game complete with live actors, real-time scoring system, more interactive targets and surprises around every corner. The attraction is one of the largest mazes ever created in Knott’s Scary Farm history, so form your squad and put your zombie apocalypse survival skills to the test in this action-packed, one-of-a-kind experience. No reservation or special ticket required, but we recommend hitting this maze ASAP. Sir, yes, Sir! Get moving, soldier!
Take a trip to a horrifying blood-soaked barn filled with carnivorous animals seeking to prey on human flesh in the Red Barn gore maze. Legend has it the farmer who owns the barn was transformed into a heinous creature that sends his sadistic sons to ensure his legacy. None dare enter the barn, for those who enter never escape. This gory maze requires some bending to get through some low-ceiling areas. Expect some new surprises and especially terrifying experiences this year.
Enter the hair-raising Shadow Lands maze and fight off demon samurais whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of purgatory. Guests will embark on a quest through a sacred shrine, an ancient Japanese temple and into the midst of the Shadow Lands. There are some fun acrobatics involved in this one — a new entry room that offers a personal experience, and some new twists, but overall, much of the maze is pretty similar to last year’s version.
Paranormal, Inc. —The Haunting of Hayden Hill
Featuring high-flying aerial stunts and scares, Paranormal, Inc. sends guests investigating a haunted hospital where the patients were tortured for decades by deranged doctors and nurses. Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls, while evil medical staff prowl for new patients to torture. There were some interesting bungee moves in this maze for a fun surprise. Also, things seem to be moving. Are the walls closing in on you?
The Tooth Fairy
If you fear the dentist and dental pain, then this maze is delightfully unnerving. This twisted tooth fairy/demented dentist steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out of their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry. Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out (complete with furry walls), a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy himself. Say aahhh!!!!!! This bloody maze will get your heart racing like it has a dental drill heading your way.
Voodoo–Order of the Serpent
The haunting legend of Papa Legba continues as guests follow him on his foreboding journey to conjure the serpent demon goddess through the swamplands in the outskirts of New Orleans. Trudge cautiously through the cursed swamps of the Deep South where creatures search the murky bogs for their next bloody sacrifice and demons curse the innocent with Voodoo hexes. The maze is very similar to past year's versions, but this year you start at the end and journey to the front.
Knott's Scary Farm Must-See Shows
The one and only Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, is returning for her final performance as host of her popular show. The show is full of comedy and insane dance performances. Shows are at 9 and 11:30. Get in line at least 30 minutes in advance of this show to pay your respects to the Mistress before she takes her final bow.
Every year, Knott’s fans look forward to The Hanging show in Calico Square. This year’s theme—Fake Noose—offers plenty of political comedy and favorite (or least favorite) musicians and movie characters from the past year. The show looks back at the year’s pop culture and news stories with killer comedy rife with special effects, pyrotechnics, and stunts. It’s a can’t miss! Aren’t you dying to know whom they will be hanging this year? Last year was Pikachu so they are taking nothing off the table. You can get caught up in the hanging at 8:00, 9:45, and 11:00.
Survival Tips for Knott’s Scary Farm 2017
If you want to see and do it all and make it through the night, here is our survival guide:
- Buy the Fright Lane pass so you can skip the lines for mazes and rides—with unlimited access
- Leave kids under 13 at home
- Check the weather and dress in layers
- Arrive early
- Hit the new mazes — Pumpkin Eater was our favorite new maze
- Stay hydrated! All that screaming and walking can dry you out
- Watch Elvira: Mistress of the Dark’s farewell show
- Catch The Hanging: Fake Noose
- Do Trick or Treat, VooDoo, Paranormal, and Tooth Fairy at once, since they located are near each other.
- Spend time in the Ghost Town Streets Scare Zone
- The Hollow Scare Zone (near Pumpkin Eater) offers an uncrowded — although terrifying —back way to the Fiesta de los Muertos area
- Timber Mountain Log Ride Halloween Hootenanny is a family-friendly layover for both daytime and Knotts Scary Farm guests
- If short on time and have to drop a maze or two, then you can lose VooDoo, Red Barn, or Infected, especially if you have experienced them in past years.
- Expect to be scared out of your skin
Rules for Knott’s Scary Farm 2017
While there is not a list of published rules, it's good to know the Halloween haunt conduct. Arrive early because traffic for parking can be a living nightmare. Leave masks at home and leave the scaring to the scare actors. They are not allowed to touch you, and you are not allowed to touch them. Be warned — some monsters get pretty close and snort in your ear for that creepy over-the-shoulder surprise. Avoid flash photography. Most of all, have fun at the theme park Halloween event that started them all. Whatever you’re imagining, it’s here.
Can Children Attend?
Even though Knott’s Scary Farm is a lot of fun, it’s not for everyone. It is recommended only for brave guests 13 and up. If you have little ones, stay away from this terrifying event and enjoy gentle Halloween fun weekends in October at Knott’s during the day at Knott's Spooky Farm. You can buy discounted daytime Knott’s Berry Farm tickets from your favorite frogs right here. Knott’s Spooky Farm is a daytime event for children ages 3-11. It is included with regular admission to Knott’s Berry Farm. Kids can dress in costume, participate in a costume contest, dance with the Peanuts Gang, see a show, do a spooky Halloween maze, and even go trick-or-treating in Ghost Town.
What questions do you have about Knott's Scary Farm? Share in comments below!