8039 Beach Blvd. | Buena Park, CA 90620
Low Down: Knott's is doing it a bit differently this year. If you couldn't tell from the hordes of sprinting ghouls featured in their new ads, they've tried to take the experience from a death march to a rabid chase. Vamping up their production scale and conjuring forth hundreds more creatures of the night, Knott's has definitely taken a step in the right direction. The elaborate detail and artwork of the mazes alone are enough to prompt a first-time visit, but if you can sit and watch The Ring like it ain't no thang, don't expect a particularly butt-clenching experience. For the "I don't feel like spending hours watching 15-year-olds suck face" crowd, Knott's hath bestow-eth unto you beer gardens to provide you refuge!
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Damage: Pricey. Pre-sale tickets can range from $31.99-$49.99 and day of event tickets shoot up to $53.99. If you can, definitely try to take advantage of the four-for-$99 deal valid for Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Takers: First-timers, sensitized-screamers, the unsuspecting, and their significant others will all get a kick out of Halloween Haunt for the reasons it was meant. Even if the action dies down towards the end, it's a good opportunity to take a load off, ride Ghost Rider at night, and watch skidding freaks scare group after group of teeny-boppers.
Leavers: The maze visuals can get a pretty disturbing ("Slaughterhouse" threatened to make me yak), so this is definitely not the place to take your 11-year-old kid sister. Also, don't bother coming if you're going to get defensive and or heckle the scare-staff. The people watching are just going to laugh at what a jerk you are.
Sampled Time: A busy Friday night. At 9:00 p.m., the average wait for Ghost Rider was 1.5 hours, but the lines for the mazes moved quickly because they continuously usher people through in a somewhat orderly fashion. The crowd died down at around 11:30 p.m., which gave two and a half hours of relieved congestion.
Best Scene: The "Terror of London" maze did an amazing job at recreating a decrepit, Jack the Ripper-plagued London. From the antique furniture to the top-hats and capes, the ambiance was awesome. The set design was simultaneously whimsical and morbid, reminiscent of something out of Tim Burton's production of Sweeney Todd.
Best Scream: One maze came equipped with a bridge rigged to start vibrating every few minutes. At one moment, the line had stopped long enough for a girl to be standing directly on top of the bridge as it began to shake. Not only did the sudden movement make her squeal, but a mechanical head sprung out from under the bridge and into her face, causing me--I mean the girl--to go rigid like a fainting goat.
Most Valuable Monster: Gape-mouthed usher. Holy crap. Amongst the "normies" she looked like Edvard Munch's "The Scream" come to life and will forever haunt the dark recesses of my mind.
Loved: The scenic design, costumes, people watching, and DIPPIN' DOTS.
Hated: The handful of douche bags that come with every crowded public event. One guy tried to take my nose even though it didn't belong to him. How rude.
Overall Grade: B+