The Monsters Are Due on Knott's Streets

A year's worth of work prepares Knott's Scary Farm for the granddaddy of all theme park Halloween events, the Halloween Haunt.

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Published: September 29, 2004 at 10:22 PM

Knott's Halloween Haunt doesn't just emerge from the mists like some apparition each fall. Park employees work nearly year-'round trying to concoct the right mix of thrills and laughs to entertain Haunt visitors.

"We start the planning and design phase in January," Knott's Director of Entertainment Charles Bradshaw said. "We do most everything in house, and draw upon the experience of what we've done in the past to decide what changes we want to make each year."

Bradshaw and his team of about 30 writers and directors must make over the park from the family-friendly home of Snoopy and Charlie Brown to a ghoul-invested scare zone with more than 1,000 monsters roaming the streets.

"It's a very adult and dark event. A high-gore, high-scare, intense atmosphere is the goal of the whole event," Bradshaw said. "We want there to be nowhere a guest can get away from some scare."

Halloween Haunt
"The Asylum – revisited" is one the mazes at Knott's 32nd Annual Halloween Haunt, opening September 30, 2004. © Knott's

In January, the team begins discussions about which mazes will return for that year's Haunt and what new themes and designs they want to include at the event. Knott's typically keeps each maze for three to four years, swapping out about two or three mazes a year, said Bradshaw, a 14-year Knott's veteran.

"We could do all mazes the same – darken the lights, put monsters in and call it all good," he said. "But there's a lot of thought and planning in making sure each maze has its own theme and a different style of scare."

This year, Knott's has added Red Beard's Revenge, a pirate-themed maze near the main gate, and Terror Vision 3-D, a knife-in-cheek salute to Nick at Nite-style TV shows.

While the mazes elicit the screams, shows inject some laughs into Halloween Haunt, led by The Hanging, a Haunt fixture where pop icons gleefully dispose of each other in gruesome fashion.

"If we just stayed with heavy, heavy scares, it could get not only monotonous, but disturbing," Bradshaw explained. "The shows provide a place to lighten the tone of what people are getting out in the streets."

A team of writers start brainstorming ideas for The Hanging in April, he said, devising an outline for the show and revising the script throughout the summer.

The writers look for targets popular with people in the late teens and early 20s. Last year, they found an easy target in Disney's hit movie "Pirates of the Caribbean." This year, without any stand-out blockbuster, they've had to look harder for a theme.

"We're basing it loosely on 'The Village,'" Bradshaw revealed, adding that the show will revolve around a group of villagers fighting off the evil influences of Hollywood. With a high celebrity body count, of course.

So what makes a Haunt event a success? Bradshaw said that he and his team look for immediate feedback.

"We're out there on the street, listening to people. We're in the mazes with people as they go through them. We listen for screams and laughs and whether they say something sucks, which we don't hear that often, thankfully."

Knott's managers also go online to gauge reaction after the event.

"We read that feedback religiously," Bradshaw said. "Someone who is that interested that they'd go to a website and write something -- they're usually fairly knowledgeable observers."

So... Knott's fans, what do you think of this year's Haunt?

Readers' Opinions

From J. Dana on September 29, 2004 at 11:43 PM
I've never been, Robert, but plan on attending this year. I'm also flying back to Orlando to do Halloween Horror nights. How do you think they compare?
From Chuck Campbell on September 30, 2004 at 6:59 AM
Personally, I give the edge to Knott's, although Universal does a great job, too.
From Robert OGrosky on September 30, 2004 at 10:41 AM
I was also wondering which one people who have seen both perfer, HHH or Knotts.
They both look great and i would love too visit them someday.
How bad are the lines for these events??
From JP parking Guy on September 30, 2004 at 6:17 PM
Having been to both HHN in Fl multiple times and to scary farm twice. Here is how I break the parks down to who has the advantage.

Overall Haunted Houses/Mazes: Edge Universal
Detailed themeing.

Shows/Entertainment: Edge Knotts by far! The Hanging Rocks!

Talent All Around : Edge Knott's

All Around Themeing: Universal

Haunted Attractions: Knotts
Red Moon and Underground are a nice change for Halloween.

Scare Zones: Tie Knott's /Universal

The Worst Lines: Universal, however Knotts attractions during the haunt can have rather large lines.

Best Web Site: Universal

All Around Experience: Knott's

Knott's just better puts together their event so well. Very organized. Gory and gruesome, but can still be family orientated. Does sell mass amounts of liquior to their customers. Plus, Ghostridder and Accelerator are awesome during the evening. Universal is king of a great parade and very detailed theming in their mazes and scare zones. But their talent is just no where near what Knott's have. Their actors are normal people during the year. During haunt they change into total different characters. each character has a story written about them. They have a true purpose. The characters live in the park year round and are unleashed every fall for the haunt. Both our fun events and I would go to both if I could. Have fun and enjoy the Haunt! Look out for the parking guy cuz I hope to have a trip report for this event!

From David Klawe on October 1, 2004 at 3:13 PM
Don't forget that Burger King has some great discount coupons for the event.

Also, Knott's opened their newest ride just in time for Haunt, The newest S&S product Screamin' Swing. An up-charge ride ($5), it takes you over 90 degrees, and lasts about a minute. A good rush, while nice and smooth.

Also, yesterday morning, they placed the last piece of track for Silver Bullet, here is a press release...

Knott's Berry Farm Right on Track with New Coaster

BUENA PARK, Calif.--Sept. 30, 2004--Knott's Berry Farm was one step closer to pulling the trigger on their newest coaster Silver Bullet today as it slipped the last piece of steel into the 3,125-ft. track. The $16 million western-themed roller coaster is set to debut Dec. 7, and will take riders climbing to a height of 146 feet and then soaring them back down an initial drop of 109 feet. Riders will spiral, corkscrew, fly into a cobra roll, and experience overbanked curves during the two-and-a-half-minute ride.

The Silver Bullet, designed and manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) of Monthey, Switzerland, continues Knott's Berry Farm's transformation into Southern California's leading thrill ride adventure park.

Knott's Berry Farm is known worldwide for its exciting thrill rides and is owned and operated by Cedar Fair, L.P., a publicly traded partnership that is listed for trading on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FUN." In addition to Knott's Berry Farm, Cedar Fair owns and operates six other amusement parks and five water parks, and operates an eighth amusement park under a management contract. For media information, please call Knott's Public Relations at 714-220-5130 or log on to

From Matthew M on October 2, 2004 at 12:06 AM
I have never been to HHN, but Knott's is so awsome. I went in 2001, and 2003 and I loved it both times. Hopfuly I can make it out this year. I was wondering, how is Fright Fest?
From Robert OGrosky on October 2, 2004 at 8:45 AM
I can only speak for Six Flags Great America as it comes to Fright Fest.
As is typical of SF it isnt that great IMHO and nothing much is offered without extra money. They have 2 haunted houses, one that is scarier for adults/teenagers is located in the picnic/reserved section and another one that is tamer in Southwest Terr. and both require extra money to go into and they offer no free haunted houses. They do have one walk thru haunted area where scare-actors jump out/walk around and that isnt too bad but they dont limit the amount of people in the area so if you look ahead you can see what is coming up. Also a negative is they close at 1100pm which IMHO they should stay open later as the decorations/scares are better in the dark than in the daytime. They also offer a freak/gag show which again isnt bad but not great. They have good decorations and offer a spooky train ride which is so-so. You can get your moneys worth but it doesnt offer anywhere near the scares you can find at HHH/Knotts or BGT/BGW and the prices isnt much different from these parks but the offereings arent as great.
From Jason Lester on October 3, 2004 at 8:53 AM
Going to Scary Farm next sunday. I'll write a trip report.
From JP parking Guy on October 3, 2004 at 4:58 PM
Going tonight! Will have TR!
From alex morehouse on October 23, 2004 at 2:12 PM
I went to KSF on October 9... boy, was that AWSOME! It was my first time there, and I have never had a better time! The highlight of the whole evening was "The Hanging 2004." Man, was that funny or what?

They made fun of that old man who dances in that "Six Flags" commercial, Reno 911, Anchorman, CSI, Disney, Donald Trump, Napoleon Dynamite, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Usher, and The Governator! Boy, I wish I had come up with something like that.!

Here is my personal target list for next year's hanging:

1.8 Simple Rules
3.Limp Bizkit
4.Cheech and Chong
5.Jack Black
6.Team America:World Police
7.Bill O'reilly

From The Beast on April 17, 2005 at 2:48 PM
need questions about Haunt 2005? want to know what mazes are moving, leaving, and what mazes are coming? Want to know about certain scare zones? just e-mail me at

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