Knott’s ‘Not-So-Scary’ Farm 2012

By guest writer Sam León

It’s that time of year again, Reactorites. Scare is in the air. So as you bide your time waiting for season 3 of The Walking Dead to premiere (Oct. 14th), why not venture out into the real world and see if you have what it takes to be the star of your very own horror film. That’s what we did this year, as the Nerd Reactor team took a field trip to the grandfather of Halloween themed theme parks, Knott’s Scary Farm. Can Knott’s compete with Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights? Read on to find out…

Two of the best things about Knott’s are the roller coasters and sheer size of the park. Knott’s’ is huge, and there seems to be a ride at every corner. Not only does this mean there are a seemingly unlimited number of attractions to thrill you, it also means that the lines are very manageable. It only took us about 5 minutes to get on “Supreme Scream.” Many of the mazes had very short lines as well. At Universal, many mazes have waits hours long. Who doesn’t prefer short wait lines?

Knott’s also has an undeniable charm to it, even when it’s trying to scare you. A Johnny Rockets and other 50s diners light up the night with their neon lights. There’s something sweet about it, which means it is perhaps the place of choice if you are going with a more diverse audience (parents or younger children). In other words, if you don’t want to be scared too badly, Knott’s is the place for you. [Disclaimer: Please do not take young children to this event. 13 years is the recommended minimum.]

There are two reasons Knott’s doesn’t bring as many screams as Universal does. One, there is a significant less attention to detail at Knott’s (it’s not a movie studio). Two, Knott’s is just too big to pack in as thoroughly as Universal. This year, Knott’s promised us more detail in the mazes and costumes. Yet most of the street walkers were all dressed similarly with very simple costumes that did not cover the performer’s arms. Somehow seeing a real person’s tattooed arms broke the suspension of disbelief that these guys were monsters. Also, most all of them wore very generic, plastic clown masks. Inside the mazes, there were visible pieces of plywood that had hastily been spray-painted with glow in the dark paint. Compared to “Halloween Horror Nights,” this stuff was really amateurish.

We get it – October is only so long and you only have so much cash in your pocket. Most people can only find the time and money to go to one scary theme park a year. For many, this comes down to a face-off between Knott’s Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights. Since only one can live, this showdown will be to the death. At Nerd Reactor, we fought it out. Yes, blood was shed, and yes, we did lose a few good writers (welcome aboard our replacements!), but our result is this: If you want world-class mazes and sets built by a movie studio, Halloween Horror Nights is for you. If you’re looking for roller-coaster rides, short waits, and a big park to run around in, Knott’s has got you covered.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Ticket information available at the Knott’s Scary Farm site.

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