Thursday, October 16, 2008

Knott's Scary Farm

Well I finally went. For 21 of my 25 years on Earth, I've lived in relatively close proximity to "Knott's Scary Farm," Knott's Berry Farm's annual Halloween festival, I finally went last weekend. The verdict: I would've had more fun 10 years ago.

First, the set up: Brandy and I got a good deal on a package including tickets to the Park, dinner, breakfast, a night in the hotel, parking and t-shirts for around $230. Pretty sweet, we figured, which is how we afforded to go. I'm glad I went, it was definitely worth at least going to once. You know, kinda like going to Alcatraz while at Berkeley, you need to at least once. We went on about 5 or 6 of their Huanted House/Maze things, a ride or two (ok, just one - Ghost Rider), and saw one of their shows (Fangs - the vampire one). Overall, it wasn't bad per se, just not great, either.

First, the really good parts: The costuming and atmosphere were top notch. Everyone from the guys roaming the park to in the mazes and shows had extremely well-made costumes. And not just in a scary way. Some were very well camaglouged to scare you, which worked well, and some were just damn pretty looking. The vampire chicks from Fangs wore especially nice costumes. Also, at certain points in the park they had fog machines creating a spooky atmostphere, which worked very well. The mazes themselves were well-made and very detailed, had a good amount of variety (there was a rural/farm maze, an alien maze, a forest-Labrynth maze, Las Vegas maze, clowns of course, and a few others) and some were quite disturbing.

A note about the Fangs musical. Having seen Bite in Las Vegas - which is also about vampires, I was a little biased going in. I mean, it's tough to beat a topless Vegas show about vampires set to classic rock. And of course Fangs wasn't as good. But it was good. It was mostly hampered by its own indeciciveness. It was half-funny, half-scary, and it did both quite well, but the juxtaposition of the two kept me from fully getting into it. If they had picked to be either satirical or scary I think it would have been better. Well, and it could've been topless, but that may be asking for a bit much from Knott's.

To use a Dungeons & Dragons reference, the whole experience was just an exercise in making Spot Checks (or Perception checks, to be technical). In other words, if you noticed the guy standing behind the tree over there, or heard the chainsaw killer behind you, you weren't as scared when they burst out in front of you. As such, I was constanly on the lookout for the next "monster," as it were, always looking around corners cautiously and peering behind me. (I should note that some of the costumes in the mazes were so good - and the cast so well trained - that I still didn't see all of them before the popped out at me; I was pretty impressed by this, of course.) So it became a fairly tiring task for me to constantly be "on edge," anticipating the next move. In this way I didn't like it; I didn't feel relaxed enough to enjoy it. I think I would have liked it more when I was younger. This isn't really a knock against the park itself, just an observation about my own personality.

One thing I really didn't like however were the crowds. It was packed. Ridiculously so. And mostly with screaming, yelling, obnoxious whiny teenage girls. Awesome. I mentioned above that we went on one ride and that was because the lines for the rides were GINORMOUSLY HUGE. There were several rides we were contemplating going on, but the lines sometimes bordered on 3 hours long and, well, screw that. Sadly, the one ride we did go on was Ghost Rider, which was far scarier than anything else in the park. It's a wooden roller coaster, but it's design is so poor that it constantly vibrates and rattles. Every time we went around a turn I swear I thought the thing was going to fly off the tracks. Not fun.

When Brandy and I rode Ghost Rider we were behind a group of kids - late high school, i figured - that pumped their fists and make train noises the whole time, screaming and acting like idiots generally. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves. And then I realized: These are the drunk frat boys of the future.

Brandy has pics from the night on her MySpace (I'll try to put a link up later).

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