By Jacob Miranda
Imagine you were sitting on a bench in the middle of the Boardwalk Square, talking to a nice dressed man. Someone was on the side of the road was selling newspapers, others were just strolling about, but aside from a few baseball bats (maybe they were just going to play a game), it was nice. The man is reminiscing about “a dame I had met at the Coasters diner.” She sounds nice enough, but it was getting late and you mention that you need to be back home by 6:00. He gave you a friendly wave goodbye, but you couldn’t help but double back and notice the giant hole on the side of his face.
You were in the Gore-ing ‘20s, the new scare zone for Knott’s Scary Farm, located in the left part of Boardwalk. It’s a seemingly nice place, full of color and life. Well, sort of. All the people are dead, but less in an “I’m going to haunt you” way but more in a “Casper the Friendly Ghost” way. It’s more peaceful, but not without the occasional double back or jumpscare. Either way, it’s a pleasant break from the horrors that you would have seen for the past 4 hours.
I decided to embark on this trip, and I bought a ticket for Knott’s Scary Farm on Friday, October 8. I went in almost blind, but in a 6-hour trip, I was still able to go through 4 out of the 8 mazes and take a quick visit through all of the scare zones, though that isn’t even half of what the expansive horror experience has in store. In addition to over half the mazes being located in a spot behind ghost rider that is usually locked, there are also 30 different specialty foods, 4 different shows, and 3 different art galleries, all of which I could unfortunately see. Either way, Knott’s Scary Farm is definitely popular, and if someone is able to scrape up a whopping 108 bucks (or find some sort of discount. Here’s a tip: I got my ticket through the TAP, at a third of the price), I would recommend it, so long as you get some sleep beforehand.
I started out my night by going through the Mesmerizer Maze, the newest maze located in the Carnevil Scare Zone. Set in an carnival overseen by the great showman Mesmerizer (yes, that’s his name) the Mesmerizer takes you through many aspects of a fair, but also included lots of the freaks advertised around Boardwalk, along with hypnotizing you (you walk across a “tightrope” and walk through a room with swaying walls), and scarers dressed as carnies are everywhere. I especially like how all the scares were set up. For example, one of the scarers was tied to what I believe is a bungee cord, and she would jump down for a ledge to scare people, rather than just hide behind a wall, which is a decision I respect a lot. Overall, I’d give this a 9/10. It’s definitely really good, especially for a new maze, and I hope to see it again next year.
The next maze I went to was Dark Ride, located at the Dark Castle/’80’s Dance Floor/Storage Building. This one made us travel through an abandoned theme park ride, with us walking through the ride in its entirety. One thing I do praise is the fact that they took what I last remember being a dance floor and being able to turn it into a full blown maze. Other than that, it’s alright. There weren’t many scarers, and the maze mostly relied on the shock value every time you turned another corner. I also didn’t really hear as many screams from in front of me as others. I feel that the knowledge that something scary coming up shakes you up a little bit, so missing that element really made this maze lack fear. Overall, I’d rate it more on the lower side of the spectrum, maybe a 4.5/10. It’s not the best, but if there is no line, I would think twice before walking past it.
The third maze I went to was Wax Works, which involved us exploring a (you guessed it) wax factory, run by an evil man named Agustus Scratch. He uses his factory as a cover, and turns people that visit into statues for display. Even before you get in, the scenery is full of TVs showing old-style ads for the wax sculpture tour. A giant devil’s head is mounted on top of the entrance, and whenever Agustus talks, the devil’s mouth moves as well, which I found cool. You are mostly taken through the main factory work area, with few scares with people and more of just visual props. Written on the walls on multiple occasions were the words, “I will mold you into my image,” many prop structures involved people being tortured, and one of the handful of scarers was even “stuck in one of the vats.” I think this maze pulled off visual scares better than Dark Ride did, and I would put this higher up on the list at maybe a 7/10. If you don’t know where to go next, I definitely think this one is worth checking out.
The final maze I went to was Paranormal Inc. Right off the bat, I knew something was different in this one. Instead of people being put into the maze one by one, they were sent in droves, and I immediately knew this maze was not like the others. When I got to the front, we were told that we were a live audience for a ghost hunting show, and it was especially cool because it was the last season. We were brought into an area in a sanitarium, where a previously caught ghost was accidentally let loose. The scares don’t start immediately, though; instead, the actor talked to the ghost on a clock nearby before it sprang out and a person dressed as the ghost was carried by. From there, we are told to evacuate the scene, and we travel through the sanitarium before actually being sent back to the 1860s, when the place was still open for business. Overall, I think that was the best maze I’ve been on, and it’s definitely a 10/10. But I later found out that the maze was actually closing, and I am happy that I was able to go on it before then.
The scare zones were pretty cool, though the main attraction was definitely the mazes. They all felt similar, except for the Goreing 20s area, but they all had their quirks that separated them by more than just theme. The Forsaken Lake area, though small, was the only area to be covered in fog. Carnevil had vicious clowns roaming around, and if you stopped to look at them too long they weren’t afraid to stance you up (my sister now knows that from firsthand experience). The Hollow mostly relied on it’s darkness, which actually got me a few times. One person was hiding in what I now see as an obvious spot, but walking past I didn’t give it a second though until it was too late. The Ghost Town Streets, in addition to being the biggest zone, were also the best in my opinion. The scarers were all dressed as cowboys, but they had metal on their shoes and hands that made sparks whenever they slid on them, which I found genuinely awesome.
Overall, I liked my experience, and would definitely go again. The price is very high, but I feel that for the most part it’s worth it. If you are able to get enough money for a ticket, and have at the very least a decent sleep schedule, try setting off a night to go. I guarantee you won’t regret it.