So I just got back from an early halloween weekend in LA with Sugar Sue and Friends(R). We did this for the first time two years ago and it was great! It's awesome to get some time with kindred H'ween spirits.
My first night we went to Knott's Scary Farm. I know they call it the Halloween Haunt now, and there's probably some "good" marketing reason for it, but I think the original name is perfect.
Like last time, we went to the pre-scare boo-ffet (see what they did there?) – not for the food but because you get to go into the park a full hour early. So worth it. As hinted, the food is nothing special but it's not college dining hall either. They take a stab at themed desserts but the creepiest things are the guys under the hot orange lights slavishly waiting to slice your fatty prime rib. Or whatever that meat was.
Also, as you eat, you get to look forward to having various "cast members", as they're called, sneak up on you, scare the crap out of you and apply the heimlich, if needed. I find myself wondering about this choking aspect a lot when I'm there and whether it's an explicit part of the training. It's just how my mind works.
Then we pee (a must) and wait for the gate to open while creatures start to gather around you like a noose. I'm not kidding. The sun starts to set and you do begin getting a weird foreboding feeling.
And then, bam! The doors open and you're off to get as many passes at the haunted log ride as possible until the lines start to form. Yes, I said haunted log ride. I don't get it either but it's fun. Log ride + people jumping out at you = nice opening gambit to the evening. They make some kind of effort to create a backstory about mauled firefighters, but it's never made sense to me. Plus, October is still fire season in LA so it seems a tad dark, as Sugar Sue puts it.
Then it's the similarly klugey marriage of the train ride infested with giant spiders and we're off to the mazes – all 13 of them, an apt number. And as you walk through the park, this year infused with way too much eye-watering fake fog, you get accosted by more cast members.
At first, you think, I don't know if my nerves can take this all night but then it happens – the awesomeness. By hour two you're so filled with adrenaline you feel GREAT. The scares put you in some kind of nirvana that's hard to explain. Let's just say, it's a good time.
There are 3D mazes, clown mazes, insane asylum mazes, usually a lame maze promoting a current-ish movie, creepy doll mazes and so on. My favorite this year was the haunted cornfield – it was a rare outdoor maze filled with hay bales and creepy-ass dudes in burlap hoods. Scary because in some parts of the country, this could totally happen. I know, right?
There are also pseudo freak shows – fire-eaters, fire-dancers, etc. We even saw this guy stick a nail through his bicep. The whole time you know there's a trick to it and you keep waiting to figure it out until you look at each other and breath, dude, I think it's real. We left shuddering and looking for Snoopy cookies.
By about 11:30, my dogs are barking but I'm trying to re-visit the best mazes as many times as I can. Eventually, middle age wins out and I walk zombie-like to the car. There's a post-scare breakfast served from 1 a.m., which always sounds like a great idea the day of and always sounds ridiculous on our way out. So, so, so grateful that Sugar's boyfriend drives us home.