EntertainmentTheme Parks

Halloween Haunt 2014: Knott’s Scary Farm Special Preview

Buena Park, Calif.–   Every year thousands and thousands of people attend Halloween Haunt 2014 at Knott’s Scary Farm, the intricately detailed mazes, and the monsters roaming the park are what keep people coming back every year. However, not everybody knows of the hundred of hours it takes to prepare the annual scare. Everything from story creation, to design, to wardrobe, to make-up, to scare school is a huge process that doesn’t begin weeks prior to the event, but at the end of every Halloween Haunt, the planning begins.


The Knott family has the longest running Halloween themed park event than any other theme park. Ted Dougherty, author of Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt: A Picture History, gave M.U.S.E a historical tour around the heart of Knott’s Scary Farm, Ghost Town .

Halloween Haunt has always been known for their horrifying mazes and monsters haunting park goers. But it wasn’t always like that.

In the early years of Knott’s Scary Farm, Main Street in Ghost Town also known as “Fog Alley” had no monsters roaming the streets. Instead they had creepy buildings and inside those dark buildings were startling peek-ins, performers hired from the outside to haunt the guests as they looked inside.

It wasn’t until the early 70s, when one monster known as Bob Vernon was locked out of his peek-in right as the park opened and his supervisor could not find the right key to open the wooden door. Therefore, in a panic, Bob was sent to scare people on Main Street. Bob was aggressive and gruesome startling all the park goers and after that moment; a new standard for scaring park goers was set.

No longer were monsters scaring from the inside of buildings but rather on the park streets themselves.

And finally in 1973, Knott’s presented the first street monsters in the Wild West Stunt Show.

But not only was Knott’s known for their walking scaring monsters, but for the interesting things placed in their mazes.

The Crash Barn, located in Ghost Town was the home of two prominent mazes. In 1979, it housed the Black Bark Trail of  Terror, and it contained live snakes, rats and a full-blown real horse skeleton.

Then, in 1980, it was home to the Tomb of Terror, and it was filled with maze monsters and the most extreme artifact one could find in a deadly maze, a real human mummified corpse, known as Count Demonicus.

Then, it wasn’t until the early 1980s when Knott’s began to use cutting edge technology to enhance the maze experience.  In 1982, the Terrifying Trail of Jack the Ripper was created and it set a new standard for all mazes.

Halloween Haunt has been the home to a lot of frights and terrors over the years and every year, designers aim to amp the terror.



If you ever wondered, how an event like Halloween Haunt is put together, no need to anymore.

The first thing is the Entertainment Department, where the maze designers think of an idea or a story they would like to tell. From there they create a world for the maze, which includes a list of characters for the world, the order of appearance and what gruesome details they want to to incorporate into this world.

From their, the maze designers meet with the make-up and costume designers to discuss concept and what textures and palettes they would like to see.

Then, the make-up artists and designers create the looks for the monsters.

Once all that is done, Knott’s begins their annual scare school. Which is the process of training the monsters that were hired to think, act and live the character they have been assigned.




  • 4,500 pieces of clothing
  • 12 people for every 8 hour shift to do laundry
  • Everything is color-coded to make the process faster
  • 500 dryers for the end of the night


  • Begins a year prior to the event
  • Each new maze, starts from the ground up with means drawing out sketches, choosing fabrics, colors and textures and putting it all together
  • 24 people work year-round, from craft people to fabric people
  • Materials used must be durable: denim,polyester,cotton
  • Costumes must be double-stiched
  • Talent uses their own shoes, and eye contacts are optional



  • Each monster is distinguishable through different textures and palettes. For example: Zombies found inside the Special Ops Attraction will differ from the Zombie Tricksters roaming through the park. The difference will be found in the texture, some zombies will be bloody and other decayed with dusty skin
  • All prosthetics are built-in house
  • 385 people in make-up every night
  • Of those 385 people, 102 will be in prosthetic
  • Prosthetics are made by foam latex
  • Each monster has 8 prosthetics
  • Alcohol based products are used most often to avoid excessive touch-ups throughout the night
  • Powder used to drown out oils
  • Make-up begins at 4 pm and ends at 8 pm.
  • After 8pm, touch-ups begin
  • 37 make-up artists are used every night
  • The Toothfairy mask is made out of a purse

Knott’s Scary Farm opens the doors to the public September 25th. Tickets are already being sold online.

Knott’s Scary Farm Scare School:

M.U.S.E. On Location: A History of Knott’s Scary Farm:

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