SoCal 2016 Day 6

16SoCal6BannerKnott’s Berry Farm | Whale Watching | Photos | Videos


September 29, 2016
Long Beach & Buena Park

In the morning we woke up and headed again to the beach after picking up breakfast at McDonalds. This time we went to Seal Beach, since we had plans in Long Beach later, and it isn’t far from there. Seal Beach was again, amazing. West coast got beach game on fleek. Isaac had his birding book, I had my camera, and we walked in the surf while looking at birds and taking pictures. It was great. And such a beautiful morning. I found several more shells that I liked, as I did at Huntington Beach. Isaac found me a really neat dried coral, which unfortunately fell apart on the last day during packing, but whatever. Seal Beach was very nice indeed.

There were some surfers, but the beach was mostly desolate. I’m used to being at east coast beaches, with warmer water, where a beautiful day like this would see quite a lot of people sunbathing and frolicking in the water. We walked north up the coast in the cold surf. Isaac was able to spot several west coast birds with his birding book. At one point we saw some kind of party hat that was wrapped in seaweed. Perhaps someone had too much fun on a party boat.

So we made our way up to Long Beach and onto a whale watching cruise (A three hour tour…). Both of us were looking forward to this. I hadn’t been whale watching since the early 90s as a child, and it was a life changing experience. We saw lots of blue and right whales on that trip. This time we were looking for hump backs like Star Trek IV. And dolphins. And birds. And the trip did not disappoint. There was lots of scenery going along the coast and between the coastline and Catalina Island. And we saw a Hump Back! Plus 2 pods of dolphins. And one bird flew onto the ship. It was a great time, and on the way back, as the sea got choppy, we enjoyed the airtime and aggression of the sea.

Seal Beach, LBC, Whale Watching 2016

Apparently Long Beach used to be pretty bad, but they’ve invested a lot (score for gentrification?) on the beach front areas and it was really nice, so we had seafood downtown near the beach. I had a great lobster roll, homemade guac, and a drink. We headed back to the house and rested up a bit. At 6 PM we were heading to another very special event. One that I was extremely excited about when I realized it coincided with our trip: Knott’s Scary Farm! We got to the park around 5:40ish. The park opened around 6 to let you in, and Scary Farm started at 7.

Before I start talking about Scary Farm and the time we had, I have to make some comments on the event overall when compared to other park scary events I’ve been to. Knott’s Scary Farm is on another level entirely. Granted, I’d not yet done HHN on either coast. I’m mostly familiar with SCarowinds, which gets great respect in the area, and they do try. I’ve also been to Kennywood during Phantom Fright nights. But Scary Farm is so far beyond anything else I’ve seen either in photos or videos or in person. I can’t even begin to comprehend the level to which Scary Farm blows away what I’d seen before.

A few things: The production value and sheer volume of the haunts was amazing. Very well done, obviously very expensive with large animatronics, projections, and the use of modern technology, with amazing sets and great actors. We did the upcharge Fright Lane with Skeleton Key. Also, there are just so many more mazes and scare zones. And one thing that Knott’s does that is amazing compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere is the music. Instead of ‘scary’ themed pop music, etc. like SCarowinds, Knott’s has amazing instrumental works playing throughout the park, and it really helps set the mood. The sets aren’t just made to be ‘scary’, they’re just well done. As are costumes.

Seal Beach, LBC, Whale Watching 2016

The roving scaractors were really great too. Now, I will say this. SCarowinds’ scare zones are more themed than what I saw at Knott’s, kind of. In the Ghost Town, they had zombie western spooks. Not much more in the way of theming than what is normal there. In the Fiesta Village section, it was Dia De Los Muertos, and again, not much difference in the normal theming. In the 50s section, it was a clown theme, though other than a few little posters and lots of clowns, there wasn’t much else there. I do think that SCarowinds does more in the way of theming the general scare zones, but overall, Scary Farm is just so great. Oh, and there are absolutely no ‘don’t scare me’ necklaces or other such nonsense.

We headed over towards Ghost Town first. The evening started eventually with some moody Johnny Cash music and the monsters coming out through the fog. It was quite creepy in the fog at dusk. A very good production. We headed first to Ghostrider for a front seat ride in the dark. And it was better than my previous ride on this trip. The ride was hauling, there was more airtime this time, and I just really, really enjoyed it. Isaac noticed it was better this time too. Not too surprising, as GCI coasters are often really great in the front.

We headed to our first maze, Trick or Treat. It was interesting. They had a decent theme.  It was one of the more forgettable ones, but it was fun. And I could tell immediately that the bar was raised with mazes. We walked thru Ghost Town and over towards the Hanging stage for the first show. I got some boysenberry to drink, and we toyed with another maze, but even with Fright Lane we didn’t want to miss the Hanging, and then Elvira soon after, so we went over and got a spot close to the stage.

Knott's Scary Farm 2016

If you’ve seen The Hanging before, you know what to expect. Riffing on the year’s pop culture, fake violence, and lots of parody. This year was a ‘feud’ between the Sheriff and a woman host. He wanted to host Calicochella, and she wanted to host NooseCon. And of course, there were loads of references to Trump v Hilary, who were parodied throughout the show. It was a decent show, very funny. We hurried over to the other show that night, Elvira’s Danse Macabre.

So, I’ve always been a bit of an Elvira fan, and was glad to get to see this show, as the following year would be her last. First, she looked great. Second, the show was great. I liked it better than The Hanging, though both shows were really good. The format of the show is an opening number with Elvira and dancers, as she sang Meghan Trainor’s “I’d Wanna be Me Too” (Very fitting for the Elvira character), and then she hosted and joked around in between dance numbers and acrobatics. This show could easily be done at the other Cedar Fair parks if they could find a polarizing local celeb to do the hosting part. It wouldn’t be Elvira of course, but it could very well work in other parks. She was funny, charming, and still looks and moves great. So now that the world-class shows were done, we headed to do some rides and mazes.

Special Ops: Infected was up next. This one was a shooter where you’re given a laser tag style gun and you’re ushered through the greatly themed ‘streets’ where Zombies (with neck targets) were roaming. Your job was to shoot them in the head. And it was a lot of fun. Smaller groups, and of course, with Fright Lane, we didn’t have to wait very long.  This one’s entrance and pre-show area were in the pre-show area of Mystery Lodge. It was so well done and, while not scary, was a lot of fun. It seems this is what Infected nee’ Fury at SCarowinds was going for (without the laser tag guns) when it was going, but this was better and the soldiers were much better.

Knott's Scary Farm 2016

While in the area, we did the Red Barn maze. This one had you ducking and climbing under structures, and while well done, wasn’t particularly creepy. Even with the hillbilly theme. But it was nicely done in the dance hall barn building. Because we had Skeleton Key to open up extra haunts, we decided to hit the first one of those up. The first one near us was Visions. It ended up being way too long of a wait. We kept getting pushed back because of a few disabled guests being ushered in, instead of the person manning the door mixing in others from the standby line. And they only allow 6 people in at a time.

When it was our time, you use iPad ‘vision detector’ thingies. When you point your iPad at certain posters, the visions manifest on the screen on your iPad. But… my iPad wasn’t working. And the actors were terrible. And as soon as I hooked up with Isaac to see what happened on his iPad, they took our iPads away. The big ‘scare’ at the end was mis-timed, and the monster acted before the lights went out, so the ending was predictable and not very good. This wasn’t making us look forward to the other 3 Skeleton Key rooms we had access to.

We next walked over to the boardwalk and got heckled by clowns. We hit up the Log Flume at night and were the only ones on the ride, which was great. Then we hit Dead of Winter: Windego’s Revenge. This was an interesting maze. The first room is a bright white room, but with lots of ‘mist’, ‘smoke’ or however they did it, and you couldn’t see anything no matter how bright it was. At this point in the night I didn’t enjoy the maze that much. I was upset about Visions sucking after a 35-minute wait. I wanted cheese on a stick, but that was another long wait, and the people in front of us pushed ahead on this maze and, though much older than most people so concerned with selfies, were annoying and too concerned with taking selfies in the mazes.

Knott's Scary Farm 2016

The haunt was good though. A large animatronic snow monster was in there, HD screens on the floor with effects. It was cool. Literally. We stopped by Xcelerator for a nighttime ride first before heading over to the Hollow and running into the Headless Horseman.  And at that point, we wanted a night ride on Monte, which we got. Then we walked over to where the other Skeleton Key rooms were since they were close, and…they had little to no wait.

So we went into Slasher next. This one was really well done. There were 4 of us in the room. We were looking around to find the villain as his voice was going, but he was standing behind us. It was kind of funny, he had to ‘poke’ Isaac with his ‘knife’ to get us to turn around and pay attention to him. But it was really eerie. The voice (which was over a speaker) was creepy, the ‘reveal’ was well done, and this was another one where you had to almost crawl out of the room, which added to the intensity.

After that, we were close to another one, Prey. While not the scariest, this one was great because of the actors. It was hillbilly themed, and all three, but especially one of the ‘brothers’, was authentic and well done. They called us city slickers. I pointed out I was from West Virginia. They played off of it great without getting offensive (which the whole event tends to teeter on). And it was good. The story is that you get sent into a small maze, and their new monsters, crossbreeds of people with animals, are being released every 30 seconds and sent chasing you and your faint lantern. This one had way more crawling and false maze corridors. It was cool.

Knott's Scary Farm 2016

We walked thru a creepy Camp Snoopy and headed to the former home of the Windseeker that barely ran at Knott’s, where the last Skeleton Key Room waited for us.  This one was called ZoZo, and I knew nothing about it. The group that went in before us left without doing the room. When we got in, we found out why. This one was centered around a story teller, and ZoZo, a monster. It was actually the creepiest one. Of course, they used magnets to move the things on the table, but what I didn’t expect was all of our seats sliding back as the lights go off and ZoZo appearing on the table, then taking our host. It was rather intense and well done.

At this point we were going to finish up the rest of the haunts. We went over and did The Gunslinger’s Grave: A Blood Moon Rises next. Again, great production. This one was more people just standing around and yelling at us, but it was outdoors and pretty cool. Then we went back to Ghost Town to find the other 3 mazes there we tried to find earlier.  First was the Tooth Fairy which, surprisingly, was themed to an evil tooth fairy disemboweling and torturing children. The kid under the bed scared me.

Then we went to Paranormal Inc. This one has a pre-show where you’re in a hospital and they’re doing one of those corny paranormal reality shows. The whole pre-show was rather corny, and I was groaning internally just wanting to get thru it. Then the real show started. And, um. Wow. There was a moment that no one expected, and for our first time, the other people going thru the maze were shocked, screamed, and it was soon that I realized the corny pre-show was all misdirection for what ended up being an amazing and well-done haunt. It blew me away. They used projectors and live action to really scare you. The whole thing was outstanding.

Knott's Scary Farm 2016

There were three different mazes in this area so we headed to Voodoo: Order of the Serpent next. While not particularly scary, it did startle me a few times. And! Even though it was all inside, it felt like it was outdoors in a swamp with such good sets, including swamp water and ‘docks’. There were a lot of false turns to take, and it was very disorienting. Another winner. Then when we were done, we went around and did Paranormal Inc. again, this time going thru the other side of the first half, which was slightly different.

It was getting late and we had to be at another park in the morning so we headed back to the other corner of the park once more, taking another ride on Xcelerator and doing the Shadowlands maze. Unfortunately, we missed the first part of the pre-show. The theming was cool, I love Japanese theming. And it looked creepy in spots, and there was wire-fu, but the maze wasn’t scary at all. But again, great production and well done.

While in the area Isaac wanted to ride the boomerang and I had the credit, so I let him ride. I went back thru Dead of Winter, this time all by myself, and actually got startled a few times. I enjoyed it this time without the idiots in with us last time. Then I had some interactions with some of the same clowns I’d run in to previously.

The night was coming to a close so we headed to our last ride of the night, one more time on the Calico Mine Train. We were on the last train of the night. Then we headed back to the house to pack. Since Friday was slated to be a busy day we decided to clean up as much as we could and get ready on Thursday for our early morning Saturday morning flight.

Day 7