What Halloween event should I go to?

September 27, 2015, 7:55 AM

I have never been to a Halloween event at a theme park, but this year I'm finally deciding to go to one. However, I'm not sure which one to visit and I know very little about these events. The events I am thinking about visiting are Knott's Scary Farm, Halloween Horror Nights, and Fright Fest. So here are my questions

-Which ones should I visit?
-How do "mazes" work?
-Can you ride rides during Halloween events?
-Anything else that would help as I truly don't know a thing about Halloween events at theme parks

Replies (3)

September 27, 2015, 2:47 PM

Which ones should I visit?

I've done both Knott's Scary Farm and Fright Fest in the past. Each event has pros and cons. Knott's Scary Farm has more mazes and better shows, but it is also more crowded (expect 60 minute waits for mazes on most nights if you don't buy Fright Lane) and is an upcharge event. SFMM has more special ride experiences and is included with admission, but the mazes are an upcharge and can get huge lines (up to 90 minutes, though front of the line passes are pretty reasonable here and the rest of the park generally isn't bad). Both are about the same in terms of scariness. I'd say if you're going mainly for haunted attractions, do Knott's Scary Farm and if you want to do a mix of rides and haunts (or want to spend all day at the park) do Fright Fest.

While I haven't been to Halloween Horror Nights, I've heard it is the scariest and highest quality of the events, but it is also the busiest (90-120 minute waits) and most expensive. If you want to be truly scared out of your mind, this event may be worth checking out, but make sure to spend the money for a front of the line pass if you want to do everything in one night.

How do "mazes" work?

Think of a maze as a walkthrough attraction with actors. You will go through a variety of themed rooms while costumed actors play a character and try to scare you. Some of the more elaborate mazes also feature animatronics or other fancy effects to add to the atmosphere and get additional scares. In order for this to work, guests are typically pulsed into the maze in small groups (typically 10-15, though some parks go larger) and this is what causes the lines.

Can you ride rides during Halloween events?

Yes, but I wouldn't recommend doing so unless the rides are rethemed for the event or you've done all the event-specific attractions. Ride lines are typically longer during the event than they would be during the day, so it generally is not worthwhile to ride standard attractions during the event.

Anything else that would help as I truly don't know a thing about Halloween events at theme parks

Whatever event you choose, get there as early as you possibly can. Knott's Scary Farm starts letting guests into the event at least 30 minutes early (possibly earlier). While Fright Fest doesn't start until 7 P.M., Six Flags Magic Mountain is open all day. I'm not 100% certain of the policies for Halloween Horror Nights, but I believe you are allowed to enter as early as 5 P.M. (mazes open at 6:30 P.M.).

Buy your tickets ahead of time for Knott's Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights. These events may sell out, so there is no guarantee tickets will be available day of. Note that you will have to select a specific day when purchasing tickets and cannot change later, so make sure you'll be able to go on the day you select.

Which day you go will heavily effect the crowd level at the event. In general...

Knott's Scary Farm: Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically your best bet for this event. It will not be dead, but you should be able to do everything without much of a hassle. Sundays are busier, but if you get there at opening and stay until closing you can probably squeeze everything in. Fridays are variable...you may or may not have enough time to do everything. If you visit this event on a Saturday, you will need a Fright Lane pass in order to do everything in one night.

Fright Fest: Fridays and Sundays are good days to do this event. Saturdays are busy, so avoid them unless you have no other choice. If you can, go during the regular operating hours and do most of your riding during the day, saving only those rides which are advertised on the Fright Fest website for night rides.

Halloween Horror Nights: Pretty much every night is busy here, but I've heard Thursdays are the only days where a front of the line pass is not mandatory. If you can't do a Thursday, do a Friday or Sunday and purchase the pass. Avoid Saturdays at all costs.

Lastly, have fun and prepare to be scared. Halloween events are fun (particularly in a group), but you need to think of your visit more as visiting a Halloween event and less as visiting a theme park, so focus on the event-specific attractions and leave the rides for a future visit. Not everyone is crazy about these events (I'm more of a moderate haunt fan myself), but you can't know until you try one and I hope you enjoy it.

Also, I'll be visiting Fright Fest on Friday and will let you know how that one is this year.

September 27, 2015, 3:29 PM

If you go to Halloween Horror Nights, be sure to follow creative director John Murdy on Twitter (@HorrorNights). He offers tips on getting the most out of the event, as well as a nightly password that you can use when entering certain mazes to score free stuff.

September 27, 2015, 3:31 PM

Don't take too long to decide. The popular nights will be sold out soon. Universal has the best production values. Knott's has the better quantity and best overall variety of experiences. Universal is backed by IP from the horror movies. Knott's has nostalgia and Elvira who is back for who knows how long. Haven't been to Magic Mountain, but its my last choice due to location. Really far away from LA City and Orange County.

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