Tournament, round one: Knott's Halloween Haunt vs. Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights

March 16, 2011, 6:52 AM · The first round of the 2011 Theme Park Insider Tournament: America's Best Theme Park Event continues with a match-up of two popular Southern California Halloween events.

Are you a fan of the original, Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt, or the upstart, Universal Studios Hollywood's version of Halloween Horror Nights. Each event has its unique flavor, but both offer a highly social vibe with monsters, ghouls and zombies aplenty. (Hey, Southern California does have a plethora of available acting talent, after all.)

So let's put it to a vote.

Voting will continue until 10 am Eastern on Thursday (7 am Pacific). If you want to help the cause of your pick, feel free to start campaigning on Facebook or Twitter for other fans to click over to vote, too!

Replies (26)

March 16, 2011 at 8:11 AM · I went to both, but it was at least 15 years ago. I enjoyed them, but they are one shot deals. Once you go, the thrill is gone. I like them both. Knott's had better atmosphere and mazes. Universal had better movie tie-ins and the tram ride was great. Knott's had Elvira at the time and she was a gem to see. Universal knows how to put on the show.

Overall, I recommended both, but Knott's has the edge.

March 16, 2011 at 9:50 AM · Yeah.. but that was 15 years ago! HHN is undoubtedly more immense and entertaining than Knotts. I strongly suggest you give both parks a visit in the future to see how much they've changed. You won't regret it. ^^
March 16, 2011 at 10:28 AM · HHN was so boring. It was the same scare over and over. No creativity on the part of the talent. At knotts you get personality and different creative scares. Not to mention more than 4 mazes. Oh and the tram at HHN sucked sooo much!!!
March 16, 2011 at 11:01 AM · Quality over quantity. The only reason people would say Knotts, is because they have never been to Universal's. Murdy is a God!
March 16, 2011 at 11:33 AM · I have gone to both every year for the past 5 years. There are so many unique things about both events, and ultimately, it goes without saying that your scare level is subjective to who you're with and at what part of the line. Obvious, of course... but it can make judging difficult. This year, hands down, Universal won for our entire group. I thought they did a fantastic job of incorporating new diversions throughout their mazes to throw you off.
March 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM · At Knotts Halloween Haunt, the workers are LAZY. They either stand in one place and stare at you as you walk by, or the houses don't have any monsters. The mazes at knotts are done so cheaply, mostly plywood hallways with paint on them, and they noticeably re-use their props, sets, costumes. Their masks are always repetitive.

At Universal Horror Nights, you get a high level of quality and detail in their mazes, and their scareactors are high energy and in your face.

Knotts could learn a few things from Universal or even Tampa's Howl o Scream Event.

March 16, 2011 at 11:52 AM · I used to be terrified of chainsaws until I went to HHN. WAY too many and it really killed the event for me. The only thing the mazes had were nice sets.

Knott's has monsters who can create their character and has very creative scares in and outside of the mazes. The Hanging blows Bill and Ted's out of the water.

My vote is for Knott's.

March 16, 2011 at 11:57 AM · For the past few years I have done both and while Knott's still has the number, Universal has the show!!!! As long as Universal changes things up more then Knott's it will have taken over the Halloween title by the end of this year!
March 16, 2011 at 12:06 PM · I have been going to Knotts for Many years Universal I went for the first time last year Id have to say Knotts is my all time favorite place I grew up there as a kid since my mom worked there so I have gotten alot of enjoyment out of Knotts. They have 13 mazes where universal had only 5 knotts has fun & scary monsters who interact with you and scare the hell out of you and its not as crowded as Universal I went opening weekend to both parks and I was able to go through all the mazes at knotts see the shows & rides and I was only able to see 3 mazes at universal there was way to much walking involved to try to get to the next maze then by that time stand in line for an hour but Id have to say Universals tram ride was Awesome & all the guys with Chainsaws definitely scared me for sure! Knotts has been doing this forever and Even though Universal has Movie Magic and scary movies I Love Knotts ! Also Knotts has The Hanging every year that completes the night for Me Hands down I choose Knotts Halloween haunt!!!!!
March 16, 2011 at 12:43 PM · The first year I went to Knott's Halloween Haunt was 1986. My friends aunt had two extra tickets, I was hooked. Been every year since. Nothing can keep me away. Friends change, boyfriends change and even Husbands change. I still keep going back for more. Start planning the next year on the way home. I will continue to go as long as I can.
March 16, 2011 at 2:47 PM · I think knotts scary is better then hhn cause they have unique things and they scare the hell out of me :) and I love their mazes and entertainment. I love knotts scary farm.hhn sucks. We love haters!!! I vote for knotts scary farm
March 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM · Well I've been to both parks for 5 years also and thought Universal was better. Knott's doesnt really have detail to it. The people(monster, zombies e.g.) look like if they are tired and seem boring. The mazes look like if High school seniors built them which wasnt really great. On the other hand HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS had everything great. The mazes and monster were great! A lot of detail put into all and i thought that was great. If you really want to get scared go to HHN and if you want to be bored all night go to Knott's.
March 16, 2011 at 3:52 PM · I go to both parks. Universal has mazes that look like you are in a movie set- that is really great. BUT Knotts has these amazing monsters!
I been going to for 10 years and see that same monsters working at Knotts. That is so much fun to see them over the years! The scares that the Knotts monsters do are very creative- you can't teach that-they been doing it so long they "KNOW" how to work it!
I will continue to go to both parks but I think the best is still Knotts and only because of the monsters- they really do seem like monsters there!
March 16, 2011 at 5:32 PM · You gotta be kidding me. This is no contest. Definately gotta be Halloween Horror Nights. Quality over quantity. HHN has more well designed sets based on popular horror movie franchises putting the horror icons we all know and love right into our faces and drive a fear that Knotts will never top. Also, we have the most triumphant BILL & TED SHOW! The Best theme park show I have ever seen every year. I can never miss it. Also, John Murdy is the best! He's freaking brilliant at this. Halloween Horror Nights all the way!
March 16, 2011 at 9:18 PM · I have a theory about why Haunt is getting spanked - it's actually competing against *two* events. HHN is put on in both the California and Florida Universal parks, and I'm guessing that nearly all of the East coast votes are going to HHN - most of those people have never been to Knott's. The West coast vote is being split between Knott's and Universal, which creates the lopsided 60/30 ratio. The TPI site itself is Florida based, if I'm not mistaken...
March 16, 2011 at 11:47 PM · ok hhn has millions of dollars to work with because its owned by universal so of course the movie quality mazes are better ckause they have money out the ying yang for them but where they have gorgeous mazes they have the worst talent i have ever seen. if you want to argue QUALITY OVER QUANITY THEN HOW ABOUT THAT KNOTTS TALENT HAS BETTER QUAILTY THAN UNIVERSAL!!!!!!! there is the end of that argument knotts does more with less and it still rocks harder then anything universal can throw at it knotts is solid hhn is rocky and imitative towards the unoriginal movies that it so relgiously follows so sorry hhn talent but ur same lame ass routine doesnt fly with people who know real talent...ur sliders and street talent hit guests and cause a lot of problems while knotts sliders are professional and trained PROPERLY!! so your talent in mazes and on streets need work and get some original ideas for your mazes instead of copying movies
March 16, 2011 at 11:51 PM · The description of the poll clearly says Southern California. Knott's is getting spanked because it's tired and expected. Hell, I went to some home haunts that have been better than Knott's in it's recent years. They need to step up their game.
March 17, 2011 at 1:37 AM · I love what both parks have to offer, and each one outdoes the other in one way or another, but I am partial to Knotts. There's just a lot more to do that is Halloween themed. More mazes, better shows, more Halloween themed rides. The waits are not nearly as long. Knott's has great Hotel/Ticket/Food packages. Universal doesn't even have a Horror Nights event hotel package, which is very disappointing. I also feel like there's more passion in the actors at the Knotts event. What Universal exceeds in is the quality of the mazes. After all, it is a movie studio, so you can expect great costumes and scenes from each maze. They also have the rights to various Horror licenses so you get to experience some of our favorite horror movies first hand. My biggest disappointment with Universal is the Terror Tram. I think there's so much more potential with that ride/walk-through attraction. Anyway, to sum it up, I will attend Knott's every year for sure, but Universal will have to have a good selection of new mazes each year to get me to go on an annual basis. BTW, check out the Queen Mary Shipwreck event too. Very affordable for the amount of mazes and makes for a unique and fun experience.
March 17, 2011 at 3:24 AM · Mr. Robert Niles, who runs this web site, lives in Southern California. Knotts is getting beat because outside of Cedar Point, Cedar Fair parks don't inspire much, if any, loyalty.
March 17, 2011 at 1:27 PM · Knotts is stale. I went their 4years ago and they still have some of the same terrible mazes they had back then. HHN changes it up every year, and even if they stick with a maze they at least try to make it fresh by adding new elements. Plus, House of a Thousand Corpses last year? Come on, no contest.
March 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM · Knotts Haunt was fun the first year we went to it, 3 or 4 years ago but they have been doing the same mazes ever since. And yes Universal has some cons, the tram ride is boring and any maze in the House of Horrors is no good. I'd still pick Halloween Horror Nights over Haunt everytime! Too bad Hollywood can't get on the same page as Orlando! Their event blows both of these parks out of the water!
March 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM · I keep seeing all of these posts about how Knott's has the better monsters. Ummmm...NO!! Knott's USED to be fun...Back in the day. Once Cedar Park took over, it went straight downhill. They went from having 10 mazes to 13 mazes, but kept the same budget. The last 3 times that I went, The Hanging was horrid! No Freddy?? WTH?? That's what made The Hanging! And even though HHN has fewer mazes, they are incredible! The monsters can and WILL touch you. I've danced with them, touched them, and yes...even kissed Freddy one year. At Knott's they're not even allowed to have flint on their knees when they slide. LAME!!! I gave up on Knott's. It's a waste of money. HHN welcomes you with the Gates of Hell. What's better than being chased by clowns weilding chainsaws while 15 foot flames shoot off the rooftops in front of you?? Nothing. And most certainly NOT Knott's. Happy Haunting! ♥
March 17, 2011 at 3:03 PM · I like both but Knots wins due to their drinking rules, Knots ur allowed and Universal ur not at all even if you smell like alcohol ur not allowed to go in to the park. So Knots has my vote plus theres more to mazes at knots. I'm glad u put this two because Six Flags LAME!
March 17, 2011 at 3:08 PM · Soooo I've been going to Knnott's for the last 10 years or so, since I was 10, and growing up I thought it was the best. I loved that there was such a big line up of mazes and shows. I was loyal to Knott's and hyped it up to as many people as possible. when I was 17 we hit HHN for the first time, and I thought it was going to pale in comparison. Dead wrong, and pun definitely intended. The experience at Universal is honestly just so much more...intense. The amount of funds, thought, and dedication from the Universal team totally trump Knott's. And for those people that say that Knott's does more with less, it's definitely true. Knott's is able to produce 13 mazes a year with a minimal budget. Wait, sorry, Knott's is able to produce like 3 new mazes and reuse 10 of the ones they had last year with a minimal budget. Universal switches event attractions *every year*. That means new mazes, new costumes, new original masks, new scare zones, and a new theme. Plus Bill & Ted. Come on. Seriously the best theme park show I've ever seen. Ever. I'll still go to both every year, but I would gladly pay $60 for a night at Universal than $30 for a night at Knott's. I enjoy myself that much more.
March 17, 2011 at 6:41 PM · I was always a fan of Knotts but 2010 was a let down. It seemed like all the scareactors were on break or they were short staffed. There where a lot of missed scare opportunities and some of the costumes were half done. Universal may have some flaws but they perfected the science of scaring people & acknowledging guests requests. Can't say the same for Knotts. Although I think if Knotts' actors maintained high energy throughout the night and were on point with scares. Universal would have real competition. I do like the fact of Knotts' original maze ideas but they should be careful who they scare people.
March 18, 2011 at 10:46 AM · I love how Knotts Haunt Fans are saying that east coast voters were confused. Knotts is no competition to HHN! Excuses and more excuses from hurt knotts fans. LOL!

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