Knott's Scary Farm
A look at Knott's Scary Farm's creepiest, cleverest, and scariest mazes

Knott’s Berry Farm: the birthplace of the boysenberry, the home of the Peanuts gang and, once a year, the place where your nightmares all come to life. Knott’s Scary Farm is a premier Halloween attraction in Southern California, and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you show up to scream, to laugh, or to stop the zombie apocalypse, Knott’s has something for you.

With so much to see and do—all while being stalked by demented killers— it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for AAA members to pick their poison. Whether you’re looking to be unsettled, surprised, or just terrified, Knott's has something hiding around the next corner.

The creepiest mazes

Winner – Voodoo

Good creepy mazes put a lot of effort into building a world, not just scares, and Voodoo is among the very best. Set in a New Orleans swamp, it uses the sounds of insects and other critters, the smell of salt and moss, and dim green light reflecting off the swamp water to set an eerie mood. Deserted bayou homes and occult shrines hint at something sinister, and the outfits of the voodoo cultists are beautifully rendered (which only serves to make them more unsettling). It doesn't skimp on scares, either, which are less predictable thanks to the maze's meandering path.
Voodoo

Runner-up – The Tooth Fairy

Like a dream where your teeth fall out, The Tooth Fairy maze hasn't gotten less creepy over time. Now in its fourth year, the maze opens a portal to the world of a deranged dentist trying to turn harvested human flesh into gossamer wings so he can become a real-life tooth fairy. (Spoiler: It's not going great, and he's making a mess.) Members can check in on his progress and, along the way, appreciate chattering robot jaws full of stolen teeth, an enormous rotating drill, and more than a few blood-smeared dental X-rays. New for this year is a blackout room that guests have to feel their way through.
The Tooth Fairy

Third place – Pumpkin Eater

Can gourds be creepy? Pumpkin Eater, an all-new maze, makes a convincing case that they can. Based on the centuries-old nursery rhyme "Peter, Peter, pumpkin-eater," the maze re-imagines "Peter" as a 7-foot creature that has laid waste to a once-bucolic village. Members can make their way through a number of enormous hollowed-out pumpkins, as long as they're ready to fend off disturbingly lifelike pumpkin seeds and entrails. Smell is a major component, and not just fresh pumpkin, either—supersized bugs have gotten into one rotten area. If members can get through that, they must also contend with a foggy hedge maze where the floor and the ceiling don't always stay still.
Pumpkin Eater
The most innovative mazes

Winner – Trick or Treat: Lights Out

Mazes are dark, but they're usually not that dark—guests have to be able to see where they're going, after all. As the name suggests, Trick or Treat: Lights Out is having none of that. Instead of ambient light, the maze provides each guest with a flashlight, but there's a catch: The flashlights can go out, leaving whatever's waiting in this haunted house free to spook with impunity. It's a great premise that's well-executed, particularly near the end of the maze when the flashlights switch into blacklight mode. As the maze goes on and the lights fail more often, members may find they're less and less eager to be the first person entering the next room.
Trick or Treat: Lights Out

Runner-up – Paranormal Inc.

The intrepid investigators of Paranormal Inc. are back to work unraveling the mysteries of the haunted Hayden Hill Sanitarium, and the scares here are one-of-a-kind. Light plays a big role, whether in the form of a psychedelic "near-death experience" tunnel or an enormous illuminated pentagram on the floor. Speaking of the floor, the scareactors here aren't confined to it: Thanks to impressive acrobatics, they can also come from the ceiling, the walls, and pretty much everywhere else. And there are scares where there aren't scareactors as well, with possessed hospital equipment and unexpected gusts of wind. 
Paranormal Inc.

Third place – Special Ops: Infected

Like Trick or Treat: Lights Out, Special Ops: Infected gives guests an empowering tool. Instead of a flashlight, it's an assault rifle with unlimited ammunition. This upgrade transforms the maze experience, as getting startled by zombies while holding a gun—even a fake one—offers an immediate opportunity to fight back. Instead of trying not to scream or run away, members can practice their headshots under pressure, competing with their friends to bag the most kills by the end of the maze. This year's experience has more zombies than ever, along with a redesigned final boss.
Special Ops: Infected
The scariest mazes

Winner – Shadow Lands

Maze layout can severely limit how scary a maze is; linear paths with obvious corners and trap doors make scares predictable and less effective. Shadow Lands succeeds in becoming Knott's scariest maze by throwing out the "haunted house" floorplan, instead embracing a more disorienting layout that keeps visitors vulnerable to scares from unexpected places. Similarly disorienting are the maze's malevolent spirits, whose grotesque and often unfamiliar visages are drawn from Japanese folklore. Many masquerade as statues until it's too late, making it even harder to see the scares coming.
Shadow Lands

Runner-up – The Red Barn

The Red Barn plunges guests into the twisted scheming of a family of cannibal farmers on the hunt for fresh meat. Like Shadow Lands, it avoids predictability, in this case by breaking mazegoers into small groups and forcing them to run for their lives through the hay bales and animal cages of the barn. Between all the ducking and dodging, there's no time to see scares coming. Especially effective are the scareactors who play cannibal butchers: Members may find themselves picked out from the crowd and told that their hair, skin, or liver is of particular interest to the grotesque pig-god who runs the barn.
The Red Barn

Third place – Dark Ride

A love letter to old-fashioned carnival dark rides, this maze is more traditional than the category's other two offerings, but delivers the goods. Visitors alternately wind their way through a shuttered dark ride crowded with vengeful circus performers, and the "backstage" portion of the ride, where it's clear the clowns are now running the asylum. In particular, they enjoy suddenly stomping on the floor to create a scare that's both audible and tactile. As the maze winds on, things only get crazier as the carnies find bigger tools to swing and bigger demons to unleash, leading up to an impressively theatrical finale.
Dark Ride
One more thing ...

Elvira's Last Show

Vampish cult favorite Elvira has announced that this year's all-new edition of her beloved comedic and musical revue will also be her last at Knott's Scary Farm. It may not be a maze, but it is amazing, featuring impressive special effects, catchy songs, and infectious humor. Whether you're a die-hard fan or a curious neophyte, there won't be a better time to see the Queen of Halloween at Knott's.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark