For 17 years Knott's Berry Farm has been Orange County's undisputed king of fright-making during the Halloween season, and this year is no exception as the park once again exhumes its annual Halloween Haunt.
Continuing through Oct. 31, the Haunt offers fright aficionados a cauldron-full of bizarre rides and mazes; spooky melodramas; a campy shock-rock revue with Elvira, "Mistress of the Dark"; a coven of Gypsy fortunetellers and a fog-choked ghost town full of creatures of the night. It's geared for teen-agers and adults and is not recommended for children under 12.
The most popular and effective attraction the Haunt has to offer is Ghost Town, where a worm-eaten throng of ghouls lurks in the fog and shadows, scaring the life out of unwitting guests.
Interspersed throughout the park are five horror mazes. Themes run the gory gamut from a cannibalistic bed & breakfast to a freaky send-up of the '60s, the best of which is "Uncle Ernie's Mad House." The Mad House offers a peek into P.T. Barnum's worst nightmares, where distorted clown-faced ghouls haunt a surrealistic maze of mirrors and maniacally decorated chambers.
Others include "Encounters of Darkness," "Revenge of the Dead," "Bait's Motel" and "Timothy L. Eery's Time Machine," a bizarre, 1960s drug-inspired nightmare.
Accompanied by a coven of singers, dancers, musicians and a stand-up comic, Elvira presents her schmaltzy "Rock-N-Horror Show" three times nightly in the Good Time Theatre.
"The Hanging," a special effects-filled romp played for laughs and shocks, is presented twice nightly in Calico Square, with appearances by Beetlejuice, Freddy Kreuger and a Roseanne Barr look-alike who screeches and scratches from a nearby rooftop.
The park has transformed its popular Log and Calico Mine rides into "Terror Mountain," which takes guests on a log ride through a haunted logging camp, and "Threshold of Doom," a train expedition in search of a horrifying legendary beast.
An encampment of Gypsy fortunetellers ply their trade in Camp Snoopy, where guests are invited to wander from tent to tent gathering free advice on love and life.
Other attractions include "Dr. Cleaver Strikes Again and . . . Again," a spooky melodrama, presented nightly in the Bird Cage Theatre, "Dr. Fright's Mystery Theater," a stylish magic show in the Cloud 9 Ballroom, and hypnotist showcases with Marshal Sylver or Janice Marie, nightly in the Wagon Camp.
"Splat," a high-dive show, is presented nightly in the Pacific Pavilion; "Laser Music Madness," a dancing waters showcase, erupts nightly at Reflection Lake; "Mad Marvin's" puppet show runs continuously in Camp Snoopy, and Dr. Deranged & His Mad Music Monsters play five times a night on the Calico Square stage.
What: Knott's Berry Farm's 18th annual Halloween Haunt.
When: Continuing Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19 and 20. Also Oct. 25 through 28 and Oct. 30 and 31. Hours: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.; until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Where: Knott's Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.
Whereabouts: San Diego Freeway to the Beach Boulevard exit; go north on Beach. The park is at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Crescent Avenue.
Wherewithal: $22 in advance; $25 the day of the event. Advance tickets are suggested.
Where to Call: (714) 552-5200.