The year was 1973 when guests witnessed an eerie fog transform the quaint theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, into the infamous Knott’s Scary Farm. Fifty years later, the spine-tingling tradition is now Southern California’s longest running and most haunting Halloween theme park event. Some would even say it is a rite of passage for many Southern California teenagers.

“Knott’s Scary Farm has been a California staple for the past 50 years,” Christopher Do, Manager, Production Management at Knott’s, said. “Our amazing designers always find ways to push the limits and create incredible stories and mazes that completely immerse our guests into their deepest darkest fears.”

I visited Knott’s Scary Farm for the first time in 1990. I’ll never forget those monsters in the scare zone sliding in front of me. The whole night was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Now, as a new Knott’s associate, I can experience it from the inside. I love talking to the talented creative team and watching their ideas go from paper to maze. Southern California Life magazine has given me a chance to pull back the curtain and give readers a peek inside. To celebrate fifty years of never-ending nightmares, guests can expect some new mazes, sinister scare zones and several hair-raising shows.

“We’re excited to be featuring three brand new mazes, as well as a return of one of our classic scare zones,” Do said. “On top of that, we have the return of Carnaval Du Grotesque and two shows that were Knott’s Scary Farm staples.”

Gus Krueger, Creative/Scenic Designer, started building and designing Knott’s macabre mazes in 2002, becoming a designer in 2012. He promises that the 50th Anniversary will treat guests to plenty of nods to past haunts.

“I began my career at Knott’s as a monster in the maze, ‘Elvira’s Nightmare,’ back in 2000,” Krueger noted. “I went on to scare in Malice in Wunderland, Blood Bayou, the Asylum and Hatchet High. I spent time in scare zones as well. So, I couldn’t imagine celebrating our 50th anniversary without paying tribute to our storied history.” Successfully scaring thousands of guests takes a lot of work. A combined team of around 1,000 creatives, builders and monsters bring Knott’s Scary Farm to life.

“The key to a good scare is knowing that everybody is just a little bit different,” Do said. “Our designers and monster specialists know how to distract you in the perfect way so our monsters can get to work finding what scares you best.”

Knott’s Scary Farm opens on Sept 21 and runs on select nights until October 31. Tickets are on sale now at

Author Valarie Sukovaty is the Director of Communications for Knott’s Berry Farm and California’s Great Adventure.