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Knott's Scary Farm 2021

Brian G.

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 21, 2008
21,686
Orlando, FL
REVIEW: Knott's has graced us with a Scary Farm filled with returning favorites and new fun, including a fantastic new maze, an intriguing new scare zone, and the resurrection of Mystery Lodge.

 
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DTH

Member
Nov 7, 2016
993
Anyone know if you can use the year round souvenir sippers for Scary Farm??!
 

Rideguy70

V.I.P.
Feb 17, 2016
1,184
Los Angeles
I was told from two different sources (one an employee at the Knott's information desk inside the park) that both parking passes and drink passes are still valid for KSB. It's just food passes that are not.

I have a drink pass, not the sipper, but I imagine it amounts to the same thing. I'm going tonight, so I'll be able to confirm tomorrow.
 
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Stryker

Member
Feb 22, 2018
741
So Cal
Yes, parking and drink plans are valid during Scary Farm. Meal plans can’t be used during KSF. I wish Boo-Fet had a cheaper option that didn’t include the souvenir bottle since I already have the drink plan. Oh well.

Will be there tomorrow. Feel free to say hi if you see me. Look for an Asian guy wearing a Spider-Man hoodie so I shouldn’t be hard to spot.
 

DTH

Member
Nov 7, 2016
993
I have a drink pass, not the sipper, but I imagine it amounts to the same thing. I'm going tonight, so I'll be able to confirm tomorrow.
I'm also going tonight, so that confirmation will be at the same time haha SEE YOU IN THE FOG!!!
 

DTH

Member
Nov 7, 2016
993
9/25/21

I'll start this off by saying KSF was what got me into Haunts in the year 2000 and so I have a softspot for it even when it was terrible, and have been very judgmental when it started "reviving" itself to be better in the face of HHN's popularity. With that said, even on a "good" year for KSF and a "bad year" for HHN, I don't think KSF has even come close to being better for HHN (FOR ME). So, HHN was on a "bad year" this year. Quite literally, imho, the worst year they've ever had, but I come to it with a bit of understanding knowing there were budget issues and not a whole lot of creative control. Will Knotts finally top it?

ARRIVAL
Got there super early (4:40 -- my intention was to get there by 4 to hit some rides with our APs, but we failed), never been able to do that before with KSF. Looked around in some gift shops and saw a super cool "Halloween Snow Town," which I didn't know was a thing, and now I know what my hobby will be when I'm older. Got to the gates and they finally moved us forward around 6:30. Then they moved us forward again to the entrance of Ghost Rider. Waited for the "pre-show" that nobody could see and they finally let us in at 7 on the dot. Really, it's just gonna be sound? An announcement we can barely hear? No pyro? No lights? Made our way through the crowd and headed for the GhostRider backstage mazes first.

PARANORMAL INC
Advertised Wait: 15 minutes
Time in Line: 7:04pm
In The Maze: 7:15pm
Actual Wait: 11 minutes
I was very glad to see Knotts attempting to show their queue times, even the queue times for the FastLane! They were always incredibly off (luckily shorter), but at least it showed a much higher attempt then what they've done in the past. I figure it's practical to have a person at the end of the line, but they really need to make them automated signs and to get updated times every 5 minutes or so, because that will help people makes plans for their night A LOT. Anyway, decided to hit this since I saw it was the only thing with a line already from the Buffet people and I'm glad I did, because that line built up hefty after us. Got to the front and they announced it was the final season (thank God) and they let us in. So yeah, um... everything was virtually the same. I will say the maze was rocking with energy as there were a lot of monsters in here at almost every corner, which I can't say for all the other mazes I went through tonight. For a final season, they did their job. As for the effects in here, they've seen better days as a lot of stuff wasn't happening or working. I won't be sad to see this go, but I'm glad they went out on a decent note.
'B'-

WAX WORKS
Advertised Wait: 30 minutes
Time in Line: 7:22pm
In The Maze: 7:44pm
Actual Wait: 22 minutes
The other maze starting to build up a wait was this, so we decided to hit this next. This was NEW TO ME as I skipped KSF in 2019 and I got kinda excited. They need a lot more monitors and more sound for their video in the queue, could barely tell what was going on. It was fun to watch for the little I saw though. Entered the maze and it was just total dead zones. I mean, the maze looked cool, but there was not a lot going on. Just long stretches of rooms with nobody in them and nothing going on. Must've hit it on a cast switch. I like how it looked though, so I'll give it a --
'C'-

THE DEPTHS
Advertised Wait: 15 minutes
Time in Line: 7:50pm
In The Maze: 7:53pm
Actual Wait: 3 minutes
I remember thinking this one was "fine" on its premiere year as everyone was going crazy about it, and I still hold firm with that review. It's "fine." The maze didn't pick up the intensity until the rickety ship for, a lot of empty rooms again and maybe we caught it on another cast switch. Most of the effects were still working decently, but I remember the laser water effect being much cooler in the past. Anyway, got one or two jolts in here, but that's about it.
'C'+

DARK ENTITIES
Advertised Wait: 5 minutes
Time in Line: 7:58pm
In The Maze: 8:03pm
Actual Wait: 5 minutes
And like that, we were done with half the mazes in an hour. I'm sure going counter clockwise or starting in the back will have the same effect, especially if you do these mazes in the last 2 hours, but I had a lot of newbies with me, so I was going for a simple gameplan, and I'm glad it worked out this way. Anyway, this maze was disappointing when it premiered and it's still disappointing now. There were a lot of monsters, just environmentally it doesn't work for me. I love me some aliens and space themes, and I've seen them done successfully in the past (Alien Attack in the early 2000s!), but for whatever reason, this maze has no energy. And oddly, people really seem to not care about it since it never has a line.
'F'

ORIGINS
Advertised Wait: 90 minutes
Time in Line: 8:30pm
In The Maze: 9:09pm
Actual Wait: 39 minutes
Also NEW TO ME. A lot of people went crazy for this one when it premiered. I dug the aesthetics in the line, they were really selling the story. Monsters in the line, the Witch projection, people looking for Sarah Marshall. It's missing another element though, I can't quite put my finger on it, but it needs something else to rise the tension. Anyway, walked in and you can tell they put a lot of money and care into this one. Monsters were all doing their job and it was filled to the brim with effort. But I'm very much an "effects" person when it comes to scares, and there weren't enough in here to ever "get me" good. I had fun in this one and I think all the set design rocked it, also dug The Witch at the end gliding around. Giant hand coming out unfortunately didn't happen to me and was just idle as I went through. I wanted to love this one, but best I can give it is a --
'B'

Got some dinner. I felt successful so far in my night and needed an energy booster. Pizza line at Sutters took forever. I urge you find a different pizza line, as there were many empty ones as I walking through the park, but I committed, so I stayed.
 
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DTH

Member
Nov 7, 2016
993
MESMER
Advertised Wait: 120 minutes
Time in Line: 10:20pm
In The Maze: 11:17pm
Actual Wait: 57 minutes
This was the most boring line of the night, as there was no attempt to theme the area until the immediate surrounding of the maze. Sound design here was on point as it really lead you through the maze and there was a lot of trippy things going on. Loved a lot of the special effects they were pulling off, but I wish there was a bit more actual magic. Get some real magicians in here and it'll really sell it! Anyway, it got more and more insane as it went on and all the monsters were on fire. No room in particular sticks out (Knotts mazes always end up meshing together for me), but I know I really dug this one and was easily maze of the night.
'A'-

DARK RIDE
Advertised Wait: 90 minutes
Time in Line: 11:31pm
In The Maze: 11:57pm
Actual Wait: 26 minutes
Yeah, this maze has seen some better days. This one never did it for me, especially as a HUGE fan of dark rides, I always felt like it was missing a certain charm. I still had a bit of fun, but none of the monsters went after me, so I mostly just looked around.
'F'

PUMPKIN EATER
Advertised Wait: 45 minutes
Time in Line: 12:12am
In The Maze: 12:17am
Actual Wait: 5 minutes
This maze always used to get me super good, so I was excited to check it out, even in hopefully what is its final year. And yeah, what a dud. No fog, barely any monsters, barely any effects or giant props working. It was like I basically just had a regular tour of the maze. If it was 2am and there was this little energy, I would understand, but the night still had 2 hours left, and the monsters that were there just seemed unenthusiastic. I almost wish I skipped it.
'F'

CALICO CANDY MOUNTAIN
Advertised Wait: 100 minutes
Time in Line: 12:36am

In The Maze: 1:10am
Actual Wait: 34 minutes
At this point, done with all the mazes, and trying to figure out which rides to go on and we saw this sporting a 100 minute wait but seeing the line, we knew that couldn't be right. Skipped out on the Log Ride since nobody wanted to get wet. But this was an odd surprise, as it was totally unannounced and seemed to happen overnight. No monsters, ofcourse, and it starts off friendly enough. There is a mood shift halfway through, but it never quite sticks the landing with the tone it built up. I was expecting something crazy at the end by the way it changed up on us, but nope. Oh yeah, and that song is catchy and I was very surprised to see how much they changed for this overlay. Would I say go out of your way to see this at no matter the costs? No, but I enjoyed it for what it was as a nice detour and sit down time.
'B'-

FINAL RIDES

Hit Beary Tales and Bumper Cars (with the monsters!) and then it was closing time, so went to Ghost Rider for the last ride of the night, per my usual ritual. We ended up leaving because at this point, we were dead tired. Most years I'd be bummed, but I have an AP this year, so I didn't care.

SCARE ZONES
Ghost Town is and always will be the best scarezone in the world. Nothing has changed here! Goreing 20s was interesting but needs more set design and fog. Forsaken Lake was empty-ish when I went through. Carnevil has never been my favorite and didn't seem like a whole lot was going on there this year. I don't think I spent enough time in Camp Snoopy to even know what was going on in there -- why isn't this The Gauntlet anymore again?


CONCLUSION

Anyway, yeaaaah... no. Even on HHN's worst year, I still don't think KSF holds a candle. However, they're both on a down year this year. Usually, KSF sucks for me, but it doesn't usually suck this bad. Even this year's best maze, Mesmer, I felt a little deflated by to some degree. For me, it all comes down to the intention of a scene and what's the scare in that room. I've always said, if KSF just bit the bullet and did trigger scares AND roaming monsters, they'd be king. One trigger scare per maze and maybe one giant monster prop effect just doesn't cut it for me. The monsters are always going for easy bait and sadly, I am not that person, and even when they do, a foot stomp isn't going to startle me. KSF is just sadly not my style. And vice versa, if HHN ever gets wise and added roaming monsters to their mazes, KSF will probably never recover. Even after skipping 2019 and being able to do nothing in 2020, I still almost felt like I wish I skipped this year and did HHN again instead. I'll be skipping next year for sure, let them get rid of HALF of these tired mazes (bye bye Paranormal, Dark Ride, Pumpkin Eater, Dark Entities -- they ALL need to go). I'm even hoping by that time, The Depths should be done and Wax Works along with Origins will be on their final seasons (wishful thinking, they most likely won't). So if KSF is your thing, you know what you're getting into and even if you love it, I have to say, there is NOTHING special about this year in particular. If KSF isn't your thing, feel free to sit it out and go to a new local haunt instead. If you're on the fence and have never been, I will never say "don't go here based on my preconceived notions of what makes something good", but I will say proceed with caution.

Anyway, meh.
'D'+
 
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Rideguy70

V.I.P.
Feb 17, 2016
1,184
Los Angeles
^I agree with most of your points, but there's one point I very much disagree on, and a very big thing your review doesn't mention at all: shows.

I feel that as a total package, Knott's by far the better deal. Scare Zones everywhere, great and detailed maze designs, interesting food options (even if the lines to get food are pretty bad/long/slow), and SHOWS.

We sprung for Fast/Fright Lane, since we only can make it to Knott's once this season, so we wanted to make the most out of our visit. It turned out to be a great value, because I don't think we waited more than 10 minutes for any maze the entire night... including repeats, we did 18 mazes in one night.

And we got to see 4 shows (forgive me as I don't remember all the names):
  • The 7 min dance show in Fiesta Village which, while short, was extremely entertain... a nice, quick diversion that doesn't take up a lot of your night. It was also nice to see a dance show that at least had a small connection to the holiday, even if it was just from costuming alone (lookin at the Jabawookees, who, while extremely talented, know full well they are peforming for a Halloween event don't even put on a single seasonal song or costume)
  • Wicked Drums, which I was a bit underwhelmed... the three drummers were fine, but they were accompanied by three female actors that we thought were eventually going to drum at some point, but never did, just were there for a storyline that went nowhere, despite their best efforts. Still, not a super long show, maybe 10-15 minutes, and it's nice to sit for a bit
  • Futuretronics. It's nice to see the Mystery Lodge being used again. Many of the pre-show scareactors are hilarious in a very low-key way, keep an eye on them. Lead actors were good, but the 2nd half of the show is just too much of the same, like it doesn't know when or how to end. But I definitely applaud them in their efforts to have something unique, which is Knott's best strength... they take risks, and while they may not always pay off, it's worth trying.
  • Puppet Up, which is always a fun time. I don't love it as much as others, and the quality of improv can always vary widely, but in general, they've been doing it long enough to know when to "kill" a sketch if it's not going anywhere, so the show keeps moving along quickly. I also enjoyed that they included a couple of non-improvised set pieces, one with an cool historical connection.
And in addition to the above, we also visited during the day to see the Bob Baker Marionettes, which was a great deal of fun, and the audience was totally eating it up. If you've never seen them before, I highly recommend. They're an LA institution that's been around since 1963, so they're doing something right! Which made me realize that between the day and night shows, Knott's has not just one, but TWO puppet shows running concurrently.

So for me, it's more about the total package. Having a variety of events to select (including some that allow you to sit for a while) from really make a difference. I didn't even get to mention the two live bands that were also playing at various times. With all that kinetic energy, it really shows why it's the leading Haunt event in the country, if you ask me.

Now, it's not all glowing. There's room for improvement. I do agree that many mazes are understaffed, and it's pretty easy (and sadly common) to be able to walk though nearly 1/2 of a maze and not see a single scareactor, which can be pretty fustrating. That isn't just COVID understaffing, this has been an issue for many, many year prior to COVID. And I also find the quality of the scareactors a little inconsistent--there's a fair number of them that just sort of phone it in. Additionally, it was also pretty dang crowded (we wanted to try to ride Ghostrider as well, but even the Fast Lane line looked to be at least 45-60 min--the Fast Lane line once backed up to Spurs, which is crazy long). Food lines are pretty bad, with many smaller places literally having only one window/server open for a huge line.

Still, despite shortcomings, if I had a friend who was looking for a haunt, but only wanted to do one, I'd have to go with Knott's more than USH. They'd get more bang for their buck.
 

DTH

Member
Nov 7, 2016
993
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do any shows. I wanted to see Futuretronics and Puppet Up, but nobody had any interest in Puppet Up. And all the showings died out a little earlier in the night (I think 11:30 was the last Puppet Up?). Also, I don't think I've ever been in a group where they were all down to get Front of the Line -- maybe one year I'll plan a day exclusively just for people who want to do that, but I don't think it'd be for KSF lol.

So for a regular GA, you kinda only have the mazes to go by and whatever luck you get with the 1-3 rides you can squeeze in. I like to judge these events more by what GA can get you, as that's what the regular guest (I'm guessing 90% of the crowds) will be able to pull off and see. I also know that I'd be highly dissatisfied paying any more than GA prices for these events, including HHN. The bang of the content just isn't worth the buck, even with the advantage of skipping lines.

Now if Disneyland ever started doing mazes.... best believe I'll drop $200-300 to skip some lines and do all the rides, shows, etc.. But that probably will never ever happen.
 

Jerroddragon

V.I.P.
Jun 27, 2017
2,646
So went with some friends and while we enjoyed the 4 Mazes we went on. I've got to say, these events seem impossible with out front of the line now. Every Maze was easily over 60 mins to 120 by 9 PM

I just wish they could make a system to funnel more people in, these events have been going on for 50 years and its the same as when they started.

But getting the bad out of the way Wax House, Paranomal Inc, Depths and the Space one were all fun.

Puppet up was a fun show only less funny at some points because the lack of imagination from people yelling stuff "humping" "sex act" yeah yeah we get it sex funny but my god their are other topics but the performers did great.

It was a fun night but really can't see me going back to any events without a front of the line....I mean for gods shake Jaguar had a 60 mins wait for that coaster?
 
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Stryker

Member
Feb 22, 2018
741
So Cal
To preface, I'm more of a horror/haunt fan than my attendance shows. Use to go a lot during high school/college, but my wife's a scaredy cat and my friends lost interest after college so I never really got to go as much as I wanted to. Was missing the scene badly so I went solo last night.

Did the Boo-fet. Definitely worth it as I was able to knock out the 4 backstage mazes by 7 pm. Mesmer was next with a 5 minute wait. Dark Ride next and was a walk-on. Origins had a posted 15-min wait, but was actually 30. That was the longest wait I had.

Was able to do all 8 mazes, 5 scare zones and 6 shows by 11 pm so the last 2 hours was just doing repeats which were all pretty much walk-ons. Definitely avoid Fridays and Saturdays if you can and go Thursdays or Sundays.

With all that being said, I didn't get scared at all the whole night. Got spooked or startled here and there, but that was it. The sliders in the scare zones were definitely the highlight of the night. I still had fun, but had no memorable scare.

Also, get your tickets on Travelzoo or MemberDeals. You'll save $5+ vs. buying direct from Knott's even with a passholder discount. The Boo-fet was more expensive than my KSF ticket. Haha.
 
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baconwhiskers

Newcomer
Sep 16, 2021
19
Went last night for the first time ever and as impressive as the maze sets and scarezone vibes were, they just don't do as good of a job scaring you as HHN in mazes. There's a lot more creativity in presentation in the mazes for sure, but Universal really has the pop up scare down. At Knotts, it feels like you just see a person in front of you by accident since there's a lack of energy, sound, lighting, or strobe. It also felt like there was a lack of scare actors in the mazes and there were so many good places to scare someone in every maze that just weren't used.

Origins is definitely the best maze and the only maze I found really worth doing more than once besides doing
path A and B at Paranormal Inc.
, but you have to get a good run of the effects for it to be good imo (
those air blasters got me good my 2nd run
). Paranormal Inc.'s intro and set pieces are really cool, it's a bummer they're getting rid of it over other ones, but I get that it's "old". Dark Ride has a really cool concept and was in my top 3 due to how fun it looked, but the lack of scares was a bummer. I thought Mesmer was really overhyped, I even got a solo run in and really only got 3 scares which is a bummer since there were so many places they could've gotten you. I've also seen better uses of those trippy tunnels and the illusion tricks at HHN Orlando and some haunted house in Atlanta.
I didn't see that clip of the chair floating that's been hyped on social media either.

Puppet Up was really cool and honestly my favorite thing at Scary Farm, I love improv so seeing a puppet version of that was fun. People do need to suggest more than sexual topics, but I felt they did a good job of spinning bad improv topics. The actors at the pre-show of Invitation of Terror was the best part about it.

If you're going on a Sunday, the mazes don't have bad lines at all and I was able to either wait 10 minutes or walk on, but the ride lines were long. However, if you don't like annoying high schoolers, I wouldn't recommend Sunday at all. It kinda ruined my night in portions with all the 10+ person per group line skipping and lack of spatial awareness. Definitely don’t go if COVID is a concern, it’s like pre-COVID times at Scary Farm.

Overall, I recommend going for sure if you’ve never been, but don’t expect the same level or type of scaring as HHN in mazes.
 
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deadbydawn

Member
Mar 23, 2015
607
Orange County, CA
^I agree with most of your points, but there's one point I very much disagree on, and a very big thing your review doesn't mention at all: shows.

I feel that as a total package, Knott's by far the better deal. Scare Zones everywhere, great and detailed maze designs, interesting food options (even if the lines to get food are pretty bad/long/slow), and SHOWS.

We sprung for Fast/Fright Lane, since we only can make it to Knott's once this season, so we wanted to make the most out of our visit. It turned out to be a great value, because I don't think we waited more than 10 minutes for any maze the entire night... including repeats, we did 18 mazes in one night.

And we got to see 4 shows (forgive me as I don't remember all the names):
  • The 7 min dance show in Fiesta Village which, while short, was extremely entertain... a nice, quick diversion that doesn't take up a lot of your night. It was also nice to see a dance show that at least had a small connection to the holiday, even if it was just from costuming alone (lookin at the Jabawookees, who, while extremely talented, know full well they are peforming for a Halloween event don't even put on a single seasonal song or costume)
  • Wicked Drums, which I was a bit underwhelmed... the three drummers were fine, but they were accompanied by three female actors that we thought were eventually going to drum at some point, but never did, just were there for a storyline that went nowhere, despite their best efforts. Still, not a super long show, maybe 10-15 minutes, and it's nice to sit for a bit
  • Futuretronics. It's nice to see the Mystery Lodge being used again. Many of the pre-show scareactors are hilarious in a very low-key way, keep an eye on them. Lead actors were good, but the 2nd half of the show is just too much of the same, like it doesn't know when or how to end. But I definitely applaud them in their efforts to have something unique, which is Knott's best strength... they take risks, and while they may not always pay off, it's worth trying.
  • Puppet Up, which is always a fun time. I don't love it as much as others, and the quality of improv can always vary widely, but in general, they've been doing it long enough to know when to "kill" a sketch if it's not going anywhere, so the show keeps moving along quickly. I also enjoyed that they included a couple of non-improvised set pieces, one with an cool historical connection.
And in addition to the above, we also visited during the day to see the Bob Baker Marionettes, which was a great deal of fun, and the audience was totally eating it up. If you've never seen them before, I highly recommend. They're an LA institution that's been around since 1963, so they're doing something right! Which made me realize that between the day and night shows, Knott's has not just one, but TWO puppet shows running concurrently.

So for me, it's more about the total package. Having a variety of events to select (including some that allow you to sit for a while) from really make a difference. I didn't even get to mention the two live bands that were also playing at various times. With all that kinetic energy, it really shows why it's the leading Haunt event in the country, if you ask me.

Now, it's not all glowing. There's room for improvement. I do agree that many mazes are understaffed, and it's pretty easy (and sadly common) to be able to walk though nearly 1/2 of a maze and not see a single scareactor, which can be pretty fustrating. That isn't just COVID understaffing, this has been an issue for many, many year prior to COVID. And I also find the quality of the scareactors a little inconsistent--there's a fair number of them that just sort of phone it in. Additionally, it was also pretty dang crowded (we wanted to try to ride Ghostrider as well, but even the Fast Lane line looked to be at least 45-60 min--the Fast Lane line once backed up to Spurs, which is crazy long). Food lines are pretty bad, with many smaller places literally having only one window/server open for a huge line.

Still, despite shortcomings, if I had a friend who was looking for a haunt, but only wanted to do one, I'd have to go with Knott's more than USH. They'd get more bang for their buck.
This is almost exactly how I feel as well. Your shortcomings list is dead on. The operations at the park have been an issue for a long, long time during the day and at Scary Farm. I really hope they can manage to get that under control.

All in all, it's been my favorite event since I started going in the early 00's but really in the last 7 or 8 years they have jumped into a higher tier, IMO. I really enjoy Horror Nights as well for different reasons. I think if you put the two up against each other, it's just not really a fair comparison in almost any way.
 

Chris Galindo

Veteran Member
Feb 22, 2015
2,592
LA
Controversial opinion, I've always felt Fright Fest did a better job at scaring guests than Knotts did lol. KSF scare actors break characters so easily and feel more inclined to have a good time with the guests rather than leave them uncomfortable.
 

DTH

Member
Nov 7, 2016
993
In a very weird and ironic way, I wish I could see HHN tackle Origins. It'd be so meta that it'd be brilliant.
 

Jerroddragon

V.I.P.
Jun 27, 2017
2,646
Controversial opinion, I've always felt Fright Fest did a better job at scaring guests than Knotts did lol. KSF scare actors break characters so easily and feel more inclined to have a good time with the guests rather than leave them uncomfortable.
Go to Fright Fest this year and say that. Fright Fest just has 1.3 the normal actors and I don't care how "good" some of them are their are not enough for the crowds of people and Knotts by far is a much better event
 
Go to Fright Fest this year and say that. Fright Fest just has 1.3 the normal actors and I don't care how "good" some of them are their are not enough for the crowds of people and Knotts by far is a much better event
Agreed, actors were lacking at six flags in numbers and training this year, HHN cast was strong af imo, haven't done KSF but expecting good to great