If you ask most people, walking around an unfamiliar, foggy monster-infested town at night is about as high on their list of priorities as hand-feeding an alligator while blindfolded. Yes, it’s a manufactured scare. Yes, it’s not real. But a well-executed scare bypasses the I know it’s not real and goes straight for the primitive fight-or-flight response. Most people… well, they find that feeling unpleasant. They avoid it.
Most people. Not everyone.
Not the people who do actually line up every year to have the living daylights scared out of them… on purpose.
These are the people who look forward to chatting with murderous ghosts while in line at the Boo-fet, or seeing live haunts ratchet up the tension in Ghost Town.
These brave souls pack the entrance kiosks to Knott’s Scary Farm every year, willing to hand over a bit of their sanity along with their admission price.
Even among these hardy folks, a lot of them only go once, maybe twice a season. But some people are in it for the long haul.
Call them brave, call them foolhardy, call them adrenaline-junkies… just don’t call them quitters.
These hard-core Scare fans are the kind of dedicated horror aficionado that willingly walks into a live terror zone night after night. The kind of people who actively seek out Fear, text it where to meet them for coffee, and catch up on gossip over a Venti latte before going for their nightly Knott’s Scary Farm run.
People who find Knott’s Scary Farm so compelling that they make it part of their lives.
People like Mackenzie, a local artist whose creations reflect her love of all things Scary Farm.
We were lucky enough to catch up with MacKenzie during this season’s Knott’s Scary Farm and ask her a few questions about what brings her back to the annual Haunt at Knott’s Scary Farm year after year.
Hey, MacKenzie! Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell me how long you’ve been attending Knott’s Scary Farm?
You’re welcome! I first went to Knott’s Scary Farm in 2017. 2019 was my third season attending.
Wow. That’s a lot of scares! What do you find attractive or compelling enough to go year after year?
The actors and new mazes are what draw me in. This season, I went all twenty-six nights because I didn’t want to miss out on any monster shenanigans. Every year things change up, and it’s so cool to see the event evolve.
All twenty-six nights? That’s incredible! I imagine that means that you know the park pretty well. Knowing it as well as you do, do you still get scared?
Most definitely. This year scared me more than all the previous years I’ve gone. That was mostly due to the fact that I know a lot of the actors—and they figured out what scares me.
Ooooh. What’s your favorite scare zone?
Ghost Town Streets. The lore, the lighting, the fog, and the characters all work together so seamlessly. It’s the most immersive place in the park.
You mentioned knowing a lot of the performers. How many monster actors do you know?
Oh, too many to count! I have met most of Ghost Town, which is about ninety people, plus a whole lot more monsters from other zones! Some monsters I have become really good friends with.
That must make Knotts Scary Farm much more personal for you. Do you know what draws the actors to do what they do every year?
The guests. There are guests that support the event by showing up as many nights as they can (I am one of them). There’s also the fact that scaring can be a venting technique for a lot of people. I’ve heard some of them call it their “yearly therapy”.
How hard is it to be a street monster? Is it different from being a maze monster?
As I am not a monster, I will go off observations and things I’ve been told.
In a maze, you can hide easily. There are rooms and scenes and a cohesive storyline. Think of a maze as a short film that you walk through with sets and actors.
Street monsters are seen all the time. Sometimes they can hide, but for the most part as a street actor, you are seen easily. This means that scare tactics become more creative. Sliding, crawling, running… there’s so much you can do on streets.
Street actors can definitely put on more of a show than maze monsters since they’re not confined to a room. Oh yeah, being a street monster also means you will walk a lot!
I’ve seen your art pieces. You’re a very talented artist! What’s your favorite art piece that you’ve managed to create from your monster experiences and why?
I have so many—but I really like the design I made for Merchandise, along with a few others!
This one is the one that’s in the art show:
I even drew something inspired by my favorite moment from this year’s Knott’s Scary Farm.
One of the monsters gave me one of his costume pieces on the last night of the season. He wears a blindfold, and he took it off and gave it to me. It was a very cool moment, and not gonna lie, it made me tear up a bit.
Sounds like it’s not just the Hollywood-level special effects, the creepy music, or the fog that makes Knott’s Scary Farm so attractive. It’s the human element of the talented, dedicated monster actors, and the guests themselves, that make Knott’s Scary Farm into Orange County’s screamingly hot ticket attraction every year.
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Kelly Smith is a freelance writer living in Southern California with one dog, two cats, two guinea pigs… and the rest of her family. She writes about Orange County, faith, family, special needs and tea, and world-builds science fiction universes on the side. Find her at www.bluerosecopywriting.com.