A little more than two weeks before Knott’s Scary Farm’s opening night, the technical team worked on sanding the sign for the entryway of the park’s newest scare zone, Forsaken Lake.
The last piece of the construction puzzle, the sign — and the rest of the scare zone elements — would then all be ready for that final rush when the props, lighting, fog and monsters are set in motion for when the theme park turns scary on Sept. 20.
Knott’s Scary Farm’s creative team promises a more immersive experience throughout the park, with scares at every corner. Forsaken Lake, a scare zone set around the lake underneath the Silver Bullet roller coaster, makes its debut, along with new mazes, including the cave-themed The Depths and Dark Entities, featuring an extraterrestrial mutation invading a space station.
There’s only been one other time in Knott’s Scary Farm’s history when the area was used as a scare zone, before Silver Bullet was built, said Knott’s Entertainment Designer Daniel Miller.
“Once we put in Silver Bullet, it really brightened up the area, and it was hard to do a scare zone,” Miller said.
But when the Knott’s Scary Farm entertainment masterminds started toying with the idea of darkening the roller coaster lighting, the scare zone idea came into play.
“And we really like to use the area’s theming to choose themes,” Miller said. “So obviously, it’s right next to a lake, which Silver Bullet is suspended over, so we decided to really push this lake theme. We’re going very nautical this year.”
The scare zone inspiration is a mixture of Victorian cemetery and voodoo themes — “kind of Victorian waterlogged,” according to Miller.
“Forsaken Lake is a cemetery that in its full glory was Victorian, which has the coolest architecture and the coolest costumes, and was placed by a town and city that often flooded,” Miller said. “So the banks of the river would overflow and flood into this cemetery, which would raise up the dead and create havoc, create this scare zone. So it’s a little bit voodoo-orientated … a famous area of the United States is New Orleans and they’re famous for having their cemeteries below water level.”
The creators say it is unique in its theatrical show and heightened immersive elements, including a funeral procession utilizing props and monster talent, and syncing of music and lighting to create a story line.
“There’s also a sense of dynamic music and dynamic lighting that will change throughout the evening, that you can come in one time in the zone, and it’ll be pretty different than any other time you come into the zone,” said Miller.
The costumes and lighting also complement each other.
“The costumes actually drove the color palette,” said Miller, adding that colors include blue and green shimmering accents.
Lighting Designer Natalia Solorio said the lighting is used to implement the pigmented colors into the scenic elements, as well as the costuming and the monsters.
“It’s definitely a theatrical zone, kind of inspired by some of the things that we did in our other scare zone, The Hollow,” she said. “We used some elements from that in terms of lighting.”
Prop master Jennifer Hernandez said she enjoyed creating the greenery.
“Trees are already out there,” she said. “So we need to make artificial trees and greenery, but they have to complement the real ones that are there. So I really like making that feel more dense, and it is a challenge because we are surrounded by the real thing, so we kind of have to, you know, really push it so it’s convincing, so our stuff doesn’t stand out and look silly.”
Of course once all the elements are put in place, it is up to the monsters to bring them to life. Technical director Paul Marshman started out as a monster at the park, and actually worked in the scare zone, then called The Swamp, in 2001, the last time that area was used.
“Being able to create this new world is exciting,” he said. “There’s so much that they’ll be able to use within the atmosphere that we’re creating.”
Jessica Peralta is a contributor to Times Community News.
If You Go
What: Knott’s Scary Farm
When: Sept. 20 to Oct. 31
Where: Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
Cost: Tickets start at $42.