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A Frightacular Night at Knott’s Scary Farm.
Even though we strive to inspire travelers to discover and explore locations outside of the norm, we at Immersion Travel Magazine know that visiting popular sites like Disney Land and the Grand Canyon are also on many travelers’ schedules. That’s why it’s important to know how to travel to such places responsibly and set an example for others while having a great time. With this goal in mind, we decided to investigate Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween event, Knott’s Scary Farm.
The sun had slid below the horizon before Knott's Scary Farm opened its doors for patrons. We parked the car and walked the long path to the main gates where we were briefly searched and checked for weapons and snacks. As soon as we pushed through the metal gates we knew we were in for a frightful night. Not one minute after entering the park, a huge green witch crept up behind me and screamed in my ear. I hollered and jumped back onto its toe. It screeched in a mannish voice before running away. I steeled myself for further encounters.
Every few minutes, we were confronted by a ghoul that had either painted its face with an intricate and often violent design or covered its face with a mask that had been twisted and warped with a long beak, angry expression or gaping mouth. Each character wore layers of torn and stained thrift shop clothing that appeared all the more menacing when shrouded in a dry ice fog. Many of the troubled souls carried noise makers such as broken horns, pots and pans, chains, and saws. These things would rattle or screech in our ears if we came too close. If a character found itself without an ear-splitting instrument to poke in our faces, they used other things to unhinge the nerves such as twelve inch claws, broken bones, or bloody axes; one bold teenager learned that if you insult a ghoul, you’ll get chased relentlessly through the park until you either get captured or run into the women's restroom. One of my favorite antics to observe involved a ghoul diving from a shadowy corner and sliding on hands and knees across the path in front of screaming patrons. The protective metal plates strapped to the performer’s knuckles and knees would send sparks flying in all directions as they scraped across the asphalt.
With dozens of fiends jumping out from dark corners and skidding across pathways, the evening succeeded in inducing goose bumps, urges to run away screaming and heart palpitations. Chris mentioned early on that it would have been fortuitous for the theme park to sell extra sets of underwear or "Fright Diapers."
One thing that helped us keep our heads as we investigated the five haunted mazes hidden in the park was that the performers were not allowed to touch the patrons. They could nearly miss us while running across our path, blow pockets of air at us from toy guns, pick at our clothes, breath down the backs of our necks, and spray fake blood at us, but they couldn't actually touch us. This made walking through slaughter houses, witch castles, magic theaters, puppet houses, and Edgar Allan Poe’s mansion a little less intimidating.
While we enjoyed the horrific whimsy of the night, our main purpose was to assess the level of sustainability at the park. Unfortunately, we weren't impressed. No recycling bins. No mechanisms to conserve water in restrooms, restaurants or rides. Little effort was spent to conserve paper as paper towel dispensers were found in many bathrooms. Minimal options for conserving waste (drink and food containers were rarely recyclable and reusable containers were expensive). We were told by an attendant that Knott’s sorts and recycles all trash, but this has not been confirmed. While we hope that all theme parks will fully embrace environmental and social responsibility in the near future, we know that much of the change will first have to come from us as visitors. Here are a few things we discovered we could do to lessen our environmental impact:
1. Enjoy a meal outside of the facility before beginning your adventure. This will not only save you lots of money, but will cut down on waste that would be thrown away at the park. There is a lovely park area outside of Knott’s that would be perfect for a pre-adventure picnic.
2. If you get hungry or wind up expelling the contents of your stomach after riding the Sierra Sidewinder, try to order items that come in recyclable containers such as popcorn, turkey legs, or hot dogs wrapped in aluminum foil. Also, be aware that Knott’s does not allow visitors to bring their own snacks. If you have a dietary restriction, plan ahead.
3. Take a small towel or cloth napkin with you to dry your hands after using the restroom or for mopping butter off your fingers after scarfing down a bucket of popcorn. This will save quite a few sheets of paper.
4. Bring a water bottle and fill it at drinking fountains. If you are dead set on drinking something more adventurous, then consider purchasing a reusable cup at any of the food stands.
5. Check the labels on the merchandise at gift shops and carnival booths. Were they made ethically by local communities or did they come from an unknown source in China or Indonesia?
6. To be sure that your recyclables are in fact being recycled, store them in a trash bag in your backpack or shoulder bag and dispose them in a marked receptacle outside the park.
7. Be prepared: Bring a hat, sunscreen, sweater, umbrella (or poncho), and maybe even a spare change of clothes in case the weather decides to get the best of you. This will save you from having to spend more money on essentials at the gift shop.
8. Speak up. If there is anything you see or experience that you think is harming the environment or the well-being of communities, let someone know. The more we speak up, the more poignant the message will be.