2015 Scary Farm Special Ops: Infected Review and Park Update

Special Ops Infected - Patient Zero (photo courtesy Knott's)

Special Ops Infected – Patient Zero (photo courtesy Knott’s)

Returning for the second year, Knott’s Scary Farm storms the park with Special Ops: Infected, Patient Zero. With a six acre field of play, this interactive role-playing game has guests armed with laser weapons fighting off a zombie invasion. Last year, the area was divided into two sections, but this time the expanded attraction has been combined to make one longer mission with more zombies!

To play, guests must pick up a timed and dated entry card from the main gate for the attraction, to the right of the Knott’s entrance plaza. To keep queue lines manageable, there are limited spaces available.

Infected line card, photo Folwell

Infected line card, photo Folwell

Entry times book quickly and do sell out, so make this your first stop of the night. Once you have your card, you can enjoy the rest of the park and come back to check in a few minutes early. I had an arrival time of 9pm and was taken into the gate on time. Once inside, there is a line for guests to pick up weapons and receive mission instructions. This line took about 30 minutes and felt much faster.

Guns have been upgraded and have high-tech laser technology which keeps track of kill streaks and more. I was escorted into a tent in a group of twelve where the first of our Squad Leaders joined us and explained the trigger, red reload button, and blue health lights on the gun.

Game play is fast and fun. As zombies approach, you take them out with a head shot and sensors light up green (I think this is how Kills are registered). Most of the game takes place running through a variety of terrains. Squad Leaders took us over a sloshing barrel bridge, through a cave, and into buildings as we searched for “patient zero” and the DNA to complete our mission.

Squad Leader, photo Folwell

Squad Leader, photo Folwell

For gamers, it would have been nice to understand the display panel on the side of the gun. At the start of the game it reads K: *** D: *** S: ***. By the end, I figured out that “K” stands for “Kills” which helps you to get your name on the leader board at the exit (Leader for the night had 15 Kills).

I had 2 Kills recorded when I reached the base, but at one time while playing I had 7… Randomly, my gun displayed “auto re-spawn” (is that what “S” stands for?) and it wiped out my Kills… So, try not to die! Does the “S” stand for “Spawn”? And the “D” stand for “Death” or “Die”? I really had no clue. At a break in the mission, the Squad Leader told us we could shoot a panel on the wall to get an automatic weapon upgrade, most did, but it felt like it didn’t matter because we weren’t clear about the rules of gameplay.

It seems a shame that Knott’s has invested in such wicked weapons and then doesn’t fully explain their capabilities to the guests. While waiting inside the tent to start the game, I watched a video which shows game play and looks very exciting. This missed opportunity had a captive audience and would have been the perfect time to explain all of the weapon features. On the course, words popped up on my screen and numbers went up and down, but after a few minutes, I just ignored it because I didn’t understand what they meant and… wait… look out… ZOMBIES… RUN!!!

Even without the display, the game is super fun and included with your Scary Farm ticket. There is no upcharge to play. I definitely recommend giving it a (head) shot!

KSF Update

The Dead of Winter (photo courtesy Knott's)

The Dead of Winter (photo courtesy Knott’s)

When I previously visited the park on Opening Night, I found that the new maze The Dead of Winter left me cold. When I returned on Sunday 10/11, I decided to give it another chance and I’m so glad I did. In the two weeks since I first saw this maze, the team at Knott’s have totally turned it around. I’m not allowed to discuss details inside the Skeleton Key rooms, but from the second I stepped inside, this felt like a completely altered maze. The Skeleton Key room animations are much scarier and the shocking ending had everyone in my group screaming.

Inside, the cold air is still blasting, but walls have been replaced with icy mirrors (possibly borrowed from the popular “Mirror Mirror” maze a few years ago). This works. It’s immediately disorienting and the mirrors feel perfectly right in the wintry setting. A chilling surprise, in the middle of the maze, it’s snowing! An effect that is magical and helps to distract guests from the monsters waiting to scare them. Rooms have been redecorated, effects added, monsters moved around. It’s a remarkably brisk accomplishment in a short amount of time and shows how dedicated the team at Knott’s is to making sure the frosty frights are cool. I was truly impressed. This maze went from a dud to one of my favorites at the park. Amazing!

Forevermore (photo courtesy Knott's)

Forevermore (photo courtesy Knott’s)

On Opening night, I wasn’t able to make it to Forevermore, so on Sunday I had a chance to walk through the creepy crime scenes and literary scrawls inspired by Edgar Allen Poe. Always one of my favorites, this maze now has a Skeleton Key room where you meet the Forevermore Killer. I think this is a much needed addition to a maze where there is plenty of gore and  intricately twisted sets, but the serial killer responsible is noticeably missing. Another maze which has improved over time, this one lacks monsters, but makes up for it with creatively designed lighting and an ominous soundtrack. Don’t miss this one, Forevermore has been around for a while and may be heading to the morgue soon…

Voyage to the Iron Reef - photo courtesy Knott's

Voyage to the Iron Reef – photo courtesy Knott’s

Overall, the monsters seemed to have settled into their roles and the whole haunt was crackling. As a side note, ride lines during Scary Farm were very short, so this is a great opportunity to check out the new 3D interactive shooting ride, Voyage to the Iron Reef. I waited less than five minutes for this ride which usually has lines over an hour on weekends. This ride is silly Steampunk fun and I’m not sure if it was because my adrenaline was already pumping, but the metallic monsters from the deep had me screaming!

Knott’s Scary Farm runs select days through October 31st.

For tickets and information visit KnottsScaryFarm.com