By 1980, the price of admission to Knott’s Halloween Haunt had more than doubled since its 1973 inauguration. It was still only $8.75 a ticket, but it meant more than change back from a ten. As the print ads proudly touted, the event had truly become “The world’s largest and scariest Halloween Party.”
In the tradition of Sinister Seymour, Southern California celebrities kept providing the star-power. Legendary DJ Wolfman Jack, the first to ever distribute his own show coast-to-coast, brought his gravel-throated gravitas to the party. Parody radio pioneer Dr. Demento and his young discovery, “Weird Al” Yankovic, balanced out the spooky with the silly. Budding horror host Elvira, in a revival of Seymour’s original Fright Night program on KHJ-TV, made her first of many appearances at Knott’s Halloween Haunt in 1982. By the end of the decade, her appearances would be accompanied by a fleet of Elvira-branded pinball machines.
It wasn’t just the stars that got bigger, either. In 1980, Halloween Haunt featured two mazes. By 1989, it boasted seven. The scares got more elaborate by the year, the themes more daring. 1988’s Bait’s Motel stopped just shy of copyright infringement, but still subjected guests to a homicidal motor lodge inhabited by men with gray fright wigs and oversized kitchen knives. The Hanging found its pop culture fangs in 1989, inspired by special appearances from Freddy Krueger and Beetlejuice. Even as copycats like Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags came for the crown, the ‘80s only confirmed what the ‘70s already proved - Knott’s Scary Farm was king.
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