Knott’s Berry Farm Celebrates 40 Years of Haunt With New Museum

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Friday. August 31st, was a special day at Knott’s Berry Farm. As the sun began its descent and dipped down behind the buildings and stores of Calico Ghost Town, a lucky group of press, bloggers, fans and staff members gathered in front of a corner building on School House Road.

1973 School House Road, to be exact, which clever fans of Knott’s Scary Farm may have already realized is a reference to the very first Halloween Haunt in October of 1973.

The building we all waited so eagerly to enter was originally known as Mother Murphy’s Boarding House many years prior. Over the decades it has been the location of various other shops, but as of September 1st it has become the home of the 40th Anniversary Haunt Museum. The exterior of the building is now host to spiderwebs with flickering jack-o-lanterns perched upon the porch roof and a chain hanging across the front steps.

As we stood waiting for the ceremonial “chain cutting” to take place, friends and co-workers eager to share with us their hard work mingled about smiling and shaking hands. This was a labor of love much like the Halloween Haunt itself, and you could tell many amongst the crowd were excited for us to get our first glimpse of the museum proper.

Finally the door opened, and after a round of introductions Jeff (who headed up the team that put the exhibit together) cut the chain, officially opening the museum. Fittingly the first guests to enter were Gary Salisbury, Jim Mayfield and John Waite, who had worked on the very first Haunt in 1973 and were in attendance as honored guests in celebration of the momentous occasion.

On display are some incredible pieces from the Haunt’s past. Props, promotional materials, vintage tickets, concept art, and some great photos from behind the scenes have been collected together and cataloged for fans to appreciate as they walk through the exhibit. There is also a very well done video running on a large screen with various interviews playing in multiple segments that supplements the showcase very well.

Some of you may be wondering how this year can be the 40th Anniversary if the first Haunt took place in the fall of 1973. The answer to that is pretty simple and also may be a clue as to why the Museum opens a month before the Haunt.

While it is true that the first Halloween Haunt took place in October of 1973, only the die hard fans can tell you that the event was originally planned to take place the year before. It all began 40 years ago this month, September 1972, with a phone call from Gary Blair to Bill Hollingshead, who at the time was the Director of Entertainment for Knott’s Barry Farm. In an upcoming piece I will be going into more detail of the humble beginnings of Haunt. The gist of the story is while they planned to host the event in October of 1972, Bill and others quickly realized there was little time to properly plan for it so the show was rescheduled for the following year.

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Jon Condit

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  • James Coker

    sadly they got rid of Doll Factory and Cornstalkers 🙁 Im gonna miss my scarecrows

  • James Coker

    every year my Family and I go to Knotts Scary Farms Halloween Haunt and we always have a blast. we always end up going through each maze at least twice! cant wait for this year. there having a evil marrionette pinnochio maze, a Halloween Holiday style maze and an EVIL DEAD maze!