The Minds Behind Knott's Scary Farm
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The Minds Behind Knott's Scary Farm

Buena Park is home to Southern California's largest theme park event, Knott's Scary Farm. Each year, guests are transported into their nightmares for the evening, with shocking mazes, scare zones, and seasonal ride overlays. Throughout the year, maze designers at Knott's Berry Farm work tirelessly to develop innovative new ways to send chills down your spine. We spoke with a few of the minds behind Scary Farm's 49th frightful year.
Tooth Fairy at Knott's Scary Farm
Daniel Miller, Scenic Designer
When Daniel Miller was a teenager, he made it a point to attend Knott's Scary Farm each year. By 1994, he had immersed himself in the haunt as a Maze Monster in House of Maniacs. After taking a break to earn his Master in Fine Arts in Scenic Design from NYU, he returned to Knott's in 1998 and has been there ever since.

"To become a designer, you should have a good grasp of scenic design," said Miller. "But most of all, you should have a vivid imagination." Miller explained that much of his inspiration comes from movies, video games, nightmares, and urban legends. His biggest achievements when it comes to maze designing have been when he has combined two seemingly opposing ideas together to create a frightening new concept. He came up with the idea for Tooth Fairy after a visit to the dentist and pondering on the idea of a supernatural being coming by to pick up lost teeth.
Pumpkin Eater! at Knott's Scary Farm
Tyler Scrivner, Scenic Designer
Knowing he wanted to have a career in theme park design, Tyler Scrivner went on to receive his Masters from UC Irvine where their entertainment design program has a significant theme park component. He now uses these skills to "conceive the kinds of mazes that [he] would want to see if [he] was coming to this park as a paying guest." His thought process is always to come up with something that has not been done before.

Scrivner's most crucial piece of advice to give for Knott's Scary Farm guests would be to save the rides for another time. "Most rides will be here all year, but mazes and holiday overlays are only for Scary Farm! Come see them while you still can," said Scrivner. Along with his fellow maze designers, he is most excited to see guest reactions to the next mazes, Bloodline 1842 and The Grimoire. But his favorite maze is Pumpkin Eater! because of its ultra-macabre environment.
The Grimoire at Knott's Scary Farm
Jon Asperin, Scenic Designer
After working as a graffiti artist, extreme sports park manager, and consultant on Activision's Call of Duty franchise, Jon Asperin was asked to join the Knott's Scary Farm team to develop Special Ops: Infected. During his time working in the airsoft industry, he developed a zombie shooting experience for the Halloween season called Zombie Killhouse. From there, he was introduced to the management team at Knott's and the rest is history.

Asperin's favorite part about being a maze designer is creating an entirely new concept for the haunt. "Every year, the creative team goes through a number of pitch sessions in which we are given the opportunity to present a new maze concept," said Asperin. The maze design team then follows the formula of pinpointing a narrative or theme, determining the location of maze, and deciding whether they will follow or create a trend. "Our fans are the best in the world and have some of the most honest voices," said Asperin. "Keeping an ear to their voice while simultaneously navigating and finding the right concepts is what makes Scary Farm unique and fresh."

He is also ready to see guests experience The Grimoire and Bloodline 1842 mazes at this year's haunt. He contributed his expertise to these mazes that have been years in the making and is profoundly proud of the final product.
Bloodline 1842 at Knott's Scary Farm
Timothy "Gus" Krueger, Scenic Designer
Timothy "Gus" Krueger's story with Knott's Scary Farm began when he became a scare actor during the 2000 haunt season. He eventually moved onto the production team as a carpenter and then as lead of the props department. "After five years of running the props crew, an opportunity arose in the design office and I stuck my foot in the door and have never looked back," said Krueger.

He explains that his inspiration for new frights comes from every part of life and all methods of storytelling. "Once I've found an idea that inspires me, I find the thread that can be distorted and twist it into the stuff of nightmares to torture and delight our guests," said Krueger. He too agrees that The Grimoire and Bloodline 1842 are must-sees in 2022, as so much time and dedication have been put into them.

Krueger's tip for visiting the haunt would be to come on a weekday or Sunday, and be on time. Newer mazes will have longer lines so those are the best to hit first. It's also key to save dinner and snacking for later on in the night when lines tend to get longer. "Most important of all, keep your eyes on a swivel for the creatures that lurk in the dark," warned Krueger.
Buena Park, California transforms into a town of terror offering several Halloween events, including the biggest in the world, Knott's Scary Farm. After a long night of thrills, R.I.P. with discounted hotels perfect for every guest…dead or alive. We invite you to pick your poison or create a monster marathon and enjoy them ALL! Check out our full guide of Halloween Happenings in SoCal’s Halloween Spooky Town.

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