Universal Studios challenges Knott's for Halloween domination
The park is extending its Halloween Horror Nights and relying on its movie connections to knock Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt from its monster perch.
The Halloween battle of the theme parks has begun. ¶ For decades, Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt has reigned supreme as Southern California's ultimate theme park for Halloween frights. The Buena Park amusement park started the after-hours tradition more than 30 years ago and is credited with inventing the Halloween mazes duplicated by theme parks nationwide. ¶ But this year, officials at Universal Studios Hollywood say they are extending that park's Halloween Horror Nights and relying heavily on its movie connections to knock Knott's from its monster perch. ¶ "At the end of the day, we hope to provide the best scare," said Xiomara Wiley, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Universal Studios Hollywood. ¶ Although nearly every amusement park in Southern California ramps up for Halloween at this time of year, Universal Studios and Knott's stand out. ¶ Each hires hundreds of temporary actors, charges a separate fee for the after-hours Halloween attractions and adds elaborate displays, including mazes, fog machines and stages for stunt shows and magic acts. ¶ "The tradition at Knott's Berry Farm and the quality has kept them No. 1," said Larry Kirchner, a spokesman for the Haunted House Assn. a national group based in North Carolina that promotes businesses with "haunted" or Halloween themes. "Universal is constantly trying to catch up to them."