The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County (No. 2)

Want to scare yourself silly this October? Then join me for OC Metroblog’s five-part series, featuring the scariest, most demented, creepiest theme park attractions in our neck of the woods. It’s just in time for Halloween!

Number Two: Black Widow’s Cavern (Calico Mine Ride)


You shouldn’t be surprised to find an offering from Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt towards the top of this list. The 36 year old annual event is the largest Halloween party of it’s kind in the world. Part theme park, part roadside attraction and part disgusting bloody mess – Halloween Haunt has come to define how modern theme parks celebrate the spookiest of holidays. When it comes to the specific attraction, the web site says “Dare to enter the old, abandoned mine, now overrun by deadly spiders. Get caught in the web of the horrific arachnids as you travel the train of terror on the old miner’s path of doom.”

What the hell does that mean? It doesn’t really matter does it? The haunted theme for the Calico Mine Ride changes every couple of years but the scares just keep on coming. This was the very first dark ride built inside of America’s (very) First Theme Park. It came online waaaaaaaaaaay back in 1960, five years after Disneyland flung open it’s doors. The rest of the year the venerable mine ride is nothing more than a cheesy and enjoyable journey of nostalgia but each Halloween it devolves into something far more frightening.

Imagine hopping in a mine train with open-seating and your back is facing away from all the action. Now imagine there are giant drooling fang-laden spiders and disgusting undead bloody zombie-spider-people literally crawling into the mine car with you. Not scary enough? How do you feel about the dark pitch black? What just brushed by your face? Was that a spider or a bat? Or was it something else?

So why does it make the top five? Because nobody does a pop-up scare like Knott’s Scary Farm. What’s only hinted at in the grave yard sequence in the Haunted Mansion comes to fruition in the Calico Mine Ride. If you have a fear of arachnids or a fear of ax-weilding freaks who jump out of the darkness into your lap while literally trying to lick your face, then you should probably avoid Black Widow’s Cavern (Calico Mine Ride) at all costs.

One of the scariest prospects is trying to figure out which gory piles of decimated human flesh throughout the attraction are real actors and which ones are mannequins or dummies. Of course the only way to find out for sure is to take a good long close look as you roll past; when one of them comes to life in an attempt to eat your face (causing you to wet yourself), you’ll know you’ve found an actor.

Part of what makes the scares so effective is the slow-moving nature of this attraction. You can’t run, you can’t hide and you can’t make a dash for the emergency exit. Unlike the rest of the mazes at Knott’s, you’re trapped in this mine car for the entire duration of the ride! Try as you may to avoid it, some revolting creature is going to slither past the back of your neck at some point. {{Shudder}}

I toyed with idea of calling the entire Halloween Haunt an “attraction” but in the end cooler heads prevailed and I made a choice that was more in keeping with the spirit of this series. Take note: this is the only attraction on the list that is part of a holiday overlay. If you have never been to Knott’s Halloween Haunt (seriously – everyone has been at least once) then be forewarned: it’s graphic, it’s gory and it’s terrifying. The performers at this event look and smell like renaissance fair enthusiasts, and that’s not a compliment. Also there is the real possibility that if the sociopathic performers don’t get you the old decrepit attraction you’re riding will fall apart at any moment. Nothing ruins a night of frightful fun like the very real fear of a gruesome accidental death on an aging dark-ride.

[Click here to read the Number Three pick for The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County]

2 Comments so far

  1. Gina (oc_gina) on October 28th, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

    In high school we went to Knott’s Scary Farm (of course!) and I will never forget walking somewhere around the bottle house when an actor literally freaking jumped out of a tree and grabbed my ankles. That was when they could still totally touch you, which I don’t think they can now.

    I’m sure my scream was heard by anybody driving on the 91.

  2. The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County (No. 1) | Orange County Metblogs (pingback) on October 31st, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

    […] [Click here to read the Number two pick for The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County] […]

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