Knott’s Scary Farm: Becoming a Monster, Part I

The Handbook!

The Handbook!

Job hunting is tough, man. Cover letters require every inch of creativity and spark. Résumés need a bit of retouching to fit the position. The days leading up to interviews are nerve-racking. And if the rejections don’t bite you in the ass, companies flat-out ignoring you is enough to put a man down on his knees. And not in a good way. Har har har!

At this point, I’m like FUCK IT so I applied wherever I possibly could.

Lo and behold!

My friend posted about the open hire event Knott’s Berry Farm was having for their annual Halloween Haunt. I’ve been a fan of the fucking thing since 2003 when I, in a frightened splendor, attended for the first time and instantly became obsessed. I vowed that I would work there the minute I turned 18. Of course, shit gets in the way and life takes its toll (college). Now, while I’m unemployed and just caught up in internship work, I figured this would be an ideal time. Sure why not, I remember saying that night (or morning because it was 2:15). I signed up for a 12:30 p.m. appointment, sent my applications a day after the deadlines, and hoped for the best.

So yesterday (Monday, Aug. 5) rolls around and I show up at Open Hire which was taking place along the side of Knott’s Berry Farm. The sun glared down on us hopefuls, offering all types of ugly heat – a reminder that we should enjoy the sunlight as much as we can before we turn into demons of the night. People were lined up against a fence, filling out extra paperwork while staff called in applicants according to their time reservations. Haunt veterans were there too, donning football (or hockey) jerseys, asking those coming out of the interviews where they landed.

“Necropolis!” one guy said as he headed out. A flood of cheers.

“I’m in Endgames,” a girl said, trying to juggle a Haunt booklet as she struggled her way through the fence. She hugged this lady who was waiting for her.

“Blackout,” said one guy as he lifted his fist up in victory.

“Oh, congrats!” said one of the Haunt vets. “Welcome to Haunt!”

As the 12:30 p.m. applicants were called to line up against the fence, I tried to be all buddy buddy with this girl from Fullerton and this guy from Los Angeles because Lord knows I have no idea how to fill out some of those forms.

“What’d you put on the the W4 form?” I asked Fullerton girl, Stephanie. “My mom usually just fills this out for me.”

“I know, me too!” she said, laughing.

Los Angeles boy Sergio, who was dressed for a job interview, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I had put on this background check form. Steph and I told him that that form never made it in our booklets. We panicked for a little bit because of that. Finally, we were ushered through the fence and were told to line up outside the warehouses. I talked a little bit more with the two and discovered that Sergio was going to be auditioning for streets, a position that’s probably elite in the hierarchy of Scary Farm talents. Steph and I were simply going for any maze position we can snag onto. I, personally, was hoping for Trick or Treat, a maze that revolves around a Wicked Witch who possesses children and turns them into her minions. I thought, hey. I look pretty virginal. I can do that.

In our lines, we were led backstage near the Ghost Rider roller coaster. We walked around the back a bit and gazed at all the wood work erecting before our very eyes. It kinda seemed surreal that we would be a part of all of this. Just thinking about prowling these mazes got my spirit kicking. Eventually, we were led to a gate that housed a small building. The staffer told us he’d collect our applications, which would basically be our ticket into getting into the building. Stephanie, in a frantic rush, started writing on my back, trying to fill in phone numbers from her past employers. Of course, I panicked and just walked right in, forgetting that Stephanie was using my back as a board. She eventually fell to the back of the line.

One by one, workers from inside the building, called us in and sat us down. There were about 10 workers inside going through what the job would entail and asking us questions of how we would react if so and so did this and that. We filled out a few more paperwork and were told to line up at the training center.

Two lines sprawled across the building and in my confusion, I lined up for processing. These kids didn’t look like the people I lined up with earlier. Finally, I saw one of the girls for the 12:30 appointment entering through a door with a much shorter line. “Shit, I think that’s it,” I said. A guy followed me, an obvious sign that he thought I knew what I was doing.

At the doorway, a man with a clipboard pointed at individuals and gave them a character. Shit, I thought. I can’t pick where I want to go. He looked at the two girls in front of me and said, “Seaweed for Pinocchio.” The two girls nodded in unison and were ushered inside to a table.

“Okay you guys, after these parts, we’re pretty much closed,” he said. I pretty much crapped bricks at the thought. Does this mean I’m going to be a blackout or line control? Perish the thought! I mean, kudos to them for holding it down for the maze, but I really really really had my eyes set on being a monster. He pointed at the girl in front of me and said, “Seaweed for Pinocchio,” and then finally to me, “You’re donkey boy.”

Lolwut? Thankfully, I got casted as a donkey-boy for Pinocchio Unstrung, which is a maze that takes The Adventures of Pinocchio and bludgeons it over the head with a bloody mace. I would play a donkey boy, which were the boys in Pleasure Island who did nothing but play and as a result, had to turn into donkeys. How intriguing, I thought. I can make this work!

So, Seaweed (her name is Clara) and I were ushered to a table where a nice man greeted us and gave us important dates. I joked about how I was a reporter for a student newspaper, an associate for a bakery, and how I’ve become a donkey. The joke was lost on them. I guess it was my delivery. We filled out another form and were asked to line up once more for processing.

This line was motherfucking long, ya’ll. But along the way, I got to meet some of the people who were going to be in the same maze I’m in. Kimberly was going to be a seaweed creature and Glenn was going to be a donkey boy with me.

“I got the last part,” he told me, his eyes widening at the thought. It was panic relieved, especially since he applied the very last minute.

Anyway, we chatted and chatted with two girls who were casted as slaves for Endgames. Stephanie saw me and asked if I got a part. I told her I was a donkey.

“I hate you!” she said. “I’ve never been so sad in my life!” Apparently after they closed the part, someone from staff went inside the office and announced that they stopped hiring for monsters. Steph told me shouldn’t have filled in the phone numbers because they weren’t even looking through it anyway. She landed a role as blackout for Slaughterhouse.

She looked at Glenn, “What did you get?”

“The last Donkey,” he replied.

“That means I should be hating you!” she joked.

I felt sorry she wouldn’t be able to experience being a haunt monster, especially since we were talking about how excited we were to even be part of Halloween Haunt. But in retrospect, I guess me forgetting that she was trying to finish her application on my back was a blessing in disguise because I wouldn’t have gotten one of the last few roles.

We made it to the front of the line where we basically submitted every single application and form that we signed.

“Did you fill this out?” the processing lady Nicole asked me.

“Uh, yeah,” I said.

She gasped. “How dare you!” she said jokingly. Apparently there were some forms that we didn’t even need to touch. Whatever. She sent me on my way to get a form signed from First Aid which was basically inside the theme park. Glenn was on his way out so I decided to go with him. We’re headed down the steps and some guy in line for processing yells out, “Hey! Those are the last two asses!” Laughter ensues. Don’t know if they were being serious, but if they were, I would understand where the frustration sits.

Anyway, got my signatures, and was told to stay away from peanuts, soy, wheat, etc. I head back to processing and was directed to wardrobe where I met with slave girl from Endgames and Seaweed Kimberly. On the way, I saw Sergio, who told me that he didn’t make it past auditions and had to settle for Blackout. I tried to offer a whole, “Well, maybe next year” dialogue but couldn’t get the right words out of my mouth. I think I was too excited.

Inside Warehouse P

Inside Warehouse P

I made my way to Warehouse P where a bunch of props and statues for mazes were held. And of course, another huge line! But long story short, a nice lady guided me to the dressing room, told me that I wasn’t a large, and gave me a medium (hehe!). I proceeded to wear it backwards. Then, when I finally got it on the right way, I wore my mask and poof. I became Donkey Boy. I took everything off and was given some tips on how to keep my costume clean and some suggestions on what I should wear under. After that, she bid me adieu.

And that was that! My appointment was at 12:30 and I ended up leaving Knotts at almost 6 p.m. I didn’t get home until the sun slowly spiraled down the San Gabriel Valley mountains, letting darkness crown the skies. I better get used to looking at that, I thought, since that’s about the time I have to leave for work this September.

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About neilprotacio

Freelance journalist who just so happens to know what goes well with certain breads.
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