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Knott's Scary Farm vs. Universal Halloween Horror Nights | Halloween Event Showdown!

Halloween Horror Nights and Knott's Scary Farm are by far the marquee terrifying Halloween themed events in Southern California, so it's often debated which event reigns supreme. 

We're here to put Halloween Horror Nights and Scary Farm head to head and decide which event we here at Theme Park Center is best!

Questions We'll Use To Assess If Scary Farm Or Halloween Horror Nights Is Best:

  • Which Event Has Better Theming?
  • Which Event Is Scarier?
  • Which Event Has Better Food & Drinks?
  • Which Event Has Better Rides?
  • Which Event Is More Affordable?
  • Is Halloween Horror Nights or Knott's Scary Farm Better?

 La Llorna Haunted House Exterior

Which Event Has Better Theming?

Let's make this clear - both Knott's Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights have incredible theming, but one does certainly reign supreme.

The theming, design, and special effects you'll see at Halloween Horror Nights is unmatched by any other Halloween event across the country.

The amount of money and creative genius Universal puts into Halloween Horror nights is truly incredible and you'll find this to be absolutely true the moment you step into your first haunted house.

Two Women Being Scared At Halloween Horror Nights

This massive investment into top-notch theming and design has allowed Universal to get the rights to create amazing haunted houses themed to popular franchises like Stranger Things, Halloween (the movie series), and Blumhouse.

Knott's Scary Farm is packed with original concepts and ideas which are a lot of fun to see and pack plenty of scares, but Universal truly takes theming to the next level with Halloween Horror Nights. 

We have to give Knott's a ton of credit for their originality (they lean on virtually no movie franchises unlike Universal) as well as innovative ways to distract, then scare guests that you won't really see at Halloween Horror Nights.

BEST THEMEING: Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights Logo

Which Event Is Scarier?

This is a close one as both Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights are very scary and not for the faint of heart.

We find both events to be very scary, but the general public sentiment is that Knott's does suffer from some haunted houses that aren't too scary - as opposed to Halloween Horror Nights which has scared in every house.

Some attribute this to fewer actors being in the Knott's Scary Farm haunted houses which has led to some inconsistencies in how often you're effectively being scared - if ever in certain houses.

Three Creepy Clowns at Scary Farm

Normally we'd say this category is a tie, but after many comments about Knott's Scary Farm not being consistently as scary as Halloween Horror Nights, we have to give a slight edge to Halloween Horror Nights.

For further context, in the past, we've ranked Halloween Horror Nights an 8 out of 10 on the scariness scale and Knott's Scary Farm a 7.5 out of 10.

BEST SCARES: Halloween Horror Nights

Two scared women

Which Event Has Better Food & Drinks?

Knott's Berry Farm is known for having some of the best theme park food around while Universal Studios is a bit more hit or miss in this category.

Where Halloween Horror Nights truly shines is the variety of unique drinks they have to offer. 

Previous years have featured a Día De Los Muertos themed bar with vibrantly colored drinks served in glass skulls, shots served in syringes, and other drinks themed to the specific haunted houses that rotate each year.

 BoardWalk BBQ Sign

While Halloween Horror Nights shines with its alcoholic beverages, Scary Farm also has a great variety of drinks but easily beats out Horror Nights when it comes to food offerings.

Scary Farm has a huge variety of food offerings including calamari, tamales, mac and cheese, chorizo and shrimp burger, chicken hatch chili pizza, and even frog legs - all with a fun Halloween theming! There's no shortage of dessert either with a variety of funnel cakes, cookies, and of course, pies. 

Just because there is a lot of food available doesn't always mean it's good, but at Scary Farm you'll likely be impressed with the quality of these dishes!

BEST FOOD & DRINK: Knott's Scary Farm

 Wilderness Broiler at Knott's Berry Farm

Which Event Has Better Rides?

This question will largely be answered by what type of rides you enjoy.

Knott's is known for its rollercoasters and thrill rides, while Universal Studios has more simulators and generally more tame rides.

Knott's also has a lot more runs on its property compared to Universal and even more so that will actually be open during Scary Farm.

If roller coasters aren't your thing, then Halloween Horror Nights will win here for you, but in most cases, Knott's Scary Farm is king when it comes to better rides.

With over a dozen different roller coasters ranging from mild thrills to absolutely insane thrills, you'll find a lot more variety and more to do when it comes to rides during Scary Farm.

BEST RIDES: Knott's Scary Farm

Hangtime at Knott's Berry Farm

Which Event Is More Affordable?

Knott's Scary Farm tickets start at about $65 on the cheapest event days and at around $100 on the most expensive days. Knott's also has an all-access pass that allows you to visit on every single Scary Farm event day for $159.

Both Knott's Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights use a dynamic pricing model, which means that certain days are more expensive (or cheaper) than others depending on how busy or popular a specific day is.

Halloween Horror Nights tickets start at $75 on the cheapest days with the most expensive days coming at $107.

Halloween Horror Nights also has an all-access pass known as the Ultimate Fear Pass for $329 and another pass known as the Frequent Fear Pass for $209 that is valid for 30 select HHN dates. 

Knott's Scary Farm is a bit cheaper when it comes to individual tickets and significantly cheaper when it comes to multiple-visit passes.

MOST AFFORDABLE: Knott's Scary Farm


Is Halloween Horror Nights or Knott's Scary Farm Better?

After assessing these key categories as well as Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Night fan sentiment online, the winner is...


While Knott's Scary Farm is a great event that shines in its originally themed houses, unique scares, awesome food and drink as well as affordable prices - Halloween Horror Nights is the definitive Halloween event.

Chainsaw wielding man with neon costume

We can't say this enough, the amount of money Universal pours into the theming, design, and effects of its haunted houses and scare zones is simply unmatched.

Knott's may have a lot more to offer in terms of rides, but we don't think this is enough to overcome just how impressive of an event Halloween Horror Nights is - especially if you're looking for the best Halloween experience possible and rides are an afterthought. 

If there's only one Halloween event you can make it to, then it absolutely needs to be Halloween Horror Nights!



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