Special Ops: Infected is the latest attraction currently available at Knott’s Berry Farm for their ‘Knott’s Scary Farm’ Halloween event.
With the exception of ‘Trapped‘, Special Ops: Infected is quite possibly the most interactive Scary Farm event yet available from Knott’s, and unlike ‘Trapped’ won’t cost you an additional fee. The concept is such: squads of parkgoers armed with laser rifles and led by a squad leader patrol a transformed Camp Snoopy, eliminating the undead while completing objectives, battling Road Warrior-esque militia forces, and saving an important scientist who holds the cure to the zombie plague.
In order to even take part in the Special Ops: Infected attraction, you must obtain a ticket. These tickets are free, but are limited. They are given out at the entrance of Camp Snoopy, and denote the time and entry point you’ll be allowed in. During our visit, they ran out of cards before our appointed 9:15 time. Reportedly, less than half of all parkgoers will be able to participate, and given how rapidly the tickets ran out that seems to be the case.
From one of the two assigned entry points, Alpha and Bravo, which take place on opposite ends of Camp Snoopy, guests were herded into a orientation tent, where they were assigned their guns and given their objectives. There was a lot of showmanship on the part of the squad leader, including his use of the accented ‘zambies’ to denote the zombie targets, and being decked out in tactical gear.
The guns we were assigned were zombie-green plastic, with useable albeit unneeded (and honestly distracting) flip-up iron sights, very large magazine/sensor boxes, and bungee-retention slings. The stocks were fixed, and intended or not, the guns were only capable of semi-auto fire. Additionally, the guns were noted in promotional literature as having LCD screens which would allow for individual score tracking, which was not featured on these guns; overall, not that impressive. Ammo was not an issue, as the guns are set to automatically reload after 50 shots, after which a 5-or-so-second reload was supposed to take place, but never seemed to. They also fired a strange triangular burst of three lights instead of traditional projectiles, which activated a sensor on the zombies’ heads, letting them know when they were shot.
Speaking of the zombies, they were actors strewn throughout the course, made up to look undead. They shambled, they rushed, they went down pretty quickly if their sensor managed to get hit. Their enthusiasm was greatly appreciated throughout the course, as you could tell they really enjoyed playing their part, trying their damnedest to assault our squad. The other enemy, the militia, was more a plot point than a true threat. We were forced to be captured as part of the experience (your guns are worthless as they don’t wear sensors) and were led into a cage, where we were taunted, insulted, told to keep our hands behind our head, and had zombies paw at us through the openings. This lasted for a couple of minutes, until we “escaped”. Kinda fun, but it was also jarring to pump round after round into a screaming man wielding a Beretta and a trash can lid shield only for him and his buddies to take you all hostage.
The objectives were occasional breaks in the action, such as enter a cabin to activate a communications array, or find a point on a map. They were actually a cool way to add a bit of variety to the mission, even if they were always a prelude to a zombie attack.
Ultimately, Special Ops: Infected is a great concept with a flawed execution. It’s a good event, but if it’s to be great, there will have to be improvements to the weapons and implementation of the promised scoring system. An expansion of the interactive events, and maybe a chance to actually battle the militia instead of forcefully playing prisoner, would also be appreciated. We’re looking forward to see if Special Ops: Infected makes a return next year, and if it does, ends up being better than it is now.
It’s also worth mentioning that technically we didn’t get to experience everything Special Ops: Infected has to offer. One of the squad leaders alerted us that both Alpha and Bravo offer different experiences, so it’s likely you’d have to attend multiple days to experience both paths.