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The latest in themed entertainment industry news…

Jon Cooke Steps Down from Knott’s Berry Farm, Launching Brand-New Horror Attraction

The interwebs are buzzing, and the word is quickly spreading like wildfire through Southern California’s haunt community. After 13 years at Knott’s Berry Farm, Jon Cooke has stepped down from his daily position there as a designer, and has been working quietly on a brand-new horror experience in a nondescript industrial building in Upland, California, which will open its doors to the curious public in the weeks ahead.

Recently, we paid a visit to Jon’s new venture and stepped into his world – a highly-immersive escape experience/haunted attraction he’s named MurderCo: An R-Rated Horror Experience. MurderCo is an ambitious haunt-escape room hybrid that is going to thrill the hell out of SoCal fans looking for the next big deal.

Before we look ahead at what Jon Cooke is about to unleash on the Southland, it’s important to acknowledge his departure from Knott’s, and what it means to events such as Scary Farm; it’s the elephant in the room that everyone is buzzing about, so we would be remiss not to discuss that a bit. The good news is, it’s not a bleak as some are assuming.

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The Cauldron Casts a Spell on Buena Park

Southern California is dense with bars, gastropubs, speakeasies, lounges and taverns. However, no one has quite seen anything like The Cauldron Spirits & Brews, which has officially opened in Buena Park, directly across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm.

A long-time dream of owner Lara Hanneman, The Cauldron is unique in that it’s an upscale bar setting wrapped up in an environment one would expect to find in a haunted house maze at Knott’s Scary Farm. That’s no surprise, as Lara worked at Knott’s for over two decades, ultimately becoming the park’s Creative Director, overseeing all aspects of Halloween Haunt and the property in general throughout the years. For Haunt fans, it is a familiar environment – like stepping inside the event’s now-famous Trick or Treat maze for the evening to enjoy cocktails and food. For guests not familiar with Lara’s past or Knott’s Scary Farm, it’s a walk on the slightly spooky side – without any gore or anyone jumping out of the shadows; it’s a moody, dimly-lit immersive experience that speaks to all ages.

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Universal Studios Hollywood Announces First-Ever EVE Celebration to Ring in the New Year

One of the biggest nights of the year – New Year’s Eve – just got bigger in Los Angeles! Universal Studios Hollywood has just announced its brand-new EVE celebration, the perfect way to count down the last hours of 2017, and ring in the first of 2018 throughout the theme park.

Guests enjoying Universal Studios Hollywood have the entire day and evening to experience its world-class attractions and shows, including Grinchmas as well as Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which features the brand-new Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show every 20 minutes or so after dark. At 9pm, EVE begins, radiating throughout the park from three unique entertainment hubs as DJs and live entertainment mark the final hours of 2017.

EVE’s three uniquely-themed party zones will be found throughout the theme park – at Universal Plaza, just steps away from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; Simpsons Plaza, in front of The Simpsons Ride; and an area adjacent to Jurassic Park: The Ride down in the Lower Lot. As the final moments of 2017 slip through the hourglass, and the clock strikes 2018, the festivities culminate with a spectacular fireworks display.

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Southern California’s Beloved Home Haunt Boney Island Closed Permanently

Boney Island 2017This one hurts. Not only is it personal, it is a sobering wake-up call to the entire SoCal haunt community in general. Boney Island, the beloved, family-friendly home haunt in Sherman Oaks has been cancelled; permanently shuttered, thanks to a couple of uncooperative neighbors and city officials that saw an opportunity to make some money, rather than stand behind an event that brought so much happiness and good to Los Angeles. The announcement of Boney Island’s closure just days before its 2017 season isn’t the end of the story – it’s the beginning of something much, much bigger and important that everyone needs to be aware of.

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Sleep No More Alumni Bringing Waking La Llorona to San Diego for Halloween 2017

When you think of San Diego, you think of gorgeous beaches, college coeds, Shamu, and Comic-Con. At Halloween, there are a handful of well-established haunted attractions across the city, but nothing much in the way of immersive, theatrical-style experiences as you find in Los Angeles and elsewhere. That’s about to change with Waking La Llorona, a multi-sensory, fully immersive theatrical presentation that happens to you – all around you – alone.

Waking La Llorona premiered this August in San Diego at a sold-out workshop production that was presented by The Old Globe through the generous support of The San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst program – an organization that provides career opportunities for local professional artists so that the entire community benefits culturally through the arts. This production is set to run once more at the La Jolla Playhouse as part of their Without Walls Festival next month. The buzz that Waking La Llorona has already created has led to those performances at WOW already being sold-out. We have not personally experienced this production, but have been told by numerous friends and colleagues how absolutely fantastic Waking La Llorona is; and it should be. Several of the key people that have created Waking La Llorona were responsible for producing the cornerstone theatrical experience Sleep No More in New York City.

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