Alleged UFO hovers over Knott’s Berry Farm

A Beverly Hills, California, man visiting Knott’s Berry Farm claims to have captured a UFO in a photograph during the theme park’s Halloween Haunt event.

Ryan Boone sent the photo, which he claims is undoctored, to Los Angeles TV station KNBC. (We’ve added the arrow to the photo at right to point out the alleged unidentified flying object.) You can see the original pic on KNBC’s Web site.

Boone says he shot the photo at about 10 p.m. Tuesday, while waiting in line to ride the Xcelerator roller coaster.

“I’ve never been a believer in UFOs until I took this photo and saw it with my own eyes,” Boone told KNBC.

Commenters on the TV station’s Web site have suggested that the alleged UFO is actually just a reflection off the camera lens, but isn’t that what “they” always say when someone captures a pic of a mysterious object in the sky?


Top ten Halloween theme park events

Theme parks around the United States are getting in on the Halloween fun this week, with special events featuring everything from horror-filled haunted houses to magic shows to trick-or-treating for kids. Here’s a look at our top 10 Halloween theme park events:

1. Halloween Horror Nights: Universal Studios Florida, Orlando, Florida
Universal’s Halloween scarefest, which tops lists of horror attractions year-after-year, is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. But rather than make it solely a look back, Halloween Horror Nights XX blends new with the nostalgia. There are eight haunted houses, six streetside “scare zones” and two shows. Be sure to catch a glimpse of Fear, the towering character Universal says is the creator of all the scares of the past 20 years. Tickets are $74.99, with discounts available for Florida residents.
Scare level: This event is geared toward adults and older teens. Trust me, it’s not for children.

2. Halloween Haunt: Knott’s “Scary” Farm, Buena Park, California

Now in its 38th year, Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt is the granddaddy of all theme park Halloween event. Unlike many theme park events where rides are open, but don’t differ from the rest of the year, Knott’s re-themes 13 of its rides and turns the ride queues into “walk-through mazes.” There are also seven live shows at Knott’s “Scary” Farm and more than 1,000 monsters, mutants and goblins standing in the shadows waiting to jump out and scare. Tickets are $50 in advance, with several discount packages available.
Scare level: This event is for adults and older teens. Knott’s Berry Farm also offers “Snoopy’s Costume Party” during the day for the younger set.

3. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida
Mickey, Minnie and all their friends don Halloween costumes for this special event at the Magic Kingdom on select nights each year. Families are allowed to come in costume and there are trick-or-treating stations set up throughout the park. Highlights of Disney’s Halloween party include Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Parade that features a pre-parade appearance by Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman, and the Hallowishes fireworks show. There’s also a live show at Cinderella Castle featuring many of the Disney villains, including (new this year) Dr. Facilier from “The Princess and the Frog.” Tickets are $59.95, with discounts available for passholders.
Scare level: This one’s for just about everyone, though children who fear Disney villains or the Haunted mansion ride could be in for a few mild frights.4. Fright Dome: Circus Circus, Las Vegas, Nevada
Every year, the haunted houses at Las Vegas’s Circus Circus offer some serious scares, and this year, there are three all-new houses including My Bloody Valentine, Flesh Feast and a house that pays homage to the “Saw” horror movies. Fright Dome is also known for its live shows featuring cutting-edge magicians, and for its celebrity visitors – Paris Hilton, Holly Madison, David Copperfield and other frequent Vegas visitors tend to visit Fright Dome each year. Tickets are $34.95.
Scare level: Definitely not for kids or the faint of heart – this is one of the scariest events around.

5. Howl-O-Scream: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, Florida
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment holds Howl-O-Scream events in Williamsburg, Virginia, San Antonio, Texas, and Tampa, Florida, but we choose the Florida event for this list. The Tampa event typically adopts a back story that adds some edgy fun. This year, the protagonist is Sylvie, the lead singer of a rock band known as My X. Sylvie is out to get revenge on, well, her ex, and just about anyone else that stands in front of her. Besides the eight haunted houses and five scare zones at Howl-O-Scream, you can also see a concert featuring Sylvie and her band. It’s that follow-through with the back story that puts Howl-O-Scream on our list. Tickets are $74.95, with discounts for Florida residents.
Scare level: Teens and adults only for this one.

6. Hersheypark in the Dark: Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Where better to get a sweet Halloween treat than in America’s favorite chocolate town? Hersheypark opens its “rollerghosters” and other rides at night for a Halloween celebration each year. Kids 12 and under can trick-or-treat at eight stops in the park, and there are three family-friendly shows, including one by Halloween band “Bunsen and the Burners.” Hersheypark’s eateries even update their menus for the fall, offering soup in bread bowls, turkey legs and autumn-inspired desserts. Tickets are $38.95, with several discount packages available.
Scare level: This one’s truly for all ages.

7. Halloweekends: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Point tries to balance fun and scary during their Halloweekends. While there are plenty of scares in four haunted houses and five scare zones, but much of the rest of the park is filled with pumpkins, sweet treats and family-friendly Halloween fun. All the scary sections are marked so that those not wanting quite the fright can stay away. Cedar Point puts a heavy emphasis on shows – with nine Halloween shows during the event. And for the kids, there are Peanuts shows, a costume contest and the Monster Midway Invasion Celebration Parade. Tickets are $45.99, with discount packages available.
Scare level: There are plenty of frights for horror fans, but just as much fun for small frys.

8. Brick or Treat: Legoland, San Diego, California
Legoland offers Halloween fun for little ones at Brick or Treat, with a costume contest, dance party and fall-themed Lego building activities. New this year at Brick or Treat is a live stage show where kids can find the secret to turning scary monsters sweet, and a new light show, “The Spirits of Halloween.” There’s also plenty of trick-or-treating action at Brick or Treat, with seven-themed trick-or-treating stations along a trail. Tickets are $30.
Scare level: This one is all treats for little ones, with no tricks in sight.

9. Fright Fest: Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois
Six Flags puts an emphasis on shows and music at this year’s edition of Fright Fest, with a new “Full Moon Rocksplosion” show and parade, as well as a new “zombie dance party.” There’s also “scary-oke” (which is what they should call it every time I take the stage), and the classic “Love at First Fright” show is back for a 20th year. Fright Fest also offers four haunted houses, as well as kids activities including trick-or-treating and a Halloween-themed “The Wiggles” show. Tickets are $36.99 online in advance.
Scare level: There’s something at Fright Fest for everyone.

10. Count’s Spooktacular: Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pennsylvania
The preschool set can have a frightfully fun time with Sesame Street characters with one very famous vampire (and no, his name isn’t Edward). The Count von Count hosts a Howl-o-Ween radio show, as well as an “un-haunted” maze at Sesame Place theme park. There are two additional Halloween shows starring Sesame Street favorites such as Elmo and Big Bird, as well as hayrides and trick-or-treating. Tickets are $33 online in advance.
Scare level: Only for the little pumpkins.

Roller coaster crash injures 10 people at Knott’s Berry Farm

Two roller coaster cars collided Thursday night on the Pony Express ride at Knott’s Berry Farm, sending 10 riders to the hospital.

According to KTLA-TV, a ride car leaving the boarding station “rolled back,” slamming a second car car inside the station that was boarding other guests.

The crash happened during Knott’s “Halloween Haunt” event about 8:15 p.m. on Thursday. Authorities said the injuries were minor.

The Pony Express was built at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2008. It launches from zero to 38 miles per hour in 3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 40 miles per hour, relatively tame by today’s roller coaster standards.

Rollbacks, while not common, are a regular occurrence on roller coasters. They happen when a ride car is not launched fast enough to make it to the top of the first lift. This can be caused by a number of factors, including wind gusts, cold weather and ride cars that don’t have enough passengers and therefore they don’t have enough momentum.

Most coasters have a chain lift or other device to prevent rollbacks, as well as a braking system to stop a car if it does roll back.

There’s no word yet as to the cause of the Pony Express roller coaster rollback.

Another roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm, the hydraulically launched Xcelerator, is known for having rollbacks. On the Xcelerator, a car that rolls back is stopped by magnetic fins before it re-enters the boarding station.

Two other U.S. roller coasters based on the Xcelerator’s design – Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure and Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point – are also known to have more frequent rollbacks.

Here’s footage of a Kingda Ka rollback:

[Image credit: Flickr user Magic Madzik]

Knott’s Berry Farm adds chocolate and bacon to the funnel-cake menu

Chocolate. Bacon. Funnel cake. Three of my favorite things in the world. But is putting them all together too much of a good thing?

Apparently not at Knott’s Berry Farm, where chocolate bacon funnel cake is being added to the menu.

This over-the-top culinary concoction started where all good theme-park food trends do these days, on Twitter.

Meghan Gardner, a spokeswoman for Knott’s Berry Farm, said that the park sent out a tweet asking followers what funnel cake toppings they would like to see added to the menu.

Chocolate and bacon was the winner. So, the Buena Park, Calif., theme park created a funnel cake drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with chopped bacon.

It was supposed to be a temporary item, Gardner said. But it proved so popular that the new snack has been added to the permanent menu at the park’s Funnel Cake Kitchen.

Chocolate bacon funnel cakes sell for $8.

Cedar Fair offers road-trip worthy deal: 17 theme parks for $160

Cedar Fair Entertainment, owner of North American theme parks including Cedar Point, Knott’s Berry Farm, Kings Island and Carowinds, is offering its Platinum Season Pass for $160. The Platinum Pass is $90 for kids or seniors.

The pass offers admission to all 17 Cedar Fair theme parks and water parks every day they are in operation for the rest of 2010. The Platinum Pass also includes free parking for your visits.

It’s good at the following locations:

You can buy the Platinum Season Pass online at any of the Cedar Fair parks’ Web sites. In some cases, you get extra benefits (such as early admission, preferred seating for concerts, or food and merchandise discounts) at the park where you buy the pass. So you may want to buy it at the theme park you will be visiting most frequently this summer.