If you've never been to a full-scale, freak-eeky, merry-maze theme park Halloween attraction before, you know there are a few rules.
One? Wear shoes with good, ground-grabbing tread, the better to easily navigate those serpentine corners in the dark. Two? Should you meet eyes with a street performer, they will absolutely approach, the better to scowl at you at close range. And three? Have a friend at your shoulder, in case monsters sneak up behind you. (And, of course, have your friend have a friend at his shoulder.)
This all applies to Knott's Scary Farm, one of the doyens of dread on the extravagantly ghoulish Southern California haunt-and-be-haunted theme park scene. It started in the early 1970s, when home-based haunted houses were still all the rage, and crossed over its four-decade mark a couple of years back.
So it knows how to elicit a scream or two, and will again, on select nights through Nov. 1.
Mazes are a fine start in the scream-garnering business, and the 2014 crop includes the Tooth Fairy maze and the Voodoo maze.
Special Ops: Infected goes fully zombie-esque, with a twist: Guests have laser guns, and a keen eye out for the shambling undead. "Elvira's Big Top" does that humor-meets-horror thing that the Mistress of Darkness masters so well, and it is on twice a night at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre.
As for other clutch-your-friend shrieks -- er, treats -- around the Buena Park destination? Look for experiences and attractions rocking handles like Pinocchio Unstrung, Forevermore, and Dominion of the Damned.
But a September-to-early-November haunty happening should wear the large, mischievous grin that Knott's wears this time of year, especially since it is one of the long-runners of the fearsome form.
Really, though, watch over your shoulders while wandering between attractions, and never lock eyes with a ghoulie on the street, lest you want to make their immediate acquaintance.