Today’s Long Halloween blog will be twice as nice, because I’ve got two events to talk about! Well, all right, mostly it’s because I don’t have as much to say about them despite enjoying both very much, and with the Long Halloween packed with as many events as we have scheduled (and Fi and I having been various levels of sick this past week), I’m going to have to do a little multitasking here and there to properly cover everything.
So, without further ado, let’s check out stops 4 and 5 of the Long Halloween!
Okay, the fat guy wandering around outside wearing a flayed doll’s face and wielding a wrench might’ve been a clue too, but I digress.
Once inside, though, you’re readily transported to one of the coolest queue areas I’ve seen for a haunt. Anticipating long lines (and believe me, around this time of year, the lines get looooooooooong), they’ve transformed the interior portion of the queue line into something befitting a Disney park, walking through a haunted cemetery full of animatronic skeletons and other beasties. There are several scenes to walk through, and after getting a safety spiel from a talking skeleton, our hopes were reasonably high.
And, for the most part, our hopes panned out.
Boasting 95 rooms separated into 8 separate themes (covering classic themes, like Haunted House, Haunted Mine, Zombie Outbreak, Cannibal Hillbillies, Circus, etc.), Reign of Terror is supposedly one of the biggest haunts in the region, and on this it mostly succeeds. The sets are impressive, though the true scope of the event is easy to lose considering how claustrophobic most of them are. The sparse cast of actors, combined with a large number of animatronic effects, makes the best of a limited space, and while not the scariest event you’re going to find around here, this one does still have its fair share of spooks and screams.
If I were to have one complaint, it’s that the themed sections don’t break up particularly well, and sometimes run from one to another without much of a transition, which can be a bit on the disorienting side.
Praise, though, must go to the enthusiastic cast, and some of the trippier effects that they manage to employ in sections, especially the Circus themed area which plays with a lot of funky illusions. As well, praise has to be put toward the points in the maze where cast members will stop and slow people down, which on paper is a bit irritating, but in practice helps avoid the conga line effect that jam-packed mazes will often get.
THE LOS ANGELES HAUNTED HAYRIDE
This needs some explaining. When it comes to quality events, the Haunted Hayride is usually near the bottom. Despite attempts at making you believe there is a story, there never is one, just an assembly of scenes that are slightly horrific in nature. As well, the makeup and set pieces are limited and not terribly good, and perhaps the biggest sin of all is, well, that it’s not all that scary. Once you’re on the titular hayride itself, you get used to the typical types of scares they do in a hurry. Drive up to a location, scary people come out, come close to the hayride vehicle, make some noise, try to scare people, wash, rinse and repeat. After the first few incidents of this in the ride, screams usually get replaced by laughter, and by the end a fair bit of heckling comes in to play.
Top it off with hay not being terribly comfortable to sit in after a while (and still being stuck around my apartment nearly a week later) and, well, you’ve got something that might be called a not-that-great experience.
But, if you’re looking for some cheese in your Halloween experience, well, the Haunted Hayride is one of the best places you can go. While not scary, per se, the actors are so earnest and the experience so inherently Halloween-y that you just can’t go wrong for some good spooky fun or a good laugh. As well, for its price, with the number of attractions you have available, it’s a pretty good stop for the season.
Of the three main attractions, the main focus is of course the titular hayride. With a queue line that gets ridiculously long, this is a ride that’s best aimed for at the beginning of the night, unless you’re up for a crazy long wait (or unless you’ve ponied up the dough for a VIP, front of the line pass, which isn’t entirely worth it at this event). I’ve gone into some detail about this particular event earlier in the review already, so I won’t go crazy here, but I will note that this year’s prime difference from previous years’ events, where they actually force you out of the hayride vehicle for a separate walkthrough horror experience, doesn’t really add or take away from the hayride in any significant way. It just, well, kind of is.
The two other main attractions of the Haunted Hayride experience stand out much more and are far more fun. The Trick or Treat experience is a short little walk through experience, where you walk down a small corridor of themed house facades, knocking on doors, yelling trick or treat, and then getting candy from the creepy denizens within. With the houses being surprisingly well made, and the Sour Patch candies they handed out being, well, Sour Patch candies (yum), this was a surprising highlight of the night.
The final, and always our favorite of the Haunted Hayride attractions, is the House of Shadows. A pitch black, dark maze, made to disorient, this one’s always a highlight mostly because it’s a lot of fun to go through with a group. Given the high chances of getting legitimately lost, it doesn’t matter that they don’t have many monsters within to scare you and are mostly relying on darkness and strobe lights for atmosphere, it’s still a ton of fun. This year’s maze was semi-themed with a cross promotion to Universal Studios’ upcoming horror film: Ouija: Origin of Evil. While the themeing was light, they did have a couple-few fun scenes, though given the fact that Universal thought this attraction was a suitable place for cross-promotion over their own Halloween Horror Nights does not give me much hope for the film’s quality.
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)