The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is one of our regular favorites for The Long Halloween, as this will be our fourth consecutive year doing it, which is funny in its way, because it's not particularly high up on our favorites list. As haunts in the Los Angeles area go, it's not the scariest (in fact, as scary events go I'd call it the most family friendly), it's fairly low quality when put side by side with comparable haunts, and has never had much in the way of a storyline to speak of. The carnival atmosphere they tend to create around it, as well as the additional attractions they've added in recent years, have always looked on the cheaper side and have been very hit or miss. And as an avowed carnivore, the all-vegan snack selection has always made me nervous.
Long Halloween Tip # 12: When it comes to Halloween events, the more the merrier. Especially if it's something you might be split up during (so you'll get the full experience), or if it stands a chance at being pretty cheesy so you can enjoy laughing at it more.
Long Halloween Tip # 13: Always research your parking options. Know if you have to pay and always have money on you just in case, and know the layout of the area around you to know if you really got the best parking or will have to hike a mile or two to get there.
-thank you for that interruption, Long Halloween Tips. Anyway, after the hike and getting our tickets scanned, we made our way inside. There's not a particular layout to the grounds of The Haunted Hayride, and bathrooms are hard to find (and being offsite will actually need you to come back in for reentry in order to get in again), but with a little exploring you can see the sights. There's a stage with some shows, a snack cart with all vegan snack foods (great candy apple slices and pumpkin fritters), and the Scary-Go-Round, a rickety merry-go-round with skeleton horses on it. For other entertainment they also have a pumpkin patch and some psychics.
There are a few costumed monsters milling about, scarecrows and zombies and werewolves and even a cameo by the Slender Man.
But what about the main events? Well, this year we have returning favorites, The Haunted Hayride and The In Between dark maze, as well as a couple new attractions, Trick or Treat and The House of Shadow. How do they rate?
As well, there's an innovation they did this year that, well, just doesn't work particularly well. There was a great moment last year where a sheet is thrown over the cart, leaving the riders disoriented and wondering just what was happening outside as the sheet thrashed and was flung about. No doubt looking to repeat this moment, each cart came in with a built in sheet mechanism on top of the cart, and, well, it didn't add particularly much. The sheet was only used twice, and on neither of those occasions was a big scare lined up after hiding us. As well, the sheet mechanisms on the cart had these steel cables used to suspend them, perfectly at arm height, and though we were warned constantly not to touch them, people kept doing so and finding out how sharp the cables were. Top it off with the sheet mechanism bunching at the front of the cart and making it impossible to see what was ahead, and this was a bit of a bust, unfortunately.
Trick or Treat: I'm not quite sure what I'd call this. It's not a maze. It's not a haunted house. It's not quite an interactive experience. It's, well, it's a walk through a number of doors set up, with increasingly weird people usually threatening us for Trick or Treating. It does have a fun scare at the end though, so long as you're not spoiled for it by House of Shadow.
In past years they've provided groups of people a lantern to carry which didn't light very much, but did alert monsters to our presence. This year they did away with the lanterns and added, instead, creepy clown masks. These clown masks added a couple of beautiful things to this maze. The first being that they're cheap plastic, and as such cut down on our peripheral vision considerably. The second was that they basically transformed every lost person wandering the maze into evil-looking clowns, upping the number of scary characters in the maze exponentially.
Thank you for joining me this Halloween season, and as always, please drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! I'm big into liking/following back!
-- 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!)