I don't handle Halloween event very well. I love horror movies, but I just can't deal with the startle factor of having someone in costume jump out and pretend to attack me. When I worked at Universal Studios, I would only work Halloween Horror Nights, if my shift had me in the office before the event started until after it ended.
There was no way that I was going to walk through the park alone!
I actually did the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride with friends a few years ago. I have no idea what compelled me to do it, as I was absolutely paranoid the entire time, including during the several hour long queue wait, when monsters were stalking the line. I sat in the middle of my two friends and kept my eyes closed and ears covered for the entire ride.
Cut to last Saturday, when I agreed to give the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride another shot. Dan and I went with another couple and their friend, who is a make-up artist for the Hayride.
We arrived around seven-thirty and the car park was completely jammed. It was like trying to find parking at a mall on Christmas Eve. Not good. Luckily, we didn't mind walking and parked down the road.
We had purchased general admission tickets for $30.00 a person in advance on the hayride website. However, when we arrived, the line was so long, that we opted to upgrade to the VIP admission for an additional $25.00 a ticket. The VIP admission included front of line access to the hayride and admission into the Dark Maze. We quickly bypassed the horrendously long hayride line and we were on within five minutes.
The tractors hold about thirty people, with most people sitting around the edges. I sat in the middle and cuddled up to Dan for protection. We were dressed sensibly in jeans with sneakers. However, we saw many people dressed inappropriately. There were a lot of women in mini-skirts and heels. You are sitting with a bunch of strangers in a bed of hay, this is not the place for skimpy clothes and questionable footwear! They looked miserable. The ride lasts approximately thirty minutes and even in proper clothing, I was physically cramped and uncomfortable. I left the tractor covered in dirt and hay.
The ride takes you up into the hills and passes by the cages of the old zoo. Every few minutes, the tractor stops and you watch a horror vignette. The costumed actors attack the tractor, climb up on the sides and get right next to you. They don't touch you, unless it's by accident, but they will whisper into your ear and come within an inch of your face. At one point, a giant piece of fabric covers the entire tractor, creating a feeling of disorientation.
The sets are quite elaborate, which makes the high ticket price seem worth it. My favorite scene was a twisted Christmas scenario with scary drummer boys and a clown santa. In a majority of the scenes, there is a heavy dose of comedy along with the horror.
The 2013 theme is supposed to be serial killers. The scenes didn't always stick to the theme, which was a bit of a disappointment. Serial killers is such a rich theme, that there should have been no reason to have strayed away from it. A stronger story, including setting up the story in the queue, would have made for a better experience. My favorite nod to the serial killers was the actor playing John Wayne Gacy. He really got into character.
After the hayride, we walked around the grounds and interacted with several creepy characters. Although I was still jumpy, the horror factor is far toned down from something like Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. At the Hayride, the actors give you a little startle, but they move on. At Horror Nights, the terrorize and actively pursue you. I can't handle it!
We skipped the maze, which sounded terrifying. I could hear chainsaws and screams.
They have a great tent where you can take pictures inside horror sets with props. It was stuff like a guillotine and a bloody bathroom set. There was also a tent where you could carve pumpkins and a carousel with skeleton animals that ran backwards.
We ended up spending about two hours at the event and had a great time. The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride runs through Halloween and is sure to be back in 2014. Check out their official website for tickets and information.
If this chicken can handle it, so can you!