Halloween is my favorite holiday. In fact you could say (I say) I’m Halloween Obsessed. I spend the month of October watching 31 days of horror movies, my Halloween decoration boxes out number my Christmas boxes 3 to 1 and I even had a Halloween themed Costume Ball for my wedding. So my obsession is legit.
This time of year offers up a number of scare fests. The first one on my Halloween to do list is the LA Haunted Hayride. It’s my third consecutive year attending the spook fest at the Old LA Zoo in Griffith Park. The abandoned zoo is creepy on it’s own, even in daylight. But the Haunted Hayride attraction takes the scare level up a few notches.
You board a hayride with about 25 other people and after wiggling your way into a comfortable but cramped seated position the ride begins. I don’t want to ruin all the spooky details for you, so I will keep this vague. What I can tell you is that they immediately cover the entire hayride in a blackout curtain. You begin moving into the scare zone in total darkness, this sets the tone perfectly. The theme this year is the Boogeyman. Not my favorite Halloween character, but I was optimistic as it lends itself to many incarnations. The hayride takes you through a series of vignettes that depict different scary scenes. Occasionally the hayride stops to allow longer scenes to play out. Be warned, the scare actors love misdirection. If they have your attention on one side, you can be sure something terrible is about to jump out on the opposite side. The entire ride lasts about twenty minutes.
TIPS for a successful Haunted Hayride!
- Arrive early. I can’t stress this enough. The gates open at 7pm. This is the first year I arrived at 7pm and I was so grateful. The line backs up quickly. One year I waited an hour and a half before boarding my ride. This year I waited maybe 35 minutes.
- Go with a good group of like minded friends. You have time to kill in line, so make sure to go with people who want to chat. The hayride has become something of a tradition with some other Halloween obsessed friends of mine. We usually spend the time talking about our latest favorite horror flicks.
- Sit on the outer edges of the hayride, or even better the very back if you can manage it. The actors will mess with people who are sitting along the edges. This gives you your best chance to be scared. If you get to sit in the very back, the actors will sometimes chase the hayride as you flee a scene. I sat in the back once and it was easily my favorite spot. On the other hand if you’ve dragged along a few friends that aren’t that keen on being messed with, they can sit in the middle of the hayride and comfortably enjoy the spooky scenes without any real interaction with the monsters.
- Try your best to ignore the idiots. You’ve paid good money to get scared so go with it. Sadly there is one (or two) in every group that feels the need to say things like, “nice costume.” Or yell, “dude your voice isn’t even scary.” Most of the time these are teenage boys trying their best to look cool in front of whatever girl they begged to come with them. I try to remember that people that need to joke about the scary things, are likely the ones most afraid.
- Check out the rest of the scare fest. I definitely recommend a trip on the Scary-Go-Round. A Merry-Go-Round with skeleton horses. Last year it went backwards, this year it only went forward. Either way it’s fun. The Theatre of the Macabre calls for audience participation to act out scenes from classic horror movies on stage. I saw a girl reenacting a scene from Gremlins get attacked on stage by an actor dressed as a killer Gremlin/Christmas tree. Hilarious! Stop by the Death Row Photo Op tent. There are creepy sets you can take photos in. They have an electric chair, a morgue table, a guillotine and more. Here’s me in a crime scene setup:
- There are plenty of creepy costumed actors wandering around. They will try to sneak up on you. If they come up to you, DON’T RUN. They will chase you. Which is fun to watch while you’re waiting in line.
The Haunted Hayride has expanded over the years. It now includes two other scare mazes. I have yet to try them out. I have some other spooky haunted mazes on my to-do list. But if you want one stop shopping for your Halloween events, this place definitely delivers variety. It’s only an extra $13 dollars on top of the $30 Hayride ticket price to see all the attractions.
As this is my third consecutive year attending the Haunted Hayride I can’t help myself but compare each to the previous years. If I were to rank them I would say this year is better than last year, but not as good as the first. Maybe it’s because it was all so new to me then? Maybe the theme this year just didn’t resonate with me? One year they did LA Serial Killers and it was amazing! Maybe the budget for actors and sets has been stretched due to the expansion of the other mazes? I’m not sure of the reason, but it felt like something was missing. I still had some good scares and jumps during the ride and the actors are always awesome. If you have never been, you have to go. At least once. It’s a completely different scare experience than any other here in Los Angeles. The sets are beautiful and the music, lighting and fog are timed to creepy perfection. Even a so-so year at the Haunted Hayride is still better than many Haunted attractions I’ve attended. There is still time to check it out for yourself. But act quickly, hayride tickets sell out as there is only a limited number of seats.
Get your tickets here!