LA Haunted Hayride 2019 Review
A few years ago, we attended LA Haunted Hayride under my previous theme park podcast. We hadn’t been to the event before and we were very excited to see what people were so excited about. We left fairly disappointed because we didn’t feel as though the theme was cohesive, the experiences were lack luster and ultimately didn’t find it scary. We can live without getting scared as long as the experience itself was fun! Along with the price of admission, the whole experience really left a sour taste in our mouths.
Fast forward years later, we attended LA Haunted Hayride for Theme Park Duo this year. We were so pleasantly surprised by the improvements and additions to the event that completely changed our perspective. Below is our thoughts about our experiences at LA Haunted Hayride 2019!
THE TOWN OF MIDNIGHT FALLS
Midnight Falls is proudly hosting its 13th annual Halloween Festival for 1985. However, this strange town is always celebrating Halloween and it’s always 1985. But that doesn’t stop the citizens from enjoying the festival’s bizarre celebratory offerings. Visiting the Midnight Falls residents in the town square, neighborhoods and exploring the local establishments reveal more of the strange and sinister secrets behind this eerie town.
The biggest difference between this year and previous years Hayrides was the atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed the traditional (with an edge) Halloween style and all the fun inhabitants of Midnight Falls. This main scare zone of the event is called Town Square and it truly feels like Midnight Falls’ Town Square. Each character is unique and fun in their own way, yet still play their part to drive the story line that this is a quaint yet cursed small town. From a Jock Football player and a snotty Cheerleader to the towns Pest Control Man and Midnight Falls Diner Chef; it was incredibly fun to interact with all these unique characters while absorbing more and more of the towns history and back story.
Something we liked a lot about this scare zone is how it had a great mixture of humor and scares. Some of the characters were sinister, yet that was balanced with the hilarious characters such as the Midnight Falls Diner Server. We had an interaction with him that left us in tears. Overall, Town Square actually felt like a place I wanted to hang out and relax while having a coffee on a cold fall evening! If you visit Hayride this year, we implore you to talk to the cast of wacky characters because it really enhances the entire experience.
Within the foothills of Midnight Falls, The Hayride leads to a thrilling adventure of horrors afflicting the town. Out in the darkness, a portal has opened spilling hideous creatures from its rotted mouth. The spirit of Halloween comes to life surrounding helpless victims brave enough to board The Hayride.
The Hayride was the last stop of the night for us, save the best for last! We got in line and stopped for one of the three fun photo-ops located just inside the line entrance (tip: hang on to that photo card! They cannot locate your photo without it)
With the photo op taken care of, we waited in line to get on the hayride. You enter through a gas station facade and are placed into shipping containers to await loading into the tractor-pulled hay wagons. Our suggestion is to sit facing slightly forward to get the best view of everything happening around you. Once we were all situated, and as comfortable as you can get sitting in a bunch of hay, we were off to explore the outskirts of Midnight Falls!
The Hayride is located at the site of the old Zoo in Griffith Park, and they definitely took advantage of the old enclosures to create fantastic show moments! From an unfortunate couple at lookout point, to some interesting creatures down by the lake, no place in midnight falls is safe!
While a lot of people in our wagon were scared and startled, we were not among them. I chalk that up to the fact that we have been to so many of these haunts that we are a little desensitized, and where we were located in the wagon; We were right at the top corner next to the tractor, not the easiest spot to scare. Although we were not scared… we had a ton of fun! In years past the hayride hasn’t felt the most cohesive story-wise. But this year was a well fleshed out theme that carried through the entire ride!
Funny enough, one of our favorite parts of the hayride was after you hopped off the wagon! In order to get back to the main area, you had to pass through a graveyard ‘ scare zone’ of sorts. And did we mention that the graveyard is filled with all of the cursed troubled youth of Midnight Falls?? It was a wonderful area and a complete surprise ending to the Hayride! It felt very much like “The Lost Boys” (an iconic 80’s Vampire movie) and we thought it worked perfect. Also, each town has to have it’s own graveyard and it’s nice to see that the designers panned this story out from top to bottom. We wanted to ride the Hayride all over again just to go back through the graveyard!
The dark and ominous house at the end of the street looms over Midnight Falls. Owned and operated by the Marlow family for decades, the local funeral parlor holds many sinister secrets. The town’s mysteries can be found breaking-through the dim hallways of the Midnight Mortuary.
Probably the scariest of all the offerings at Hayride this year, Midnight Mortuary turns up the creep factor and delivery a very dark experience filled with plenty of monsters and fun set pieces. In fact, this experience was so scary, we saw two girls completely loose their S*** in this maze. One ditched her friend and ran out the entrance and the other one latched onto us and buried her head into our arms and asked to hold our hands. We were happy to help yet we found it hysterical how insanely scared she was through the maze.
Now we’ve said it plenty of times, we are jaded and hardened Haunt goers and it takes A LOT to get us scared. So seeing people freaking out, scream and laughing; we know that people found this one the scariest. One of the scenes we loved was the ending! We won’t spoil it for you, but it’s big and we were very impressed.
Just on the outskirts of Midnight Falls, mysterious ranch hands are responsible for collecting the main highway’s deceased varmints. However, their hack methods of body disposal come back to bite with an insatiable vengeance. Within the dreadful chaos lurking inside, face the horrifying wrath of an ancient entity crawling inside Roadkill Ranch.
Now we wouldn’t want you to miss this maze so so make sure you look to your left as you enter the event, this maze is tucked away near the entrance of LA Haunted Hayride.
This maze wasn’t the scariest for us, but boy was it gruesome! If you’re a gore lover, this is a must see attraction. The maze design was very thorough and fun! With each claustrophobic turn, you’re anxiously awaiting a monster to greet you. As you travel through the ranch you start to realize that maybe more than just road kill is getting hacked up and disposed of in this ranch from hell. We enjoyed the outside portion with all the hay bales (although it would have been a little more intense if the hay bales were stacked higher). Griffith Park is a sprawling area lush with trees and we love how this maze really takes you outside the bounds of the maze and into the trees behind the event. That area at night (not during Halloween) can be rather unnerving alone. But take that environment and place it within the confines of a story where you’re the one being stalked by all manner of murderous inhabitants and it takes it to 11!
TRICK OR TREAT
Local homes inside Midnight Falls spring to life, driven by the spirit of Halloween But it is soon discovered the ghoulish residents have far more tricks on their mind than treats. The wondrous magic of a traditional neighborhood Halloween celebration is turned upside down as terrors stalk the streets in Trick-or-Treat.
Mixing the traditional Halloween style with some genuine scares, Trick or Treat was much more fun than it has been in the past. We actually got a great scare from a wonderful misdirection gag!
Trick or Treat does a great job balancing the humor of the holiday with the gruesome nature of a haunted house many people are looking for when attending an event like this. A lot of that can be contributed to the wonderful cast of characters calling this maze home for the season. Each one of them has really developed their own character and personality to make it feel as though these monsters are just a twisted and gruesome form of your neighbors down the street. Whether that be a Werewolf hillbilly in front of a trailer or a Demon in a track suit!
The only down side to this experience was how it really just culminated in a series of black walls. This was a bit disappointing given the fact that the whole first 3/4 of the maze was wonderfully designed and decorated. Adding more scares can help alleviate this issue slightly, but we would have preferred to see the experience end instead of devolving into just a tangle of black hallways.
While covering these events, we try to stay cognizant of the idea that we are experiencing these events with limited waiting. This can drastically change our perspective on these attractions because if we were to wait 3 hours, we might have different thoughts. And to be honest, almost nothing is worth a 3 hour line; Not just at LA Haunted Hayride, but at any Halloween event. On the day we attended (opening night), we had heard the line for the Hayride was upwards of 3 hours! The lines for the other attractions were also absurdly long. This can happen because of many different variables. Also, opening night is very difficult because each and every position ( including monsters) are settling into their spots and figuring it all out. It’s easy to have a plan, but to actually execute that plan without flaws is nearly impossible. Each event, even the biggest, adjust and change over the course of the season.
We can only hope that operations figures out exactly how to streamline operations in order to efficiently fit as many people into each attraction as possible. With that being said, we do think that it makes plenty sense that the one attraction that has a major line is The Hayride. The event is called LA Haunted HAYRIDE for a reason after all. If this is the attraction you want to experience first, make sure you prioritize your night accordingly.
Another issue people seemed to have with the event, on night one, was the parking and security line. Specifically with parking, the website says:
“Free public parking is available, but not plentiful in our two lower lots around Griffith Park.”
They also provide a map showing the distance of the parking lots and the event with another statement:
“Parking will be directed west on Fire road until upper lots are filled. After with traffic will be directed east to the lower lots where there is plenty of parking. Those parking in the lower lots can catch a shuttle out front of Crystal Springs Picnic Area Pad B.”
If you do your homework and read the information on the site, its no shock that parking seems to be difficult in this area. Even if you are unfamiliar with this part of Los Angeles, that should mean you should do more research to make sure you’re good to go. Along with that, showing up early can greatly impact your experience in a positive way. This is also a great opportunity to utilize ride sharing apps so you don’t even need to worry about the possible parking problems.
We’ve seen it way to many times, people show up to a haunted attractions a couple hours after the event has opened and complain about parking and lines. If you want to avoid all of this, just show up early and read the website. It can really help alleviate almost all problems.
The one issue we cannot explain away is the length of the security line. In this day and age, we all love knowing our safety is key to these events. But we also would love to expedite these processes so we can get to fun sooner. More security booths and maybe a “no bag line” could really help speed up this process. But overall, safety takes time.
With one main over arching storyline and attractions that enhance the main story, LA Haunted Hayride feels completely overhauled from the top to bottom. We absolutely adore the traditional Halloween style, with an edge! From theming to story, it felt as though each detail of the experience was thought about to help create an event that not only made sense, but was unbelievably fun! You can tell where Plague Productions has put its twisted spin on the event, but it doesn’t detract from the attractions. These major changes has really placed it in the top Haunts of the season for us. To us, haunts are not only judged based on scares alone. If that were the case, then each haunt wouldn’t be good. But it should be judged on how much fun you had, along with the scares. The additions and classics at Hayride make for an unbelievably fun time on a cold fall night. Now that’s not saying there were zero hiccups, which there inevitably always will be. But even with these minor issues, LA Haunted Hayride has created two new fans! We cannot wait to see what they have in store for next year!
If you want to buy tickets to LA Haunted Hayride this season, make sure you visit their website!