The one thing you should know about this year’s Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is the horrifying scale of at least two of the ride’s scenes. While the built sets are relatively minimalistic (set in the always spooky Griffith Park, they barely have a need for production design), the use of legions of castmembers is what we expect to create the most nightmares for visitors long after October ends.
Now in it’s fourth year, LAHH (as us insiders sometimes call it) has proven to be a consistently quality staple of the Los Angeles haunt scene. Guests ride a hay filled cart with thirty others as it is pulled through the Old Zoo grounds of Griffith Park. Frequent appearances by the undead, military agents, demons, and other unsavory creatures terrorize passengers, sometimes appearing out of the shadows and following the cart as it makes it’s way between scenes. What makes Los Angeles Haunted Hayride as brilliantly fun as it has been is the cast itself that rely more on whispered threats, evil stares, and overall character than snarls and yelling to terrorize guests.
The standout improvement at the attraction is at the In Between Maze. Visitors to this side attraction are given a weakly-lit lantern to make their way through a pitch black maze filled with snarling monsters, chainsaw armed denizens, and other creatures you barely see. In the past few years, the maze has been easy to move through and understaffed.
This year, however, it was filled with assorted creatures that seemed to coordinate how and when to appear, sending this reviewer scurrying back down paths we’d already seen. And I swear that they also built in sliding panels to further confuse visitors – the ‘ol “follow one wall” trick to escape a maze never seemed to work here.
Back to the Hayride – our big disappoinment is that while some of the scenes were filled to the gills with scareactors, and the experience longer than in past years, we had a general sense that there was less to see along the route. Additionally, a returning gimmick of broken animatronic characters run amok was unaffective and silly.
Regardless, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is one of the best quality standalone mazes in town. Starting at $25 a ride, this may be cost prohibitive for some, but you’re guaranteed a haunt experience free of the conga-line effect that plagues most mazes, and guests can also enjoy other attractions such as a “scary-go-round,” staged sideshow, and psychics for free. Oh, and parking is free.
On a closing note, we’ve been told that Ten Thirty One Production, the producers of LAHH, will be expanding by opening a haunted hayride in New York next year. I think this speaks volumes – a hayride from Los Angeles daring to move onto the coast where hayrides dominate. Can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store!