Eden reviews the LA Haunted Hayride and In Between Maze

Located in the Old Zoo area of Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is a darkly scary PG-13 Halloween attraction.  Arriving early on a Sunday night, we waited only half an hour, but noticed the lines getting much longer as the night went on.  Tickets are available online or with cash only at the “Ticket Crypt” box office.  Don’t worry, there are plenty of mobile ATMs nearby.  General Admission is for the Hayride only or you can purchase the Double Attraction pass which includes the up charge “In Between Maze”.  VIP tickets which include front of the line access are also available.

Heeding the warning “YOU WILL GET WET”, guests put on free ponchos and are counted off into groups of thirty and placed in chainlink holding pens.  This is fun and a little intimidating, as scare actors stalk us inside the fences.  You feel a little like lambs to the slaughter.  The wagon is low to the ground, but there are no seats.  You are sitting on the floor in soggy hay.  Once everyone is (nearly) seated, the hayride takes off and enters the world of “The Congregation”.  The story, according to the website, is of a child named Aleister who was discovered in the woods by the Clifton Twins.  Aleister “preached a dark religion” and converted the village to his evil cult.  He eventually set fire to a church and all perished.  Now, Aleister has returned with his followers to show you these events unfolding.

We roll past large complex sets featuring the Clifton Twins, an old barn, the church, and then move through other areas that are loosely connected to the story.  Scare actors jump and run alongside us, leaning over the sides of the wagon to whisper in our ears.  Some sets add comic relief, like the stage with a robotic 80s hair band, and the nasty North Pole with a horned Father Christmas screaming, “Happy Horrordays, Bitches”!  Some of the people in our wagon were genuinely scared by the choreographed attacks.  I felt a little too protected inside the wagon walls, so the scare factor for me was less impressive than the sheer size of the event.  The ride takes about twenty-five minutes and is accompanied by a soundtrack that is at times ear-splitting, and other times delightfully demonic..

Exiting the Hayride, we walk through Purgatory with a shopping Boo-tique, a free skeletal carousel ride that runs backwards, a Side Show, and free psychic readings (donations accepted).  There is a food area outside Purgatory, but you can gain access back and forth as long as you hold on to your ticket stub.

An upcharge of nine dollars is required to enter the maze.  This is worth every penny.  Everyone in our group LOVED this maze!  Groups of ten are plunged into COMPLETE DARKNESS with only a flashing red lantern to light the way.  The lantern is held by the first person in the group and the rest are supposed to follow Scooby-Doo style into a total blackout.  The only other visible lights are glimpses of other lanterns from groups ahead of you.

The creators have done a great job of keeping you confused by constantly turning tight corners as you move forward.  There were plenty of screams, and a few panicked whispers as I rounded corners with the lantern, leaving my group in the dark until they caught up. There are a few dead ends, which led to some giggles as we bumped past other groups while backing up.  There had to be dozens of scare actors inside roaming around with us because we found creeps, aliens, and mutants around almost every corner.  The flashing red light also helped ramp up the scare quotient by allowing actors with great timing to appear and then disappear as the light flashed on and off.

The Hayride was fun, but we loved the maze so much that we immediately wanted to go through again.  At the box office, we were told that this was impossible without purchasing another Hayride Double Attraction pass for $37.  I hope the organizers will consider selling the Hayride and Maze tickets separately next year.  The brilliant maze was worth repeating, but not worth the price of another roll in the hay.