The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride returns this year with its theme of “The Boogeyman”. After what I considered to be one of its stronger seasons last year I had high hopes for the return of L.A. Haunted Hayride. Unfortunately it just didn’t turn out the way that I expected.
Like previous years, guests board the hayride that takes them through the old LA Zoo in Griffith Park. As soon as the hayride began moving something very cool happened. A black tarp was draped over the guests in the vehicle causing complete darkness. This excited me. I thought it was a great way to surprise guests when that first scare happens. Unfortunately thirty seconds later the cover is removed and we’ve barely moved a few feet making it rather pointless. It left me wondering what they were trying to do with it and frankly, upset that it wasn’t used in a better fashion. This covering was used again later in the hayride with equally disappointing results.
Overall the theming of this hayride was confusing. We came across Vikings, murderers, waltzers etc. all tying into the theme of boogeymen through the years. I didn’t get it and I don’t think anybody else did either. The effects and performances that we got last year and in previous years were nowhere to be found. There was no moment of “Cool. I’ve never seen that at a haunt before.”
In addition to the hayride they also offer some smaller side haunts which ended up being the better parts of the evening. “Trick or Treat” was a clever tented walk through where you travel from scene to scene with your group. At each scene there is a door and you simply trick or treat with different monsters/characters answering the doors. House of Shadows was more like a traditional haunt maze featuring full scenes in each room. If the timing and rehearsal of this attraction had been stronger it could have been a highlight. And finally there is the return of the In-Between Dark Maze where you need to find your way out in the dark.
This was the first year that the LA Haunted Hayride had its sister attraction also running, the New York Haunted Hayride. It seems to be a case of a company trying to grow too quickly. It definitely felt like half of their resources were taken away from LA and brought to New York. It’s unfortunate since they had a good thing going and now they’ve hurt their LA audience appeal for future years. I sincerely hope that LA Haunted Hayride has learned some lessons this year and will come back in full swing for future years. In the past they had set a level of production that their audience has grown to expect and they simply did not deliver it this year.