REVIEW: Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
One of the strangest attractions in Los Angeles is Griffith Park’s Old Zoo. Abandoned in the 1960’s, it has since become a destination for the curious urban explorer. Inquisitive locals and tourists alike have spent time exploring the remnants of the large animal cages which remain standing. Yet, it is a stretch of the imagination to envision that every October the abandoned zoo transforms into the LA Haunted Hayride (@lahauntedhayride), a magnificent Halloween event which offers a timeless, supernatural feeling as you venture through dark forests enshrouded in creeping fog.
The Haunted Hayride has a very interesting background. The creator of the Haunted Hayride is Melissa Carbone, the founder of Ten Thirty One Productions - one of the few female owned and operated businesses in the horror entertainment industry. Prior to creating the Haunted Hayride, Melissa worked with Clear Channel and more recently helped to create the country music Tailgate Festival. She famously set the record for the amount of investment money awarded on Shark Tank, which she used to expand the New York location of the Haunted Hayride. Melissa has also partnered with 13th Floor for the LA and Nashville Hayride locations. Yet, to our benefit, the Haunted Hayride has resisted being taken over by corporate branding (outside of the Ouija film sponsorship a few years ago), thereby offering a completely original haunt experience.
The Haunted Hayride is now in its 10th year of transforming part of Griffith Park into an eerie and macabre carnival filled with spooky attractions, ghoulish characters, and delicious treats. The entrance and common area, named “Purgatory”, has always been a holiday favorite where haunters and the curious gather to enjoy the food truck provided by Doomie’s Home Cookin’ (@doomies). Haunt goers can sit on haystacks and watch monsters roam amok in the orange tinged shadows, sometimes popping out when you least expect it. You can have your future revealed at one of the psychic reading tents or take a ride on the backwards running, horse skeleton “Scary-Go-Round” carousel (fun unknown fact is that Tim Burton collaborator and Slayer album cover artist, Albert Cuellar, created this attraction). The 10th anniversary of Haunted Hayride also presents the impressive debut of Pumpkin Beast, a 17-foot mechanical monster installation, which is now the centerpoint of the Purgatory area.
In celebration of its decade long run, the Haunted Hayride has included a collection of highlights from years past. This includes one of our favorite scenes: the lone, shadowy woman who pushes her baby carriage through a silent, darkened graveyard. This scene is very chilling as it captures feelings associated with desolate, rural haunts. This year also returns to the original hayride pathway without the interruption of a dismount to enter a maze - a great move on their part! Haunt goers can also visit the House Of Shadows, a blacked out, strobe light filled maze which this year has an additional freezer area in the second part of the maze. The wonderful Trick or Treat maze has quickly become our favorite attraction to visit. This simple and unique concept transports you to Halloween night in a strange and mysterious neighborhood where murderers, creatures, and radioactive monsters reside. As your group goes house to house you remain in suspense as you knock on each door, unsure of whether you will receive a trick or a treat.
Going a decade strong, the Haunted Hayride continues to be a seasonal tradition for all Angelinos and absolutely worth a visit, even if just for the Halloween treat of Doomie’s pumpkin fritters!
October 10, 2018
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