It was a dark and stormy night….
No–it really was when we went to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride just last week. I mean, it couldn’t get any more Autumn than that–especially after having really hot Octobers the past few years. The looming threat of rain and darkened skies welcomed us to the Old LA Zoo, where the haunt has lived for the past 10 years. It was an eerie delight.
I spoke to Melisa Carone, the creator of the hayride, she reminisced when I asked her what her most memorable moments were in all the years of the event. “The Haunted Hayride for me is the most magical thing in the world. It’s my first born. Picking one memory is hard. Although, I will say in year one: the feeling the first time I looked out to the street and saw a line of cars as far as the eye can see. That’s when I realized we were viable. I think that’s the thing I remember the most with emotion. It was incredible, we had gone through such a tumultuous ride to build it. And to see the lines of people showing up was incredible.”
Getting into the event, as it started to sprinkle you could tell that the rain wasn’t scaring anyone away. Excited haunt goers posed in front of the iconic pumpkin pyramid and were being followed through the new pumpkin tunnel by roaming monsters as a fog machine enveloped the space with the damp air making it harder to see through. The atmosphere was perfect, and the orange glow of the lights when you entered the event felt like you were being transported to a place where you could just bask in the Halloween spirit.
“My hope is that the Hayride will live in Hollywood as a Halloween icon forever. Being a part of that has allowed us to have one in Nashville, and we have 15 Halloween attractions throughout the country as a company. I would love to see the Haunted Hayride touch more communities and more markets.” Carbone shared looking around at what she’s built.
Lines filled up the queues of the Trick or Treat attraction where brave attendees tried their luck at knocking on the doors of an insane and demonic neighborhood where you’re guaranteed terrifying tricks and terrific treats. Then there’s also the resident Dark Maze, which surrounds you in darkness and flashing lights as you make your way through with some of the haunts familiar faces–all too eager to lead you astray.
And at the top of the hill rests the main attraction, which every year takes truck lift loads of people through the woods for a dark ride come to life. Always a little bit of theater mixed with haunt set pieces, music, elaborate costumes, dances under the moonlight and some of the best scares in the industry unfolds nightly during the run. There’s a bit of the new mixed in with some of the old that the haunt has become known for. Favorite scenes tend to make a comeback in some capacity, and there’s one this year in particular that garnered the most visceral and loudest reaction of any year. “Over the years some of the seeds that have become their own pieces of content like the congregation scene at the top of the trail. And the iconic epic scenes you’ve seen as staples over the years.” Melissa shared and revealed that the event inspired various ideas that could be seen throughout other events her company Ten Thirty-One productions plans to continue to put on. “We have the Great Horror Campout, I feel that there’s going to be some other excellent Horror content, that’s less haunt and more light show and a pumpkin walk sort of thing. We have the Great Horror Movie night, which isn’t going anywhere. There’s a ton happening in the Halloween space for us.
Looking forward to the many ways the company engages the Los Angeles Haunt community and anyone who loves Halloween, Melissa plants her pumpkin roots firmly. “But for the next ten years living in Hollywood as the hull of this tradition, that’s really what I wanna see.”
And in its celebratory 10th year as a must-see attraction, the company brings out the best in the season. Rain or shine! And we have to admit, going through the hayride in the rain just gave it an even more magical element–even as we screamed for our lives in a bed of hay being dragged through unspeakable terrors.
Now thru October 31. For more info on the LA Haunted Hayride check out: losangeleshauntedhayride.com