Los Angeles Haunted Hayride

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride saw a few changes this year. For one, Plague Productions and Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group are driving the tractor

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Los Angeles Haunted Hayride saw a few changes this year. For one, Plague Productions and Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group are driving the tractor, not just Ten Thirty One Productions alone. For two, the entire attraction has coalesced under a single theme: Midnight Falls, a cursed town circa 1982. 

Midnight Falls, like many ‘haunted’ towns, is home to a variety of monsters, from the cryptids in the woods to the vampires in the cemetery. Its spooky events are particularly pronounced around Halloween, so we’ve all picked just the best/worst time to visit.

Guests entered under a canopy of pumpkins, then emerged in Town Square. The Town Square consisted of photo ops—a welcome to Midnight Falls sign, a dubious ice cream truck, a stack of giant pumpkins and so on. Roaming creeps stalked the ground, while 80s-inspired tracks were intercut with foreboding radio announcements. At some point, an undead singer performed bare-bones (no pun intended) covers with keyboard accompaniment. The Scary Go Round, which you may remember from previous years, was also set up, though its skeletal animals don’t give rides. 

The Town Square is where many folks spent a lot of their time as the lines on opening night were long. Just driving into Griffith Park was a 40-minute ordeal. We eventually told our Lyft driver he could let us out as soon as he could find a place to turn and we’d walk the rest of the way. That turned out to be a wise move, as it probably saved us a half hour or more. Were it not for our VIP wristbands, we would have had another line just to get in, then even more for the attractions. So, I highly recommend splurging on that VIP ticket or going on an off-night, unless you’re on a first date and you’re keen on telling one another your entire life stories. 

Of course, the main focus of Haunted Hayride is that hayride. We were corralled into a small holding pen, then crammed onto a hay-filled trailer. We were packed in pretty tight, but what we lacked in comfort, we made up for in new friends. 

The ride took a meandering pace through a series of tableaus, most of them drawing on urban legends or other horror tropes. Lover’s Lane, werewolves, human sacrifices galore. My favorite scene took place in the town’s lake, where clever effects made it seem like we’d pulled right into the water (without actually getting wet, of course). 

I wouldn’t say the Hayride is as “scary” as other haunts this year, or even as scary as Midnight Falls’ other attractions, it is always such an autumn-appropriate joy. What else do they have?

Midnight Mortuary: This maze took us through more of the town. We filed through a decrepit house where ghost-headed monsters reigned supreme and a twisted chapel where, if you so chose, you could crawl through a narrow body chute. (Of course I did.)

The Roadkill Ranch: Roadkill Ranch is a strobe-heavy, hillbilly-chocked maze stocked with vicious beasts. This time, the roadkill are out for revenge. A good portion of this maze is set up with hay bales, which reminds me of fall in the Midwest. 

Trick or Treat: Trick or Treat is a true delight and my favorite attraction of the night. It wasn’t necessarily gory or scary, but instead played with campy 50s/60s sci-fi and horror tropes. Guests essentially walk through a neighborhood of monsters, ringing their doorbells in exchange for mild scares. Each monster is seen in their suburban life, lawns decorated for Halloween. An extraterrestrial, for instance, has an astronaut figure near his front door. A werewolf lounges with a cooler of beer in front of his RV. A devil wants to introduce us to his baby. It’s interactive, very cute, a little creepy, and perfect for this event. 

Haunted Hayride also offers mini-escape rooms for an additional fee, though we did not get a chance to try them on opening night. 

There’s something very charming about this year’s event. It feels homegrown, but not in a disappointing way. If you can deal with the crowds, this is a solid choice for cute, seasonal dates and friend outings, even if one of you is a bit of a scaredy-cat.