The Annual Los Angeles Haunted Hayride Pulls into Town Bringing Both Tricks and Treats
Article and Photos by: Scott Feinblatt
All Aboard the Doomed Express!
The phrase “haunted hayride” tends to
conjure images of children being
leisurely carted around a cornfield
bedecked with various macabre
vignettes. In fact, this was the image
that I held in my mind while growing up
in the Midwest, where we actually
farms and cornfields. However, in the
world of Los Angeles-brand
entertainment, sitting in a trailer full of
hay during a tractor ride through lively
and eclectic lavish scenarios does not
seem particularly incongruous.
Furthermore, some aspects of
Thirty One Productions / Los Angeles
Haunted Hayride's attraction were more
befitting of the epithets “startling and
disturbing” than of “tranquil and idyllic”.
Now in its fifth year of operation, this haunt was advertised as being “Based on Actual Events.” General statements
on the haunt's website mention that various instances of abduction, torture, murder and paranormal activity have
occurred in
Griffith Park, and a public relations information sheet, handed to members of the press, elaborated
slightly with references to “the legend and curse of Petranillia,” and wandering spirits of orphanage fire victims;
beyond that, there is not much to enlighten guests as to what, exactly, had happened. At the beginning of the
hayride, guests are towed past a string of television sets which may have revealed some of this history, but my
fellow passengers were too busy chatting their fears away – or engaging in inane chatter – to assume a studious
and / or submissive attitude.
In any event, the actual hayride is very
entertaining. Prior to actually boarding
the flatbed full of hay, guests are
herded into a holding cage that is
meant to size the group into an
appropriate portion and, perhaps, to
fill guests with the notion that they are
nothing more than livestock being
incrementally led to the killing floors.
Some of the highlights along the 25
minute tour include a wicker man
vignette, a gospel clown church and,
in a test of taste, performers depicting
a cross-section of historical serial
killers in a Christmas-parade scenario.
There are some very creative and
disorienting gags that I don't want to
share on the basis of protecting
Finally, The In Between maze was a
quality experience. Those who
remember it from last year will recall
that guests enter the attraction as a
group, with the leader holding a small
lantern to guide the group through a
labyrinth which is black save for
strobe lights. This intermittent lighting
design provided enough glimpses of
the various walls of the maze for
guests to find their way around one
corner at a time – while providing no
illumination for the various crevices
where performers would lay in wait for
their victims. The maze was fairly
complex, and, somehow, I wound up
exiting in the company of a different
group from the one with which I had
potential surprises; however, one distinctly new gimmick
this year was variously colored lights worn on the heads
of performers (which were reminiscent of the glowing
orifices of the antagonistic multitudes in the recent
Edgar Wright film
The World's End).

In addition to the title attraction, there was a variety of
diversions collectively referred to as Purgatory, a maze
called The In Between and a “Black Carpet” reception
(premiere night only), where a cadre of mostly youthful
celebrities greeted and posed for the press. Going
back, for a moment, to Los Angeles-brand
entertainment, I suppose that it behooves the event's
sponsors to showcase celebrities in an effort to bring in
more guests; however, this incentive is a rather odd
compliment to a haunted attraction – especially given
the rustic connotation of a hayride and the fact that few,
if any, of the young actors are known for appearing in
horror films.

As for Purgatory, most horror fans, myself included, are
always happy when surrounded by various macabre
props and demented characters. Purgatory delivered in
this regard. Furthermore, said demented characters
were well-performed, and some of their costume
designs were very imaginative and brilliantly executed.
Other diversions included: live performances, a tent
containing various horror sets for guests to create their
own souvenir photos, a house of mirrors, a horror-
themed carousel, fortune tellers, food vendors and a
presentation by professional paranormal investigators.
entered. Once my new group had successfully
navigated the indoor maze, there was an
outdoor extension with walls made of plastic
sheeting and wire. Various characters,
surprised, tormented and otherwise engaged
each group. In one delightful instance, a ghoul
demanded that someone in my group tell a
joke, dance or kiss her feet – otherwise she
claimed she would not let us pass; instead, she
would kill us all. The outdoor extension
eventually led back into another area of the
indoor portion of the maze. Shortly thereafter,
my group was confronted with one of those air-
cushion corridors where guests must squeeze
“in between” two gigantic cushions of
parachute material, made taught by
compressed air. One member of my group had
a panic attack at this phase, and, after I had
entered by myself, I never saw him again.
Though this is not an entirely uncommon
feature of haunts, the air-cushions of this
particular maze were especially difficult to push
through due to the high pressurization of the
fabric walls; additionally, the corridor through
which guests needed to struggle to get to an
open area was exceedingly long. Once we
were through it, we were greeted by yet
another air-cushion corridor. This was a very
effective way to instill otherwise non-
claustrophobic people with a sense of being
helplessly enclosed.

The designs and scares of the attractions, with
aspects of Purgatory as sprinkles on top, make
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride a worthwhile
event for horror fans. Naturally, the guests are
primarily teenyboppers and civilian
couples, but that's a given at most haunts.
From the drive up the isolated and rustic
road which leads to the Old Zoo at Griffith
Park (where the event is held) all comers
will enter an atmospheric environment that
will enchant their sensibilities.
To see additional photos of Los
Angeles Haunted Hayride, visit the
Horror Works
Facebook page.