10 years ago, while looking for something to do in mid-October, I can remember seeing an ad for the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. At the time, three of the four major theme parks in the L.A. area were also doing their annual Halloween activities, which had grown a bit stale. So I ventured to Griffith Park and was blown away. Fast forward to a few nights ago and my return visit to Griffith Park with two of my nieces and to say we had a blast would be an understatement.
The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is actually more than just a hayride. Sure it has the hayride through the old L.A. Zoo, but it also consists of two “mazes” and Purgatory, which is the main area of the event.
You enter through the gates to Purgatory, an area full of monsters and amazing sights. This main hub of the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride really does a great job of setting up for what is to come. Between monsters that follow you and the large Pumpkin King, you get those creeping feelings as soon as you enter.
House of Shadows
When I titled this article “The Most Unique Halloween Event,” I wasn’t just using buzzwords. The entire Haunted Hayride is not like anything I have done in my Halloween travels across the US, and the House of Shadows was the first thing I did that made it so. In California, any “Haunted attraction walk-thru” is called a maze even though you follow a single path getting you from the entrance to exit. Well, House of Shadows is, in fact, a maze, with multiple paths — some leading to dead ends and other leading to scary rooms. We got lost in this maze a few times, which wasn’t helped by some of the monsters (of which there were plenty) actually directing us toward dead ends. This is what I have always wanted at a Halloween event and, with them throwing in scenes like in the picture below, it was a great start.
Trick or Treat
I hate to spoil this one but in Trick or Treat…you TRICK OR TREAT! By far one of my favorite parts of the entire Haunted Hayride was this, walking through a “neighborhood” and actually knocking on doors and never knowing who or what was going to answer and if you would get a trick or a treat.
I will tell you that the antici…pation of knocking on the door was almost as good as when the door opened. While this concept may seem a bit strange for a maze, it was so much fun and provided some good scares along with some good candy!
The main event of the night was the Haunted Hayride, I can remember television shows when I was a kid talking of hayrides. In the 21st Century Los Angeles, it is not something you expect you will ever do, but that should be one of your main reasons to attend this event.
For this ride, you along with about 30 others all sit in hay and take a ride through the dark remains of the old LA Zoo. That sentence alone is enough to scare off many but add clowns, chainsaws, and other monsters and you have yourself nightmare fodder for years to come. Along your journey, you encounter small vignettes that start off some distance for your wagon but by the end of the scene, the mounters are practically sitting right next to you. Some of the spookiest parts of the hayride have to be the pitch darkness where you can hear things in the distance, leading your mind to create things far scarier. But then, all of the sudden, monsters with chainsaws are all around you.
Now that the main scares are out of the way, I wanted to call attention to something that a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride: the Grub Shack. Often smaller Halloween events will have basic hot dogs or burgers, but here the food option was a snack building that featured only plant-based options. Normally I go for more of the pizza/meat options, but with both my nieces being vegan, it was nice for them to have many options and I will say everything we did have was delicious.
The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is a must do for any Halloween fan, but make sure you get there early or purchase the VIP or Platinum Experience tickets because it is very popular and line do get long as the night goes on.