Clowns, Screams, & Hay: The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride


The entrance to the Haunted Hayride.

Kathleen Catamisan, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Fog filled the dark night with orange lights trying to peek through it. Around you are people of different ages, and the air is filled with screams and heavy rock. You enter into the fog and feel arms brush by you. You make it out and are greeted by the revving of a chainsaw and a big, hefty man dressed up as a clown. This is the usual scene and the entrance to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, a Halloween attraction located in Griffith Park.

For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is an annual attraction that takes place on select dates from September 29 to October 31st. On October 14, I paid my first visit to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. To begin, I must say that I am not a big fan of clowns. There’s something about them that I find eerie and it makes me feel uncomfortable. But with the premiere of the movie “It,” clowns began to make a comeback. Clowns then became the theme of this year’s Hayride. I didn’t know much about how the event works, so I looked it up and learned that the event has three different attractions. The first attraction you see when you enter the park is called “House of Shadows”; it was a dark maze that you had to figure out by yourself. The next attraction was “Trick or Treat”, where you enter a little neighborhood, and knock on each door to see who comes out. The next attraction is the Scary-Go-Round. It’s basically a merry-go-round, but instead of horses and pretty animals, it has skeletons and goes backwards. Lastly, the biggest attraction of them all: the Hayride. On this attraction, you are seated on this huge wagon filled with hay and you are pulled by a tractor into the deep parts of Griffith Park. At one point in the ride, you are dropped off at the corn maze, and once you complete that, you board another wagon.

The first attraction that my family and I went on was the Hayride. The line for it looped around multiple times. We ended up waiting about an hour and thirty minutes to get on. The wait wasn’t all too boring. In line, the clowns come up to you and try to scare you with their props. If not, there was always a show going on in the little makeshift theater called Theatre Macabre. When you finally make it to the front of the line, you and about 25 other people are put into this cage. When the wagon comes, you are released from the cage and allowed on board. As you are slowly pulled into the forest, you are submerged in darkness. When we first entered it was pitch black. We then came to a stop in front of a big, colorful clown. Then out of the trees and behind props, the clowns came out. Though it was dark, you are able to see their faces drenched in make-up; their eerie looks and yells penetrate the silent air. I like to think that I am not one that gets scared easily, but what got me the most were the jump scares. I really did not appreciate the dark and suddenly having something jump up right behind me. There also isn’t any personal space there. The people would come all up in your face. It happened to me multiple times, and it wasn’t that it was scary, it was just uncomfortable. So if you don’t really like having a stranger in make-up breathing in your face, then this place isn’t for you. As you pass more of the stages, you finally come to a stop in front of this huge clown tunnel. You are then told to get down from the wagon and enter it. It was mesmerizing when you walk in. It was glow in the dark, and it was very trippy. As soon as you make your way out of the tunnel, you are then back in the pitch black of the corn maze. There are people hiding within them, waiting for you to pass by to jump and scream in front of you. I’m not kidding when I say it was pitch black. I literally could not see a single thing in front of me, and instead, relied on my cousin in front to lead me. We finally make it to this abandoned house, where the light flickers on and off continuously. For me, this was worse than the pitch black because for the moment that the light flickers on you can see what is in front of you, but the second it is off, you’re surrounded by the dark once again. We made it out of the house in about four minutes, but it was a struggle. By the time we exited the house, I can still see the flashing lights and I had a headache. We then boarded the wagon once again and drove deeper into the park. We stopped by a couple more stations, but the very last station was one that I was not ready for. The wagon stops in front of this huge, black curtain. Someone from inside then comes out and opens the curtain and quickly runs back in. The tractor pulls into the tent, and for a second, we were in darkness. People in light up suits then came out and put on a show with projectors showing different graphics. The light then turns out and you are face to face with this huge rock formation. It opens up and out comes the President of the United States. The moment I saw it, I knew that they were trying to prove a political idea. The president, of course, was dressed as a clown with a pig nose, and an obnoxious wig of huge orange-ish hair. He then began to speak and made many hand movements that I’ve seen before. I immediately knew who he was trying to depict. (If you’re interested in seeing how he looked, I have pictures below!). After that attraction, we were pulled to the exit, and we were boarded off of the wagon.

After that attraction, the rest of my family decided to go to the “House of Shadows.” My cousins, two aunts, and I decided to sit this one out. The House of Shadows is classified as a “dark maze”, which made it similar to the corn maze in the Hayride. I saw the flickering lights from outside, and decided to not do it because I knew I would get a massive headache once I get out. Based on the experiences of my cousins and sister, it was an amazing maze. It took them awhile to get out because they got stuck in dead ends, and it was too dark to see anything. When we were all reunited, we then took a break and went to the Grubshack, a little truck that sold snacks and small meals. Since we didn’t want to spend too much, we just bought bags of popcorn. Since that was the only place selling food, the prices were high and each small bag of popcorn was $3. So if you’re not willing to spend a lot of money, I suggest that you eat before you come to the park! After eating, we then fell in line for “Trick or Treat”. This was the last attraction for the night, and it was already nearing 12 am. We were all already tired and sleepy. The wait time ended up being an hour and about 40 minutes. When we finally got to the front of the attraction, our group of 10 was separated into two groups of 5. I was stuck in the second group with my cousin and my three aunts. With the first group already inside the neighborhood, we followed shortly. I’m not even going to lie, but this attraction scared me the most. My aunts, cousin, and I all linked arms and walked to the first door we were supposed to knock on. Too scared to knock, I made me aunt do it, and out the door came a mummy. We screamed and ran in the next direction. The next station, we didn’t even knock. My heart dropped when this next creature popped out. It was some sort of devilish creature, holding a book with a five pointed star. I broke free from the group and just ran to the next door. At the next door, we were debating who was going to knock, when we heard the other group screaming. Instead of being scared again, we all decided to rejoin and make one whole group. We ended up running away from the door, and never knocked. We went through three more doors before we made it to the end of the maze.

Overall, the night was fun and tiring. The park opened at 7, and rides operate until 1 am. The cost of each ticket was $44, and if you buy online, they charge a service fee, totaling it to $48. (You could also buy it at the actual event, but they can run out at any time.) To be honest, I feel like the price was too high. I did have a great time, but I feel like there could have been improvements. For example, the wait times were too long. It almost took two hours to even get on an attraction. Also, there are restrooms, but of course they were trashed. Before you go, I advise that you use a restroom elsewhere, or don’t drink too much liquids. A bigger variety of food would also be better instead of just nachos, popcorn, and other snacks. I also expected a little more from the scaring. Around the waiting areas, only five characters roamed around. But other than these improvements, everything was great. The Scary-go-round was fun, and you don’t even need a ticket to ride. The general area where you wait is called “Purgatory”, and you don’t even need a ticket to actually get in. So, if your parents dropped you off and ended up waiting in the parking lot, they can actually come down and watch some live performances on the theater, go on the Scary-go-round, and take pictures! The decorations around the place were awesome, and we took a ton of pictures. There is also free parking, so that’s a bonus! If I were to rate this place out of 10 it would be a 9 for me. Sadly, the Hayride is coming to an end this year, but there is always next year! You should definitely add this place on your things to do in the future, and you won’t regret it!