By Aaron Blevins, 10/18/2012
Halloween attraction offers a different twist on spooky mazes
So, Angelenos, are you up for an old-fashioned hayride — horror-style?
If so, the old zoo in Griffith Park has been converted into a haunted hayride and playground for the terrifying and paranormal in hopes of etching nightmares into the brains of Southern California thrill-seekers.
The fourth installment of the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride will continue causing mischief in Griffith Park through Halloween. The event is the brainchild of Melissa Carbone, a native New Englander.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s been beyond our wildest expectations.”
The hayride, powered by a tractor, wanders through the woods of Griffith Park, leaving patrons at the mercy of those who orchestrate the event. Carbone said it is 25 minutes of “pure content,” and offers a 360-degree experience in which patrons are scared or startled from every angle.
“We’ve done a lot of cool stunts this year,” she said, adding that a poncho comes with every ticket to keep the “blood spatter and guts” off patrons’ clothes.
The theme of this year’s hayride is “The Congregation”. The story behind the theme centers on the Clifton twins, who encounter a new playmate, a little boy named Aleister who has no family and preaches a dark religion he has learned from a “presence” in the woods. After crafting a following, his congregation meets their demise in a terrible church fire, which Aleister would like to relive for hayride patrons.
Carbone said the story is based on real paranormal reports at the old, abandoned zoo. She said the zoo grounds were believed to be cursed, and even after the zoo moved, Los Feliz residents reported that they could still hear the roar of lions and the sounds of other animals. Carbone said the setting can’t get much better for a haunted hayride.
“We took some of the history and embellished it,” she added.
If Aleister can’t scare participants enough, they can encounter “The In-between”, a maze that offers “dead-end after dead-end,” Carbone said. She said that, two weeks ago, someone was lost in the maze for 35 minutes.
“It’s the only dark maze in Southern California that I know of,” Carbone added.
The event also promotes its sideshows, such as the “Scary-Go-Round”, the House of Mirrors, a special effects fabrication booth and more.
The hayride is put on by Ten Thirty One Productions. Carbone, the organization’s president, opted to begin the hayride after taking in every scary event the area has to offer.
“I could not consume Halloween productions enough,” she said.
However, one thing was missing, something that she’d frequented during October in New England: haunted hayrides. Carbone said the event got popular very quickly, likely due to such few opportunities for Angelenos to be scared in the woods.
“I think it’s very different,” she added. “We’ve been getting really great reviews.”
Anthony Quintana, of Ontario, is a believer. He attended the hayride last year and came back for seconds this year. However, Quintana admitted to getting scared easily. His friends’ willingness to chide him over that statement was a testament to its authenticity.
“You’re going to know the person left or right of you pretty quickly,” Quintana said, adding that it’s his favorite Halloween event.
Also an East Coast native, he said the hayride has a local feel. Quintana said the chocolate chip pumpkin pancakes offered at the sideshows are “the business.”
“It’s kind of cool that’s it not commercialized,” he added.
Carbone said a portion of the proceeds benefit the L.A. Parks Foundation, and organizers use the hayride as a voice to discuss other issues. In previous years, organizers have raised awareness about factory farming and recycling.
The hayride is located off Griffith Park Drive, which can be accessed using Crystal Springs Drive. For information, visit www.losangeleshauntedhayride.com.