This past Friday night, I had the opportunity to head out to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride festivities, and for the third year in a row, the LAHH made this Midwestern gal’s horror-loving heart sing, as it’s the one time of the year where I feel like I’m back home, indulging in all the autumnal Halloween traditions I used to enjoy before I moved out to the West Coast. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Melissa Carbone, the CEO and Creator of the LA Haunted Hayride, has certainly amped up efforts for the event’s momentous milestone, as there were so many more performers running about the grounds and interacting with attendees than I had seen in previous years, which really added a lot to the festivities.

Another new addition this year is an initial tunnel of terror that awaits you as you enter the village, dubbed “Purgatory” this year, which is adorned by endless jack-o'-lanterns and diabolical monsters that wait in the shadows for unsuspecting visitors to pass through. This new area set a nice tone for the evening, and it seemed like attendees of all ages had a blast making their way through a bubble mist as they dodged the hidden entities.

The LA Haunted Hayride features three big haunted attractions: Trick or Treat, which has been a favorite of mine for the last two years, the House of Shadows, and the Hayride itself, which I won’t go into too many details about just because that would ruin some of the surprises, but I must say this was the best year I’ve experience on the Hayride so far, and while I would love just a few less people packed into each wagon (being a bit bigger in stature makes the experience a little bit of a struggle, so maybe that’s more on me), it was a great time and I managed to get spooked on a few occasions.

As mentioned, Trick or Treat is a maze I always look forward to the most, just because it allows us grown-ups the opportunity to indulge in an activity that I haven’t been able to take part in for decades (and decades) now. Trick or Treat is always the most fun I have at the LAHH, but this year, the performers in the maze were way more active than they had been in previous years, and it was so much fun. We scored a handful of candy, and a love letter from one of the performers dressed as a mutant soldier, and I thought that was a pretty cool extra touch that I wasn’t expecting.

I do believe that House of Shadows is the same maze setup from last year, and as far as haunted houses go, it’s truly one of the most disorienting and crazy experiences I’ve ever had. The whole set up is a literal maze—like when they’d put mice in a maze and make them figure their way out—where each turn matters, and throughout the entire time you’re inside, you have strobe lights flashing endlessly, which really messes up your sense of direction. Last year, it took us around 15 minutes to find our way out, so I’m proud that for this year, we managed to make it out in less than 10.

So, for those of you in Southern California looking to enjoy some traditional Halloween festivities, I cannot recommend the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride enough. Each year, it seems to get a little bigger and better, and it’s been fun to see all the growth it has experienced in a very short amount of time. One of the things that also sets the LAHH apart from other Halloween attractions is that it is geared for ages 8 and up (most others run a bit older than that), which means it’s the perfect activity for Halloween-loving families because you can also bring your kids. Plus, their horror-themed menu is just aces, too!

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.