Saturday, October 17, 2015

New York Haunted Hayride (Review)

I've been to many haunted hayrides. I've been to Field of Screams (Yay!), Waldorf Estate of Fear (Nay!), Reaper's Revenge (Yay and Nay) and Legends of the Fog. So I think I know what's good and what's not. What's good is when you have those enclosures or barns that the hayride stops in and forces the riders to feel trapped then zapped with what horror the creators thought up. What's good is the actors getting up close and personal, jumping on the tractor and scaring you from well thought hiding spots.

What's bad? Well that can be summed up in one attraction: NY Haunted Hayride.

In a historic ABC Shark Tank episode, Mark Cuban invested something like a million dollars to help expand LA Haunted Hayride. With that new found cash, they headed to NYC this year and I'm not sure where that money went.

Located in Randall's Island, the trek to the hayride is an adventure in itself. You can of course Uber or taxi or drive yourself to Randall's Island, but I decided to take their shuttle which if it wasn't for the pro-Mets fan driver, you could have been a kid being lured by a serial killer in a mysterious white van.

Randall's Island is not the woods. It's home to a psychiatric hospital, a soccer stadium and fields and tons of baseball diamonds. You're going to see the lights from the skyline across the river and hear the rolling of cars from the Triboro bridge. But you work with what you have right?

Well you would think it would be redesigned for an urban environment but somehow they didn't take full advantage of NYC themes and horrors. Why not play on escaped mental patients? NYC underground sickos? But what did we get as an opener? A KISS tribute band.

Say what?

The spookiness of the entrance is indeed fantastic. Smokey ambiance with actors dressed in Silent Hill monster costumes greeted you but the line formation was simply human cattle led to slaughter. You're led to winding lines and then actually lined up as livestock in rent a fence cages. With a NY attitude a woman yelled at us to "not run to the wagon but walk"...saying this multiple times. Some of us are partially educated and I would assume even assholes would understand this. We're not idiots...well not most of us.

The slow ride on this half hour hayride has you pass through the the ominous world of Randall's Island golf center and then you get some odd non scary weirdness. A supposed rock band monsters, clowns who are clowning half ass, an orphanage with "children" and an ending that turns into some sort of gospel choir. Again say what?

In the middle of MY ride, the tractor seemingly got stuck in the mud and the driver had to ask all 20 or so of us riders to exit so he could make a U-turn. I shit you not. At first I thought this was part f the show, but somehow this was in ineptitude of a ride that turned ridiculous. The hobo actor who had sprayed us with supposed germ coughing wanted everybody to sing Happy Birthday as we waited to be reloaded into the wagon. With a highway near us, my friends and I wanted to hail a cab right then and there.

There were other "scares" along the way, most of them boring, unenthusiastic and actors who tried their best to perform but just seemed out of their element. There were a few sets and scenarios I hadn't seen in a hayride before like some caged mutant monsters and some well dressed "You're Next" killers. But nothing I'm writing to Bloody Disgusting about. I get the location was not woodsy but if injected with a NYC vibe of grittiness and city mythos, it might have turned out differently. New Yorkers are a tough people to scare and if you can turn our city dweller fear against us, you're doing your homework. Give us a fucked up scenario and we'll jump like a 10 year old kid.

For first time hay riders and non jaded haunt goers, the thrills were there. Some riders were indeed having a grand old time either screaming in horror/laughter, filming the entire journey on their phone and making one liner quips at the actors. I would assume these people are the target audience for New York's first ever haunted hayride. If you're a noob and a millennial, you may get your haunted hayride fix.

I had heard LA's Haunted Hayride was legendary but I assume NYC is not getting the full package. And that's a shame. With the lack of haunted houses this year, we deserve better.

If you want a daily dose of heart attacks, scares and hold your breath moments, best you watch the Mets play the Cubs in the NLCS.

The Vitals