Anyone who has attended even a few haunted attractions around Halloween knows there is a world of difference between a great haunted hayride and a mediocre experience. When exiting the best rides, users feel satisfied that they were fully scared, saw stunning special effects and great performances from actors, and experienced a combination of unique elements that came together to offer a fun ride throughout. There are a few things the best haunted hayrides have in common that enable them to achieve this.
Location, Location, Location
Any Halloween attraction needs to be close enough for it to be convenient for visitors to make an evening trip. However, hayrides need to be far enough from the city to provide a great landscape as the backdrop. This can make for a difficult balance, but there are usually a few locations near every suburb that are ideal. However, social media helps make this balance a little easier, as visitors are often willing to travel further to highly recommended hayrides.
Variety in Scares and Landscape
When haunted hayrides first came on the scene, it may have been enough to send visitors on a pumpkin patch ride and have a few demons jump out of the bushes. The novelty of riding around agricultural land on the back of a tractor may have been sufficient for some visitors. Today, this is far from the case. Visitors want to be transported into fantastical new worlds and never know what to expect next. Although memorable scenes are good, a variety in landscape is better yet. Great haunted hayrides send visitors through cornstalks, forests, junkyards, and buildings all in the same trip. We aim to be the scariest haunted hayride in MD, DC, or PA, but our goal is also to be fun for everyone, so balance is key.
Stops During the Ride
To increase enjoyment for visitors, a hayride will stop occasionally rather than remaining constantly on the move. This prevents monotony and keeps riders guessing. As well as allowing visitors the chance to appreciate the diverseness of scenes, venues can use stops to offer performances using actors or special effects and allow monsters and creeps to board the hayride. To maximize scares, passengers should never know why the ride has stopped nor how long they will be waiting before something happens.
Tell a Story
Why are visitors boarding the Halloween hayride? Creating a story adds another dimension to the experience and gives everything that happens a reason. The best stories will have a beginning (starting either while riders waiting in line for the hayride or upon the moment of embarking), a middle (the ride itself), and an end (the conclusion of the ride). This also requires a theme, which further sets the ride apart from all others.
Scares vs Fun
For many people, scares and fun go hand in hand. However, the best haunted attraction will achieve the fine balance between the two and ensure the experience is enjoyable for everyone. A haunted hayride provides the opportunity to be less intense than a haunted house. Paced just right, it offers brief rests from thrills, helping riders appreciate every scare as it comes. Some of the top hayrides also take the very young into consideration, offering outs if the ride becomes too intense for them to handle — this is also a good chance for wimps to escape.
The Tractor/Wagon Combo
A hayride must feature a tractor and wagon to maintain the classic appearance, but above all the vehicle must be safe and comfortable. Venues that expect large crowds need multiple tractors to keep lines flowing at all times and to avoid long waits that can kill excitement for customers. Ideally, venues will stagger the release of each ride and use a route that ensures visitors on separate tractors will never see each other to create a deserted feel.
Extra Things to Do
Visitors often want to stick around a while after the ride or perhaps enjoy a few additional activities before the main event. Top venues feature live bands, bonfires, and small haunted attractions to keep visitors interested — again, all these should be far enough away from the haunted hayride to maintain a secluded sense on the ride. To keep visitors comfortable and around longer, venues also need to install plenty of porta-potties and provide some variety in refreshments.
A Combination of Attractions in One
The most popular haunted hayrides combine several attractions to develop an entire scream park. An example of this is Legends of the Fog, which has a haunted hayride, haunted hotel, haunted circus, and haunted corn maze all rolled into one. Other ideas may include a haunted walk, zip line, zombie run, or scavenger hunt.
The best haunted hayrides will take all the above into consideration, as neglecting even one aspect decreases scares and enjoyment and therefore attendance. With so many haunted attractions available to visit, including numerous haunted hayrides, venues need to give thrill-seekers a reason to visit their Halloween events. We work hard every year to prefect our haunted ride, but these are the 8 cornerstones of a successful hayride that make the difference between good and great.
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