Ever since I first realized Halloween fell on a Friday this year, I’ve been really excited about it. Normally, my excitement level is at about an 8. This year, it’s at a 10+.
The Friday aspect makes it much more enjoyable for those who have little trick-or-treaters (we can let them stay up eating fun-sized candy bars Friday and sleep off their sugar overdoses Saturday, rather than sending crabby kids off to school!), and it gives adults and venues hosting Halloween parties two weekends/excuses to celebrate. Normally, Halloween parties are planned the weekend prior to Halloween, then the celebrating stops on Halloween night. This year, there were Halloween parties the weekend prior to Halloween, there will be parties on Halloween, and because it’s on a Friday, there will be parties on Saturday, too! And really, can there ever be too much Halloween goodness?
(No. The answer is no.)
One way you can celebrate “All Hallow’s Eve” is at the Dead End Hayride in Wyoming (just north of Forest Lake).
I went last weekend and my first thought upon driving down the long, dark road was “This feels like a scene from a horror movie.” We were out in the country. It helped to set the spooky mood.
My next thought, after walking up to the front gate and seeing a large sign that stated: “NO ALCOHOL ON PREMISES” was I hope they at least sell hot chocolate. (They did.)
And my third thought was that the creepy-looking monsters and ghouls wandering around the place looked very professional. I didn’t realize at the time that makeup artists help them look that way. Makeup artists!
After going through the entrance into a large opening where you could feed goats (the hayride is a pumpkin patch and working farm when it’s not giving people nightmares), watch people ride a buckin’ bronco, listen to music, and buy mini donuts or cheese curds, our group got into line for the haunted hayride. There were two lines, actually, one for general admission ($19) and one for anyone who purchased the “fast pass.” We all opted not to buy the fast pass, and that’s one major regret we all had once we were done. That fast pass, at an additional fee of only $10 in advance or $12 at the door, could easily have saved us over an hour (or more) of waiting in line.
We thought we were getting an early start by arriving at 7:30 and we still waited in the first line for 1.5 hours. (We heard the people who arrived an hour after us had to wait nearly three hours!). To be fair to the event staff, we knew, as soon as we got in line, that we’d be standing for awhile. (An employee stood at the end of the line to let everyone know how long the wait would be.) I appreciated the heads-up. I also appreciated the giant drive-in movie screen showing clips from scary movies, the abundance of port-a-potties throughout the attraction, and the costumed characters who regularly walked by while we were in line. (Some would pose for photos, others wouldn’t. Chucky, I’m talking to you.)
The hayride itself took about 20 minutes. We went through the woods, we went through a little Old West “town,” we went through more woods. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you scare easily, do not sit in the back row.
Once we stepped down off the wagon, we got into line for the next attraction, the Sunny Vale Asylum. The demented clown at the door determined who would go through (groups/couples/solo—yes, some people were separated from their group for a short time). I mostly remember a room filled with creepy dolls, hair-stroking and leg-grabbing (the actors can’t touch you inappropriately, so there’s a whole lotta top-of-the-head touching going on), and pitch black spaces where who knows what will jump out and grab you. (I may have screamed or shouted a few times.)
(*tip: avoid using first names if possible, unless you want to be followed around by a character chanting your name.)
Once we came out of that attraction, there was yet another long line for the haunted cornfield. At this point, we were tired, thirsty, and cold (why didn’t they sell hot chocolate over here? Why didn’t I wear my winter coat?) and contemplated just skipping it and going home, but after asking a few different people who came running out of the maze, we decided to wait it out. “It’s the best part of the whole thing!” one guy breathlessly exclaimed. “So freaky!”
I would agree with that, if only because I nearly had a panic attack inside (*tip: if you’re claustrophobic, you will not like one part of the last attraction) and because you have to find your way out of maze at the very end, while a guy with a chainsaw chases you.
Despite the long lines, it was a really fun experience—the perfect way for teenagers and adults to get their “scare on” and celebrate Halloween.
Next year, though, we’re buyin’ the fast pass.
What: Dead End Hayride in Wyoming, Minn., just north of Forest Lake
Where: 28186 Kettle River Blvd., Wyoming (Pinehaven Farm)
When: The last three nights of the season are tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. Tonight from 7-9:30, Halloween from 7 to midnight, and Saturday, November 1 from 7 to midnight.
How much? You can buy general admission or fast pass tickets online ($19 or $29) or at the door.
Why? It’s a lot of spooky fun for teenagers and adults, but I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under 10. I saw a few little ones in line and wonder if they’re sleeping in their parents’ beds now (or sleeping with the lights on).
You can read about the history behind the Dead End Hayride here, including the fact that the management team are all in their 20s and many of the props in the insane asylum were once used in a real institution.