DATE OF VISIT
October 28, 2016
NEWTON, PENNSYLVANIA - Coming down to the wire with our 2016 FrightTour we find ourselves at our 2015 recipient for our coveted Frighty Award, "Haunted House of the Year". The three attraction "scream farm" offers a wide variety of activities including a haunted hayride, haunted walk through a winding cornfield and an experience within the walls of an interactive and immersive haunted house called, The House in the Hollow! Aside from the haunted activities, bonfires and live entertainment are also included but of course Joe and I were at Sleepy Hollow Hayride for one thing and one thing only! Our 2015 Haunted House of the Year, The House in the Hollow and of course we couldn't resist taking part in the hayride and cornfield... So off we went!
The night was a perfect Fall night with a crisp bite in the air and we were ready to enjoy it! All bundled up with gloves and heavy hoodies we made our way from the ticket booth to the first attraction of the night, The Haunted Hayride! There is just something about a good old fashioned hayride that I love. I personally feel like it is your traditional experience for this time of year and considering we were in Pennsylvania, the perfect state for Fall, I was very excited to get the night going!
Un-tradtional from other haunted hayrides this wagon is open air but features towering railings on all sides that you can see in the picture above. Only seen at one other attraction, just like last year we welcomed the different arrangement and began our journey through the woods. Compared to last year, not much has changed. The attraction is a very drawn out and long experience. Hayrides are a dime a dozen and create more of an entertaining atmosphere than what the designer attempts to pull off. However, the Sleepy Hollow Hayride was neither. Plain and simple, it was just a very long ride through dark woods and cornfields. The few actors we did encounter lacked intensity or enthusiasm, usually executing their attempts to scare by walking up to the wagon silently. After they are with in an arms reach, they immediately mount the hayride and begin climbing up the towering railings to then hang off and stare the guests in the face without making any sounds. This occurred over and over again. Some were unique in their approach but it became so repetitive and honestly predictable that the entire wagon fell silent during these "attacks".
Scattered throughout the trail were buildings where our hayride entered and was quickly enveloped into darkness. Immediately, wasting no time a deep and inaudible voice fills the air making unknown statements about what you are about to experience while strobe lights begin to flicker. It sort of seemed like a theatrical attempt at something that can be simply done. If you're going to use these new building set ups to scare a wagon loaded with people, you need to close it up, fog it up and tighten it up. The action was so far away from the wagon, there was no fog used anywhere and one side remained open the entire time. Much like the scares on the trail itself, the actors were silent and climbed the railings. The only thing the hayride had going for itself was the cemetery section which was magnificent, the highlight of the experience. We take everything into consideration while reviewing a hayride and unfortunately the only thing that attributed to its failure was the overall execution of the attraction itself.
Immediately leaving the hayride behind us, we made our way around the corner past the food stands to the line of the next attraction, The Field of Fright! Last year this outdoor cornfield attraction was strong, delivering an intense and startling walk. This year, it was the complete opposite, delivering nothing but just a walk through some corn. The attraction itself had nothing wrong with it, aesthetically it was flawless, but because of the grouper at the beginning and the group ahead of us it was boring. See it was October 28th, three nights before Halloween. Therefore, it wasn't crazy busy. Was there a line for the Field of Fright, yes but nothing that would warrant dispatch times between groups of twenty-five seconds. By the time we came out of the barn into the corn we were behind the group ahead of us. And because the large group ahead of us were all couples, the girls walked directly in front of the guys while in their arms. So it was like walking behind a caterpillar. I was very agitating and of course all the scares were wasted on them and we were left shuffling our feet hoping they would let us pass or move faster. Well that never happened, so as much as I want to provide a truthful review on the Field of Fright, I cannot. Because of the grouper and the annoying couples that must hold each other through, this attraction didn't deliver. Sorry! In all honesty if you are going to hold up the group behind you because you want to practically spoon while walking, MOVE OVER! You ruin it for the rest of the people behind you like Joe and I! Get it? Thanks!
Frustrated and coming out of the Field of Fright or Field of Love I should say... we now had to sprint across the field to the other side of the farm to what we had been waiting for, The House in the Hollow! Last year, we awarded this theatrical, whimsical and terrifying attraction our coveted Haunted House of the Year award! Therefore, this year it had a lot to live up to! We signed our names on a yellow piece of paper, greeted the gate keeper and were let in. Pretty much from here on out the layout of the attraction was pretty much the same. However, the overall theme had changed. Unfortunately for the life of me I cannot remember what the prior years theme was, but this year it was an orphanage. And just like last year, Joe and I had a hard time walking because our mouths were dragging on the floor. The House in the Hollow is such a hard haunted house to explain. Out of all of the attractions we have ever experienced it is the MOST theatrical house we have walked through. The actors are one hundred percent committed to staying in character, executing their lines and scares perfectly each time. What I noticed differently compared to last year is the house itself operates off a strict schedule, maneuvering each group into the next room or series of halls at the correct time. There is no bottlenecking or interference here. Joe and I were the last two to enter, and we were the last two to leave! Last year we went through with a group of eight and I believe that the house itself is designed to provide a better experience with larger groups allowing the actors to interact more easily. I wish I had hit up House in the Hollow after the hayride...
About five minutes into the attraction it had won my heart. We walked into this small archway where a long haired man stood there staring us down. He moved to the side of the room and picked up a huge briefcase. He then set it down on a normal looking table with nothing above it or beneath it. He continued to glare at Joe and I and called a name as he opened the briefcase. To my utter and astonishing surprise, there was a head in the briefcase, a real moving breathing head! It screamed loudly and just like that the briefcase was closed. At this point, I was cemented to the ground, Joe had to pull me away into the next room as I muttered to myself statements establishing I was dumbfounded. I could not believe that I was placed into such a state of shock an actually startled because I had no idea what was coming! This plays out well throughout the entire experience. The scares are illusions, what you think is real isn't, what you think is fake isn't... It is the perfect balance of your traditional haunted house mixed with a theatrical stage performance.
The sets were elaborate, so elaborate that just like last year, I would say, "Walt Disney World you have some competition!" As a kid I loved the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom and as an adult it is still a fan favorite but the optical illusions sort of wear off after your two hundredth time through. But now that I have been to House in the Hollow, I can say without a doubt that this attraction is the adult version of the Haunted Mansion! Still providing that whimsical and authentic feel but with a twist where the cart is removed from under you and you are left to walk through the optical illusional masterpiece... I have no idea if that is even a correct run of adjectives, but what the heck! The House in the Hollow is perfection, it is a masterpiece, it is whimsical, authentic, unique, entertaining and yes SCARY! Because of the elaborate surroundings your guard is brought down and you are completely open, vulnerable to those who lurk around you! If I were to pick a haunted house to be the face of haunted attractions, House in the Hollow would be it, it would be the icon of the industry. From the beautiful facade to the breathtaking cemetery towards the end. We loved it, and would pay for that experience just on its own!
Sleepy Hollow Hayride offers three different attractions. However, comparing the three to each other, House in the Hollow is so much different and advanced then the other two that the overall quality of the venue is lopsided. The hayride and Field of Fright could be stellar attractions, but seem to fall short while the House in the Hollow continues to steal the show. And I know the two separate themselves from each other but I am an honest person and I write honest reviews. Simply put, the haunted hayride and haunted cornfield feel amateur compared to the House in the Hollow. Like they don't fit together and should be separated... House in the Hollow is the main reason for the high Fright Rating of four.
I know a lot of work goes into creating these attractions but if I didn't do what I do each year... I wouldn't waste my time, I would just purchase a House in the Hollow ticket. Feelings may be hurt, but it is the truth and I hope that this review is used as insight to bring the quality of the hayride and cornfield attraction up. Overall, Sleepy Hollow is your traditional "scream farm" offering a haunted hayride, cornfield and house. The entire venue is clean, well organized and worth the money spent. We'd recommend it to anyone in the area or traveling through!