Nightmares…

Sleepy Hollow Hayride

Sleepy Hollow Hayride 2013

Sleepy Hollow Hayride is a farm based haunt formally known as Active Acres Farm located in Newtown PA just north of Philadelphia. The attraction features three shows including the Field of Fright walk through corn field, the Sleepy Hollow Hayride, and the House in the Hollow haunted house presented by Midnight Productions. Sleepy Hollow is very minimal in their marketing with no Youtube channel, a rather retro webpage, and a small social media presence. Don’t be fooled however, the House in the Hollow has more than kept up with the times.

The Field of Fright, although huge, is the weakest attraction at Sleepy Hollow. Not to say it is a bad attraction, but I do recommend you tour the field first as it pales in comparison to the spectacles of the hayride and house. Surprisingly for a cornfield walk through, this show begins with a moderately lengthy indoor haunt that is a mash up of decorated rooms, dark hallways, and traditional random boo jumpers. The real meat though is the very lengthy walk along a path cut through the corn field. Actors and scenes were spread pretty far apart, however there was no lack of scares, just a lot of walking between them. Notable actors included a sweet little girl who wanted to borrow my skin so she could play dress up teatime with her dollies, and a crazed farmer who just wanted to give you some corn corn corn… corn… corn……
The actors in this attraction did a solid job. The real star however was the huge expanse of cornstalks, and the unknown that rests just out of sight a few rows deep to your left and right. While a large group distracted by each others presence may consider the walk through boring, a small group such as mine allowed for each of us to hear the subtle sounds of wind and farm critters moving about and through the surrounding corn, with no exit in sight.

The Sleepy Hollow Hayride is different than any other I’ve seen in that the riders on each of the two connected hay wagons are caged in by steel bars that are probably 7-8′ high. These bars were solid enough that the actors, who are allowed to touch patrons, were able to climb on the cage behind and over the audience. This allowed for scares from all directions. Another slight difference were a row of hay bale seats in the center of each wagon. A few scaredy cats through these seats would mean safety, however the actors that boarded the wagons always went right for those sitting in the center to make sure they received a fair share of the scares. Actor driven scare zones mostly involved the ride stopping for a rather long period of time at each scene to let the actors climb allover the wagons and work over everyone in the crowd. This was a welcome break from some other high throughput haunts where the tractor zooms right by scenes before you really have time to take in the scenery.

Sleepy Hollow Hayride

Sleepy Hollow Hayride

The ride incorporates a fair share of humor with the scares, best of all was the greeter who announced the rules, being sure to let us know time and again that violating any rules would surely result in someone falling off of the wagon, being run over by the wagon, and dying. Again much like the farmer and his corn, a great joke you have to be there to truly understand.
While not high tech like the Bates Motel or Night of Terror, this hayride had a fair share of spectacle including live horse mounted ghouls, a huge fire breathing beast, and attacks on the wagon by farm vehicles and equipment.

House in the Hollow

House in the Hollow

The House in the Hollow is amazing. The set dressing and lighting are superb, inside and out, special effects are Disney level, and the actors are very talented and theatrical taking the time to stop and interact with groups in each room. This is less of a walk through haunted house than it is a interactive theater experience that roams from room to room within the rather large haunted house.

Prior to entry in queue line each person is asked to fill out a card to check into the haunt. In a clever twist the staff collects your cards as you enter and members of your group will be called by name during the show to participate in actor interactions, perform certain tasks, or even participate in a magic trick. Most impressive of all was the extensive use of quality video projection effects to create the illusion of ghosts floating around, as well as expertly timed interactive animatronic and pneumatic/motorized effects that interacted with the actors. Something as simple as a file cabinet opening and presenting a document on queue was extremely creepy due to the perfect timing of a projected ghost looking at it and mentioning the aforementioned document.

Not to spoil it, but the grand finale of the show was phenomenally well done combining an actor, high quality audio, and a special costume accessory that in combination created a high quality scare that shocked yours truly.

For a medium size farm haunt, The Sleepy Hollow Hayride puts on a surprisingly good show. I would like to thank Bones Attain from SEPHH (South Eastern PA Home Haunters) for recommending this haunt. I definitely plan to return here in future years due to the great combinations of theatrical well trained actors and large scale spectacle scares.

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