Over the years I’d heard a lot about the haunted hayride at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley, MA. I heard stories claiming that it was so scary people often left in ambulances. I’d also heard it was extremely popular and the wait time could easily be four hours.
After deciding to finally check it out this fall, I first hit the McCray’s website to get some information. Nowhere on the website does it say how much the ride costs. I had to find the admission price through Yahoo Answers: $15 per person.
We were coming from Northampton and the farm was easy to find even in the dark. However I found it curious that there didn’t seem to be any signage on the street, not that I could see anyway. We simply guessed that the field of cars we saw was for the haunted hayride. Parking was easy and plentiful. Walking toward the line, it was not at all clear where the line started or ended or where we were supposed to buy tickets. We ended up at a ticket window on the side of the ice cream shop. This particular ticket window took credit cards but not cash. Even though I had brought cash I decided to just pay by credit card to avoid having to go searching for the cash window.
I asked the girl at the ticket window how long the wait might be. Looking at the line, she estimated about two hours. Her estimation turned out to be quite accurate. The website says the ride runs “until the last rider rides”, although I imagine they must stop selling tickets at some point. We bought out tickets at approximately 8:30 pm and began the ride at approximately 10:30 pm. When we exited the ride, the line was down to almost nothing and no one appeared to be buying tickets. I had heard that a week earlier, a friend waited for five hours for his ride. I imagine that our wait was shorter because the evening was quite chilly.
The entire wait is outdoors, although there is an indoor ice cream shop with small cafe which was thankfully very warm. I was very glad we went with friends, because we were able to take turns standing in line and going inside to warm up.
The cafe was extremely disorganized. There were only a couple of people in front of us, yet it took at least 15 minutes to get a cup of cocoa and a hot dog. It is not clear where you are supposed to order and where you are supposed to pay. It was total chaos. I was surprised and disappointed that they did not sell hot cider.
As we waited, actors in costume lurked about. There were plentiful portapotties scattered along the wait areas. The actors would bang on the portapotties while people were inside! Not exactly the type of scare I was expecting.
Waiting in the cold was bearable since I had bundled up with many layers, but the gaggles of annoying teenagers made it seem longer. It seemed like there were lots of large groups of unsupervised tweens and teens roaming around.
When it was finally our turn to get on a wagon, a girl was giving instructions and explaining rules. I couldn’t hear most of what she was saying except “no cell phones or cameras.” The ride is not aptly named; it is a wagon ride, not a hayride. There was not a stem of hay to be seen. The wind was blowing diesel fumes from the tractor into our faces.
The ride itself had its ups and downs. Essentially the wagon stops at predesignated “scenes” where actors would come out and jump onto the wagon, often wielding chainsaws (with no blades). I did not find the ride to be scary, but a few teenage girls did. The supervising employee at the back of wagon kept pointing to the girls, so the actors would concentrate on them at every stop, making them scream & cower on the floor. That was the most entertaining part of the ride.
Some of the scenes had large animatronic props which I found quite artistic & impressive. Other scenes were pretty cheesy and reminded me of the old “dark rides” which used to be common at older amusement parks. One of the stops was intentionally funny and the actors were absolutely hilarious. I won’t spoil the surprise on that one.
My least favorite part of the ride was when the wagon went into a barn. The doors on the front and back closed, leaving you in the dark, but then the strobe lights started. Lots of actors with chainsaws were running around while heavy metal music played. It just went on for way too long. This ride is certainly not for people with epilepsy or prone to seizures. I have neither of those problems but by the end my brain felt like it was going to short-circuit. It also became hard to breathe in there because of the fumes from the tractor and the chainsaws in the enclosed space. I ended up squeezing my eyes shut and covering my face with my jacket, and not out of fear.
I would recommend wearing a long jacket because the seats are hard wood and the ride can be a little rough in spots. My friend was sitting in the corner and when the tractor went over a bump, her butt got pinched between two boards.
At the end of the ride, there was a haunted house to walk through. We actually enjoyed the haunted house more than the ride. It was quite long and a bit disorienting. It was pitch dark in spots and that was spooky. The actors are lurking about and managed to give us a couple of good scares. There are some impressive scenes and props inside.
Overall, I did not find the ride to be scary, but other people seemed to, so I suppose it depends on your tolerance for that kind of thing. All of the employees were friendly and the actors were giving it their all. We enjoyed ourselves, but given the long cold wait and the price, I’m not sure I would do it again.
McCray’s Farm website: http://www.mccrays-farm.com/