The Dead End Hayride is the scariest haunted attraction I’ve ever been to. It is the first one I’ve wanted to end prematurely not because it is bad, but rather because it is so good at what any haunted attraction ought to be: terrifying. I love horror movies and video games, but I’ve never seen or played one that made me accept that I’d become a whimpering mess if I were ever in a real horror situation.
They did their homework. The Dead End Hayride is the creation of Jeremy Hastings, who spends the entire year researching and perfecting his scare gauntlet. Jeremy opted to dispense cuteness and convention in order to produce a pure horror experience. Wherever there is room for spectacle, Jeremy has filled it.
The thing begins as a tractor ride. The rhythmic lull of the motor and the chatter of your fellow thrill seekers are quickly overridden by flame throwers, wacked out actors, gore, and hateful decor. You’re unloaded into the darkness and pointed into a dark abandoned mental hospital set. The dinge of the tiled hospital halls melt into claustrophobic corridors that take you downward through worse and worse places. It’s a morbid march through a hospital, butcher shop, motel, and more indefinable but all truly unsettling places.
The Dead End Hayride is unique in that the performers touch you. Not in the wayward kindergarten teacher way! They’re decent, but their prods are aimed to remove the sense of security you usually feel at these places. The performers are adept — they sense when you most want to be left alone and deny you the privilege. I very nearly lost my poor wife when she was (gently, mind you) coerced into an open coffin. A man in a dead rabbit mask pinched my cheek without speaking. Arms reached through barred windows to grab us. It really made me nervous.
And isn’t that what we’re going to haunted attractions for? Day in and out we mope around in our plasticine safe spaces, trundling through this soup called life assured that there’s nothing out to get us. The Dead End Hayride is the fix for that syndrome. It is the real deal, plain and simple, and we’re lucky it’s here. I don’t want to ruin the surprises so I won’t describe the utter zaniness of it all. It’s simply excellent and you would be well advised to try it if you’ve felt that other attempts at haunted attractions have fallen short.
The Dead End Hayride
28186 Kettle River Blvd N.
Wyoming, MN 55092
Wednesday 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Thursday 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Friday 7:00 pm – 12:00 am
Saturday 7:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sunday 7:00 – 9:30 pm
*November 1st is last day