Sunday, October 7, 2007

Haunted Attraction Review: Bates Motel

Theme: 3/5
Effects: 5/5
Execution: 4/5
Atmosphere: 5/5
Value: 5/5
Total Rating: 4.5/5 - Incredible

: Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride
Arasapha Farm
1835 N. Middletown Road

Glen Mills, PA 19342

Average (12.00-15.00 for one, 30.00 for all 3)
Recommended Age Group: 16+ (Nighttime)

Haunted Hayride
Bates Motel - Haunted House
Haunted Corn Maze


In this trade, it is not often you are surprised; after all, when you're in the business of reviewing scares, you get a little desensitized. It has been a long time since someone really shocked me to any degree beyond the "sudden jump" thrills of most attractions. I can honestly say the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride was an excellent experience, and one I will be willing to make the three hour trip for again.

When we first arrived at the Arasapha Farm, we were greeted by an almost carnival-like atmosphere. Gaggles of eager horror-mongers were spread out across all three attractions, along with a fire-breather, concession stand (reasonably priced, though we somehow lost ten dollars in our exchange there), and a movie screen playing a variety of trivia and special interest clips. The lines were long, but they moved very quickly; in truth, we didn't wait more than twenty minutes for anything. My recommendation is to leave the hayride for last; it is, by far, the single most impressive attraction we have seen to date, and deserves to be saved for last.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Beginning with the "motel", you will feel a slightly different vibe here than at most attractions. The actors are engaged, and seem to be genuinely enjoying plying their trade. They are eager for the scares, and will follow well out of their designated territories. They will also break the touch barrier, a highly unusual practice in this business. The developers have obviously gone to great pains to indemnify their actors from retaliation, both physically and legally; there are signs posted everywhere warning the client of closed circuit cameras and "at-your-own-risk" actions. This frees up the talent to really cut loose, and it is a welcome change. In the house, your hair may be touched, you may be brushed or breathed on, they may even grab at your arm or foot. All this serves to intensify the fear, and makes for great atmosphere. The animatronics are also used expertly and make for great environments. Even stand-still props are placed with an obviously loving touch; the spookiest moment for me personally was a meat locker where the temperature was actually lowered to a genuine chill, and a lunatic plowed through hanging bags full of corpsely body parts, screaming a with a bloodlust that was full of relish. That's the first time I actually screamed all season.

The corn maze is similar to the house, with a few tricks stacked on for good measure. The maze is convoluted and long, and is certainly not made only of corn. About halfway, the maze becomes wooden, and paths branch off, while demented miners force different groups down alternate paths. You can oftentimes see the other groups, but you cannot reach them, making for a terrific helplessness if you happen to go down a different path than a few of your friends.

The house and the corn maze are both excellent specimens of their respective types, but the real gem from the three attractions is the hayride. Chock full of special effects, huge (I mean, HUGE) animated characters, and actors that are 100% interactive (we almost fell off the ride when they jumped on the ride and started touching and grabbing at people), this is the thing to see at Bates Motel. Innovative traps and tricks, and creative use of music make this the perfect package.

Of course, the locale is not without some very minor flaws. The theme is not really backed up by the actual location (there is no Norman Bates, and though there was an excellent opportunity to use the associated theme in many places, it simply wasn't tapped into), and the execution suffers from some very minor issues (we lost our way in the haunted house twice, but only briefly). These flaws don't even amount to a fraction of the positives, and, for all effects and purposes, they can be wholly ignored.

The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is simply brilliant. Almost perfect in every measurable way, it is simply not to be missed.


Anonymous said...

I work on the haunted hayride and thank you for the great review! However, I must mention that the first attraction to close at night is the hayride (customers tend to do the hayride first, then the corn maze, then the house), so if someone were to leave it until last, they may end up missing the hayride as it could be closed by the time they finish with the other attractions. Thanks again for the review!

Anonymous said...

Just checked this out on opening weekend Saturday - it was AWESOME! Drove up from Baltimore (almost 2 hours) - totally worth it, tempted to repeat! All 3 parts (house, maze/trail and hayride) were excellent. My yardstick is Erebus in Pontiac Michigan (I'm recently relocated from Detroit) and although this is less massive, I easily had as great a time. GO TO THIS!!!

Anonymous said...

I was very upset with this... i went to to check out whats number one in america and this was it ... i have been going to haunted houses for my whole life and i really enjoy them i try to make it to 4 every october.. let me tell you my feelings about this place and its ranking... hands down the best attraction this place has it the 20 minute hayride through the woods... i believe that put alot of work into that... but the haunted tral and the haunted house.. very unsatisfied.. i live all the way on long island and in my general opinion i believe that our haunted houses and corn mazes are ten times better so in my head im thinking that all the websites that have these places on the top list in america paid for the spot rather than earned it.. dont get me wrong i spent 50 bucks which isnt bad at all but the hay ride doesnt make up for the other attractions at all and was not worth the 3 hour drive... the scare factor was very low i was more scared by the fact in the beggining when i was told the scariest haunted house in america.. so in my opinion this is a good haunt but not for the drive.. if your coming form far to go to this place might as well just get tix for the hay ride only and maybe stopping somewhere else after.. and i was reading about this place ... and saw how many people where there they say on average on a weekend this place has 6 to 7 thousand guests.... and if you think 30 dollars a pop 210,000 A NIGHT!! they should put that money to good use and make the haunted house bigger becuase its to small i feel like there was a scare every 5 feet which is not good its just annoying becuase you start to realize every single corner u turn some one will be there.. so my point of view is this just has a reputation form the guy running it throwing money around to get the name out and also the hay ride ...

Anonymous said...

i want to take my friends but if its not scary its a waist of money.......... is it really scary

Anonymous said...

I drove all the way from Bethesda MD and I thought it was just ok, not great. The hayride was amazing but the trail and house were average at best. I'm spoiled because I've been to great haunted houses like Netherworld, terror on Church Street and I live close to Bennett's Curse, they are the best houses I've seen but they don't do hayrides so I came up to Bates and Field of Screams. FOS is a better operation top to bottom but Bates was pretty damn cool.