Disclaimer: This is a review based on a visit in October 2013. While The Bates Motel still runs every Halloween, their attractions may have changed since our last visit. Please visit their website for more updated information.
Two Halloween’s ago, Lily and I decided to check out one of the local attractions: The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride in Glen Mills, PA. We gathered a group of friends, dressed up in some gothy clothes and set out to see what horror could be had at the former farm turned haunted attraction. Here is what we found:
The Bates Motel consists of three parts: the Bates Motel itself, the Haunted Hayride and the Haunted Corn Maze. Each attraction consists of roughly the same elements. They each have actors painted up to look like monsters, zombies, dead people or clowns; they each have a set path that you have to follow; and they each run the risk of you being touched by someone. For me, the scariest parts of the entire evening were the clowns in the Haunted Corn Maze and the fact that I was being touched by the actors.
We decided to do the Corn Maze first, as that was the least famous attraction in the place and had the shortest line. We were allowed to go through as a group, thankfully (some of our companions couldn’t handle the manufactured fear as well as others). We lined up and decided to hold hands. We started our journey by walking through a dark corridor designed to disorient us before throwing us into the maze. As we followed the set path, the expected people jumped out at us, either yelling incoherently or spewing creepy sayings. If it wasn’t people, it was animatronic werewolves (which could use some fixing up).
In the distance, we could see a large clown face. Knowing how clowns creep me out beyond belief, Lily pointed this out to me gleefully and I gripped the hands of two of our friends much tighter than they wanted me to. By the time we reached the clown hell, we had already gone through an abandoned bus with people hiding behind the seats and over a bridge where hands grabbed legs freely in a desperate attempt to make us scream (Lily was caught off guard and let out a little yelp herself as one of the hands grabbed her ankle). The clowns weren’t as scary as they could have been, but they tried to touch me several times as we went through, causing me to scream more often than I wish I had. Clowns are in the top 3 on my “Fuck that Shit” list.
The second choice was the Haunted Hayride. We waited in line for at least 45 minutes before we even got to the wagon. I sat near the front, on the edge, making me a prime target to be touched. A playlist of creepy songs blasted from the tractor pulling the wagon and we started on our way. As we went along, fire burst out in several random places, animatronic monsters yelled and struggled against their restraints. We went through a few makeshift towns where creepy people with guns, chainsaws and monster faces ran out. If their weapons had been real, I would have been killed several times as I was always the person they ran to first. One person even jumped up on the wagon, wrapped their arms around me and held a fake knife to my throat. That was the scariest part (I don’t like to be touched). Lily, of course, just laughed and said “Hi” to every actor who came near her.
We saved the Bates Motel for last. The outside of the haunted house resembles the house where Norman Bates lived in Psycho, rather than the hotel itself. You enter into a small, closed off room, where a woman on a screen greets you and tells you to proceed at your own risk. You are then instructed to open a door and head into the next room. Each room in the house is dirty and filled with creepy objects or dead people. Each hallway you go through has cloth walls so that the actors can paw at you as you walk by. There are dead men yelling at you to get out of their house and silent women who will stand very close to you as your back is turned, so that when you turn around, you’re forced to jump or scream.
The path leads you to a greenhouse just outside the house. Dead farmers are here, jaunting up to you and touching you. Just before re-entering the house, I saw a weeping angel statue. I inadvertently muttered “Don’t Blink,” which made one of the actors break character and chuckle. The final part of the house wasn’t scary after that. While there were dead people still coming up to me and trying to touch me, I was laughing by the time we walked out the front door.
I would say that the success of this attraction would be due to the fact that they are playing on the common fear of the unknown. You never know when someone is going to jump out at you or what the actor is going to do. Mostly they are silent, grunting, or yelling. Some will run up to you while others will slowly and silently sneak up to you without your knowledge. They will most likely all touch you, because that’s something people fear the most. When the actors touch you, it brings the horror to life. It makes the horror more real for a lot of people because it breaks the barrier between observing something horrifying at a distance and experiencing it for yourself.
Overall, the night was extremely fun. I was with good company and the place managed to actually scare me a few times. Though, if you add clowns to anything, I’m likely to freak out a little bit. I would definitely recommend the manufactured fear of The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride in Glen Mills, PA.