The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride (Bates Motel) is an iconic haunted attraction, the forefather to the modern haunt industry as one may know it and still in many regards the “standard-bearer” for haunt excellence. What is evident in the show is a high yearly standard of quality, yet we hope to see some “new” attractions and features as the attraction emerges from the pandemic era. A “tried and true” experience, you can guarantee a high-quality attraction that is a staple in the industry.

Closing in on over thirty years of operation, Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride have evolved into an almost “automated” show that is efficiently run and relies heavily on massive set designs and animatronics with less emphasis on scare-actors to create the show. “Larger than life” is a great way to describe the design philosophy of all attractions at the Bates Motel, especially the famous “Psycho Path, “which is an outdoor trail fashioned from the former “Haunted Hayride” attraction (which hopefully will return in future years). While major changes have not taken place in several years, this haunted attraction’s massive scope and scale cannot be underestimated. From huge “dinosaur-like monsters” to creatures that tower above guests to the depths of a haunted “mine” walking through the former hayride attraction does offer guests a unique perspective on the massive scope of the scenes built by the team at Bates.

Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is STILL an industry leader and a first-class haunted attraction that holds even greater potential to dominate the industry for generations to come, with hopefully a return of the “hayride” attraction and new attractions that help this iconic location keep pace with a growing competitive marketplace. For those, though, that love the season, every single aspect of operations from art design to management of customer service is undertaken at the highest level of professionalism and serves as a positive industry model on how to operate a “haunted attraction.” With additional changes, perhaps new attraction scenes, and more “performers,” this leader can inject new energy and surprise into this already premier haunted attraction.

The Attractions

Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride feature three major haunted attractions, the “Psycho Path,” the “Revenge of the Scarecrow Haunted Trail,” and “Bates Motel” indoor walk-through.  Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride have always been a leader in giving guests a great “customer” experience and a reason to stay an entire evening at the attraction with multiple activities that complement the three core attractions.

Bates Motel still is one of the most richly detailed haunted attractions and a first class experience that has become a “staple” in the Halloween industry. Known for its first-class execution and guest experience that is second to none, you can be assured that the sets, designs and performances will all be of the highest quality. Being world renowned brings its own challenges and with three core attractions, that in some cases can use some “freshening up” haunt fans always want to see “bigger and better!” Bates Motel is up to this challenge, making significant changes to its already incredible “Bates Motel” indoor walk-through attraction with new rooms filled with gory details and world class artistic direction. The “Psycho Path” trail (converted hayride) also feels more “trail” like than last year as scenes are “tightened” to bring guests closer to the action and detail, special effects and talented performers can help immerse guests in an experience that is genuinely larger than life. With some changes to the “corn maze-trail”, additional performers and return of the iconic hayride, Bates Motel can quickly maintain its position as one of the industry’s finest shows!

Psycho Path

“Psycho Path” is the centerpiece of the Bates Motel attractions and is an action-packed experience featuring some of the most impressive set designs and large-scale animatronic props in the industry, converting a hayride to an outdoor walk-through experience. From animatronic giant dinosaurs to dragons, the life-like movie quality monsters are at times awe-inspiring and create a sense of immersion as one walks through the larger-than-life scenes generally designed for the “haunted hayride.”

The scenes and sets themselves are of the highest quality, featuring pyrotechnic displays and diverse themes that captivate guests. Iconic scenes such as a “moonshiners” farm to the pure insanity of the “Darkwoods State Hospital,” to a massive “pre-historic/ Jurassic Park inspired” themed set, the scenes are creatively designed, feature intricate details and soundtracks that are specific to each story told by the attraction. The design of the “Psycho Path” has changed in many cases to accommodate tighter groups and, from a design perspective, tries to avoid the spatial issues associated with being a “converted” hayride line.  Scenes are by and large familiar from previous seasons but with quality; it’s hard not to enjoy the “church/burial/cemetery scene,” “Gas station explosion scene,” “Bates Motel”, “haunted mineshaft”, “slaughterhouse,” and other familiar scenes. “Bates Motel” from a design perspective, embraces the use pyrotechnics and fire, which adds to the quality experience of the outdoor trail. Furthermore, the “trail” was made more “walkable” this season, closing up large open spaces bring the action closer to the guest. Furthermore, the sound itself was improved as scenes featured soundtracks and sound effects, which added quality to the spacious outdoor trail. Walking through these massive sets alone is quite an awe-inspiring experience, and with a small group, the sense of immersion is second to none. Despite the quality and sense of being “immersed” by massive scenes, the “hayride” itself is sorely missed. Areas that were accessible by the hayride only are closed off, and it is clear despite changes made, this large trail was designed for a “ride” attraction which we hope returns in 2022!

Bates Motel

“Bates Motel” is a classical, vintage haunted house walk-through attraction that is filled with detailed scenes, high-impact scares, and a “funhouse” feel in a traditional sense. The attraction received SIGNIFICANT upgrades and improvements this season with numerous new rooms and changes, including a classic “elevator” scene, “dentist,” “Bates Morgue”, extensions to the “greenhouse,” and so much more. Heavily augmented by technology, interactive rooms, and endless surprises, the “Bates Motel” is designed to the highest quality, with a realistic representation of what a “haunted house” can be. Classic scenes remain, such as a haunted library, blood-soaked bathroom, grotesque kitchen, “hunters display,” and the outdoor greenhouse are still featured and are highly detailed sets that still set the standard for indoor walk-through attractions. 

“Bates Motel” has moments of claustrophobia in which talented scare actors taunt and torment, and some hang from walls are lifted into the air, etc., as the “Bates Motel” is a special effects fan’s dream. We have never witnessed such a gory use of animatronics, from smashing heads spewing blood to the creative use of computer-generated images; the technology implemented into the “Bates Motel” enhances the vintage experience. The automated scenes and animatronics induce effective startle scares, along with talented scare actors, which again are far more hands-on and interactive than previous years. In a small group environment, the scares and details generated are heightened, and we were indeed able to appreciate the quality of this attraction. So much time could be spent just exploring this classic, detailed attraction that, despite its familiarity and age, the attraction still holds up as one of the best “haunted houses.”

Revenge of the Scarecrow Haunted Trail

“Revenge of the Scarecrow Haunted Trail” is fast-moving and sometimes hindered by the number of people pushed through the attraction and in some cases does need some upgrades to “freshen” the experience but still is; again a first-class, the quality attraction featured at “Bates Motel.” While some of the traditional scenes (hillbilly family, a snake house, and perhaps a house of spiders) can use change and upgrades, overall, the additions to the attraction have moved this once tired attraction in a positive direction. A fairly new “church” like façade, leading through a lengthy bat-infested tunnel, transforms the farm environment of the Bates property and lead into a trail that by and large leaves little surprise but is filled with diverse fears that target all phobias.

Cautiously hidden amongst the cornstalks lies one of the creepiest, eerie yet inviting “clown/circus” scenes we have ever seen in a haunted attraction. A scene that is clearly inspired by “Stephen King’s It” married with a vintage circus theme, the realism yet surreal nature of this scene is a reminder of the talent that is responsible for creating this iconic attraction. From unique art design to realistic representations of a “sewer,” the entire experience has a “wow” factor that is augmented by a disturbing soundtrack and scare actors that are hidden entirely amongst the props and animatronics. This one scene/set alone left such a positive impact on us that we found our enjoyment of the rest of the attraction (which features again very similar scenes as previous years, including a violent butcher scene, chainsaw escape, etc.) to be heightened. Some of the more interactive and creepy actors were featured in a “graveyard/tomb scene” and what is a staple of “Bate’s attractions, actors flew from above and at times appeared out of nowhere in creative startle/surprise scares. While set design and performance are strong, we did not encounter that many performers, and several scenes, such as “Bates swamp,” “Scarecrow,” and “snake room,” can probably benefit from some changes/upgrades. We also ran into some pacing issues, which left us walking through the entire attraction in a large group. While changes and upgrades can add a fresh coat of excitement to the experience, “Revenge of the Scarecrow Haunted Trail” is still an exciting, first-class attraction featured at “The Bates Motel!

Final Word

Bates Motel is still a standard-bearer of excellence in the haunt industry that does need some new “energy” and perhaps some upgrades to continue its reign as one of the premiere haunted attractions in the country. From an operational and show standpoint, you cannot go wrong with visiting this attraction for the expected fun and quality attractions. However, the competition has grown, often inspired by the foundation built by the Bates legacy. Hopefully, next season the “haunted hayride” attraction will return, which adds significant length and quality to the overall experience and is still one of the finest even in its current configuration as a walking trail. Furthermore, we know the team behind this attraction is supremely talented, has really defined in many ways the modern industry itself, and always takes pride in maintaining a position of innovation and leadership within the haunt world. We are excited to see what future seasons have in store for this legendary mainstream attraction and look forward to new changes and additions to the Bates Motel!

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