Not all haunted attractions need to have larger-than-life, world class scenes, pyrotechnic displays of grandeur and Hollywood quality scenes to generate fear. Sometimes all it takes is a massive cornfield, some crazy “scare performers” that have no fear, and a 1950’s era “dump truck”, to create one of the most intense, genuinely “scary” by any stretch of the imagination haunted attraction experience we have EVER encountered. Scare Farm (Hillsborough, NJ) is by far one of the most terrifying “experiences” created by a “three attractions” linear style scream-park, that one may not even believe exists. We have been to some of the largest, most impressive “shows” in the industry, from “adult themed” haunts to those that have set designs that cost millions of dollars, yet what we experienced on this Halloween night at Scare Farm was true insanity.
Imagine for a moment, taking a rather calm, peaceful hayride through a cornfield, into a farm area, when all of a sudden, a massive 1950’s era “dump truck” pulls ominously into one’s rear vision. Perhaps the truck will “beep” or flash its lights, no wait, its revving the engine, and then in a moment of pure hysteria and panic suddenly is speeding towards the hay wagon, causing the drive to panic, hitting the gas, kicking off one of three HIGH SPEED, intense chases featured in the “Slay Ride.” The “chases” are NO gimmick, the wagon is moving at a rapid speed, swerving from side to side to avoid the various vehicles that seem focused on running us helpless customers off the road. The visual of seeing the front end of a massive dump drunk just inches away from one’s face, the aggressive “hayride” where bodies seem to be thrown into the air creates a moment in time that is so “real”, so “terrifying” and simply shocking that words cannot do justice.
There is something so visceral, so genuinely terrifying, sitting on a barrel of hay, flying through a cornfield and right behind you (so close you can smell the fumes and touch the bumper) is a massive dump truck that is aiming to “wreck” the wagon. When turning around bodies are clinging to the hay, sliding around and the driver is in an all-out effort to “escape” the massive vehicles in this cold, chilly cornfield of pure chaos. NO massive set designs, NO massive pyrotechnic displays, actors by and large have basic make-up costume design yet what is created is the closest to feeling in “danger” and an immersion in “holy shit” inducing fear that one can ever fathom. Scare Farm was an unexpected gem of an attraction, one that was at times shockingly “adult themed” in certain areas and features a hayride attraction that is a REAL “in your face” “life or death” horror/action-adventure experience.
Scare Farm, located on the tranquil Norz Hill Farmstead is filled with an “authentic” atmosphere that embraces the Halloween/fall season, and upon arrival feels very much like a traditional/classic haunted attraction. Featuring three interconnected attractions, by and large from a “budget” or scenic perspective everything is done simply yet distinctly creepy and effective. Starting off with “Paranoia” a lengthy corn-trail featuring a variety of asylum themes, and classic vintage carnival scenes strung along the lengthy corn trail. “Paranoia” is a straight to the point vintage themed haunted attraction, featuring asylum themes, and moments of sensory assault which in cornfield are downright creepy.
Up next is the infamous “Slay Ride” which we referenced previously. Initially the ride starts out somewhat tame, although certain “hints” indicate that something “darker” and “sinister” is at play. Early on out of nowhere a barrage of actors climb the sides of the “caged” wagon hanging from above, dangling at some points and performing feats that give a slight indication that this “ride” is not as basic as it seems. After an initial slow start, with some cheesy border line family friendly props/scenes, the “REAL” fun begins. Suddenly this “simple” ride isn’t so generic as it seems. Next up a “cross-dressing” pumpkin tells a variety of “jokes” and then the real terror begins. Throughout the hayride, numerous “chase” scenes occur in which vehicles (a backhoe, massive “Dump truck”, and Mad-Max style customized tractor/baler) actually “run down” the wagon, try to push the wagon off the cornfield track and engage the drive in an all-out race/chase of insanity.
The visuals, the feeling of a crazy high-speed chase on a hay wagon is unlike ANYTHING ever experienced. Topped off with a visit from chainsaw-wielding maniacs, while not the most “detailed” attraction ever, the fear created is perhaps unmatched and eye-opening. After this exhilarating experience, the journey is capped off with a trip to “Clown Hollow” a circus lost in time and abandoned in the dense cornfield Some of the scenes are built out of what appears to be milk cartons, and this gritty, custom built walk-through attraction is unnerving and just a great way to diversify the themes feature at Scare Farm. While again, not the most heavily detailed attraction from a build or theme standpoint, what is presented is effective at creating scares and action. However, after the “Slay Ride” it is difficult to even focus on what horrors are next as it genuinely leaves a lasting impression that days later has lingered in our psyche.
Scare Farm is NOT a big budget haunted attraction with massive sets, props, animatronics, or characters in detailed make-up design. However, Scare Farm IS a shockingly disarming/disorientating experience of chaos and hellacious fear that brings you to the brink of disaster, dangles you in the face of danger and leaves you in complete shock at what just occurred. It is an incredibly fun, action/adventure-based experience complimented by a variety of horror themes, adult humor and a “realness” that shines and must be experienced for thrill seekers searching for an event that defies the possible.
Craziest Hayride we have ever visited
Intense creepy and scary atmosphere
Length of attraction
Room for Improvement
Need some larger scenes/bigger budget but not necessary
More action/scenes in some of the dead areas in the walk-through attractions
Location: 120 S Branch Rd, Hillsborough Township, NJ 08844