Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride 2023 Review

The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride (Glen Mills, PA) is an iconic haunted attraction, the forefather to the modern haunt industry as one may know it, and a fun Halloween experience that has undergone several scene and attraction upgrades for the 2023 season. The Bates Motel’s attraction upgrades feature a SHOCKING level of gore and violent scenes that are certainly an unexpected surprise.. What is evident in the show is a high yearly standard of quality, which is BEST experienced on a night with a small crowd, as this is such a “fun” attraction that encourages guests to explore the intricate details and revamped classic scenes in all of its three core attractions. This season the Bates Motel has once again reached a high point in entertainment, fun and a level of gore and violence that is certainly unexpected for this long-standing haunt.

Priding itself on operational excellence, the show almost feels as if it “runs itself” in many regards, as there are heavy details and emphasis on animatronics, scenic design, and special effects in each attraction. With quality, scripted acting where needed,  the robust set/scene design is generally above industry standards and shines with newer, genuinely immersive sets added throughout the journey. After visiting each season for years, it does feel as though this attraction has once again returned to a level of excellence, with each scene enhanced, actors on target, and a level of detail/scenic design that most attractions will NEVER achieve.

“Larger than life” is a great way to describe the design philosophy of all attractions at the Bates Motel, especially the famous “Haunted Hayride,” which features some of the largest “animatronic” monsters, creatures, and pyro-enhanced special effects one could ever imagine. A spectacle, the Haunted Hayride attraction is still one of the finest of its kind. Unlike many others that have abandoned the Hayride aspect, it focuses on a non-stop action experience. Enhancements to sound quality, technical improvements, and massive, more significant movie quality scenes such as a trip to the “old-west,” a vast pre-historic scene that transforms the entire farm, and a trip down a “coal mine” are all so well constructed, HUGE in scope, a true horror fantasy come to life.

After such a lengthy run in the industry, Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride are industry leaders and a first-class haunted attraction/scare park. For those who love the season, every aspect of operations, from art design to customer service management, is highly professional and serves as a positive industry model for operating a “haunted attraction.” With new scenes and enhancements to the classic attractions, this season, we recommend visiting and experiencing the show in a small group to enjoy the incredible set design, actors that do a fantastic job playing their horrific roles, and


Haunted Hayride

Haunted Hayride is the centerpiece of the Bates Motel attractions. It is an action-packed experience featuring some of the industry’s most impressive set designs and large-scale animatronic props. From animatronic giant dinosaurs to dragons that shoot balls of fire, the life-like movie-quality monsters are, at times, awe-inspiring and create a sense of immersion and non-stop chaos. A trip through the “Darkwoods State Hospital,” the haunting church, an absolutely crazy “Old-West” scene with an entire western village, a hanging scene, a saloon, etc., zombie-infested “Bates Motel,” a vintage gas station that “explodes” a cavernous Mine that is unlike any other hayride experience. An enhanced soundtrack and new details await every corner of this iconic Hayride. Actors fly from above, hillbillies gleefully taunt, and the chilling “headless horseman” stalks in a finale. The larger than life scenes continue to thrill, with emphasis placed on the special effects and theatrics of the “Old-West” scene which have been greatly enhanced this year. One of the most enjoyable scare-rides, the actors are almost automated at this point and the scenes themselves are richly packed with action, pyrotechnics, sound and a visual spectacle rarely found elsewhere.

Bates Motel

“Bates Motel” is a classical, vintage haunted house walk-through attraction filled with detailed scenes, high-impact scares, and a “funhouse” feel in a traditional sense. The attraction received SIGNIFICANT upgrades and improvements over the past few seasons with numerous new rooms and changes, including a shockingly disturbing “serial killer room” made of the skin of helpless victims, 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 be of 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 (where the plants eat helpless victims) are still featured and are highly detailed sets that set the standard for indoor walk-through attractions. 

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 exploring this classic, detailed attraction that has received significant attention and detail over the past few seasons.

Revenge of the Scarecrow Haunted Trail

“Revenge of the Scarecrow Haunted Trail” is an outdoor walk-through of a dense cornfield that has ALSO received numerous scene upgrades and improvements this year. Adding in a new “school house” scene that is absolutely shocking must be noted. As one enters this 1900s-era “schoolhouse,” the headmistress screams, “Children need to be beaten.” A hanging body is above dangling from suicide in this tormented school house, and the students are MISSING their heads (with a finale of a child being HUNG out of a window!). With a shockingly gruesome set design, we were surprised at the fear level injected into this long-standing trail attraction.

Additionally, at one point where human “pigs” feast on the flesh of helpless victims, the “faces” of the dead are cut from bodies and strung up as trophies, bringing an unnerving sense of fear that was surprisingly unexpected at the Bates Motel. In addition, this trail features one of the finest “clown” scenes, a twisted carnival inspired by “Stephen King’s It” married with a vintage circus theme; the realistic 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, augmented by a disturbing soundtrack and scare actors hidden entirely amongst the props and animatronics. Other classic rooms/scenes remain, and all have received technical and scenic improvements, such as the “snake room,” “Bates Swamp,” and morgue scene (with a crazy flying actress); this trail is excellently designed and really shines in a small-group environment.

Final Word

Bates Motel is a standard-bearer of quality 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. With a shocking level of “disturbing” upgrades, such as the room made of human flesh in the Motel and the demented schoolhouse featured along the “corn trail” with other gory scenes, such as wild boars feasting on the flesh of victims, this is one attraction that continues to surprise on each visit. We recommend visiting on a weekday night, where crowds may not be as large, allowing you to experience the fun and the surprises to the fullest.

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