Editorial: Indiana Fear Farm

As a frequent visitor of haunted houses, I have experienced my fair share of scares. This time, I drove 40 minutes from the University of Indianapolis to the Indiana Fear Farm in Jamestown for their opening night of spooky season. One thing I did not expect, however, was just how remote the location was. Driving down dark country roads in between corn fields seemed as if I was driving forever. I felt like I was being watched by monsters in the corn and my three friends in the car agreed with me. The drive to Indiana Fear Farm is, without a doubt, a part of the experience. 

After finally arriving and turning into the farm, which was not difficult to find due to plenty of signs,  I turned into a large grass parking lot that was easy to navigate and park in. Walking up to the stand to pay was a quick and easy experience with friendly vendors to assist with anything that I needed. 

There are two attractions at Indiana Fear Farm: The Haunted Hayride and the Slaughter Barn. The Haunted Hayride costs 15 dollars for adults or 13 dollars for children eight and under. The Slaughter Barn costs 13 dollars for all ages, but has an age restriction of eight years or older only.

They also featured combo tickets for a cheaper price if one was looking to do both attractions. In the Slaughter Barn, the actors are allowed to touch the customer, and my friends and I did not feel comfortable with that, so we stuck with the hayride.

The line for the hayride was long, but we were able to get through it quickly because there are multiple hayrides that go on at once in order to keep lines moving. Another reason that the lines did not seem to take long to get through was because there were four actors in the line with us as we waited. There was a creepy old lady, a killer clown, a cannibal man with pig skin stitched to his face and a zombie. The actors walked through the line and visitors were allowed to take photos with them. They also scared some unsuspecting riders who were not paying attention. These actors had some of the best quality costumes I have ever seen. Their make-up was immaculate and was so good it appeared to be their actual faces. Not only that, but they were extremely dedicated to their roles and didn’t break character once, not even for photos. 

One thing that I hated about waiting in line was that every once in awhile, there were extremely loud bangs that would sound off four times consecutively without warning. This kind of cheap jump scare was unnecessary and more annoying than anything and added nothing positive to my experience. No one in my group enjoyed that part of the attraction.   

While on the hayride, there was a speaker playing on the tractor that pulled the wagon we were seated on. This speaker played loud horror music that not only  terrified us, but also served as audio cues for the actors during the hayride. The tractor pulled us for about two minutes before the scares actually began and this, coupled with the music, raised my anxiety levels as we traveled deeper into the woods.

The scares started with a bang and didn’t end until we stepped off of the hayride. Repeatedly during the ride they said to not lean out and to keep hands and head inside the wagon because the spaces were tight. This was evident right from the beginning when we went through a large archway with a tight squeeze. Then, a giant animatronic animal swoops from above and, if caught unaware, seems like it will hit those inside the wagon. 

Graphic by Jacob Walton

The hayride was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had at a haunted house or Halloween-like amusement place. There were about 10 different themes the wagon went through. One in particular that absolutely blew me away, and was a theme I had never seen before was pirates. On both sides of the wagon were huge pirate ships with dead people fighting and cannons shooting at one another while fog sprayed out. They even had an actor who swung on a rope from one ship to another. The ships each had about 10 actors battling. Although this part of the ride was not particularly scary, it was extremely entertaining and I wanted to pause the ride and take it in. 

What impressed me the most was the lighting on the ships. It was done in a way to make the scene very dramatic and lit in a way that everything was able to be seen, even in the pitch black of night in a forest. 

Another thing that the Haunted Hayride does that was unique from other haunted attractions was that it gave the riders plenty of things to look at and forced riders to look upwards. Most haunted attractions have people look left, right, back and forward but almost never have any incentive to gaze at, or have anything above its participants. At every attraction on the hayride, there was always something in every direction, especially up. There were tunnels, actors flying above the wagon riders and signs that kept the riders engaged in every way possible.

Another high point that I very much enjoyed was that it featured three sections where the main point was not just to scare, but entertain the wagon riders. In these sections, they played well known classics and choreographed dances that centered around a spooky or Halloween theme. These were all broken apart between the scarier sections, which gave  slight relief to the riders. 

I was very impressed with the hayride. The music and sounds always matched the different themes and attractions. The actors performed well and stayed in character the entire time. The choreographed dances were well done and in sync. The costumes and make-up were some of the best I have ever seen. The only thing about the production was the typical generic lines the actors had. Evil laughs, screams, such as “Get over here,” and groans. None of this was unique and can be heard at any attraction. It was as if they were told to just say typical scary lines and did not have any unique dialogue between them. 

The only disappointing part of the hayride for me was the Headless Horseman. Indiana Fear Farm advertises a Headless Horseman attraction during the hayride and as if it was supposed to be a big deal, but for our ride, it was only featured for about 15 seconds. The actor was waving a fake sword at the wagon while walking beside it. 

This was perplexing since he was guiding his horse in one hand, and made me wonder why he did not just ride the horse after the wagon, especially since there was about 30 seconds with nothing going on after his scene. I really felt as if there could have been a lot more to his part. 

Overall, my experience at Indiana Fear Farm was extremely enjoyable. They have a unique take on haunted attractions that gives attendees something to look forward to. For UIndy students, however, I would highly recommend doing both the Haunted Hayride and Slaughter Barn attractions because of the 40 minute drive. 

Only doing one makes for about a 10 to 15 minute scare experience. Comparing this with the commute makes Indiana Fear Farm not worth it as much. However, Indiana Fear Farm does have a unique experience and does some really great things during their attractions and I enjoyed myself in ways I did not expect.