Sandyland's Creatures Are Always Happy To 'Meat' You!
The Butcher Inside Farmer's Revenge
You Want Confrontational?
The Hayride's Actors Will Invade Your Space Big Time!
MEETING A 'DEAD'LINE!
Welcome to Sandyland Acres, home of the Haunted Hayride and Farmer’s Revenge. Run by Gene (currently in Freddy Krueger mode, stalking the crowd and popping in and out of the Farmer’s Revenge attraction) and Brenda Webb along with their partners the Stephenson family, it’s now in its seventh season. Perhaps the most impressive addition to the event this season is the pyro effects. The first one you’ll notice is the flame on top of one of the farm’s massive corn silos. And you might notice it way before you get to the farm-we spotted it in our car from well over a mile away. According to Brenda, installing the propane jet on top of the towering silo was harder than one might assume. “We had to build a catwalk up there first to make it safe to work on”, she said, “but after that it wasn’t too bad”. While working on top of the silo is probably daunting under the best conditions, imagine how it was for Gene when the effect had a glitch the first night of operation. “Yeah, it was a lot of fun climbing up there in the middle of the night and working on that thing in the dark”, laughed Gene. “Thankfully, it’s been running great ever since then”. You can also see two impressive pillars of flame shooting up just as the wagon enters the woods, punctuating the singsong patter of a rhyming voodoo man who boards the hayride while riders are distracted. They join the flames that shoot up from the twin stacks of one of Sandyland’s pursuit vehicles, but more on that later.Sandyland’s also added a couple of brand new scenes inside the cornfield where none existed before. The first is in the field before the wagon plunges into the woods and features Sadako (from the ‘Ring’ movies) slowly advancing on the wagon after seemingly escaping from a well in the background. The second comes after surviving the ‘Klown Tunnel’. It was a last minute addition that even one of the creators wasn’t sure about including (that being Gene) but that has turned out to be quite popular with hauntgoers. It’s a flying saucer complete with a couple of BEM’s (bug eyed monsters) in flight suits. While at first it may not seem to fit in with a hayride, what could be more natural? After all, flying saucers are ALWAYS making crop circles appear throughout the Midwest! When asked about how the saucer was constructed, Gene just grins, but the secret is spilled when someone else blurted out that it looked like “a couple of satellite dishes put together”. And Gene confirms that’s just what it is. Pointing with a razored finger, he says, “Yep, they were sitting in the front yard there not too long ago”. Satellite dishes or not, in the dark and with special lighting and detailing the saucer looks pretty impressive to us! The new scenes, along with a few characters hiding out in the corn and the second vehicle chase have effectively eliminated the bane of most hayrides-dead spots that aren’t covered by actors or effects. This had been somewhat noticeable at Sandyland in the past, particularly in the area after the graveyard. Now, however, there’s always an actor or some effect throughout the entire half hour ride.
Most of the existing scenes have either been rethemed or had something new added to them. The flames we spoke of earlier on the silo were added to the ‘country butcher’ scene. The werewolf grotto from last season is now home to the ‘Forest of Dolls’, a scene inspired by Mexico’s creepy ‘Island of Dolls’. It’s home to the voodoo man we spoke of earlier along with a couple of ghouls (one of whom literally was right in our face-her nose couldn’t have been over an inch from ours). The following scene, home to Friday the 13th and Evil Dead scenes the past few season, is now Grandma’s House in the woods. Is that Red Riding Hood we see? And a HUGE animated wolf at the door? It’s a good bet that the wolves who used to be in the previous scene are somewhere around as well-and my, what big teeth they have! The pall bearers in the Sandyland Cemetery have been booted out of the crypt by the Grim Reaper and friends. They’re still there carrying their coffin, but the Reaper has built a massive iron gate across the front of the crypt and the interior is filled with fog-it almost looks like a passage into the netherworld. The ‘bridge over the graveyard’ is now a Klown area and has had a long tunnel added to it-just the right Big Top for Pennywise and his minions. And in the Terror Barn (traditionally the climax of the hayride), poor Saint Nick has been replaced by Leatherface, back to slamming the freezer lid shut on those troublesome teens that just won’t stay dead before firing up the ol’ chainsaw. He’s particularly vicious this season-a regular virtuoso of the blade. He was able to skim the saw mere inches over the heads of those on the wagon as well as slamming the saw down on the railing with the bar right in someone’s face. Feeling the gas-powered chainsaw’s vibrations shaking the railing just gives the scene that extra tactile dimension it needs for maximum scares! Finally, the doctor in the last scene now has a full syringe of glowing green reanimation fluid he uses to threaten hauntgoers-there’s just something about a syringe that freaks most people out. And if that doesn’t do the trick, the zombies in the background that break out of their cage are happy to finish the job! You’ll also find hillbillies with shotguns, multiple creatures lurking in the corn, a gallows, a woman being cut in half by a buzzsaw, and the scenes that everyone looks forward to…
…vehicle chases! Sandyland had added to them, both in number and effects, since its inception in 2005. Originally there was just the ‘red eye express’, a tractor that chased the haywagon upon exiting from the woods to the gates of the graveyard. That tractor now takes up position in its spot as the second chase of the tour, occurring in a narrow path cut through the cornfield on the approach to the Terror Barn. It’s known for getting close enough to the wagon where one could leap onto its hood. In fact, during Sandyland’s second season, a memorable chase had it actually making contact with the back steps of the wagon-mere inches from where the HOD!!! was sitting! The former course of the ‘express’ has now been taken over by the ‘death truck’, a souped-up vehicle belonging to the hillbillies from the preceding scene. It’s got twin chromed stacks rising up from the hood. As the truck revs it’s impressive sounding muscle car engine, it alternates between lurching to one side or the other of the wagon and tailing it from behind. All the while, it entertains the crowd by belching large jets of flame out of the hood stacks! And not all of the pursuits at Sandyland are mechanical. After being on hiatus for one season, the Dark Rider has returned to the event. Formerly the Headless Horseman, he’s now a skeletal rider that appears to haunt the haywagon before it reaches the safety of the woods. Sandyland has built a bridge for him to cross (ala “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”), and the sound of his powerful steed’s hoofs pounding across the wooden structure added a great new dimension to the stunt!
Farmer’s Revenge, Sandyland’s indoor haunt located inside an old barn, is in its second year. Based on customer feedback from the first season, Sandyland has increased the number of live actors found inside and eliminated some of the still displays. As fate would have it, the first actor we came across was Jim Fletcher, formerly with our friends at Haunted Cincinnati. Jim’s currently playing Horace Pinker from the movie ‘Shocker’ in Sandyland’s electric chair. So what’s Jim been up to that got him sentenced to death? I mean, we know some haunt owners overreact when they disagree with a review, but getting the chair for it seems a bit harsh. Well, it turns out Jim’s motivation was nothing more than wanting to help out Sandyland because Gene and Brenda are “such great people”. Once getting past the fried haunt critic, you’ll find the animatronic Leatherface from last season has been replaced by a pig-headed butcher in his ‘little shop of horrors’. It’s a very macabre sight and rendered even more sinister by the enhanced voice gear the butcher uses to threaten the hauntgoers. There’s little safety to be found after that as a black maze is entered-a crazy farmer continues to pop up from ‘scare panels’ hidden in the wall along the way and one can feel what seems like snakes thrashing against your legs. Before the way out is found a confounding room full of dangling pipes is encountered, and even after that things end in a torture chamber that appears to be a dead end. Escape that and you’ll still need to survive a room full of writhing snakes hanging from the ceiling, crates with mysterious contents, gi-ants, Michael Myers, Pinhead and his Pillar Of Souls, and the Sandyland Circus. The circus not only features one of the best vortex tunnels we’ve seen but also a Human Fly-just not the type you’re used to seeing climbing up hi-rises. As we mentioned last season, Farmer’s Revenge defies easy description-it’s not a traditional haunt, a funhouse, or a dark maze, but combines elements of all three. It’s a fun complementary event, and it’s probably best experienced before taking the hayride.
Elsewhere on the grounds is the Spooky Gift Shop and Aunt Susie’s Haunted Kitchen. While concessions aren’t normally something we at the HOD!!! dwell on, Sandyland’s are so unique that we’re going to. They add an extra dimension to an already enjoyable event. The Spooky Gift Shop is housed in a shed that isn’t much bigger than a clothes closet-but it’s packed with all sorts of cool handmade items put together by Brenda in the offseason. She’s painted skull plaques, made Sandyland Scarecrows, put together custom jewelry, filled jars full of Sandyland cursed soil, and generally made the tiny shop one of the more intriguing haunt merchandise stops in the area. The prices are excellent as well-none of the hyper-marked up items you’ll see at some other attractions. Tonight we bought a cool little silver bucket filled with gore and body parts with the Sandyland logo, a Sandyland muffler, a DVD of the 2010/2011 Hayride, and a pair of earrings for our wife (yeah, we wished we could have gotten her a Sandyland Thong ala Dent, but you can’t have everything). There’s also a wagon near the hayride queue line that sells glow items and other trinkets. Aunt Susie’s Haunted Kitchen serves the best variety of food of any local haunt, made to order (not sitting around all night and kept heated), and they even wrapped our stuff in tin foil and bagged it when they found out we were taking it with us. Sandyland has excellent customer service top to bottom-one touch that we really enjoyed was that they had an employee standing at the bottom of the wagon as riders exited, personally thanking each customer for coming. There’s nothing like letting your customers know how much they’re appreciated, and no doubt helps to keep them coming back.
Sandyland continues to grow in the hills of Petersburg in northern Kentucky…steadily…inexorably. Despite losing three Fridays out of the season to rain they’ve had a good season, helped along by changing their marketing strategy. According to Gene, running their radio ads on the Eagle has brought in masses of people from southeast Indiana-enough to help offset the lost days. While many midsized haunts flounder and never make it past a couple of seasons, Sandyland’s made solid decisions that have resulted in a financial and creative success. When next haunt season rolls around, they’ll be ready-setting a deadline for quality haunting that you won’t want to miss!
Stalking Amongst The Stalks...
Sadako Demonstrates Her Version Of A Crop "Ring"
We'd Have Called Him Bug Boy, But There Can Only Be One!
Nevertheless, The Human Fly Was The Season's Coolest Haunt Character
2012 EVENT INFORMATION
2011 SANDYLAND ACRES HAUNTED HAYRIDE
Yeah, You'd BETTER Watch Out!
We've A Hunch...You'll Be Back!
Yes, We Stole The Quote From Philip Morris
As he gets further and further away from the hay wagon, the gibberish he’s screaming out gets harder and harder to understand-but when he belts out, “HAVE A MEEEERRRRRRRRRRY AX-MAS”, it comes through loud and clear! Welcome to Sandyland Acres, where the Farmers want revenge, the corn is ‘stalked’, and in the true spirit of the holiday (that being Halloween), the Ax is definitely in aX-Mas!
Sandyland is owned by Gene and Brenda Webb (along with their partners the Stephenson family), and they're longtime horror movie aficionados and haunt fans-they've brought their 'Nightmares' to life by designing and creating the haunt. Usually we never get to talk to Gene since he’s acting inside the attraction, but this season they’re up to fifty actors so he’s moving between lurking inside the new Farmer’s Revenge and working the crowd. This night, Gene was portraying Freddy Krueger (his ‘Saturday’ character-with his other favorite, Michael Myers, being used on Fridays). It was a surreal experience having a normal conversation with “Freddy” (and he’s by far the best Freddy in haunting, whether it’s based on body language, dialogue, or costuming) while he had his photo taken with hauntgoers, scared off children, and terrorized the crowd. So what changes were made to this year’s attraction, Gene? “Well, for starters,” he laughed, “I had these blades actually welded on the Freddy glove this season so they wouldn’t keep snapping off in the hay bales”. But the big change, of course, is the Farmer’s Revenge attraction. “Yep, that’s our baby this year. We worked on putting it together from April all the way through August. We used two old huge dairy barns and built a connecting section in between the two. We have lots of room to expand-there’s even an upstairs we can add at some point if things go well. Farmer’s Revenge will help us out a lot on the days that it rains, since it gives us something that can stay open when weather makes us cancel the hayride. Three or even two days of rain can make all the difference between a good season and a ruined one”.It’s a very classy move by Sandyland, one that reflects the type of attraction they’ve tried to build over the years-a more family oriented event that parents can feel comfortable bringing their kids to. So say a little prayer for her (sadly, Gene has informed us Vera passed on shortly before Halloween).
After that, the wagon plunges into rows of corn, seemingly stretching as far as the eye can see. The path through is narrow and the stalks of corn brush against the wagon and occasionally its riders. And that’s not all that brushes the wagon-the corn has creatures attacking from all sides and even the scarecrows on crosses along the path have a life of their own. As elsewhere on the hayride (particularly the woods) some of these hellspawn board the wagon to terrorize the riders-whether it’s with a chainsaw or threatening to marry them and take them back to the grave (as happened in the Graveyard later in the tour). Watching some of these athletic monsters take a huge flying leap off the rear of the moving wagon is an annual delight! The wagon finally breaks free of the corn and traverses an open field with a tall gallows (where the Asylum was last season) before plunging into the deep, dark woods. The “Hills Have Eyes” crew have moved, their old spot having been taken over by a pack of werewolves. Leatherface (back to his 1974 roots this season) has taken over Jason Voorhees’s old shack. The mutants from the Hills Have Eyes now live in the old ‘Motel Hell/Sawyer-Hewitt House’, bringing their own brand of terror-along with deafening shotgun blasts-along with them. There’s an unfortunate victim that’s tied WAAAAYYYYYY up in the branches of an old tree. Brenda explained that “…the tree spilt in half and we had to cut a bunch of the upper branches off and then chain the two halves together. We figured as long as a chain was going up there, stringing it through a dead body would be even better!” The next part of the hayride goes through an open field by the Graveyard where a deadly race with two fire spewing ‘monster’ trucks takes place (check out the dripping blood on their headlights!). Then, instead of last season’s ‘Snakes on a Wagon’, we get a tribute to longtime horror rocker Alice Cooper-and his new song ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off’.
Sandyland also boasts the coolest haunt gift shop in town. While it’s only big enough for a few people to enter at a time, don’t be fooled by its size. It has some of the coolest and most unique Halloween themed items anywhere. The HOD!!! told you last year about the ‘unconsecrated Sandyland soil’ being sold in jars along with Sandyland blankets and bags of ‘Sandyland Farms Seed corn’ (themed bags of candy corn). This year, they’re joined by ‘Sandyland Skulls in a Jar’ along with tabletop scarecrows that carry the attraction’s logo, Sandyland totes, Sandyland tea lights, and the very cool Sandyland Witches Broom pen. We’ve already had several of our co-workers ask where we got the pen! Brenda makes virtually everything in the gift shop herself by hand-including unthemed items like bath salts, jewelry (the necklaces she made are already sold out) and skeleton jewelry boxes, all very inexpensive. Every year we at the HOD!!! spend more money at the Sandyland gift shop than at the regular Halloween store! For more traditional hauntgoers, there’s a new Sandyland T-shirt this season in radioactive green with black script-very sharp looking. There’s also a kiosk outside with commercial glow rings, flashers, and the like. Finally, there’s “Auntie Susie’s Haunted Kitchen”, where even the HOD!!! likes to eat. We’re normally not much when it comes to eating at haunts-just ask Allen Rizzo or the folks at Kings Island! It takes away from the time we could be touring the haunt or discussing them-one of the funniest haunt reviews we’ve read in years had a lovingly detailed course-by-course description of the food at KI for ‘Fright Feast’ that was seemingly longer than the rest of the review! Anyway, the food at the Haunted Kitchen (located in the same building you get your tickets in on the left hand side) is SO good even we can’t resist! It’s also themed for Halloween (hence the ‘haunted’ part).
So Sandyland now has not one but two excellent seasonal attractions that can be enjoyed by haunters of all ages. The Hayride has continued to develop every season and Farmer’s Revenge provides the perfect complement. The Sunday daytime show is perfect for very young children and families just wanting to enjoy a fun fall afternoon on the farm. We say it every year, but it’s still as true as ever-Sandyland, more than any other local event, embodies the seasonal spirit of a traditional Halloween. And not only do you get Halloween, you get a little bit of aX-Mas too!
Regan MacNeil 'Turns Heads' At Farmer's Revenge!
Reagan's Head Isn't The Only Thing Spinning...
Sandyland's Awesome Looking Vortex