Offering one of the most diverse bangs for the Halloween buck, Spooky Ranch converts the Rockin’ R Ranch in Columbia Station into an array of five varying haunted attractions.
For the inexpensive, top-tier $18 admission, spookees are treated to a lengthy and frightening haunted house, a hayride that’s both creepy and funny (which culminates in a theatrical haunted barn), a 3-D clown world and an old-school funhouse.
Most like the haunted houses of '80s and '90s, Extreme Nightmares, one of the haunted attractions, is designed in various horror film aesthetics. There's a creepy Victorian mansion, blood-splattered mountain cabins and graveyards. It provides plenty of jumps with boo-factor scares and plenty of nostalgic tricks from air-pressure monsters, shaking floors and pitch-black disorientation. A bonus to this haunted experience was that it included indoor and outdoor sets, making the most of its setting.
Crazy Clowns 3-D, the second attraction, takes you in a different direction—into a world covered in fluorescent paints. The entire place is lit with black lights and guests are given prismatic glasses to make the colors pop off the walls. Though not necessarily “3-D,” the experience is creative and earns its shrieks at key moments.
Though billed as two different attractions, The Famous Haunted Hayride segues into The Haunted Barn, making them effectively one ride. Part humor, part chills, the hayride features chainsaws, an electric chair and a hillbilly using an outhouse. If you don’t duck, you’ll get splashed with his “stream.” Ewww. Live actors jump onto and off of the tractor trailer, sniffing riders out and toying with them along the route.
Toward the end, the tractor pulls up to a barn with a giant skull on it. Passing under its glowing eyes, the ride fully enters The Haunted Barn, only to have the door slam shut behind it. Inside, the darkness is broken by a vampire, several finely detailed animatronic beasts and a monstrously tall ghoul picking over the guests.
The final attraction pays homage to the G-rated thrills that may have been around in the haunted houses of the '30s or '40s. Fully lit and gore-free, Funny Fun House plays up the trick-or-treat level of Halloween with fun gimmicks like warped carnival mirrors and clowns popping out of jack-in-the-boxes. There’s even an upside down room with all of the furniture hanging from the ceiling. Playing into October traditions, the house starts by a pumpkin patch and ends with a country store full of seasonal goodies.
With themes and age-appropriate entertainment all across the board, Spooky Ranch provides All Hallow’s fun for all tastes. Its wide-spread appeal may account for its 21 years of business. And ticket pricing is tiered, if you’re a bit too chicken to handle the bigger scares.