GRIZZLY'S TRAIL OF TERROR, Hunt NY
Disclaimer: While I do love this attraction to the core, Jenna and Carol have essentially banned me for "writing a hit piece" despite my giving them a perfect score on Walkthrough Experience and Originality.
Hiding away on a hill in the woods just a few minutes away from Letchworth State Park in Hunt, NY is a secluded masterpiece of handmade horror. The ride to Grizzly's Trail of Terror doesn't have the same mystique as some other rural haunts, maybe because I've been there before and knew what to expect. The show itself is one of my Top 13 Haunts So Far.
Acting - 6
As far as acting goes, this place doesn't really make heads spin. Grizzly's is a family affair, so you won't see Hollywood level acting like at other pro shows. You have a bunch of kids doing the typical yell/scream scare and the occasional “Wanna play?” and the older relatives hitting you with props and bright lights. There is also a significant fixation on Horror Movie slashers which doesn't scare or sometimes even interest me at all. What you do get from the acting is a spirited approach that other haunters have to coerce out of actors through fear. They all feel a sense of ownership which naturally invigorates their actions. I have a solid shoutout to the woman who was dressed as the Grinch. She was a surprisingly really funny addition. I also want to mention the moment where I accidentally slapped the woman at the end of the trailers. Sorry about that.
Midway - 5
The midway is cozy but, unremarkable. There are the typical firepits surrounded by chairs and haybales and a few photo ops. Waiting for Manager Jenna to come down and meet her for the first time, my sister and I DID sit down in one of these fire circles. It was warm and all but, there isn't the same excitement in the Midway as there is on the trail.
Eye Candy/Visuals - 7
In terms of Special Effects, there are almost none. This walkthrough doesn't need them. The biggest component of imagery is the overwhelming collection of ramshackle items Owner Carol uses to mark the path and create distractions. There is one remarkable effect that I call the Pits of Doom, they are thorough surprises and one of the many reasons to give this place a visit. When it comes to pieces of the experience like lighting, they simply use your common strobes, black lights and headlights. There are a number of vehicles used as set pieces and it can be argued that the trailers are interesting set pieces themselves. Inside the trailers at times are moving floors and fluorescent props. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of store bought props but, the majority are homemade. The homemade nature of the haunt makes for a better achieved effort
Walkthrough Experience - 10
From the first seating on a bus or ambulance heading up the hill to the disembarking at the bottom, this is an experience that must be had at least once by any haunt fan. Grizzly's is a unique blend of craftiness, the unknown and The Halloween Spirit. They absolutely push the envelope with the introduction phase. A high speed barnstorming blitz up the hill within the confines of a specially modified short bus or ambulance blasting really cool generic rock music instrumentals. At the top of the Hill is essentially the title screen to the just completed Opening Credits. A four by six feet banner sign welcoming you to Grizzly's Trail of Terror. The path through each of the five cornfield sections is lit by fun Halloween colored rope lights. The corn stalks are eight to nine feet tall and enclose you in the darkness quite nicely. Although I mentioned the acting as being mediocre, this environment is ripe for the folks to come out fast and hard with the scares. In the six clearings are either constructions and trailers or traverses of land that edge up to the mysterious wilderness. The trailer in the first clearing greets guests with the sights of the Bayou if you can imagine it overrun by the occult and the neccesity to push aside many hanging obstacles. One of the most unique of the constructions is a shack themed to Christmas, with a little illuminated Santa perched on top. The resident of this shack actually happens to be The Grinch. There are also a medical tent, walk-in cooler you might just be locked into, and a random shack you must bend over to get out of. At the outset of some of these shacks are Pits of Doom that take the sureness out of your step, an idiosyncratic feature of this haunt that I've never experienced elsewhere. The final aspect of your walkthrough is an array of trailers at the descent which incorporate dark maze and blacklight house. This dark maze is unlike many others I've been in as they have the flexibility to build in somewhat irregular shapes. Some passages are pretty narrow and other chambers are triangular. One particular passage has a teetering floor that is a prime opportunity for an over-the-wall scare. The actors in these trailers play a pretty fun mix of Hard Rock bands and it generally improves the environs of the fluorescent scenes. The ride back down the hill is much more tame but still quite exciting. From taking the first seat to stepping off at the Midway, the entire excursion takes about 27 minutes. For $25 at the entry or $27.25 online, you can have yourself one hell of a time. They are open every Saturday going forward to October 30th.
Originality/Creativity - 10
Not one component of this haunt is made by an outside artist. The building is done by Carol and Jenna and really looks great. They use the outer rim terrain for the basis of dividing the cornfield into sections. Six clearings disect the field into five unique segments of cornstalks. The use of an old Walk-in cooler, mattresses and kids toys really take this outdoor attraction to a heart-warming(for the Horror-minded) level. Carol, Jenna and crew bring the goods if you want to see a truly thrilling and entertaining outdoor horror show.
Grizzly's Trail of Terror is a place that I am grateful for getting a chance to try out last year and return to this year. It's an excellent example of the Halloween Spirit and totally worth going to for anyone in the Western half of New York. There is a sad reality though, that the attraction is at risk of closing down at any time due to insurance restriction. All those who visit must do everything you can to be safe in spite of The Pits of Doom and the violent ride up to the field. Grab the seats, keep your arms somewhat outward for balance and always be prepared for the floor or ground to move underneath you. At any rate, don't be an ass and put your head or leg joints at unnecessary risk. They mandate that you sign a waiver to pass on holding the attraction liable for your injuries. Apart from that wish and warning, the Trail of Terror is an easy spot to recommend. The only reasons the show fell to a B- grade are the acting not being to the level of other haunts with Icon Characters and the like and the basic Midway based around the social aspects yet missing extra recreational opportunities.
A big disclosure is to note that Jenna came down to meet us at the Midway and after an at least slightly confused exchange offered the special treatment of giving a second, free Behind-the-scenes tour. I clearly didn't figure special treatment into the ratings and am hoping this doesn't sour our new relations going into the future. It was a bit difficult to find my ratings only came to a B- grade because I really DO love the feelings of Grizzly's.