Sandyland Acres-A Frightening Hayride of Terror
By Noah (AKA Jolly Pumpkin)
Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride is one of the newest and most unique hayrides around. When you visit Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride you'll be transported into your favorite horror movies. And with one of the friendliest staffs and people with a passion for haunting, there's no doubt that this hayride will be around for years to come. We speak with Gene Webb co-owner of this frightening hayride.
Tell us a little about the history of Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride?
We have always been interested in the horror movie industry and also meeting and collecting horror movie icon memorabilia. We are wanting something new and exciting to show the interest we have and with no other haunted hayrides in the northern Kentucky area it seemed like the perfect idea. We already had the tools to start our venture! With myself, my wife and some really good talent within our family and friends ideas would flow easily.
There are many scenes that are inspired by such movie as The Exorcist, Halloween, Saw and many other popular horror movies. How has the response been from people being able to become part of their favorite horror movie?
There has been such a good response on how we make the movie scenes come to life as you feel you're part of it.We want the look and feel of the actual movie taking place from custom made masks to costumes and puppets. It really enhances the feel. I personally like to hear people leaving a scene screaming, crying and applauding. Our Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, Friday The 13th and Creeper scenes have a big impact on the hayride!
Petersburg Kentucky is not a very large town that is full of haunts. Has it been difficult drawing a crowd in a small town that isn't use to haunted hayrides?
It's very true that Petersburg isn't a very big town , but the people here have really taken to what we have done for the town. We have actors from here and a big number of the people come back 3 or 4 times during the season. Church groups book dates. As far as bringing people to our event in Petersburg, we work with all the Halloween stores in the area giving out flyers and having actors there on weekends in costume.
We do parades, that we have won best float trophy's for and we do the Boone county fair. We started using radio last year with a very good response. We have had people from as far away as California visit out haunt.
What is the process of creating realistic horror movie scenes that people will experience as they go through Sandyland Acres Haunted Hayride?
We sit down and have a creative meeting every year to discus our movie scenes on wether to change them, add to them or do different scenes. We look at older horror movies and new ones. Since we have such a wide range fn ages visiting our haunt we need to relate old movies and new so everyone can identify each character we have .
Haunted hayrides and haunted trails can be very successful and very unsuccessful depending on the weather. How has the weather effected business and how do you recover from a rainy season?
It is a very big concern every season. Our 1st year of operation we had lost three days due to rain, but still had a great outcome for our first year. We were very proud of what we accomplished since last year we had no rain outs at all and doubled our attendance. We checked into rain event insurance , but it was very expensive and a big gamble. Since we are on sand opposed to dirt it has to rain an inch or better for a few hours before we decide to cancel the night .
Sandyland Acres is part of the website Cincy Haunts where it promotes various haunts in the greater Cincinnati area. How would you compare Sandyland Acres to other haunts people may visit in Cincinnati?
Cincy haunts has been a learning experience for us being new to the haunt community. We have met some great people and made some friends along the way. Being a hayride we are much different than other haunts in the area since most are indoor haunts. Our ride lasts 25 to 30 minutes. We don't depend on a lot of animatronics. It isn't as fast paste as a haunted house is since it's a slow paced wonder (what's) going to happen next feeling. We strive to give people a great show from the minute they get out of their car until they return, ( if they do ).
This will be the 3rd year for Sandyland Acres. What mistakes have you made over the years and how have you learned from them so you could create an overall more successful haunted hayride?
We have learned so much about promotion, advertising and getting our haunt into the community. Our biggest problem has always been actors, but we made a big stride with our actors last year and gained some really great people that will be back this year. You really have to put your heart and soul into your haunt to be successful and have a great crew to work with. But ever year is a learning experience. We are making changes every year to be a better hayride and this year will be the best so far!
How successful is your haunted corn maze compared to the haunted hayride?
Our corn maze last year was a test to see if people would want something else to do and in case small children would not want go on the hayride. It did about a quarter of the business of the hayride and we didn't promote it as a haunted maze. People expected that it was so this year it will be a more intense, bigger, taller and thicker maze. Good luck to anyone who will find there way out .
Sandyland Acres has one of the friendliest staffs of any haunt I've visited because many of the people responsible for its success are family. What are the positives and negatives of working with family?
Our family is so dedicated to the success of our haunt. All during the year we plan and talk about the hayride during Christmas or any other holiday we're together. There will always be ups and downs working with family, but mainly because people have different personality's and have different ideas. But all ideas make a terrific idea. You could never find a better family or group to work with .
Over the years Sandyland Acres has become bigger and better with the addition of a haunted cornfield, an outdoor merchandise stand, a more organized and professional hayride and so much more that creates a better overall experience for visitors. What new things are planned this year to improve Sandyland Acres?
This year will be even better than last. There will be new scenes, we're changing scenes, more actors and new characters. I believe people will really take notice to us this year as being one of the top haunts in the area.
Where do you see Sandyland Acres 10 years from now?
I know within the next 2 to 3 years there maybe a haunted barn and a bigger corn maze. In 10 years we would like to be the top hayride in the South and bringing in crowds from all over the US with the best crew working with us. Only time will tell, but we have many ideas in store for the future .
Who are some of the other people that are instrumental in the success of Sandlyland Acres?
Gene Webb co-owner/actors/promotion/scene design
Brenda Webb co-owner manager/advertising/promotion/gift shop
Rod Stephenson owner
Linda Stephenson owner
Roy Stephenson owner
Jed Hirsch props/design/scenes
James Denny scene setup/actor
Lou Sebok scene setup/actor
If you never decided to create a haunted hayride, what would you be doing on September and October Weekends?
If I wasn't doing the hayride I would probably be working on our show car Mustang Mach 1, be involved with the Tri-State Mustang Club of Cincinnati, watching horror movies and going on ghost hunts .