Pumpkin Patch Haunt, Anaheim, CA
We're moving into overtime work for our Halloween updates, because we're starting to visit more haunts than we have days of the work week to post. Therefore, consider today the first-ever #ShriekySaturday! We head back to Anaheim today, but unlike our trip to an Anaheim haunted house earlier this season, this haunted attraction is far from family friendly. The Fleshyard is the result of a home haunt gone pro--the brainchild of Adam LeBlanc (formerly part of the Perdition Home Haunt crew) and his twisted and gory imagination. This is a haunt we reviewed last year, and on Thursday, we returned to check out its third season.
As Adam explains it, this year's iteration of The Fleshyard is a melding of years one and two. It's also the first year Adam has produced a storyline to tie the inspirations and motivations of the themes together:
In the 1800s, real-life historical figure Bernardo Yorba owned tens of thousands of acres of land in what includes modern day Yorba Linda. With so much territory, Yorba relied upon families to help tend to his lifestock and work the land, including one hard-working Kearny family. With their diligent labor, the Kearny family was eventually able to build up wealth and eventually establish their own farm in the area, becoming successful enough to run a meat and livestock vending operation to supply food to area residents. But one day, the entire family was discovered in their house, slaughtered with brutal ferocity. Abraham Kearny, his wife, Sarah, and their three daughters and two sons were found mutilated and ravaged, and the stench of their corpses was so great that their farm was burned to the ground, and locals started calling the area The Fleshyard. Of course, the spirits of such violently terminated victims seldom rest still, and today, they haunt the land on which they once lived, seeking vengeance for their atrocious murders!
The story serves to provide an amount of inspiration to the haunt and the actors, but ultimately, this is a relatively traditional gore-fest of a haunted maze with some unique tricks. Periodically, guests find themselves trapped in rooms with locked doors, unable to move forward. They must perform some sort of terror-inducing or gag-reflexing task to retrieve a key to continue their path. They also interact with plenty of unique talent through multiple rooms.
Adam explained to me that a good portion of his cast was comprised of theater students, lending a partial immersive theater aspect to the maze. And wonderfully, these actors were eagerly committed to their characters and rather unhinged. Through typical jump scares to chase down startles, the scare actors provided entertaining rambling and behavior bordering on the psychotic. They could also be relentless in certain scenes, lathering pressure onto guests trying to find the keys to continue their journey. The tension this built was a great way of maintaining an edge through the maze.
Aesthetically, The Fleshyard is very gritty, and extremely bloody. I wouldn't call the look sophisticated--no one will mistake this haunt for something from Halloween Horror Nights--but there's a certain appeal to that old-fashioned, graphic haunted house maze that many of us grew up seeing during Halloween season at places like Knott's Scary Farm. Certain areas have their share of blank walls, but this is offset by a winding and twisting layout that legitimately fostered a bit of misdirection, heightening the interactions with the actors. But there is plenty of detail as well. The disquietingly unappetizing kitchen has casework and racks and a refrigerator of blood and guts. The bathroom is simply a FEMA disaster zone. The living room even has a few nods to Midsummer Scream! Overally, the maze provided several nicely photogenic backdrops.
Similar to last year, The Fleshyard is located on a small pumpkin patch at the southeast corner of Imperial Highway and La Palma Avenue. Aside from the maze, guests can pay a small fee to feed animals inside a small petting zoo or run through some inflatable playground attractions. It's not fancy (and certainly not as extensive as the pumpkin patch at Dead Time Dreams--though the look feels similar), but it's a nice addition of variety for guests who visit.
Ultimately, The Fleshyard is a nice, intense haunt with some fun psychological play and a talented cast of very energetic and enthusiastic scare actors. They start the scares straight from the beginning and make good use of an efficient maze layout to trigger as many frights as possible. There's plenty of blood and body parts and dead animals (fake ones) for those who enjoy that style, and maze will certain tests the comfort levels of its guests. Though there's not much else to do here (the maze occupying the lot is the only tenant on the plot), the relatively quick amount of time spent here is certainly worth it--especially with Perdition Home Haunt located relatively neaby.
The Fleshyard runs through Halloween night, and Thursdays through Sundays plus the last two days of this month. It makes for a great member of an OC haunts run that could include places like the aforementioned Mable's 6 Feet Under, The 17th Door, and the aforementioned Perdition. The cast and crew are great, and this family-run business is definitely operating this out of the passion for the craft and the scare. If you're in Orange County, check them out!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.