It’s exciting to have a whole new set of haunts to explore in my new home. Our first stop was the closest, The Haunted Ranch, in Bradenton. The picture is of the ticket booth and surrounds. The Ranch has food, an outdoor movie theater (plus a smaller one for kids), face painting, and a long haunted trail.
I think in a few years, when they’ve had a chance to build a stock of props and buy more lighting, this will be a great home haunt. Right now, the trail takes about 45 minutes to walk, and much of it is dead space. If they cut the trail in half, they could concentrate their props and actors for some great scares. Most of the lighting is provided by the occasional tiki torch. It’s very dark, and the ground is uneven, so it pays to move very carefully. Lighting was my biggest beef with the haunt. There were props, but no lighting to see them by. They used a couple of strobes, which is a big no-no in such an environment. The place is popular, so I hope they’ll be able to invest some of their ticket sales into next year’s event.
The actors were teenagers, and obviously having a great time, though a few were disappointed they couldn’t scare me. Hardly their fault, as they were well made up and doing a great job. They did give the Spousal Unit a few startles. There were some great bits–a cemetery with graves lit from underneath, and a nice spiderweb walk through. The haunt has the potential to shine eventually, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.