Hysteria at Connors Farm (5 Stars)
In the last several years, I’ve reviewed nearly 30 haunted attractions, more than anyone else in New England. My 2015 pick for the best haunted attraction in Massachusetts is Hysteria at Connors Farm!
The experience is based in Danvers at Connors Farm, a family farm that is open to the public for pick-your-own fruit and pumpkins, and a family-friendly daytime corn field maze.
Then on October weekends, you can find three attractions at Hysteria: the Haunted Farm, Zombie Paintball, and the Flashlight Maze. You’ll also find a mechanical bull to ride, tree swings, and a huge farm stand with scary pumping rock music. As you wait in line, watch out for a scary guy on sparking roller skates to come screaming at you!
The Haunted Farm is the star destination. Although I am a fan of indoor attractions in Massachusetts, especially Ghoulie Manor in Taunton (see my review) and Barrett’s Haunted Mansion in Abington (see my review), the Haunted Farm is a haunted woods walk, and going outdoors in the dark is just plain spookier.
Through the attraction you’ll go through a corn maze, several shacks, but always returning to the spooky woods. Danvers is far enough from Boston that the stars shine brightly in the night sky. While the Haunted Farm does not have expensive production behind it, with few animatronics, the creativity is astounding, unseen elsewhere.
For example, you’ll come across a dirt mound with a pagan ritual that includes a fire spinner. You’ll find clowns in a school bus, innocent victims in cages or being dissected, and evil humanoid rabbits in a corn field. They add a few gimmicks that other attractions have such as claustrophobic spaces to squeeze through. I was impressed with the vortex spinning room, which you will also find at attractions in Fall River, and with the laser cone, which needed more fog.
Did I mention that there is spooky fog everywhere? It’s really a sensation to walk through the forest and fog for a good 30 minutes with thumping music all around you. The Haunted Farm has an astounding 70 actors, and one nitpick: there are two places with one-inch drops that could be smoothed over so that visitors don’t stumble.
We didn’t attend the flashlight maze, but I was there two years ago. Assuming it is the same, it is simply their daytime cornfield that you can walk around at night. There are no actors and it must be a joy to breathe the fresh air and go for a walk at night there.
The other event we attended was Zombie Paintball at Connors Farm. You load into a truck that has paintball guns mounted to its sides. They pull you along a forest path and you get to fire at some 25 actors in the woods around you.
Each monster has a mask covering their paintball goggles, and presumably they are wearing padding. I have to admit that I sometimes felt bad shooting at the poor actors out there in the cold. A bit more groaning and flailing when shot might have given us visitors the hint that the actors were having a good time.
The guns were mounted so that they could not turn too far left or right, nor up or down. This meant that sometimes when the zombies rushed the truck, they were too close for us to turn our guns down to hit them.
The paintball run seemed to have fewer decorations and actors than at my last visit Connors Farm two years ago, when they had a big finish at the end with lots of actors. Still, we had a fantastic time. The safety instructions were clearly delivered and. We had plenty of ammunition, with our guide freely loading us up whenever we ran out or had a gun jam, not trying to sell us ammo. The lighting was decent so that I could see where my shots were going most of the time. Best of all, one of the zombies came down a zip line and we got to shoot while he or she was moving. Pretty great!
On my way driving out, I realized that Connors Farm is only a few miles from the Topsfield Fair, the major agricultural fair that has everything from beekeeping to horse shows to sand sculptures to live concerts. So that would be a great idea for a daytime precursor to Hysteria at Connors Farm… but in 2016 because sadly, the Topsfield Fair ended this week. However in 2015 the Connors Farm’s Halloween attraction is only a 45-minute drive from Boston and is open through Halloween!
Two years ago I gave Hysteria a 5 stars plus ranting, but this year I’ll give this attraction a well-deserved, but not quite as good as two years ago, 5 stars out of 5. They take the edge for best Halloween in Massachusetts.