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Conover Mystery Ranch / Swank Farms
2600 San Felipe Rd., Hollister
Reviewed by Hauntmistress: 10/24/2003
There's something for everyone at Swank Farms. Before I talk about the haunt, the Conover Mystery Ranch, let me tell you about all the fun at the farm.
The layout of the farm is much better than the layout last year, giving it a more intimate feeling. There are a ton of pumpkins for you to choose from .. or sling across the field! This year they have added a pumpkin sling, where for $5 you can get three pumpkins (or one for $2), set them up in a huge sling-shot type contraption, pull it back with all your might, and shoot the pumpkin into the air. It was not only fun to do, but fun to watch groups of people all try to pull the sling back at once to achieve maximum flying distance! If you hit any of the targets in the field, you get another shot for free!
When we were done with our pumpkin fun, we headed to the great corn maze. The entrance is very well-placed, so when you first enter, you are surrounded by huge corn stalks and only the light of the moon allows you to see the long path you are on, making for a creepy, desolate feeling. The maze takes you to the Conover Mystery Ranch.
The outside of the Conover Mystery Ranch is set up better than last year too, giving a much more professional look and feel. There was a line to get in, but while you wait, characters are roaming through the line (one of our favorites is one holding what looks like an old-fashioned wall-hanging pencil sharpener emitting a horrible sound). There is also music blasting, making for a very carnival-like atmosphere.
I was very impressed with the work done to the outside of the haunt. The lighting on the wood on the entrance's façade changed colors and looked very professional and there were "wanted" posters on the wall announcing all who have disappeared on the Ranch.
Unfortunately, when it came time to go into the haunt, we ended up with a group of drunk guys. We were in the back of the line of about eight people, and when the scares happened, they hogged them all! Half-way through, they were pulled aside and, I'm assuming, kicked out because they kept touching the actors. So then we were in the front of the line. But then the scares were happening to the people in back of us! But let me tell you, the woman in the back of the line nearly had a heart attack. At one point, an actor with a chainsaw jumps out and chases you. The woman, who was with her husband, started to run. Her husband grabbed her, and ended up falling. She ran by us doing about 60 mph and only after we caught up with her again did she turn around and try to see what had happened to her poor boyfriend.
Once again, we were particularly impressed with the cabin inside the haunt, which actually looks habitable! In fact, all the scenes you walk through are really well-done, with a lot of thought and time put into each one. Don't get caught with the drunk fools and you're sure to have a good time and get a good scaring!
Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area. Or if you're reading this review in a year other than it was written, please check our Events Calendar for current dates and hours of operation.
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