Deep in the woods of Snelling lies a frighteningly exciting way to spend this year’s Halloween holiday: Snelling’s Ranch of Horror. The haunted Halloween tour is ready for its second season of providing the 209 community with scares by way of zombies, ghosts and plenty of screams.
Snelling’s Ranch of Horror celebrated its first year of operation last year. According to marketing coordinator Heather May, the idea for the haunt began years prior but was never put into motion. In 2015, Lee’s River View Ranch made their land available for use and the haunted tour was born.
“The landowner said that we could do the haunt if we wanted to try it, so we jumped on the opportunity,” said May.
Though neither May nor her family members had ever participated in the haunt industry, they were able to get ideas for the Ranch of Horror by attending haunt trade shows in New Orleans and St. Louis. May saw things at the shows that she liked, and in turn brought them to life back home in Snelling.
The Ranch of Horror has a variety of attractions for all ages, with some being more frightening than others. May gave both the ranch’s haunted house and Zombie Escape attractions a “10” on the fright factor scale.
“I think we’re unique because we have a little bit of everything in one place,” said May. “Most of our stuff is geared toward fright and scare.”
The Ranch of Horror’s haunted house has a theme of House of the Dead this year. The ranch’s feature attraction takes participants on a self-guided tour filled with terrifying scenes, but unlike some other haunted houses in the area, actors within the House of the Dead do not touch you as you walk through the frightening hallways.
The newest attraction at the Ranch of Horror is the Zombie Escape, a combination of an escape room atmosphere, paintball tag and zombie experience.
“It’s very interactive,” said May. “While we were at the trade show, we came up with the idea to combine multiple attractions into one.”
Participants begin the Zombie Escape as passengers in a truck that happens to break down. Each participant, equipped with flag football flags, must then ward off zombies with their paintball guns as they attempt to fix their broken truck, escape and discover the cure for the zombie outbreak. If one’s flag is pulled off by a zombie, it’s game over for that player.
“We’re very excited about offering the Zombie Escape this year,” said May.
Other haunted attractions that Snelling’s Ranch of Horror offers include a Zombie Shooter station where players can practice for the Zombie Escape, a Haunted River Walk, a Ghost Busting Maze, a Gypsy Experience, Stuff a Zombie (much like a Build-a-Bear Workshops, but with the undead) and Movies on the Ranch.
The Haunted River Walk takes place right alongside Snelling’s Merced River, opening up participants to the spooky experience that is Snelling at night.
“It really feeds off the environment,” said May. “There are things that can come up to you out there at night, like wild pigs, and people on the walk will see a lot of eerie scenes.”
The ranch’s Ghost Busting Maze is a family-friendly attraction that takes participants on a hunt for ghosts that haunt the property. Ghost hunting equipment is used to ward off any spirits, and if a ghost hunter makes it out “unharmed,” he or she gets to keep their hard hat and flashlight.
Movies on the Ranch is a free movie night hosted on the ranch’s property at 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Films are displayed on a big screen under the stars, and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs.
Attractions at Snelling’s Ranch of Horror range from $5 to $25. The House of the Dead attraction costs $12.50, while the Zombie Escape and Stuff a Zombie features are $25. Those who would like to book a Zombie Escape adventure can reserve a spot by calling 209-947-8999.
Snelling’s Ranch of Horror begins operation on Oct. 1, and will be open through Halloween. The haunt is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October, and on the last week of the month will be open Thursday-Monday. The haunted Halloween ranch is located at 15080 N. Snelling Road.