Inside The Bates Motel
By: Michael McCarrick, Lion’s Eye Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org (updated by the Lion’s Eye Web Staff)
When the sun sets at this time of year, a large meadow down the street becomes the scariest place on earth, with a history of terrifying myths about monsters, killers, and spirits.
The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride at Arasapha Farms in Glen Mills is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and its goal is to make the experience more memorable than ever.
The Bates Motel is more than just a money-making business; it’s a family celebration of horror and Halloween. The cast of actors playing the wild characters in the corn maze, hayride, and haunted house aren’t classically trained or struggling theater actors looking to make some quick cash. They’re just regular people, a cast of characters who all have one thing in common: they love to dress up and scare people.
It takes a long time to get into makeup, and some have to don a mask made of rubber or plastic. The outfits, no matter how ludicrous, are put on, and, as the sun sets, they sneak past the customers, find their spot, and wait, and wait for the first victim.
The Bates Motel is just one attraction customers need to go through to get the full experience; they also need to visit the Haunted Hayride and Corn Maze. For the hayride, customers get on a large tractor full of hay and go on a long ride through a medieval castle, graveyard, slaughter house, hillbilly neighborhood, and an underground tunnel. Actors are simultaneously popping up from behind with screaming, blasting animatronics.
The last part of the ride shows the Headless Horseman galloping by on a real horse where customers exit while listening to the theme song of Ghostbusters.
Following the hayride is the corn maze, with a dark, tight tunnel as an entrance. This time people can have one-on-one interaction with actors and explore the horrific world of the circus, Wild West saloons, swamps, and much more. Look out for scarecrows, it’s hard to tell which one is a full of hay and which is a person!
Finally, there is the Bates Motel House itself, a tighter and darker path of horror. Anywhere a customer goes someone is watching and waiting in the wings. Chills and thrills abound as they encounter ghosts, cannibals and a live coat-hanger!
Penn State Brandywine students Nick Raffaele, Herbie Williams, and Anne-Marie Bruce have full access to the farm every night because they are employed and paid actors of the attraction.
“I wanted to work on Arasapha Farms because I was always into Halloween; it’s my favorite holiday,” Nick Raffaele said. “I wanted to work there but wasn’t 18 yet, so I made my own haunted attraction in the woods. Once I turned 18 I signed up. I always love to entertain and scare people.”
Now that he is able to work there, Raffaele has nothing but good things to say about the environment. “Everyone who works there is really nice,” Raffaele said. “You’re able to be something you’re not. It’s cool to become a zombie and act as that character to scare people.”
Professional scarecrow and student Herbie Williams enjoys the job as well. “I like meeting new people, making friends and seeing everyone,” Williams said. “I like seeing their [customer’s] reaction: whether they run or not, or are just not scared at all.”
The actress known as “the girl in the rising chair” with a fork in her neck, Anne-Marie Bruce, loves working there, too. “It’s really fun to scare people, and even though I’m a small girl, I’ve made men scream and run in terror,” Bruce said. “The whole staff is like a big family; they’re all really friendly and helpful.”
This year’s Bates Motel trip was a success and will be back for students to enjoy next Halloween season.