Jason's Woods a family-friendly haunted attraction

For the third installment of our Inside L-S series for October on haunted attractions, I decided to attend Jason’s Woods, which is just outside of Willow Street on Stehman Road. Though it’s actually the closest haunted house to L-S, many students are unaware of its existence. Although Field of Screams steals its spotlight, there’s more to the local farm than first meets the eye.

In fact, Jason’s Woods was the first haunted attractions in the area. Originally, it was a family farm that wasn’t doing too well. One of the sons, who is the current owner’s grandfather, bought the farm, hoping to save the family’s pride and joy. Bob Hershey, the owner now, explained how the haunted hayride was a last ditch effort to make some money, and it really took off. The name comes from the character Jason in "Friday the Thirteenth". Because the movie had just come out in 1980 and because there was nothing else like it around, the park was very popular. Bob said at one point the crowd started to get kind of rough, like at some other haunted attractions now. They had the police hang around for a little, and Jason’s Woods turned into become a safe and respectable enterprise. Bob prides the attraction in that parents are extremely comfortable allowing their kids to come here. In fact, a lot of families attend together, so the area is very friendly for all age groups, which was obvious just walking into the courtyard.

Jason’s Woods’ courtyard area is by far the most expansive. Each haunted attraction we’ve been to has presented this space a little bit differently, though they’ve all had the same concept. In addition to the typical food and souvenir stands, Jason’s Woods featured several smaller haunted activities to enjoy, a large movie screen, and a stage for special performances. There was also a large monster truck arena and a bubble soccer field. Looking around, I saw all kinds of people, including small children, middle-aged adults, and some in wheelchairs.
Photo courtesy of Jason's Woods
The attraction has managed to create a very streamlined system in order to prevent extremely long lines. We were instructed as to which building to enter first, and then from there we went in a specific order. Jason’s Woods also has the most attractions at six, and all for a very reasonable price.
We first visited the Jason’s Woods Theater. I loved how the walls featured movie posters from all sorts of horror movies, from the classics to today. This event was probably the least scary, and at this point I figured out that the actors do not touch visitors like other haunted attractions do. Physical contact definitely ups the scare factor, so I was a little disappointed at first. Bob later explained that a lot of haunted attractions go too far with the physical contact, especially with women, and above all, he wants to respect the people that come through Jason’s Woods. I was really impressed by that sentiment, and started to understand how the attraction is so focused on the community instead of the profit.

The second attraction we entered was the Chamber of Horrors. This resembled a typical “haunted House”, although it was very different from those at Field of Screams or Bates Motel. The entire facility is actually built on fields, so after the season is over, all of the structures are removed, resulting in very moveable buildings. The Chamber of Horrors is very simply constructed, with a high ceiling but low walls. The lights and noises travel, so it’s not so much of a haunted house than a haunted maze. 
Photo courtesy of Jason's Woods
From there we went on the hay ride, which did not have a built in sound system like the other haunted hayrides. The wagon stopped once, in which two actors performance a short dialogue. The whole thing was a little bit scripted, however I enjoyed that it actually featured scenes from classic scary movies. Most haunted attractions have very typical, forgettable scenes, but Jason’s Woods uses scenes that we know and love. They also used some pyrotechnics. 

The next events had us hiking through the woods that the hayride goes through and then a corn field. This is where actors typically tried to do jump scares. These paths had pitch black pipes, tunnels, and the Corn Maze had a trailer to walk through as well. The attention to senses, such as the smell and creepy lighting in this trailer made it a really nice addition.

The last two buildings were my personal favorites. We went through the Zombie Apocalypse, which was probably the scariest. It was completely dark, and the walls were very narrow and twisted around corners. There were times when we couldn’t tell which way to go or if someone was waiting for us or following us. The Carnival of Fear was the most fun part of the night. Only a few clowns worked the whole building, and they followed us around as we wound through the fenced path. The entire place was illuminated with a strobe lighting, which really messes with your brain. Upon exiting, we struck up a conversation with the clown at the front. She said working at Jason’s Woods place really felt like being a part of a family. She loves going to work, and she says being a clown is so much fun.

The best parts about Jason’s Woods is that it’s not commercialized. That atmosphere is very family oriented, more so than either of the other haunted attractions I’ve visited. We met an older couple who had never been to a haunted attraction before, and they said they had so much fun. We went through the Carnival of Fear with them, and they were absolutely hilarious. It was obvious that they were enjoying themselves.

I would suggest Jason’s Woods if you are not sure if you can handle a haunted attraction. Again, the actors do not touch people and it is not as aggressive as other places. The staff members at Jason’s Woods are very kind and love their jobs. They keep up the act as long as there are people on the farm, which can be until the very early hours of the morning.

There were so many things to do that we did not in fact get to talk to Ari Lehman, as promised. However, my internet research says that he is in a rock band, First Jason, named after his role in Friday the Thirteenth 35 years ago. He has not starred in anything since his five seconds of fame in the movie.

--Alyssa Van Lenten, LSNews.org Local Editor

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