When I first moved to Ottawa fourteen years ago, everyone I met suggested that I visit Saunders Farm near Halloween for their haunted hayride. I decided to check out what all the hype was about and was properly scared by the whole experience.
Fast forward fourteen years. I now have a wife and six-year-old son so was not looking for the same scare. Happily, I found out that the farm was also open during the day on weekends until Halloween. Their website promised it would be a spooky experience of the family variety.
We picked a perfect sunny day in late September and arrived at Saunders Farm. Our son, David, had vowed he was not scared of anything. I did not hold him to his promise but did mention beforehand that people would be dressed up in Halloween costumes. Our first experience was to visit the Barn of Terror. Suitably named, the inside of the barn was pitch-black with a various assortment of frights to keep us on our toes. I did notice David gripped my hand tighter but he still professed to not being scared.
We then moved on to the play structures to relax for a few minutes. David may not have been scared by the Barn of Terror but my wife, Sandy, and I were still shaking. After summoning up our courage, we decided to check out the spooky wagon ride. The wagon ride takes the same path it does in the night time just with a few more age appropriate activities. We started off with a driver who seemed to be setting new speed records on a John Deere tractor. It was all a part of the experience. Upon entering the haunted forest, David did get closer to Sandy and me. There were a number of ghoulish monsters and scary scenes. We explained that it was not real and he seemed okay. We had a lot of fun, but I would not recommend the wagon ride for children under six or if your child is prone to be easily scared. The Saunders Farm website also does not recommend the wagon ride for children under six.
David did admit it was slightly scary but only a “little” bit. Our family was almost scared out so we decided to visit the giant jumping pillows. They can best be described as inflatable trampolines. David had a ball. He loved taking off his shoes and socks and feel the freedom of summer in late September. The weather was so warm, the farm was even able to have its splash pad in operation. There was also a display of different rescued farm animals from Big Sky Ranch so that only added to the relaxed ambiance.
David had heard there was a giant slide so wanted to give it a try. He did a few runs and had a great time. I thought I was 22 instead of 42 and took a ride down promptly bumping my leg which I felt the rest of the day. (This was no fault of Saunders Farm or the play structure, just my own clumsiness!)
We finished our day at the farm by buying candy apples and seeing the march of the monsters parade. The monsters were nice enough to give us chocolate! There was also stage show that looked entertaining but that we missed entirely because David was having too much fun on the jumping pillows.
I liked the fact there was a perfect blend of scare geared towards slightly older kids and more relaxed activities if you did not want to expose your child to it. David was fine but the wagon ride and barn of terror would not be recommended for those under six. The staff members were very friendly and spooky in a good way.
You can find more information about Saunders Farm at www.saundersfarm.com. Check dates, times and costs via the website.