Hobbs Grove Halloween Haunt
14265 E Goodfellow Avenue, Sanger, CA 93657View All Details
Free Parking, Restrooms On-Site, Handicap Accessible, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Optional Games/Midway, “Old-School” (Low Tech), “Hi-Tech” Attraction, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction
Team In-Corpse-A-Rated reviewed this attraction on October 21, 2017.
Final Score: 9.24
For 19 years, the groves of Sanger, California have been harboring a secret. As a suburb of the Fresno/Clovis area, it can easily be overlooked by many travelers. In our continued search for new haunted attractions, we took a chance and planned a road trip; thus, discovering one of the best haunts in California. Hobb’s Grove is a picturesque place full of trees and vegetation, sort of magical in its own right. It’s a warm and welcoming place, where it’s easy to drop your guard, be frightened by the haunted attractions and bask in all its glory. Hobb’s Grove consists of four feature haunts: the Haunted Forest, the Haunted House (only the first half in 3D), the Haunted Hayride (where guests sit on the flatbed of a tractor and are driven to different scenes), and the Portal (an alien laser-shooting attraction). Each of these haunts evoked sites and scares to make a very memorable experience.
The actors of Hobb’s Grove were very believable, enthusiastic and many of them would interact with guests in the Haunted Forest, Haunted House and Haunted Hayride. The majority of the actors in the Haunted Forest would lunge at us from dark corners and behind scenery or trees. Actors in the Haunted House would also lunge from behind walls and dark corners. The Haunted Hayride would drive guests to different scenes and stop at each one for the actors to either give dialogue or scare the guests. Upon driving away to the next scene, actors would often run back to give guests a second scare. Portal begins with a girl in a house asking the guests to find her brother, because he was taken by aliens, and then the guests are taken to a military briefing room where they are instructed to stop a reactor and taught how to fire the laser guns. From there, aliens would emerge from multiple hiding spots, which would require guests to shoot them as we ran to find the reactor. The line actors were in various costumes and would interact with guests both in line and hanging out in the courtyard. Kudos go to the contortionist girl in the Haunted Forest who moved like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Also, kudos to the man in the Haunted House singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” before dropping a chain-link fence door above our heads. The demon girl holding the baby at the beginning of the Haunted Hayride deserves acknowledgement, and humorous kudos for the redneck cross-dressers for their comic relief on the hayride. All four haunts had a sufficient number of actors and there were no “dead areas” to be found. Line actors deserving kudos are Sparkles the clown, the Cowboy Marshall and the Giant Rat Man.
The actors of Hobb’s Grove wore complete costumes, and they made sense with their respective scenes and themes. The soldiers in Portal had authentic military uniforms. The cross-dressing rednecks at the Haunted Hayride were hilarious, featuring two men in dresses and a woman wearing a man’s baseball hat, T-shirt and jeans. The makeup used was authentic looking, and an excellent example of professional makeup was the man in the Haunted House whose eyeballs were dangling out of their sockets. The aliens in The Portal had very good and realistic makeup. There were several masks used, such as the alien dissecting a human body at the Haunted Hayride, the contortionist girl with the porcelain doll mask in the Haunted Forest and various clowns. The line actors had amazing costumes, especially the Giant Rat Man whose ears could move, the jaw could move so he could talk, and wore short stilts in the shape of rat feet. Honorable mention to the Cowboy Marshall, Tall Victorian Girl on stilts, and Headless Girl in a dance hall dress who all had stunning costumes as well.
Customer Service: 9.44
Hobb’s Grove is a very safe place to walk. We did spot a piece of lumber protruding out at the entrance of the Haunted House that we almost tripped on, but other than that, we could find no other hazards. The stairs to the Haunted House were clearly lit, as well as the exit signs. The parking lot had enough lighting to find your car. We did not see any billboards or other advertisements when we were travelling to Hobb’s Grove, so we had to use the GPS on our smartphone. Upon arriving, there was a commercial sign with the Hobb’s Grove name on a 12-ft. pole at the edge of the street that was sufficiently illuminated. There was parking staff who guided us to a parking spot and then instructed us where to find the ticket booth. We were thankful for the staff, who pointed us in the right direction of the ticket booth. There were two convenient porta potties outside for waiting customers. We arrived before the doors opened, but a line of guests had already formed when we got there. The queue entertainment consisted of the line actors and popular music (not haunted house music) playing at a D.J. table on a central stage in the main courtyard. Later in the evening, an M.C. hosted a contest for free T-shirts, and encouraged guests to dance. The entertainment at Hobb’s Grove did help pass the time while waiting in line for the attractions. The staff members were professional, friendly, and able to answer any questions we had. They were easy to find, due to the Hobb’s Grove T-shirts they wore and the security guards’ black T-shirts with “Security” prominently printed on them. Hobb’s Grove has porta potties inside the front gate, distinguished between men and women, concession stands, the best souvenir and memorabilia shop we’ve ever seen at a haunted attraction, a zombie paintball shooting gallery, pumpkin patch, courtyard trees with string lights, firepits with seating, park benches, and a smoker’s area. We must note that this haunt was very well organized in handling customers and its overall surroundings.
As we drove onto the property of Hobb’s Grove, we were visually drawn to the weeping willow trees that lined the dirt road to the parking lot. No music or actors outside, we only heard the ambient sounds from what was happening inside. There was no façade or prominent structure, so we needed to ask the staff where the ticket booth and front gate were located. The outside did not give us any clue as to what awaited us inside.
Special Effects: 9.38
There were various sound effects in each of the attractions, but the most prominent sounds came from Portal. From the alarms going off, to the firing of the laser guns, the sound effects were realistic and very effective. We encountered an original special effect in the swamp scene in the Haunted Forest. There was stagnant fog hovering over a wooden walking bridge, and a rotating green laser leveling beam shined through the fog, to give a “table top” effect that provided a good hiding spot. Another cool effect was in the Haunted House, where an actor was impaled upon a wall with spikes, and as we walked by, the wall moved towards us like an Indiana Jones movie, giving the impression that we would be impaled as well. The Haunted House had other noteworthy effects like a vortex tunnel, claustrophobia tunnel and a video projected image of spiders crawling on a dead body and cockroaches crawling out of a crack in the wall. Gross-out points goes to the girl in the bathroom who appeared to be eating feces out of a toilet. The Haunted Hayride did have a scene where they shoot flames in the air. All the scenes of Hobb’s Grove were very well detailed and believable. The first part of the Haunted House was in fluorescent colors under black lights, requiring 3D glasses. Each room had a different theme, like a hippie room, plant room, and underwater room. The vortex tunnel was especially effective with 3D glasses. The Portal began with a home in the forest where a girl asks the guests to find her brother. Her home is realistically detailed, and you would think somebody actually lived there. From the home, guests are taken to a military barracks that looks authentic. Towards the end, guests come to a reactor room which looks very scientific and militarist. The Haunted Hayride has a series of different scenes, most outdoors, but some between semi-truck trailers and hand built structures, each conveying a different theme. The Haunted Forest had more simple sets utilizing nature, but each were sufficient in conveying its theme. Lighting in the Haunted Hayride, Haunted House and Portal was subtle but effective in illuminating each scene. Lighting in the Haunted Forest was highly stylized and creative. Not only was the Swamp creative with its green laser leveling beam, but the various trees and vegetation had various colored lights sporadically shining on them, separated by darkness, giving a mosaic of visuals as guests walk along the path. Major kudos to the lighting director of the Haunted Forest.
Hobb’s Grove does not have an overall theme. The courtyard outside of the haunts has an autumn festive theme which is warm and inviting, and not scary at all. The Portal is a alien laser gun attraction with a set storyline, where guests are drafted to hunt down aliens and stop a chain reactor from blowing up. The Haunted Forest, Haunted House and Haunted Hayride are each a series of vignettes that invoke different themes commonly seen in various haunted attractions: like hillbillies, clowns, witches, vampires, aliens; however, hippies are an unusual theme at a haunt.
Fright Effect: 9.29
The Haunted Forest was the scariest, and the Haunted House was a very close second. The Haunted Hayride had some humor mixed in with scares, and the aliens in Portal generated some good frightening moments. The actors did make an effort to scare everyone in a group. There were several visual distractions which allowed actors to startle us throughout each haunt, and they were never predictable. The majority of the scares came from actors lunging at us from around scenery and dark corners. The actor hiding in the Swamp in the Haunted Forest made great use of the green laser beam cover. In the Haunted House, the spiked wall moving towards us did generate a startle, as well as seeing spiders crawl on a dead body, which was a video projection effect. There was an actor in an elevated position who started singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” to get attention, but then he dropped a 4ft x 4ft chain-link fence door that looked like it would land on us, but its fall was stopped by grooves in the walls, and even the clanging sound of the fence as it was abruptly stopped did startle us. The Haunted Hayride would not only feature actors scaring guests as they arrive at a scene, but as the tractor would drive away, those same actors would run alongside the flatbed to get a second scare. In one of the housing structures, an actor dropped crates from a high platform and the visual of crates falling was an instinctive scare for guests. The aliens in the Portal came from multiple hiding spots which were unpredictable, and created startles throughout the attraction. The Haunted Forest and Haunted House each had a strong finale with a chainsaw maniac chasing us out.
The four feature haunts of Hobb’s Grove took a total time of 39:17 minutes to complete. The Haunted Forest took 10:50 minutes, the Haunted House took 9:53 minutes, Portal took 8:30 minutes, and the Haunted Hayride took 10:05 minutes. The four attractions are a combo package price of $44.00, so that would calculate to 0.91 minutes per dollar, which we believe is a good deal. Hobb’s Grove utilizes all available space and has no “dead spots.” We came on a busy night, and between the haunts, photo ops, the memorabilia shop, and concessions, we spent about four hours there and enjoyed every minute of it. The prices for food and souvenirs were very reasonable. Our review team had an amazing time at this haunted attraction and plan to be back in the future.
Haunted Hayride: $16.50
Haunted Forest: $16.50
Haunted House: $16.50
Classic Combo (Portal not included: $33, $38 or $44, depending on what day.
Portal Super Combo: $44, $51 or $58, depending on what day.
Guest ReviewsGuest Average: 10 out of 10
Nancy – 10/10By far, Hobb’s is the best Halloween attraction west of the Mississippi. House, forest and hayride …show more