The Fright Trail: World-Class Horror Right Here in Acadiana

The Fright Trail: World-Class Horror Right Here in Acadiana

In Louisiana, the chill of autumn only means that temperatures drop from 100 degrees to 90 degrees, so we need something else to mark the beginning of the season. How about monsters, ghouls, and horror? After all, fall is the season of Halloween, and who doesn’t like a good scare?

the fright trail 1Acadiana is fortunate to be the home of one of the world’s top experts in haunting attractions (called “haunts” in the industry), Rich Hanf. He and his wife, Deborah LeBlanc, a published horror writer, own the Fright Trail.

The Fright Trail is an outdoor haunted attraction on 20 acres of land in the town of Scott, right outside of Lafayette. Filled with frights and fun, the sheer size of the attraction would be impressive enough, but it offers so much more than that.

The haunted trail will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this Halloween season, and over the years, it has gained a worldwide following. As one of the world’s most watched haunts on social media, the Fright Trail boasts over 5,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel and 100 million views on UNILAD, a British media company’s website. It has been featured on MTV in Europe and Asia and is famous among those who love horror and haunts.

The trail itself is a multi-faceted world of terror, composed of several different featured areas. This year includes an all-new attraction ominously called “the Morgue,” and if the trail’s website photos are any clue, you can expect to be scared by zombies, werewolves, vampires, killer clowns, monsters and more.

According to Huntor Dake, one of the haunt’s actors who plays Pennywise the Clown (yikes!), the entire attraction takes about 35 to 45 minutes to walk through, but he added that it is much shorter if you run. Whether guests find themselves walking or running in horror, Hanf likes to emphasize that the Fright Trail is the “most fun haunted attraction.” Given the shutdowns and problems of the last year, he views himself, his wife, and the actors as “fun counselors,” helping guests to forget about the day-to-day problems that may weigh on their minds, at least for a night. He takes both horror and fun very seriously.

the fright trail 2Because of COVID-19, Hanf’s industry has suffered supply chain issues, with a shortage of Halloween props available for purchase or fulfillment. But because of Hanf’s standing and fame in the horror community, he has been able to procure plenty of new props, including cutting-edge animatronics. Expect the trail to be filled with professional-level scares to rival any haunt in the world.

Hanf emphasizes just how seriously he takes security at the Fright Trail. First, the production owns two TSA-level metal detectors and scanners to make sure that no one takes anything dangerous into the haunt. Next, six Scott policemen patrol the haunt each night that it is open, and there is also a lighted area where a policeman on a podium can oversee the area.
All of the staff are required to take a safety training course led by the Scott police, and both the city of Scott and the state of Louisiana inspect the attraction for safety. This includes regular inspection by the fire marshal. In 10 years of operation, there has never been a single serious accident of any kind. And if you are worried that you might have a panic attack or that you or your child might become too scared past the point of fun, the actors are trained on how to break character and escort guests safely out.

The actors themselves are all volunteers and consist of people who are passionate about horror and haunts. Hanf takes their training very seriously so that, in his words, “every scare is the first scare of the night.” Some of the actors have been with the attraction for several years.

the fright trail 3Hanf and LeBlanc’s love story began years ago when her publicist called him regarding a possible collaboration to promote one of her books, given Hanf’s fame in the horror industry. He was not crazy about the initial conversation, so he decided to call Deborah directly. They met in person at a haunt in Houston and immediately hit it off. Both lifelong horror enthusiasts, they decided to get married. Hanf, originally from New Jersey, became the adopted son of Louisiana, and he loves it. He is impressed with how helpful people in Acadiana are, and he feels a strong bond with the city of Scott and its police force.

Fright Trail also makes a point to give back to the community it calls home. Mrs. LeBlanc is the founder of Literacy, Inc., a nonprofit organization. Concerned about students not reading enough, she travels the country and talks to students to encourage them to read more. Hanf, LeBlanc, and the Fright Trail also sponsor local sports teams, contribute to scholarships for local students, and engage in other forms of giving.

The Fright Trail truly is a world-class, professional, top-quality operation. It will be open for the 2021 Halloween season on Friday and Saturday nights from October 1 through October 31, Halloween night, which falls on a Sunday. Guests usually start arriving at the box office around 6:00-6:30 p.m., and the Scott police direct traffic so you can find safe and easy parking. Located at 5305 Cameron Road in Scott, you can find more information on their website, Check out the Fright Trail this season for a scary and fun experience!