Our first Halloween in Florida and about 30 miles from home, we found a Zombie Paintball Hayride on the Smith Family Ranch, in Lakeland. The first time I heard about such an activity was on the Travel Channel. I don’t know if the episode was talking about Millers Thrillers (Spring Hill, TN), Night of Terror (New Jersey), or ScareFest (St. Louis, MO).
It was very intriguing being a Walking Dead fan and enjoying a few Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios. Also, I’ve never been on a hayride nor have I ever shot a paintball gun before. I’d be killing two birds with one stone.
Smith Family Ranch
13444 Moore Rd
$30 / per person
$0 / ride only
• No littering or you’ll be carted off with the trash.
• No Bad language. Our corn has very tender ears.
1. Camouflage yourself from the mosquitos with bug spray.
2. Fun attitude and no expectations.
They accept credit card thank goodness. The staff were all very friendly. Bill sat this out. I guess as a retired cop with the experience of training to shoot criminals, this type of activity is such a bore. It was nice that he didn’t have to pay to witness my mayhem.
Here’s what you’ll experience:
You’re given an orientation on the paintball gun – turning on/off the safety especially. We dawn the paintball masks provided to us. Wish they were a bit cleaner. The were a bit foggy I don’t know if they were just dirty or scratched up. It was pitch dark by this time. I didn’t time this 20 minute hayride by any means. For a Friday night, there was absolutely no lines which was surprising but a pleasant surprise (unlike the 45min to 2hr lines for haunted houses).
About 14 of us piled in on the hayride. We were closest to the tractor pulling the hayride trailer so it was hard to hear instructions from our host. He’d tell us when we could take the safety off, give us the green lite to shoot and when seize fire and put the safety back on. I really couldn’t hear him. There was another person who was there to help if needed and I’m glad she was there because my gun kept jamming. After she fixed it, I was quick on the trigger.
There were three(3) haunted stations designated for a free for all shoot fest. It was a bit deflating of an experience because you imagine Nintendo’s Duck Hunt. You shoot at them and they should go down and get back up or something. Instead they walked ever so slowly creeping forward then a dead halt… typically four(4) actors not moving. Well, one of the actors danced in place. They only fell to the floor when we moved on. There wasn’t any dodging our bullets, running around side to side or hiding and reappearing. Wish the paint glowed in the dark or was colorful enough to see if you hit the zombie. Also, I don’t recall hearing any audio blasting zombie sounds or screaming on the hayride nor the haunted stations. That would’ve added to the ambiance.
They could’ve done a better job for $30/per person but they are the only ones I know doing such an event anywhere in the area. They have such a big property so hopefully they’ll get better and better every year.
IN CONCLUSION: 3.0 stars
I still had fun though. Again, I killed two birds with one stone: shooting a paintball gun and getting on a hayride. I didn’t know how to aim but once I saw I hit one in the head, that was quite fun.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite Halloween activity?