Mark Cuban’s biggest ‘Shark Tank’ investment of all time was in this spooky Halloween event — here’s what it’s like

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One of the stops during the ride. At points, it rides along the Harlem River with a view of the New York City skyline.
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Jack Sommer

The Haunted Hayride has been a popular Halloween attraction in Los Angeles for seven years. Taking place in Griffith Park, it typically brings in about 65,000 people over its 17-night run, and tickets almost always sell out.

In 2013, Mark Cuban made his biggest investmentin “Shark Tank” history when he gave $2 million to Ten Thirty One Productions, the company that produces the spooky event.

CEO Melissa Carbone wants the Haunted Hayride to become a household name and a new Halloween tradition for people across the country.

“The ultimate long-term goal is to have a Ten Thirty One attraction in every major metropolitan area in the United States,” she told Business Insider in a 2014 interview.

This year, they checked a big goal off that list by bringing the experience to New York City. We went to see how scary it really was.


The Haunted Hayride is being held on Randall’s Island, just across the Harlem River from Manhattan. The setting is fitting — between 1852 and 1900, the island was home to a number of different institutions, including an insane asylum and a center for juvenile delinquents.

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Jack Sommer

This is the Haunted Hayride’s first year in New York City, though it’s had years of success in Los Angeles.

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Jack Sommer

As soon as you walked in, there were several people dressed up in costume, roaming around the grounds as part of the experience.

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Jack Sommer

Several booths had been set up along the entrance area, including this table where a psychic was doing readings.

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Jack Sommer

They had a pumpkin-carving booth, too, although I didn’t see anyone testing it out — or running it, for that matter.

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I went over to the ticket window and scooped up the tickets for the ride.

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I spotted a creepy zombie dragging herself in my direction.

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This colorfully dressed monster was super tall, and he had a surprisingly sneaky way of getting around.

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He even managed to sneak up and startle my friend.

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After getting the tickets and checking out the booths, it was time to go to the ride.

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Once you entered, you had to zigzag back and forth through this maze and then wait in line for your turn.

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Jack Sommer

A group of around 20 people were loaded into each truck, where each person sat in hay.

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Jack Sommer

We rode for a few minutes in the darkness while monsters jumped out and banged on our truck. Next, we approached this mysterious tent.

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Jack Sommer

Inside, we saw people standing on a platform, and suddenly they jumped down and started running around our truck. As you can see, some attendees were smiling instead of shrieking.

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Jack Sommer

The monsters began climbing on the edge and laughed menacingly as the lights inside flickered.

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Luckily, we made it through.

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Next, these little guys performed some sort of dance and then slowly walked toward us, their shadows growing bigger from the light.

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Jack Sommer

We kept moving, and soon came across a lit-up row of columns.

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Cloaked figures and “burning children” hopped out, the young ones singing creepy songs. Still, it was nothing that intimidating.

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Jack Sommer

We looped down under the Triborough Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Randall’s Island.

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After going under the bridge, we saw a bus bathed in red light on one side, plus some dark silhouettes who were banging on the window inside.

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Jack Sommer

At this stop on the ride, a group started dancing. It soon turned into a séance, and someone’s “head” got cut off — still, not that scary.

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Jack Sommer

Next up was an entertainer who presented us with his creatures, whom he had trapped in cages.

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Here’s one of them — he looked thrilled to see us.

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The entertainer randomly picked my friend to spin this wheel to decide who would get “executed” from his collection of creatures. However, after the wheel was spun, the entertainer had a change of heart, and he ended up letting all his creatures loose on us.

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Before the next stop was this sign of life advice from Satan. A figure dressed up as the devil himself soon made an appearance and set his followers to chase us in the dark. Even they didn’t manage to cause much of a scare in us either.

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Jack Sommer

Next, we went into this room of dancers. An attendee joked that we had entered a Lady Gaga video. The dancers soon quit their careful movements and ran around our truck.

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Jack Sommer

The same tent then turned into a creepy clown party. This guy was one of the strangest among the group, though other clowns were also dancing around us.

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Jack Sommer

And before I knew it, the ride was over — it lasted about half an hour.

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Jack Sommer

It had its moments of fun, but I didn’t think it was that scary.

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Jack Sommer

I hopped back on the M35 bus back to the city, which was eerily empty. Maybe a haunted bus ride should be next …

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Jack Sommer