Organizers of the Field of Screams Maryland say that new lights, props and sound effects elevate Olney’s haunted attraction to the level of a Hollywood production.
Field of Screams, hosted by the Olney Boys and Girls Community Sports Association, opens Friday night, and continues each weekend through Nov. 2.
This year marks the event’s 11th anniversary. Association officials say that Field of Screams Maryland is the largest and most popular haunt in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, offering four spectacular haunts spread over 50 acres at the Community Park at Freeman Fields, located at 4501 Olney Laytonsville Road.
Last year, more than 10,000 mustered the courage to experience Field of Screams. The event, which costs “tens of thousands” to put on, is one of OBGC’s largest fundraisers. Organizers say their goal is to make $75,000. Admission costs range from $10 to $84, depending on the date and attraction.
Paintball Apocalypse, a popular attraction new last year, returns. Visitors ride on a custom-designed double-decker wagon, while shooting glow-in-the-dark paintballs at zombies who are attacking the vehicle.
Other attractions include the Lusion Manor haunted house, where visitors will navigate through an all-new experience of 13 professionally designed rooms; the Hades Hayride; and the most popular attraction —Trail of Terror, which features several new stations and effects.
Sports Association Chairman Dan Dionisio said they have built a professional team of the best haunt designers, makeup artists and actors in the country to elevate the event to one of the top in the nation.
“Each year we challenge ourselves about how we can improve the experience for our guests,” he said. “Members of our creative team now include the best designers in the world that you can get your hands on and we are honored that they want to be part of our project — the national haunt business now knows where Olney, Md., is.”
He said that while he does not want to give away any surprises, he believes people will be shocked by the level of sophistication and scares offered this year.
“The industry is noticing us and asking to visit, which is a big compliment,” said Dionisio.
He said volunteers, paid staff and management team make it all happen, with help from many third-party organizations that provide expertise in safety, lighting and sound, prop design and production.
Mike Lado, 25, of Olney has been involved with Field of Screams for several years. A longtime fan of the horror genre, he started out as a makeup artist, and is now an effects specialist, working on prop work, painting and set design.
“Field of Screams is very professional and definitely a business,” he said. “It is geared to be the biggest and the baddest for the guests that come through, to really experience the horror season.”
He said fresh changes keep people coming back year after year.
“I definitely believe we have upped the ante,” Lado said. “We’ve made some major adjustments that will leave people horrifically surprised.”
The event also features bonfires where guests can roast their own s’mores, and purchase favorites including fried Twinkies and Oreos, funnel cakes, hot chocolate and other refreshments.
There are several special guest appearances planned, including visits by local radio stations. Other special events, including Military Night and Midnight Madness offering expanded hours, will be announced on the website and on social media sites.
The full schedule, pricing information, and discount tickets are available on www.screams.org.