A sensory overload at Field of Screams
A couple weeks ago, LSNews.org received a postcard from Field of Screams about its Hospitality Night Event, in which members of the press were invited to attend the attractions for free in order to report to our various public platforms. Despite having seen my fair share of scary movies, I was, to say the least, apprehensive about visiting Field of Screams. But because I’m the local editor, Iwas nominated as the person to go to the event, and so last Saturday, I took my first ever trip to a haunted attraction, accompanied by fellow members of the LSNews.org editorial staff, Jacklyn Kirchner and Aaron Davies.
Saturday was overcast, but luckily the rain stopped long enough for us to hang out in the courtyard with several actors in full costume. They wandered around, typically making people laugh while they ordered food or played one of the various boardwalk-like games. I was extremely impressed by the activities outside of the actual attractions. Field of Screams contains a full night of fun, not just 20 quick minutes of being afraid.
There in the courtyard we had the chance to talk to co-owner of Field of Screams Jim Schopf. Not many people know that Jim actually taught math and coached wrestling at L-S High School before he quit to pursue Field of Screams full time. Though Jim left somewhere around 12 years ago, he vividly recalled some of the people who make LSHS what it is (Mr. Marsh’s coffee drinking habits were mentioned).
In any case, after our conversation, we decided to make our way into the first attraction, the Den of Darkness. Anticipation is the key element to the concept of fear. I will admit that I was pretty afraid, probably because I had no idea what to expect. We wound through room after room of intense, horrifying displays. There were so many scenes and actors as well as sounds and smells; it was a sensory overload. The actors got in our faces, jumping out not only at the first person, but they were well trained to get everyone in our little group. It was scary because we never knew what to expect next. The Den of Darkness included very perceptually confusing rooms, which were both awesome and creepy. These were my personal favorite because it really did affect our sense of reality.
Next we went to the Frightmare Asylum. This attraction was probably the least memorable, however, it was still very impressive. The makeup and the fact that the actors always stay in character is extremely impressive. I was amazed that the performers were always ready for us when we walked in a room. They were either hidden or already hurling themselves across the room before we even opened the door. There were some incredible acrobats!
The third attraction that we visited was the Nocturnal Wasteland. This is the newest addition to the property, which included walking through continuous scary scenes set back in the woods. I could tell it was fairly new, but it had several large vehicles and tunnels that were fun to wander through. By this time, our little group had discovered that talking to the actors made the experience less frightening. I befriended an actor after discussing which body parts of mine he was permitted to chop off, and he told me I was a keeper, which was pretty much the most exciting thing that happened all night. I loved how the actors interacted with us, not just playing their parts, but making the experience unique to each person who went through.
We also had the opportunity to talk to Gene Schopf, Jim’s older brother and co-owner. In tradition with the family, Gene was previously a shop teacher at Conestoga Valley High School. As a teenager, he and his brother started a produce business, which they still run today alongside Field of Screams. A few years after their produce business took off, the duo had the idea to run a haunted hayride on their family’s property. They improved the hayride every year, eventually adding on the three other attractions. The brothers pride themselves in their ability to constantly change the activities every year. Every actor and personnel at Field of Screams is a volunteer, which permits the company to donate to a lot of local charities and causes.
When I asked Gene what advice he would give to young entrepreneurs, he commented that anyone can do anything if he or she has passion and a little common sense. He said that you just have to believe in your cause, and wake up excited to get to work, whether it is running a lemonade stand, washing cars, or mowing lawns.
Last, we went on the Haunted Hayride, the original entertainment that started it all. It was nice to sit down after a long night, but that didn’t mean my adrenaline wasn’t pumping. Our wagon was locked into barn after barn in which actors jumped out and into the wagon, scaring us from all directions. The actors were great at targeting those of us who screamed the most. The hayride ended with a giant spinning vortex that made everyone feel like the wagon was flipping. The vortex is new this year and is a pretty neat addition.
Overall, the night was a blast. I was honestly surprised at how much fun I had, and I will be back to visit again in the future, for sure!
--A first person account from Alyssa Van Lenten, LSNews.org Local Editor