Zombies invade MarylandBaltimore Post-Examiner

Field of Screams Maryland: A terror-ific scary time

Would you even think about disobeying this guy as you wait to shoot zombies at Field of Screams Maryland? (Jon Gallo)

Would you even think about disobeying this guy as you wait to shoot zombies at Field of Screams Maryland? (Jon Gallo)

I would have been killed at least a dozen times on Saturday night – yet still I’m still alive to tell about it.

The first time I would have met my maker occurred fewer than two minutes upon entering Lusion Manor, when a zombie jumped from under a cadaver and was inches from my face. I was frozen as an ice cube, reduced to a giant piece of meat the zombie would have had for dinner.

I also would have been sliced to pieces by a deranged butcher, gutted by four more zombies and definitely would have been left as a pile of bones and flesh by the shirtless psycho in a Jason mask and wielding a chainsaw who chased me out the back door.

Was I scared? Hell yeah. I was sweating by the time I finished the four attractions at Field of Screams Maryland in Olney , a sadistic playground that’s as close as you’ll ever come to knowing what it’s like to live in a post-Apocalyptic world inhabited by blood-thirsty clowns, ravenous zombies and psychopaths.

This dude would have killed me easily at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

This dude would have killed me easily at Field of Screams. Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

“We’re trying to scare you here,” Dan Dionisio, Field of Screams Maryland’s general manager, said proudly. “We’re not trying to impress you with animatronics.”

Mission accomplished.

There’s nothing minor league about Field of Screams Maryland. From the makeup studio where the majority of the attraction’s 200 employees are transformed into creatures who could easily be cast on The Walking Dead, to the staff’s attentiveness and to the police and security presence, Field of Screams lives up to its name. My goodness, there’s even an emergency medical technician on site should you get the you-know-what scared out of you.

Field of Screams has four attractions – Lusion Manor, Trail of Terror, Hades’ Hayride and Paintball Apocalypse – which can all be enjoyed for a total of $65, which gives you preferential treatment in line, similar to Disney’s Fast Pass. But Field of Screams offers plenty of ticket packages.

A professional makeup studio is used to turn people into monsters at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

A professional makeup studio is used to turn people into zombies at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

Lusion Manor: It’s scary. Small groups enter and walk slowly through the darkness, as zombies and psychos leap inches from your face, moaning and groaning.

“Do you want to stay?,” a deranged surgeon asks as he’s “electrocuting” another actor who’s convulsing as she lies on a surgical table, hands bound.

This attraction uses darkness, along with shrieks coming from other areas in the house, to instill fear without the presence of actors. It’s impossible to move quickly since the lack of light and winding corridors make you think you may never get out alive.

Trail of Terror: Tip of the day: It’s never a good idea to take advice from a clown whose face is smeared with blood. But that’s what I did when upon entering the “Fun House,” when at the clown’s urging, I opened a door and walked inside. I heard the door slam. I was trapped in a closet. It was pitch-black.

This isn't probably the first thing you'd like to see during a stroll through the woods at night. (Jon Gallo)

This isn’t probably the first thing you’d like to see during a stroll through the woods at night. (Jon Gallo)

If this had been the house of a real deranged lunatic, I’d be writing this story from the afterlife, as authorities would still be searching for my body.

After pushing the door open like my life depended on it, I continued my stroll through the woods.

The Trail of Terror will likely be the scariest nature hike you’ll ever take. It’s a journey over challenging terrain, hills and through dark buildings where surprises lurk around every corner.

It took my group of four, which included two teenagers who are in shape, about 30 minutes to complete. The dimly lit trail forces you to go slow, as it’s hard to see what’s in front of you – and the chainsaw-wielding psychos and killer clowns who jump out of the bushes never make full a dull moment.

I was scared, but I never felt in danger. That’s because I knew I was safe. The actors get within inches of your face, but by rule, can’t make any physical contact with you. If you are in a hallway with zombies walking toward you, you better find a way to maneuver around them or you’ll keep walking back until you’re in the parking lot. The fact the actors can come as close as they can without touching you is part of the fun, as I’m pretty sure I used a spin move to get past a knife-wielding butcher that would have made John Harbaugh proud. And if I hired one of those hillbillies with a chainsaw who had their weapon inches from my knee as my personal trainer, I’d run so much I wouldn’t be fat.

This zombie got up close and personal with Costa Swanson, a sophomore at Calvert Hall, at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

This zombie got up close and personal with Costa Swanson, a sophomore at Calvert Hall, at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

Hades’ Hayride: “You can’t make a hayride scary,” Dionisio said. “But you can make it entertaining.”

Unlike Lusion Manor and Trail of Terror, this attraction is suitable for kids under 12. You’re with a group of 15 people sitting on hay in the wagon being pulled by a tractor. You gaze into the cornfield and just know something is out there. I could tell you what happens next, but I’d have to kill you. Oh wait, had this been real, everyone in our group would have perished.

Paintball Apocalypse: What’s not awesome about killing zombies? Nothing, absolutely nothing. You’re with 20 people – each armed with semi-automatic gun filled with 100 paintballs – in a double-decker flat-bed truck riding across a cornfield. When the blue light hits, zombies approach and it’s trigger time. We’re not talking only cardboard zombies, either. We’re talking people dressed as zombies whose job is to be lit up like a Christmas Tree by hundreds of bright pink paintballs. I shot eight in head multiple times. In fact, all I aimed for were heads. Isn’t that what Rick does in The Walking Dead? But don’t feel bad for the zombies. They wear $1,000 protective bodysuits underneath their costumes, Dionisio said. I’m not sadistic. I just wanted to make sure the zombies earned every penny of their salaries. I see nothing wrong here – and neither did the other 19 shooters next to me. There’s something gratifying watching the paintball you’ve shot explode upon hitting a zombie’s forehead. It’s addicting.

Spiro Swanson, a senior at Calvert Hall, enjoyed shooting zombies with paintballs at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

Spiro Swanson, a senior at Calvert Hall, enjoyed shooting zombies with paintballs at Field of Screams Maryland. (Jon Gallo)

Three hours after stepping inside Lusion Manor, we had finished all the attractions. But our night wasn’t over. Field of Screams tries to be just as much about fun as fear, which is why it has plenty of bonfires surrounded by hay benches, where you can relax and enjoy the park’s reasonably priced concessions.

“We want people to stay the whole night and just sit and talk by the fire and have fun,” Dionisio said. “It about being with your friends and family. It makes for a great date night.”

He’s right. Guys, I can’t think of another place that has “date night” written all over it. If you can’t get your date to hold your hand as you walk though Lusion Manor or Trail of Terror, I’d say you need to take a shower or you need to find another date. What’s a more memorable date: dinner and movie or shooting zombies followed by soda and a warm soft pretzel as you sit by a bonfire?

Field of Screams Maryland

For tickets, click here.

For directions, click here.

For hours of operation, clicker here.

 


About the author

Jon Gallo

Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men's basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game. Contact the author.
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