A haunted experience like no other, Fear Farm is making a COVID-friendly return with their Legendary Haunted Farm Tour.
“We call it the Legendary Farm Tour this year, and that’s really what it is -- to be immersed in the Fear Farm experience from when you get here,” said Meghan Snyder, who co-owns Snyder’s Farm with her husband.
Located just outside of Waterloo Region in Bright, Ont. Snyder’s has been running Fear Farm for the last 25 years, along with some other smaller fall and Christmas attractions.
While in a typical year the farm features a series of haunted experiences, both outside and inside, this year it’s limited to the outside attractions: The Haunted Hayride, Hillbilly Hike, and Stalking Dead. Guests can also visit the Hiller House if they choose.
To compensate for having fewer attractions open, Snyder says they’ve created more of an atmosphere throughout the farm, with more actors walking around, so people can “enjoy being immersed.”
Snyder said when they opened this Saturday, she walked past a group just in time to hear them scream.
“It hasn't been easy for so many businesses. It's hard, you know, it's been a grind, but to hear that, you're just like, that's it, that's what's great about it,” she said.
Masks are mandatory in all the haunts and in washrooms, and when physical distancing isn't possible.
If being scared works up your appetite, they have a food truck, a candy barn and a bakery on site. Adults can hit up the Pumpkin Pub for a variety of alcoholic drinks, including seasonal local beer and spiked hot chocolate.
They started offering the haunted experience because of her husband.
“It’s always been a passion of his. He built haunted houses as a kid; so it’s really fulfilling a dream,” she said.
The pair met when Snyder was attending the University of Waterloo. She attributes part of the reason they’ve been so successful to the fact that they have a bit of a country and city balance between them.
“He builds the farm, and he grew up in the area; I run the farm, and I grew up in Toronto, and took rec and leisure and tourism and business at Waterloo,” she said. “I think our balanced skill set really complemented the growth of the farm.
But their passion is also a big factor.
“When you see people enjoy the experience that you've spent a lifetime building, there's nothing better than that. And there's no better job than scaring people,” she said. “When you have that kind of passion to deliver an experience for people that we have, then we expect it to be popular, because we love it.”
They initially started with the Haunted Hayride, where visitors huddle together on a wagon pulled by a tractor through corn fields and forests “back in time to witness unspeakable horrors and creatures of the past.”
“People come far and wide to experience it. It's not terrifying, which is great for scaredy cats,” Snyder said.
The haunt has continued to grow since they first launched, with more visitors and new elements added each year. That is, until the pandemic hit.
For the last 10 years, their only source of income has been Fear Farm, along with their fall and Christmas attractions. Unable to offer their usual features, they saw a 75 per cent profit loss last year.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, instead of Fear Farm, they offered guests a four-acre VIP haunted campfire experience. In the spring, they offered things like Mother’s Day campfires, and sunset campfires in the summer.
“If we were new, we might not be here this year. But we really pivoted. It will take us years to recover, there's no doubt about it -- this set us back. But that's okay. You know, it is what it is. We just keep going. It didn't stop us,” she said. “When given lemons, we made lemonade.”
Fear Farm runs until Oct. 31. You can find out more here.