“What did that sign say?” the girl next to you asks ducking into her fleece jacket and burying her legs in the straw.
“Avian flu,” says her boyfriend wrapping his arm around her while pulling into a dark agricultural building.
“What does that mean?” she whispers…
At that very moment, the barn doors on either side of the building begin to close, isolating you from the tractor that’s supposed to be taking you to safety. The sudden sound of light escaping is soon trumped by the screech and caw of a thousand crows. They seem to swarm the wagon.
Fog permeates every square inch of the room. A flash of light reveals the true horror of the moment. A ten foot vulture is looming above you. The strobe light flutters and the colossal bird soars into the wagon drawing screams from its innocent victims. As you survey the room, you notice you are surrounded by terrifying, old farming tools and the bodies they desecrated. Some left whole, some in pieces.
In 2007, Legends of the Fog entered the haunt scene offering a haunted hayride, a postage-stamp sized haunted corn maze and a 6-acre traditional corn maze. Nearly a decade later, the Fog has expanded and includes Sinister Circus, a completely revamped haunted hayride, and Carsins Manor, their famous orphanage. The haunt is on the grounds of a working agricultural operation, Aldino Sod Farms, located in Aberdeen, MD, about halfway between Philadelphia and Baltimore. The name comes from the low-lying, slow-to-dissipate natural fog that engulfs the land.
Sinister Circus has been scaring the masses since 2009. Though it started as a traditional “clown house,” Sinister Circus has evolved into an early American side show. Every room in the circus is designed to pommel all of your senses with unsettling imagery, exchanges, and experiences. It’s an intensely researched, character-driven series of vignettes.
Within seconds of entering Sinister Circus, you find yourself transported into the center ring of a big top show. Fog consumes the enormous room. You are bombarded by performers who invade your personal space with their props and acrobatic movements. You become the show! The music is exactly what you would expect to hear in a circus, but deafening and out-of-tune. All six of your senses are assaulted, and this is just the beginning.
As you meander your way through the circus, you encounter a savage Wild West show, a horrific trapeze accident, the most disgusting donakers (bathrooms) you’ve seen since summer camp, and a cage maze where wild animals stalk you. Every detail is designed to bore its way through your senses and into your psyche so that you become their captive, not just for the circus, but for the bumpy ride that lies ahead.
Your hayride journey begins inside a train station where you watch video footage of a soldier who has set up surveillance to document the strange behavior of the locals. “Beware of the fog!” he warns you. In the midst of his last transmission, you see him beaten and dragged into a large industrial building where a shadowy, mowhawked character executes him. It is now your fate to retrace his trail and piece together the rest of the story.
As you venture farther and farther into the woods, you find the local village decimated beyond the soldier’s reports. Will you survive a massive junkyard filled with burning cars, tractor trailers, and blood-thirsty inbreds? As the fog consumes the land, the trail twists and takes you on a horrific journey through treacherous landscapes, trapping you at times in buildings where you fight to escape the clutches of a massive vulture, a den of venomous snakes, and the deadly grasp of Frostbite, the freezer demon.
If you manage to survive the hellacious hayride, you and the rest of the survivors may continue onward. Next, you’re dropped off in the middle of a corn field, abandoned to navigate the trail with no direction or illumination. The corn disguises the imaginary monsters (or real ones) as one by one you reach your final destination, an abandoned orphanage.
The silhouette of Carsins Manor in the moonlight gives way to the squealing iron gates, as you’re greeted by an angry doorman, whose breath reeks of the raw smell of death. He warns that the house is not empty. Quite the contrary…it’s filled with the lost souls of its headmaster, Edwin, and the children who used to populate the old farmhouse. Inside the massive foyer, you find that all the doors are locked. Suddenly, a dismal-looking statue moves and reveals a dark, fog-filled passageway. As you enter, the statue quickly closes the door behind you, and you are trapped inside the walls of Carsins Manor.
You find yourself inside a maze filled with secret doors, splitting paths, and vicious characters lurking around every corner. Some ask you to stay. Others ask you to leave. None of them can be trusted. When you reach a dead end, you turn to realize you’ve lost your friends. You retrace your steps to find yourself right back where you started. And now you must face your fears again. Alone.
Finally, a clue… You find the door to a hallway you haven’t seen before. You take it and find yourself in the middle of a massacre where you discover the terrible secret of Carsins Manor. You finally find the door to leave when a masked marauder wielding a weapon of mass destruction chases you out to a familiar place.
As you catch your breath, you realize the whole experience mirrored a nightmare. You see your friends laughing as they calm their nerves by the fire. You join them for an after-party of sorts in the midway, a great place to reflect on your experience, play a few games, take your “last ride” in our coffin ride simulator, grab a bite of award-winning food and listen to music.
It would be great if everyone involved in the production of Legends of the Fog could come out at that very moment to take a bow and soak up a well-deserved round of applause. But, all are still working. In fact, they never stop.
At the core of the who’s who of Legends of the Fog is the Barberry Family. They have combined their talents in agriculture, business management, prop design and fabrication, interior design, visual and performing arts, creative writing, education, and good old-fashioned ingenuity to form a unified front of fear. Over the past 8 years, they’ve built a staff of more than 200 “Foggers,” comprised of actors and support staff with talents ranging from emergency management to moulage to unicycling. Everyone is passionate and committed…and slightly disturbed.
The show is as dynamic as the people who give it life (or death). Every year, you can expect a bigger, better Fog because they never stop scheming. As of right now, the Fog only occupies a fraction of the 100-acre footprint dedicated to scaring a rapidly-growing audience, and they’ve already started planning trail haunts, corn mazes, and other attractions that will take haunt enthusiasts into places yet to be explored. For 2015, the hayride has some shocking new additions that are sure to “grab” the attention of frightened haunt-goers this season.
Legends of the Fog is more than a place to scare and be scared; it’s a place to have that “near-life experience” you’ve been waiting for. It’s an experience that expands wider than you know. Legends of the Fog is proud to have contributed more than a quarter million dollars to local charities and organizations. A portion of your ticket price goes to making a little part of the world a little bit better. Think about that every time you jump, scream, or dribble a little in your drawers.
We asked Patrick Barberry why the haunted house attractions at Legends of the Fog are so successful…
“We’re only open 6 weeks out of the year, and there are so many things that can wreck a season. We can’t control the weather or the economy, but we can control how we do business. At the core of our management model is building and maintaining good relationships. For us, this means keeping the authorities (and neighbors) happy, knowing everyone on our staff and listening to their needs and ideas, and ensuring that just about every customer walks away with a smile and a plan to come back.
Before each season, we personally meet with neighbors to discuss traffic, noise, and litter concerns that coincide with our business. We are transparent about who we are and what we do so that local government officials trust us and allow us to keep going. Safety is always a priority. We go out of our way with preventative measures to make sure everything runs smoothly. Assembling an effective team is another part of that defensive strategy.
We have a little over 200 actors and support staff, and I make it a point to get to know every one of their names. We get together throughout the year for trainings and social events. Creative input is encouraged. We help actors develop their own characters. Everyone feels a sense of ownership in the Fog, and it shows in their performance.
If we can keep the powers that be happy so that we can stay open, and motivate the actors and staff so that they’re primed to entertain, pleasing the customers becomes much easier. We can shift our attention to observing the crowds. Is the line well-managed? Are people lingering in the midway at the end of the night? We study their responses to each scare during the show. Afterwards, we survey their perceptions of the entire Fog experience with exit polls. We value their feedback and make changes to reflect the kinds of things they want to see on their next visit.”