Fear Farm found a new lair as the popular Halloween attraction gathered its motley crew of ghouls, zombies and demons and moved to Glendale near 99th and Maryland avenues.
According to its owner, Denver-based Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, the new location at 6801 North 99th Avenue will provide more scary space, more parking, and easier access to the Loop 101 freeway (it is located between the exits for Maryland and Glendale avenues).
Fear Farm was previously located three miles south on a 32-acre property at 99th Avenue and McDowell Road from its opening in the mid-90s until last year.
Timothy Pugsley, regional operations manager for Thirteenth Floor, said the new location, which spans 40 acres, is an improvement over the old Fear Farm location for a number of reasons.
“We used to be on pretty good ground, but this is top notch real estate,” he says. “This gives us more room for all of our attractions, we are next to 101, and we are near Westgate [Entertainment District], State Farm Stadium and everything across the highway. We are always trying to improve Fear Farm, so moving here was a no-brainer.
Pugsley says the Fear Farm move was also the result of the owner of its previous location, local farmer Ken Sheely, who wanted to sell the property, which is also home to the Phoenix Sports and Events Complex. (Sheely also co-owned Fear Farm until it was acquired by Thirteenth Floor in 2013.)
The location has been on the market for years and is still on sale at the time of this writing. But when Sheely started getting more serious offers in 2020, Pugsley says the owners of Fear Farm started looking for new digs.
“We knew it was always a possibility. We had a stipulation that if he found a buyer we would basically be able to finish the season we were in and then move on, ”Pugsley said. “When it started to have serious options for buying back the property last year, we had the idea to be proactive and go find something on our own before we have to leave.”
After reviewing other locations within a 10 mile radius of the old Fear Farm home in late 2020, Pugsley says they chose to lease their new location to building owner Ronald Rovey, a lawyer from Sedona who “let us do whatever we want”.
Right now, they’re creating a new version of Fear Farm “basically from scratch,” Pugsley says. They will have seven weeks to do so, as it is scheduled to open its 2021 season on Friday, September 24. (Fear Farm’s sister attraction, 13th Floor Haunted House in North Phoenix, will also open the same weekend.)
Currently, Fear Farm’s new location is largely empty except for a collection of shipping containers, old cars, and a handful of other structures. (Pugsley estimates that “maybe five to 10 percent” of the materials survived the move.)
“For 25 years, we have had a lot [on-site] it was pre-existing, but it’s a whole new build from scratch. This is by far the biggest project our company has ever done in this state, ”says Pugsley. “It seems like we are in a rush every year to prepare, but we always do. We have a lot of work on our plate, but I don’t think we’re late. ”
Like its original location, Pugsley says the new Fear Farm will have four themed haunts – “Dead End Slaughter,” the post-apocalyptic “Nuketown”, “Dead In the Water” and “Sinister Circus” – as well as a giant corn maze, which has already been planted.
“Much of what we do will be based on [shipping] containers, with regard to structures. It will still have the feel and the vibe of Fear Farm, but we’ve changed that, ”Pugsley said. “I think that’s the advantage of starting from scratch with a property that is completely ours.”
There will also be an expanded middle zone near the entrance with concessions, games, vendors, a trade fair, and shows. “It will be a meeting place before and after your visit [the haunts] where people can spend an entire evening here, ”Pugsley says.
Another expanding thing is the number of customers at Fear Farm, as the attraction must have limited capacity in 2020 due to the pandemic. Pugsley says they plan to allow more people through the lair this year, but will follow any security protocols mandated by local or state officials.
“As with any business last year, we took a hit, but we were able to be open and continue to do what we’re doing this year, hopefully at a greater capacity,” said Pugsley. “And we are happy about it. ”