A year ago, the cornfield north of was just that, a cornfield. Over the past several months, however, the 110-acre space has been transformed.
"It's been a hectic three months because none of us are farmers," said general manager Clint Paraday.
He benefited, though, from the collective wisdom of 300 farmers when he attended a corn maze convention in North Carolina last year.
"All their trade secrets were handed out out," he said. "These are guys who do this for a living when their harvest is in."
During the convention, Paraday connected with a Utah-based maze design company that was able to incorporate the Odyssey logo and mascot into the maze (called the Corn Maize at the Fun Farm). Paraday said he couldn't wait to see how the company cut the pattern into the corn and what they did surprised him.
The maze designers actually came out when the corn was about a foot tall, Paraday said, and flagged the whole field according to the path layout. Then they sprayed a chemical to kill the corn inside the path. The result is a root-free trail through the maze.
"I'm so amazed. It's so beautiful," he said.
The pig race attraction was another learning experience. Paraday had two employees (who usually run the rides across the street) at the beginning of the month training his newly purchased pigs to follow the race course.
"It's a lot harder than you think," he said. "We did a lot of YouTube searching. You use Oreo cookies for training," he said, adding that the process encourages the pigs to compete to be the first across the finish line to eat the treat.
Also unique to the Fun Farm is the corn cannon attraction. For $3, players load the cannon with an ears of corn and fire them at targets across the field. Another $3 fee is charged for pony rides and The Beast giant inflatable, Paraday said. Pumpkins are priced individually, as well.
Otherwise, the $10 admission covers the cow train ride, the petting zoo, the pig races, the hay ride and five inflatable attractions. Coupons are available on the Fun Farm website and in local advertising mailings, Paraday added.
A large food tent provides guests with seasonal refreshments like hot dogs, taffy apples, popcorn and apple cider. Paraday said the prices will be less expensive than the usual snack bar offerings across the street because he's trying to be conscious of family budgets, which he knows are stretched tightly already.
To that end, his marketing strategy includes coupons for and with each paid admission to add value to the ticket price. And he'll be offering "bounce back" specials in conjunction with the theme park he manages across the street. This way, families can continue the fun until 11 p.m. after the farm closes.
Paraday said he's hoping to see 50,000 guests come through the Fun Farm this year, but he knows a lot depends on weather and the overall guest experience.
"We're in the entertainment business," he said. "We're going to learn a lot this year and come back bigger and better next year."
Opening day is Friday, Sept. 23, and the venue is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. The cost is $10 per person. Most attractions are included in the price, but there is a separate charge for pumpkins, the corn cannon, pony rides and The Beast giant inflatable.