Wiard's Cider Mill and Apple Orchard History
Wiard’s Cider Mill and Apple Orchard was founded in Michigan by George Wiard in 1837. The u-pick apple orchard and cider mill was originally located on Wiard Road near what is now known as Willow Run Airport. In those early years, the Wiards operated an apple orchard, cider mill, vinegar mill and vineyards. In the 1940’s, during World War II, the construction of the bomber plant at Willow Run forced the orchard and cider mill to be moved to our current location in Ypsilanti Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan.
The 1950’s brought about the addition of a farm market at Wiard’s, which was remodeled in the 1960’s into our current Country Store and Bakery featuring old-fashioned goodies and delicious cider mill Michigan donuts and pies. Also at that time, our current cider mill was constructed and pumpkin fields were added to our orchard and farming operations.
In the 1980’s, at the forefront of the orchard and cider mill industry, Wiard’s introduced their Country Fair agri-entertainment complex, including a giant slide, Old West hayrides, corn maze, petting farm, moonwalk, u-pick pumpkin fields, Straw Stack, Haunted Barn, multiple children’s play areas, hot food and more. This complex was a natural launch pad for Wiard’s Company Picnics and the addition of a sports facility, complete with a softball diamond, basketball court and horseshoe pits.
2000-2012, brought the expansion of Country Fair and corporate picnic facilities with the addition of new restrooms, two large picnic pavilions, Wiard Miniature Golf, new hayride trails and expanded the orchards to over 5000 apple trees. We also completed “Night Terrors,” the largest haunted thrill park in Michigan. Night Terrors features the Haunted Barn, The Asylum, The Mindshaft, Hayride of the Lost and Alien Caged Clowns.
In 2006, Wiard’s Orchard sold part of their property to Washtenaw County Parks in order to allow the county to expand Rolling Hills Water Park. The land sale led to a complete redesign and rebuild of the Country Fair on the north side of Merritt Road in 2007. Although it was a lot of time and work, the newly constructed Country Fair was met with excitement and positive feedback by attendees both new and returning. Visitors were now able to do all the activities they loved during the Country Fair, shop in the Country Store, pick apples & pumpkins and also visit Night Terrors thrill park all from the same central location!
In 2016 Wiard’s Haunted Hayrides, one of the 5 attractions at Wiard’s Night Terrors was named the #6 hayride in the US and the entire thrill park, Night Terrors – Michigan’s Premier Haunted Thrill Park was named in the Top 10 Scream Parks in the US by the leading magazine in the industry, Hauntworld.
In 2018 Night Terrors was recognized as one of the top haunted attractions in the USA by Travel & Leisure magazine.
2016 – 2019 Many attractions were added to the Country Fair; the Corn Maze, the Corn Queen Combine play area, Splattertown, the paintball shooting gallery, Valley View Mountain slides, Crazy Cob’s Corncrib and the Firehouse Fun Zone to name a few.
2020 was the beginning year of the COVID19 pandemic and we were kept busy changing the Store and the Country Fair and Night Terror attractions to meet the pandemic guidelines in order to provide a safe venue for our customers. The fall weather was good; we met all the guidelines and our customers appreciated all that we did to keep them safe. They came, the reviews on social media were amazing and we felt blessed to have weathered the season and be in a position to continue to serve our community. Wiard’s Orchards weathered the Flu Epidemic of 1918 and the COVID 19 Pandemic of 2020 and we are so very thankful.
Striving to meet the needs of our customers, many changes and improvements have been made by seven generations of the Wiard family and each year we continue that tradition. Today, there are 3 generations of the Wiard family actively working in the operation with the 8th generation in tow; eating apples, visiting with staff and enjoying the farm. Currently the apple orchard and cider mill cover nearly 100 acres with many diversified operations, including the Cider Mill, Country Store, u-pick apples and pumpkins, Country Fair, corn maze, field trips, company picnics, school trips, birthday parties, evening hayrides, Night Terrors and much more!