Halloween Haunt has come and gone, and I got the chance to experience the event multiple times. Although the park is only open on weekends, this really is my favorite time of the year at Kings Dominion. The leaves changing colors, and the crisp fall air set the perfect feeling for Haunt, but that alone cannot make the park feel like Halloween. Kings Dominion, of course, takes this to the next level by adding larger than life props that tower over you as you walk past.
This year Kings Dominion added four new attractions: No Vacancy, Cleaver Brother’s Carnival, PrimEvil: The Kuru Curse, and Haunted House 3D. I am not going to go into these attractions yet, but I will say that in my opinion, the additions were for the most part fantastic! Now to get into the nitty-gritty of the event!
The mazes this year were very well done. Kings Dominion was able to take the ones that were duds last year, and pull them up to par with the rest, making every maze a fantastic experience!
Blue Ridge Blood Bath
What might possibly be one of the least scary mazes at the park is actually one of my favorite. Blue Ridge is a capacity nightmare and the scares are not up to par with the other mazes, but there is something about it that gets me. As odd as it sounds, driving a car through a cannibal infested forest is really a lot of fun. Now that I am finished drooling over it, Blue Ridge Blood Bath is probably the weakest maze in the park. The staff is very enthusiastic, and uses their surroundings well, but the maze is understaffed and there are not very many hiding places for the scare actors they do have. Often times, you can see them ahead before they even get the chance to scare you. This maze is unique in the fact that it uses the classic antique cars, but the scares are lacking, and so is the number of staff members.
Summer camp, what fond childhood memories, until the camp counselors go insane and start killing off the campers! The maze itself is fantastically themed, and uses the White Water Canyon queue line very effectively. Scares in Camp Killauee are hit or miss. Sometimes the scare actors are into it and getting right up into your face, but sometimes they are sitting around just staring at you as you walk past (news flash: staring at people is not scary). My personal favorite part of the maze is the outhouses. Being sprayed with water as you walk by them is definitely a huge surprise to anyone who has not been through the maze before. Also, Kings Dominion nerds might enjoy some of the boat props in the maze, they come from the parks old Yogi’s Yacht Club attraction. Overall, the maze is themed very well, and the scares are good, but not great.
There is nothing like walking through Club Blood dancing to the techno music with your friends when all of a sudden a vampire comes out and scares the living daylight out of you. Club Blood is one of the park’s strongest mazes. The actors are fantastic. They are not afraid to get in your face, and they make me scream like a little girl. The actors compliment the maze as well, which is brilliantly themed. Walking in, you are put immediately into the streets of a city, and you get the eerie feeling that you should not be there. The maze keeps twisting and turning and you feel like you are never going to escape the club. Kings Dominion definitely out did themselves on this one.
Corn Stalkers is a fantastic maze. The narrow passages, and the actors that blend in so well with the corn make this one of the scariest mazes in the park… well most of the time. This maze is one of the most hit or miss mazes in the park. I went through one time, and the actors had me running into walls I was so scared, and I would go through another, and it would be like walking through a regular corn field. Overall, the maze was one of the best, and a lot of park guests favorite. For me though, this was a maze that I I knew could be great, but didn’t always deliver.
Doll Factory is one of those things that I just don’t like. It is a great maze. The scares and the sets are some of the best in the park, but it just doesn’t do it for me. The maze has become very predictable and I can tell you where the actors will be before we even get there. This could be because I have been through the maze with the lights on and no scare actors, so I have seen where they can all hide, or this could just be flat out because they don’t have a variety of places to hide. The maze is a great one, but for me, it just doesn’t do it.
Taking over Dogem, Medieval Macabre is the park’s, well medieval themed maze. It is littered with hay, and you can definitely smell it. The sets in the maze are fantastic, and the actors do a great job using their surroundings to their advantages. One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how long the maze is and how they squeezed it into the bumper car building. Medieval Macabre uses lighting very effectively. They shine a light directly in your face, which is annoying, yes, but it makes for a great scare. When the light is shone directly in your face, you can’t see very well beyond it. Stick an actor behind the light, you can’t see them, and boom – you’ve got yourself an easily executed scare. Medieval Macabre is a great maze, but with the rest of the park’s mazes, falls in the middle for me.
No Vacancy, just the sound is like music to my ears. The maze is absolutely incredible. From the lobby with its giant staircase, to the pictures that come to life, and of course the TV room, it’s one of the best Kings Dominion has to offer. The actors seem to be always on top of their game, and they use their surroundings to their advantage, to make an incredible experience. I really do love everything about this maze, but I will just say a few of my favorites because I am sure you are already bored of reading this lengthy review. The pictures that come to life are incredible. It is not something I would expect from Kings Dominion, or any other regional park’s Halloween event for that matter. I also love the bladder. Pushing through the cushions and watching other park guests’ confused faces is priceless. And of course, the TV room, watching people getting scared on the monitors is a lot of fun, and a great distraction for the scare-actors in the room to come up and give you one last great scare.
Outbreak: The Evolution
What was quite possibly the worst maze last year, made a significant improvement this year. The actors were utilizing their surroundings very well, using the drop-down-doors and car-wash hanging things to their advantage. The maze is still anti-climactic. Walking into a laser beam spitting lasers all over the room isn’t exactly the best ending to a maze, but overall Outbreak made a fantastic improvement over last year.
Slaughter House keeps getting better year after year. It is one of the most immersive mazes the park has, using sight, feel, sound, and even smells to immerse you into the environment. When you walk into the barbeque room and you can smell the flesh cooking, and feel the heat resonating from the grill, you know you are in for the long haul. The scare actors use the maze space brilliantly, hiding behind shelves, in shipping crates, and even in boxes. Listening to Sweet Caroline as you make your way towards the end of the maze is a great add on to the feeling of being in a factory. And of course, the chainsaw at the end of the maze is a great touch that is sure to get people screaming as they run out of the maze.
Toxic Plague has been at Kings Dominion for five seasons now and has gone through very few changes, but still continues to be one of the best at the park. The black-lit maze has so many twists and turns it feels like it will never end. The actors are hidden so well that they are sure to scare even the bravest of souls. Strobe lights mess with your vision disorienting you so that you can’t see any of the actors lurking in the shadows.
As far as props go, the scare zones were a tremendous improvement over last year. However some of the scare zones did seem to be lacking in the number of scare actors, but the actors did do a great job!
Cleaver Brother’s Carnival
One of the new scare zones for 2012 was Cleaver Brother’s Carnival, and I have to say, I was pleasantly disappointed. Now how can I be “pleasantly disappointed”? Well, when the park says they are getting a “new” scare zone, you expect it to be new, right? Well Cleaver Brother’s Carnival is basically the exact same thing as CarnEvil, but with better props and a better name. I really enjoyed CarnEvil, so this new and improved version was a welcome change in my opinion.
Feary Tales is a fun scare zone, although nothing in it has really changed over the past few years. It is still a very effective scare zone, it just has changed very little and there are not very many places for actors to hide. The actors however still did a great job of scaring park guests and their costumes are fantastic.
Iron WorX was my favorite scare zone last year, and it did not fail to disappoint this year. The scare zone looks great with larger than life props. The actors do a great job of scaring. Everything in this maze just seems to work. One thing I wish they would do is somehow use the Snoopy’s Starlight Spectacular lights.
Last year, The Lair was, well odd. There were not very many actors, and the few actors that were there weren’t really into what they were doing. This year however, the actors made a tremendous effort to scare park patrons and used the props and surroundings very well. The lighting in this scare zone is mesmerizing, and the fog being pumped into the arboretum makes it interesting to find your way out without bumping into anything.
Necropolis last year was a bit of a disappointment. It was like Central Stalkway moved out in front of the Action Theater. This year, it had a lot of new props, and looked amazing. The actors were utilizing the space very well.
Primeval: The Kuru Curse
Primeval: The Kure Curse was the other new scare zone this year. This, just like Cleaver Brother’s, is a lot like an updated version of scare zone that was there before. In my opinion, Primeval was the weakest scare zone this year. It was severely lacking scare actors, though the scare actors that were there did do a good job.
- No Vacancy
- Club Blood
- Corn Stalkers
- Toxic Plague
- Doll Factory
- Slaughter House
- Blue Ridge Blood Bath
- Camp Killauee
- Medieval Macabre
- Outbreak: The Evolution
- Iron WorX
- Cleaver Brother’s Carnival
- The Lair
- Feary Tails
- Primeval: The Kuru Curse
Halloween Haunt XII was a fantastic event. There were no mazes or scare zones that were flat out bad, and everything that returned was a great improvement. Kings Dominion did an amazing job with Halloween Haunt this year, and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for their thirteenth year. I also want to thank you for sitting through this extremely lengthy review and for dealing with my Apple adjectives… I hope everyone who had a chance to experience Haunt had as great of a time as I had, and if you did not get to experience this amazing event, be sure to get out to Kings Dominion next year! You won’t be sorry!