Thursday, October 8, 2015

[Haunt Review] Surviving the Terror Overload at Kings Dominion's Halloween Haunt


Now for the largest event of the year for Haunt Tour 2015, Kings Dominion's Halloween Haunt. So much to do and see, we weren't sure how it was going to go or even if the weather was going to work out for us. However, nine mazes, six scare zones, loads of entertainment, and a slew of other things awaited us. We were going to get there.

This is one crazy high energy experience, scares are everywhere and there's zero shortage of things to do. Like other Cedar Fair parks, it also features the Fright Lane+Skeletion Key option. These exclusive encounters are unique to every park and every one is a bit different. Never know what you're going to have to do or get through to advance, so be warned.

Quick Look

  • Date Visited: 9/26/15
  • Review Team: +Kitsune Hazard, +Carrie H.C.
  • Rating: Really Damn Good
  • (Mazes: Really Damn Good, Scare Zones: Really Damn Good)
  • Recommendation: Go, this is a high octane experience, and you don't want to miss it.
  • Likes: Love the scare zone theming, mazes are detailed and those that aren't? Great acting, also just great scares and an awesome way of doing things.
  • Dislikes: Some of the Skeleton Key rooms were a little, lacking and felt a bit off. Also, a bit confusing to find some scare zones and some totally avoidable if you weren't careful.
  • Pro-Tip: If it's busy? Do the Skeleton Key/Fast Lane option is a no brainer. Also, the VIP meal, probably really good if that's your thing. Chef Paul comes highly recommended!
  • Video Review: COMING SOON
Disclaimer: We were invited to check out this year's Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion and were given Fright Lane+Skeleton Key so that we could experience everything to tell you about it. This, as always, hasn't effected our viewpoints. 



Now then, let's get this nightmare train rolling!


Again, another possibly rainy night on was on our horizon, but we didn't let that stop us. Now, Kings Dominion is open all day on Saturdays during Halloween Haunt, so we couldn't resist taking a little walk through the park. This let us check out the kids event over in Camp Snoopy as well as get a little ride time on Intimidator, no way that we could pass that up.

Soon after? We managed to get back to the front of the park before 7pm, for the Overlord's Opening Scaremony. This has to be one of the best things I've seen at a big event like this, it reminds me of what other parks like Universal have done with their Halloween events, and I just love it. And, for your viewing pleasure, here's the entire thing!



After the chaos, we made our way to the first maze of the night, CornStalkers.

Ah, what would Halloween Haunt be without a trip through Dominion Stables? Well, I can tell you, I was taken aback by the detail and the insanity of this one. Sure, you think "outdoors, can't be done in daylight", but I'm gonna tell ya right now, you can!

There are so many places for the creatures lurking the fields to hide and it's so claustrophobic that it just doesn't matter. In the dark? This one has to be terrifying, it's unrelenting and we love it when that happens.

The actors were all on point, the feeling you got once inside just set the mood and they didn't scrimp on the details here. You really do feel like you're in a corn field and around the next turn? Could be your end. It's really just a perfect storm, and I really hope they just keep improving this one, usually I like turn over, but something done this well? Don't touch it.

Once again, we made our in a counter clockwise motion around the park. This brought us to our second maze of the night, No Vacancy.

Something has gone very wrong in this hotel, and why we were checking in? I can't honestly answer that for ya, this rode side hotel has definitely seen better days.

From the lobby, kitchens, guest rooms, and more you'll find yourself face to face with all sorts of interesting residents. The best part? They all have lines, not much screaming in your face to be had here. Not only that, but the costuming and set work is just great within this one as well. Really well done overall.

No Vacancy also features one of my favorite things ever, there's a security area that you go through, filled with TVs. Some of them are on, and what you see in them? Other people going through the attraction! How cool is that? You find yourself looking at them and just don't see the scares coming. It's great! Same could be said for a lot of the house, there's a ton of detail and it just throws you.

So far? The night was going swimmingly! And our next stop was our first scare zone, Necropolis. As stated above, it's interesting that this too had a Skeleton Key room, but we were prepared....mostly.

Anyway, this land of the dead has definitely gone wrong, and once again, there is a ton of detail. There's props and set pieces all over the path that channel you into places you likely don't want to be going into. What's there? Who knows what you'll run into! 

The fog, the lighting, and the actors just sold this whole thing and it works so well. The weather cooperated on some things, but others not and it was great to see that the actors didn't let up at all.

It was fun, and I could've stayed here to people watch and take photos for a good long while, but we had a Skeleton Key room to get to. We first noticed it, back in the distance with a figure all in white and long white hair hanging down from their head. So, that's how it was going to be huh? Well, once inside the mausoleum, we had to figure out how to get out...which, wasn't so easy.

Our next stops took us past the stage for UnStrung, which wasn't going on, so sadly we didn't get a chance to see that. Maybe next time, now? Time for Club Blood and Zombie High School.

First up, a trip back to the '80s and Lake Charles High, now known as Zombie High. We really had no idea what to expect, but oh my god, this was just nuts.

It was every cheesy '80s horror flick rolled into one and then they tossed zombies into the blender. It was glorious, from the principal on the PA system to the gymnasium prom and everything in between....it was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Well, sort of, I mean if your high school was filled with the undead. If it was, this should be just like old times! 

Again, we had no clue and were skeptical, but everything in this one changed our minds. There was just so much to see and once again they didn't scrimp on the details at all. The actors were loving it, the scenery was distracting enough so you didn't see them coming, and just over the top all around. You have to hit this one up, but um...don't try the meatloaf.

Now, right next door, conveniently enough, was Club Blood.

This once posh club spot has been taken over by vampires and they've turned it into one really interesting night on the town. You'll definitely be talking about this one...if you survive.

I love how they have the red carpet and limo out front with the huge facade. The setting is just made and then you enter...it's like going into some kind of weird Tokyo fusion warehouse club and once inside? You're at the mercy of everything that's having a good time. Don't you feel lucky for getting in? Sure ya do.

There's not a ton of detail, but it's got that minimalistic warehouse club feel to it and that just works as you're assaulted from every angle. There's tramp vamps in cages, the beautiful vamps and then, when you least it expect it, the down right beastly just waiting in the dark. It's just a really fun experience and there's a ton of action to be had. Sure, it's not as detailed, but it's not supposed to be, and it works.

4 mazes down, 5 to go.


With that side of the park down, it was time to head down the midway and make our ways towards Cleaver Brothers, Slaughter House and Maze of Madness. All of them are close together, which was great as we didn't have to waste a lot of time to get our scare on.

First up, a trip into Slaughter House, and our second Skeleton Key room of the night. This time, right at the front of the maze, we were ushered into a room where bodies were all around and a very interesting attendant met us. I won't say what we had to do, but it wasn't overly pleasant.

Once we were released, we were let into the maze itself and had to escape the madness that had taken over this once proud meat processing plant. Needless to say, you'll love it so much that you may just lose your head.

I sound like a broken record by now, but again, the detail. It's everywhere. You're dodging hanging body parts, insane meat plant workers, their victims, and a few other surprises. It's a nightmare into the world of meat! I usually like meat, but I don't want to become it either. Everyone in here was having a blast too, there's a lot of interesting tricks that they pull to make you think that things are what they aren't. Vague, but we'll go with that.

Back outside, and mostly having our body parts attached to us, it was time to head into the Cleaver Brothers Carnival. Might not be the best idea...these sideshow and circus entertainers are definitely not your normal fare.

Clever Brothers takes up a huge area of the park, and being right on the midway, there's really not a lot of things that they have to add. Some of the scares are really well hidden the first time through as well.

Again, the actors were just over the top and, even though a few later in the night were definitely out of character, what we saw earlier on was just amazingly well executed. Normally we don't the whole evil clown thing, but there's not just clowns here, it's the whole sideshow and they all want to be your friend!

Now, in the midst of the chaos stands a vardo, and inside another Skeleton Key room. What would we ever have to do here? Given the nature of the exterior, we figured we were going to meet a gypsy and right we were. What she told and how we escaped, is a secret. However, I will say that this one was a bit more "jokey" than physical or gross or anything like that, so it felt a little odd. Especially considering the first two.

Over halfway through!


Now, the next stop on our whirlwind terror tour, Maze of Madness.

This one started right off with a picture opportunity and then, once in the maze, we were face to face with another Skeleton Key room.

And, I gotta say, this one was completely unhinged. Just who we ran into, and what we had to do? I won't say, not gonna do it, but holy crap was it well executed and definitely a lot of fun. Our group, we got lucky...cause the thing we would've had to do for failing the thing?

Not good, not good at all.

After that, we were let into the most confusing and disorienting insane asylum we've come across yet. There's no rhyme or reason to this place, we actually got lost a few times and the scares just kept coming. There's not a ton to work with for the actors, but they did the best they could. Also, the strobe lights did their job, but were also a bit annoying after a while. Again, it was all very disorienting and once you think it's over? It's not.

Next up, just a little break before we made our way to the far end of the park and the newest edition to Halloween Haunt, Lockdown.

Not surprising that this one is prison themed, I mean, just look at the name. But again, there was theming in the paths leading up to it as well with watchtowers looming about.

Interestingly enough, this one was housed inside the ride building for Flight of Fear. Not a lot of room to work with, and that did make it seem short, but that was made up for by another great set of actors. There were scares all over the place, and we never quite knew where to look going through the riot infested prison blocks.

Sure, it's not as good as having your own, actual prison, but they did a commendable job with this. It really was fun and between the guards, inmates, and their victims, there was enough going to mask the shortness of the maze. Hopefully, if this one sticks around, they can figure out a way to make it longer, it really deserves it. If  have a few ideas, give me a call.

One more maze to go, still lots to see!

With Lockdown out of the way, we only had Doll Factory to go but to get there, we had to go through Prime Evil. Well, you don' have to, but I assure you that it's a good idea to do it. Deep in the jungles, something has gone terribly wrong. Headhunters being out and about, you have a slim chance of surviving the fog enveloped pathways.

Now, if the impaled bodies don't clue you in, the natives certainly will let you know that things aren't going well at all, and you're likely next.

This has always been a favorite of ours, dating back a few years now, and have to say that it's still up there. The way that they use props to mask the line of sight, like in Necropolis, just makes things all the harder to figure out. And, with the fog as thick as it was, it wouldn't matter anyway, you just never knew where the next scare was coming from anyway!

Before we move on, have to give a major shout out. It was a chilly, rainy night, and these folks just don't have a ton of stuff to wear but they still brought it. Awesome job guys!

Last house on the right...


Now, for the last house of the evening, it was time to take a trip into the workings of the Doll Factory. What is it about kids, toys and dolls that are just freaky? I dunno, but this is another rather unique spin on things.

Invited to take a tour of the factory, we quickly found out that this wasn't the place we wanted to be. You really don't know what to know how the dolls are made and the ones that survive? Are only there helping the insane process keep moving along.

I remember when this one was still fairly new, and there's a good bit of detail in here. Also, this is one of those experiences that even if it's not scary to you, you'll still have a great time. From my viewpoint? I love some of the unique ways they go about to pull off scares, the costuming and make up in here is just amazing. It's no wonder that this is not just a favorite of mine, but also Carrie as well.

No more houses!


Nope, no more mazes to get to, just three more scare zones that were missed along the way. Feary Tales and Ironworx. First up? Feary Tales and another Skeleton Key room! Thought we forgot about them, huh?

Well, this one was once again beckoning to us with another white clad figure. Once inside the witch's cottage? Well, I won't say but finding what we had to was not in a place you'd expect it to. In the future, I recommend she curb her appetite a bit.

Anyway, moving along, this is easily one of my favorite concepts for a scare zone. I love the whole fairy tales gone wrong trope and they don't dissappoint at all here. From the evil Red Riding Hood, to the twisted Snow White and more, you just didn't know what to expect.

Seriously, there was a lot going on here. We even got one of the encounters on video, cause...well, it was just that good.



I really can't say enough about this one, it's s small area but the actors just nailed it so well. I really love it when they go nuts with the interaction and everyone was in character so well, that we hung out here for a good while before moving on.

Again, major shout out to this crew, you were great and we just had a blast here. Watching so many get scared and how they went about ambushing and playing with the unexpected? Just so good, and it warmed our haunter hearts so.

Now then, time to move along and get to the final stop of the evening, Ironworx. Again, I've had reservations on this one. Steampunk and scarezones don't really go hand in hand in my world. However, I was wrong! They do.

Seriously, the make up and costuming was again an awesome thing to see going on. They really pulled out the stops here. Not like they hadn't before, but this was just great to see, yet again.

Now, there aren't a ton of scares here, but the few that are, definitely different. It's got a very different feel, not a lot of scenery, but with the massive Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, you really don't need too much else to have this park like setting work out. I will say, keep an eye out for the shopping cart cause...well, that's something  you don't see every day.

To the finish line!


Well, once again, we're at the end of another marathon review. Again, we didn't get to everything, as we missed Turnpike Terror and The Lair scare zone, but we did manage to get to nearly all of what this year's Halloween Haunt had to offer. Overall? It was an awesome night out and we had a blast.

Not only was it fun; but the scenery, acting, costuming, and make up were all just so well done. Sure, some of the mazes are short, and the Skeleton Key rooms weren't the best that we've ever encountered, but those are small things to quibble over really.

Yet, that and a few other things are just enough to keep this one out of "Extremely Good" and in "Really Damn Good". Trust me, it was a tough call but there's just a little more that we'd like to see before going out on that limb with things.

Don't let that fool you though, from the Opening Scaremony on, it was nonstop and things just seemed to get better and better as our night went on. It's really hard to get into that Extremely Good/Excellent category for these events, but in all honesty, this one was really close.

So, to the cast, and crew, of Kings Dominion, hats off. You guys have put on a great show this year!

For more info, check out the official Kings Dominion Halloween Haunt website for tickets, dates, hours and a ton more.

Stay tuned here, for even more haunted attraction reviews as Haunt Tour 2015 continues!

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