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HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEWS
HAUNTED ATTRACTION
HALLOWEEN HAUNT AT KINGS ISLAND
Ohio Valley Haunts
RATING: 9
Reviewed 9/19/14
Halloween Haunt at Kings Island
click logo to visit their website
Halloween Haunt and Fearfest photos
more photos from Halloween Haunt 2014, 2012 & '11
Category:  Professional Venue
LOCATION & ADMISSION INFO:
Exit 25 off  I-71
Mason, Ohio
Fri $29.99 Online ($42.99 at Gate) 6 PM - 1 AM
Sat $37.99 Online ($59.99 at Gate) 11 AM - 1 AM
(Park opens at 11 AM. Saturdays/Haunts at 6)
- Fright Lane (front of line) passes available -
Fright Feast + $8 Fri/$7 Sat at time of online purchase
or $14.99 by itself ($12.99 Season Pass Holders)
(6 - 8 PM in the Picnic Grove)
Mazes Fear Zones Attractions
Board to Death Slaughter House Killmart Club Blood Madame Fatale's Cavern of Terror Urgent Scare Skeleton Crew
Tombstone Terror-TORY Cornstalkers Wolf Pack Delta Delta Die CarnEvil Blood Drums Ghouls Gone Wild
MAZE REVIEWS
KILLMART:  The newest haunted attraction at Halloween Haunt making its debut for the 2014 season is Killmart - a play on words combing the names of two well known discount chain department stores K Mart and Walmart.  Looking more on the outside like something you'd expect to see on AMC's popular drama The Walking Dead with its boarded up windows and wrecked shopping carts littering the entrance, this is the first of 5 Kings Island mazes to utilize the new Skeleton Key, which accesses special additional rooms for Fright Lane purchasers.  This extra room begins the experience, and finds a distraught Greeter locked in a secured chamber, and forcing guests to dig through bowls of slimy spaghetti in order to find a key that unlocks a door that enters into the store.  Success elicits the emergence of a previously hidden zombie that grabs our host, and pulls him away against his will as the key is utilized to extricate ourselves from the initial entrapment, and move on into the "five and dime" itself.  A brief pause at a hand washing station delivers a grocery cart surprise, and launches the adventure beyond a "Welcome Shoppers" sign painted in blood, then through various departments including the ransacked, empty shelves of women's clothing that obscures the presence of more undead walkers hiding among the racks of outfits; the pharmacy highlighted by scattered prescription drugs, and featuring the attack of an frenzied apothecary; appliances of thrashing washing machines, dryers, and a refrigerator surprise; the furniture department; automotive; and even the restrooms.  Through it all, navigation is complicated by mechanical monsters that spring forth from behind drop down panels, beneath dining room tables, etc., while affected crawlers claw through broken glass panels, and lunge and scamper across the floor.  A near miss hit and run courtesy of a car that comes crashing through a wall pushes progression through the toy and pet departments, then through sporting goods of bloody tents before exiting through dead vegetation which is all that's left of  lawn and garden bringing to a close this "blue light special" of killer deals gone wrong.  Shop till you drop...dead at Killmart!  6 minutes/24 Total Characters.
DELTA DELTA DIE: Debuting a season ago, this attraction is themed around a wild Halloween night party hosted at the DDDie sorority house!  The experience begins in a sequestered Skeleton Key room ruled by a devil clad, dominatrix-like chick that humiliates and makes fun of guests by calling them names, and ordering them not to speak.  A hazing initiation game of blindfolded shot drinking results in the disappearance of one group member, then releases into the sorority house where empty beer bottles comprise much of the décor.  Reunification in the form of a sudden, interactive surprise commences actual exploration of the carousing that zigs and zags through a maze of scattered clothes.  Various rooms are visited interrupting the enjoyment of movie night on TV, as well as provocative dancing that's taking place beneath a glimmering disco ball.  From there, it's onto a CGI Asylum Door surprise in advance of intruding upon the undergrads' dorm rooms, then into the library where an inebriated "sister" has passed out on the floor.  Continuance through a kitchen of inedible delicacies fades through a freezer preserving body bags, and a  pantry once stocked with liquor as a frat guy crashes the party bringing curfew upon the promiscuous girls inhabiting Delta Delta Die.  7 mins./25 Total Characters.
BOARD TO DEATH: Returning for an encore performance following its 2013 debut, this attraction explores a world where popular board games come to life, beginning with everyone's favorite Monopoly highlighted by some poor soul that's "gone directly to jail" without passing "Go," and iconic game pieces such as the thimble that have come to life.  An overhead surprise courtesy of Scrabble accompanies advancement that visits Chess with living Knights and a Queen similar to their introductory counterparts, then it's onto Battleship featuring ammo launching gun turrets, a take on Mouse Trap, and decks of cards with personified Kings. Candyland and the illuminating spots on Dominoes are among those included, as is Parcheesi,Twister, and enlarged plastic bubbles encasing severed craniums in Headache.  The course climaxes with "the wacky doctors game" Operation featuring irate doctors loudly banging bones up against walls, and live patients springing up off of surgical tables ending the tribute that would make Hasbro and Milton Bradley proud, known as Board To Death.  4 minutes/25 Total Characters.
MADAME FATALE'S CAVERN OF TERROR:  Following a queue line that's elaborately themed and decorated, and a brief visit to the Madame's wretched dining room, entrance begins in a Skeleton Key room dominated by enormous, poisonous snakes, the escape from which leads into this third year event that showcases a wax museum of oddities hidden deep inside a Rivertown "cave."   Protected by a woman caressing a living, hissing python, elusion discovers a tragic catacomb that serves as a storage area stockpiling sheet covered human bodies and figures having ropes clutching at their throats, one of which struggles for freedom.  Spider webs cover crates containing dismembered appendages that are likewise part of the inventory outside a candle lit trophy room of severed heads, one of which is responsible for an unexpected surprise!  Red curtains prompt an ominous written omen that mysteriously vanishes right before your eyes as screams ring out accompanying approach to a variety of infamous displays including Headhunters, Sherlock Holmes, Billy the Kid, P.T. Barnum, Garbonzo and his cannon, and a tragic Egyptian tomb that witnesses the emergence of King Tut himself!  A deadly Executioner proudly clutches onto his prize from a recent beheading as progression past a large boiler discovers more victimizations, and the immortalization of Jack The Ripper!  Persistence into a restricted area exposes an electrician's nightmare of dangling wires and a sparking fuse box!  "Living" walls encourage advancement into the coating chamber, where human subjects are dipped and encased in wax, forever transforming them into lifeless statues of their former selves as the hot, dripping substance literally devours their flesh inside Madame Fatale's Cavern of Terror!  5 minutes/17 Total Characters (down from 24 a season ago, and 34 in 2012).
SLAUGHTER HOUSE:  Relocated to Rivertown and rebuilt for 2014, the experience begins in a Skeleton Key room containing the large carcass of a butchered cow, and dominated by a blood spattered meat carver that interactively torments group members until a sudden light failure evokes the wrath of a chainsaw packing lunatic that gives chase out into the remainder of the attraction that explores a contemptible kitchen of severed animal heads displayed like trophies on the walls.  Hides and skins fill in the gaps along these blood covered surroundings where butchered hogs comprise décor, and workers call out "Here piggy, piggy" and "Sooey!"  A surprise containing claustrophobic passage gives way to a collapsing ceiling before some poor soul suffers the fate of having his arms torn from his body, and another victim is seen clinging to life and pleading for help despite the absence of her lower torso which is no longer present!  Inverted cadavers suspended by chains, body bags, and convulsing corpses comprise an area littered with dismembered appendages that witnesses a restrained subject being bisected by the deadly blade of a descending saw!  Half man/half pig mutants cut off the hands of captives that have already been violated, and temporarily stitched and sutured back up, while others are cast into a meat grinder and shredded into hamburger in this Halloween Haunt "chop shop" better known as Slaughter House!  7½ minutes/42 Total Characters (Up from 26 in 2013).
URGENT SCARE:  This attraction explores a blood-spattered hospital thatís been tainted by the spread of some lethal, airborne virus.  Entering through Emergency, the adventure begins via Skeleton Key access into an examining room dirtied with feces, and occupied by an insane man clad only in diaper -like shorts, and having a stuffed monkey protruding from the front.  After reaching behind him to "dig deep" and produce "the cure" while providing a bit of bathroom humor, release into the hospital itself reveals screaming patients, a mechanical surprise from a sheet covered body lying on a gurney, and the sound of typical medical equipment such as the constant beeping of an oscilloscope-like heart monitor.  More crazed convalescents and infected admissions seated in wheelchairs are witnessed along the trek past X-rays and IV saline drips accompanied by continued clinical sounds pointing the way into a restricted area of the most serious ill, one of which delivers a sudden surprise among desperate blood transfusions being administered by plasma-covered nurses and evil doctors.  Body vaults comprise a macabre morgue that accesses a chamber of goggle wearing technicians concluding this exploration of the epidemic that's spreading like the plague.  If the virus doesn't kill you, fear will at Urgent Scare! 6 minutes/18 Total Characters (down from 26 a season ago).
WOLF PACK: This fifth-year attraction consists of a fog-filled journey through darkened werewolf-infested terrain where a mechanical surprise manifests itself from within an old well, and a  multitude of fanged creatures of the nigh stalk a haunted cornfield.  A full moon illuminates a spooky cemetery of impressive looking tombstones, where loud howling indicates the presence of additional canine aggressors among the surrounding foliage.   Hanging vines and tree limbs inhibit progression in advance of a dilapidated shack decorated with tires, hubcaps, bicycles and license plates, and inhabited by more of the rabid savages that terrorize the entire nocturnal adventure known as Wolf Pack.  3½ minutes/18 Total Characters.
TOMBSTONE TERROR-TORYWhile enjoying a relaxing midnight train ride enhanced by bits of historical information broadcast from an accompanying tour guide, a unexpected ambush brings the old iron horse to a sudden stop right smack dab in the middle of nowhere!  Passengers are forced to disembark by hijacking cowboys, and high tail it back to civilization through the spooky woods on foot.  Darkness and spooky music that makes your skin crawl set the stage for the intimidating journey through the foggy terrain.  Gunshots ring out as course navigation encompasses wooden crates, wine barrels, covered bridges, and run-ins with several well hidden, dress attired villainesses.  Hangings take place in nearby trees, and severed heads dangle from above as the darkened excursion forges onward eventually leading the path back to the safety of RIVERTOWN, in this wild-west style train ride adventure called Tombstone Terror-tory. 11 min (including 5 min. train ride)/26 Total Characters (down from  41 a season ago).
CLUB BLOOD: Back for its eighth annual installment, the promiscuous Club Blood enters past garbage cans, a wall-mounted payphone, and piles of rubber tiers to find seductively clad, vampire chicks offering rides on motorcycles, and fanged performers getting their seductive dance on to the music of a live DJ!  Shirtless dudes and sexy babes rule this roost that houses an electric chair fatality, a bathroom surprise from behind a previously darkened glass panel, and encroachments that emerge alongside from hidden passages and curtains.  Inverted bodies suspended from above complicate navigation into a brief mirror maze, followed by a bungee surprise, then into a saloon where the bartender inquires about patrons blood types.  Children of the night offer a succession of incursions, and invite you in "for a bite" at Halloween Haunt'sClub Blood!  4½ minutes/18 Total Characters (many of whom are male this season).
CARNEVIL:  A brief mirror maze initiates the exploration of this house of fun and games that utilizes special 3-D glasses for an additional fee to enhance the view, and bring to life vibrant, three-dimensional special effects that add a degree of depth perception to the overall experience.  Appropriate carnival music, sirens, and sounds compliment exploration of a variety of themed areas including one decorated with cotton candy, and a freak show of building blocks, multi-colored bricks and skulls, and a mechanical culprit with an elongating neck.  Madam Olga foretells the future, which holds in store diversion through bubbles and a polka dot room in advance of a hallway containing inanimate clown figures that suddenly close in from both sides, propelling the masked masters of mayhem directly into the path.  A spinning vortex, referred to as a "tornado" waits in the wings wrapping up this fright-fest under the big top better known as CarnEVIL.  4 minutes/ 17 Total Characters.
CORNSTALKERS: Cawing crows invite entrance into this one-timeFear Zone that's evolved into an attraction unto itself.  The fog-filled escapade leads past wooden crates that conceal sudden altercations from hooded fiends that seemingly appear out of nowhere.  "No one escapes this land" beckons the course into a dimly lit cornfield inhabited by  skeletal remains and evil Scarecrows nailed to upright wooden crosses as fog becomes denser, completely engulfing the surroundings.  Wicked noises chaperone the intimidating trek into an altercation that promises, "The farther you go, the closer you come to death! I KNOW!"  Human remains continue to litter the path as it approaches an emerging Creeper as well as a previously  unseen bungee surprise along the darkened crevices that comprise the escape from Cornstalkers. 4 minutes/19 Total Characters.
SPINE-CHILLING "FEAR ZONE" REVIEWS
Cemetery Drive Backwoods Bayou Freak Street Nightmare Alley
Fear Zones are best defined as short excursions through occasionally decorated paths often complimented by fog, but too brief to be classified as independent attractions.  Roamed by various ghouls and monsters, these areas enhance the overall experience by lending some happenings to otherwise quiet spots that connect the main haunts.  Cemetery Drive, located at the base of the Eifel Tower features frightening music, and traditional décor such as caskets and tombstones, while Backwoods Bayou is a fairly populated section occupying the zone along the entrance to Rivertown between Backlot Stunt Coaster and Diamondback.  This swampland that made its Halloween Haunt debut in 2013 endures for about 3 minutes, and consists of typical Louisiana Voodoo sights and sounds including snakes, boats, witchdoctors, chirping crickets, "creatures from the black lagoon," and even a carnivorous Venus Flytrap!  Freak Street returns just east of CarnEvil with its surplus of extraordinary characters terrorizing the surroundings of Planet Snoopy, while 2011's originator Nightmare Alley keeps the road hot with its nocturnal dream sequence of tormenters between International Street and the approach to Action Zone by Kings Island Theater.  These so called bonus attractions supplement the enjoyment of Halloween Haunt in their own little ways.
EERILY ENTERTAINING SHOW REVIEWS
Three live shows are on tap for this season, each lasting for approximately 25 minutes.  Ed Alonso's Psycho Circus of Magic and Mayhem, Hot Blooded, and Graveyard Shift have been eliminated in order to make room for the return of Ghouls Gone Wild that takes over the latter's location inside Festhaus.  This musical presentation features popular monsters like Frankenstein and his Bride, a werewolf, female vampire, a witch, and black cats singing and dancing to an upbeat montage of '70's and '80's hits like Dancing in the Moonlight, The Shoop Shoop song, Walk like an Egyptian, Hungry Heart, Cheeseburger in Paradise, One Way or Another, Open Your Heart, I'm so Excited" and "The Dark Side" along with a bit of interjected humor when the witch invites visitors to stay for a "spell," and the Wolfman sings a parody of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" to the tune of "This WOLF's for hire, even if we're just HOWLING in the dark!"  The theme from the movie Halloween welcomes patrons over to Showplace Theatre, where the new Skeleton Crew takes the place of Hot Blooded, showcasing an acrobatic exhibition of strength, balance, and athleticism all set to the beat of performers twirling flaming batons, and a trio of skeletons tumbling about an aerial demonstration that includes bouncing off a trampoline.  Blood Drums is the only holdover segment from 2013 earning yet another encore performance along the centralized area near the Eiffel Tower and International Street fountain. This punk rock percussion exhibition promises to mesmerize and energize with its talented drummers complimented by the coordinated dancing, fire jugglers, and flashing strobes.  Each of these activities are conveniently re-enacted at several times each night giving customers plenty of opportunities to sit down and relax for a bit while enjoying the productions. 
HALLOWEEN HAUNT EXPERIENCE
HALLOWEEN HAUNT - OVERALL EXPERIENCE: Halloween Haunt is an unmatched seasonal EVENT.  Scares begin at 6 PM and persist throughout the night via 11 haunts, 4 Fear Zones, 3 live shows, 20 thrill rides until 1 AM when an intimidating voice orders everyone to "Get out!"  Walks and paths between attractions are decorated with chilling sights of cemeteries, skeletons and death, while fog and impressive lighting amplify the mystique of the overall experience.  Hidden, undead creatures haunt the midway, and coming from all directions at the most unexpected moments!  Attractions are short, but designed to accommodate enormous crowds.  Skeleton Keys have been cleverly introduced for 2014 rewarding front of the line Fright Lane purchasers with additional secret rooms in Killmart, Slaughter House, Delta Delta Die, Madame Fataleís Cavern of Terror, and Urgent Scare that present some of the best scenes the Park has to offer!  They're more elaborate and interactive in nature getting customers involved, and are staffed by the top actors as well! Don't make the mistake of missing these higher impact scares!  Get the Skeleton Key!  You won't be sorry! 

Note:  Although rides don't influence the actual "haunted" aspect of the event, their contribution to the overall experience can't be ignored.

Overall Event Analysis: 
LENGTH - 10, Everyone's DYING to get in, and the fun lasts the entire night!  While it's true the individual attractions are quite brief, the event as a whole is unmatched from an entertainment perspective. 
ACTORS - 7, Character intensity and dialogue has slipped a bit in comparison to last year with the exception of the Skeleton Key rooms that most customers don't get to see.  The "cream of the crop" are in charge of these special bonus areas, with Slaughter House's Butcher taking home top honors, and Urgent Scare's Loony being most memorable.  Killmart's opener is fairly frenzied, and perfectly sets the stage for the events that are about to unfold, and Delta Delta Die's initial surprise is likewise well played.  Costuming is strong throughout, although perhaps not quite as elaborate in many cases.  Dialogue was down across the board for the most part outside of the special rooms which were all enriched with meaningful interactions. A dominance of professional theatrical make-up creates legitimate looking monsters - often bloody and gory in appearance, but again more evident in the aforementioned Skeleton Key rooms!  Ladies in dresses along Tombstone Terror-tory did little more than just stand there, and CarnEVIL's clowns simply laughed and giggled without introducing any scares.  Wolfpack characters weren't savaging victims as was the case a season ago, and Urgent Scare lost coughing patients, which sold the viral infected theme in favor of screamers.  Club Blood employs too many dudes, and the announcer on board the train couldn't be understood.
SCARINESS - 8½, Excellent soundtracks and professional lighting enhance and personalize every haunt..  Tombstone Terror-tory boasts the spookiest music we've heard anyplace.  CarnEVIL remains a weak link and is in dire need of more threatening clowns.  Scares are often limited throughout Halloween Haunt by the short durations of the attractions, but you never know where the next sudden startle will come from no matter where you happen to be inside the park.  The revised Slaughter House, new Killmart, and Skeleton Key rooms along with the elimination of less frightening Holliday Horror step things up a notch from a fear perspective.   Improved acting would take this category to the next level.
DESIGN - 9, The transformation from fun-filled amusement park, to demented Halloween Haunt is masterful., and each haunt, has its own unique theme.  Transition zones between scenes are appropriately of minimal length, while the mazes themselves are intentionally short by design in order to accommodate enormous crowds.  The net result nestles scenes closely together, thus delivering a high ratio of scares per square foot.  Soundtracks, and quality of lighting are major assets as discussed above, and prop advancements have been incorporated into the newer attractions (to be discussed below), along the lines of the returning CGI in Delta Delta Die.  "Hit and run" auto has a much better home in Killmart as it was misplaced in Slaughter HouseMadame Fatale's Cavern of Terror began the upsurge from a decoration standpoint, and the new Killmart follows suit while capitalizing on the ever popular Walking Dead!  The improved Slaughter House also exhibits improved décor, and the Skeleton Key concept is an outstanding attribute, which not only showcases the stronger scares, but upsells the event by encouraging customers to pay more in order to experience the whole show!  Light failure at Slaughter House introduces arguably the strongest scare of the night, and blindfolding at DDD results in the kidnapping of a group member, then interactively involves him in a scare!  The intro at Killmart likewise gets customers in on the action.  These beginnings are far more impressive as a result, but finishes remain mostly lackluster in every single attraction.  Also on the down side, elevator has been lost from Urgent Scare, although it was likely a nightmare from a flow perspective, and "living grave" is gone from Wolf Pack, or was unoccupied at the time we passed through.  Fire was absent from Madame Fatale's, which is likewise unfortunate because these were some of the more impressive scares the site had to offer. Club Blood continues to have a senseless electrocution, and CarnEVIL needs some scares.  Urgent Scare needs some sprucing up, and Club Blood was way down mostly due to the presence of too many male actors.  The quality of acting has slipped a notch or two this year, and trademark sliders were m.i.a. from the roamers.  The event's popularity challenges its ability to score much higher because of huge crowds, and even longer lines.  This category's score was raised primarily as a reward for the clever ingenuity and implication of the Skeleton Keys, along with the phasing out of a weaker attraction (Holiday Horror) in favor of the far superior, more relevant Killmart, and the strong remodel at Slaughter House.  The Final Ride (a buried alive simulator) is now offered in the Festhaus.
PROPS - 8½, Positive strides have been made in this department over the past few years beginning with Delta Delta Die's computer generated image Asylum door a season ago.  Several mechanical surprises exist in Killmart including a big monster behind a drop panel.  Short circuiting fuse box is notable in Madame Fatale's, while the rebuilt Slaughter House now owns several with the collapsing ceiling joining forces with the bisecting saw, mechanical arm amputator, stitched bodies, and convulsing cadaver.  Attention is needed at the remainder of the attractions, as the introduction of visually impressive animatronics are certainly within budget.  Loss of elevator, fire, and "living grave" mentioned above hold back the score.
VALUE - 9½, Although the entertainment lasts all night, lines are impossibly long without a Fright Lane pass, and prices have gone up significantly.  Friday nights now cost $3 more, and Saturday's have been hiked $5 at the gate and $3 online.  It's just too much to ignore coming on the heels of last year's dollar or two jump.  Purchasing online offers the greatest savings.  By all means consider the Fright Lane front of the line option especially with the new Skeleton Keys in order to fully appreciate everything Halloween Haunt has to offer.
OVERALL RATING:  9, Considering the event offers 7 hours of seasonal entertainment, it scores much higher as a whole, than any of the single attractions rate independently.  One could easily spend $25 to $40 at just a couple of haunted houses and they'd be over in less than 20 minutes each.  For that same investment, the fun at Halloween Haunt lasts all night long!  Other haunted attractions just can't compete with Kings Island from an EVENT perspective.  The inclusion of 20 "thrill rides" can't be ignored when looking at the overall picture, but nevertheless the fact remains that the haunts are the focus of what this event is all about.  They exhibit continued improvement with each passing year with more elaborate and realistic décor, and more impressive and memorable props.   Killmart and Slaughter House outshine the others by a fairly large margin. Delta Delta Die and Board Games are both uniquely themed, and nicely compliment the overall experience. ALL of the Skeleton Key attractions benefit significantly from the bonus rooms, but only a fraction of the public will get to experience them.

Note:  When visiting Halloween Haunt at Kings Island, don't miss the opportunity to enjoy Fright Feast from 6 - 8 PM in the picnic grove - an all you can eat meal consisting of roasted chicken, pulled pork BBQ, hotdogs, corn on the cob, baked beans, pasta and potato salads, cookies, and Coca-Cola beverages.  Purchase includes one FRONT OF THE LINE maze admission!  (Be sure to buy the meal at the same time you get tickets in order to save a few dollars!  And once again, purchasing the entire event online offers the most savings.) 

Rides include:  Banshee, Adventure Express, Backlot Stunt Coaster, Boo Blasters on Boo Hill, Delirium, Diamondback, Dodgem, Drop Tower, Firehawk, Invertigo, Flight of Fear, Monster, Scrambler, The Bat, The Beast, The Racer, Viking Fury, Vortex, Windseeker, and Zephyr.

WARNING:  Not recommended for young children! Halloween Haunt includes graphic scenes, suggestive themes and intense imagery that is intended for mature audiences.  Parents are encouraged to choose Snoopy's Halloween Party at Soak City for a more family friendly atmosphere (11 AM - 6 PM Saturdays and Sundays).

Halloween Haunt at Kings Island
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