DISCLAIMER: I did not experience the Skeleton Key rooms, Tollway Terror, or Urgent Scare so there will be no reviews of those. Now, time to READ ON! Also, this may contain minor spoilers.
Kings Dominion Halloween Haunt 2016 was the first Cedar Fair haunt I’ve experienced, and I loved it! It was very different from other haunts I’ve experienced.
As the name implies, this maze is dark. The ENTIRE MAZE. Now, that might seem awesome, but the problem with that is that 1. You walk into lots of walls 2. There’s no actual sets, just flats painted black and strings hanging from the ceiling 3. The actors have no makeup, I did see one in the light and they just wear black clothes and stocking caps and 4. There’s only around 3-5 actors in there. Now, while that does provide a nice atmosphere, I like my sets and makeup and costumes so I wasn’t a huge fan of this. However, the reason this gets a 5 is because there are a couple effects in there, it’s a pretty long maze (although it probably felt longer considering it’s very slow moving) and I did quite like the animatronic finale (only part of the maze that isn’t COMPLETELY dark).
I had a lot of fun with this maze. I know some people working in it, so it was cool seeing them. The high school aspect was cool (there’s lots of hidden school jokes in it, and being a high schooler I found it hilarious). I also loved the set design. It’s very cool how they use stacks of chairs and lunch tables as barricades for actors to hide behind and for you to walk around. My problem with this maze however is the strobes. Many scenes are have strobes which do really hurt my eyes. Now, I’m not opposed to 1 or 2 strobe rooms (In fact, later on in the night Doll Factory had an amazing one) but when room upon room has them, I start to get headaches. Also to note that while the makeup was well done, I’m not a huge zombie fan so it didn’t really do anything for me. But overall, the sets and jokes really make the maze, and I definitely enjoyed it.
Such a simple (and cool!) concept, with amazing execution. This maze is basically a haunted cornfield, with evil scarecrows lurking around every corner (and sometimes in the corn). While the sets are simple (walking through cornstalks) they are very claustrophobic and tight, forcing you to get up close and personal with the actors. And speaking of the actors, they were fantastic! Almost every scare tactic you could think of they used. And I loved the costumes/masks. I’m a sucker for cool masks, and these masks looked awesome. The length of this is also insane. You’re in the maze for a good 6-7 minutes. One final thing to mention is the old-school theme. While serial killer, carnival or slaughterhouse gore mazes can be effective (think CarnEVIL at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) this is a unique and cool Halloween theme. The only thing I could say would make this maze better is if the mannequins were there (there was some pedestals that obviously used to have scarecrows on them) and if it had maybe like 1 more shed (you’ll have to do it to understand that one). Truly a great maze.
This is one of my all-time favorite mazes. So awesome! Only thing keeping it from a perfect 10 is the actors (while awesome) weren’t quite as good as the ones in Cornstalkers and 1 noticeable effect was broken. That’s all. Great theme (who doesn’t love a classic haunted hotel?). Stunning sets. Loads of details and theming. Great costume design. So cool how the rooms all tie into the hotel theme. An amazing finale. And there was so many great effects, whether it was the finale or old TVs playing or projections (my favorite!). This is just such a fun, classic, and pretty scary (I’m normally not scared by these) maze. Phenomenal.
TRICK OR TREAT
Sorry about the awful photo. Best still I had of the facade. Anyway, with me being a super technical and detail-oriented person, this maze greatly appealed to me. The sets in this are beautifully creepy and so immersive. That coupled with the fact that me and the person I was with went through alone (hooray scared people behind us in line) created a wonderful experience for me. I love these classic Halloween themed mazes, and it doesn’t get much more Halloween-y then walking through a house full of evil witches. The actors in here were also all great. My only complaint with this is that it is very short, the average person would probably take 3-4 minutes to go through. I went through in about 5, but I was taking my time and absorbing the details.
So…Doll Factory. The version that ran at Knott’s was probably one of the scariest mazes ever. So I was expecting that, and was a bit let down. It still is awesome though. You’re probably getting tired of me saying every maze is awesome, but I really enjoyed this haunt. Anyway, this maze felt less like a Doll Factory and more like a Doll House that people are tortured in. This maze lacked any real sense of menace (something I think the Scary Farm version had) which is what keeps it from getting a higher score. Don’t get me wrong, there is some fantastic rooms, but they needed just a bit different style of execution to become scary. The potential was there, though. There was some really great effects in there though, and the ending is one of the best endings (and probably most nerve-wracking) I’ve ever seen.
Lockdown is a haunted prison. It’s certainly a unique theme, but unfortunately you can’t get very creative with it. None of the actors makeup had the “cool” factor (it was well-done, but the design was rather bland) and none of them really went to extreme lengths to scare people and interact with the enviroment. What makes this maze great though, is the sets. While not super detailed they are HUGE. You actually feel like you are walking through a prison. Sometimes they even went up 2 stories. I also loved how you actually went through the prison and the way they incorporated the theme of the maze outside as well (there’s pretty tall guard towers in the Flight of Fear area, which I’m pretty sure aren’t normally there). Another thing is the mannequins. Kings Dominion does overuse mannequins in their mazes (*cough* Zombie High *cough*) and there were a lot in this maze too, but they MOVED. Like they were on shake platforms or something. It genuinely creeped me out (and I knew they weren’t real people!).
Only show I saw was Overlord’s Resurrection. I know, I’m a horrible person, but I don’t really like theme park shows.
This is everything you could wish for in a Haunt opening ceremony. No nonsense, just awesome music, some cool smoke and lighting, and an epic monologue that gets you in the mood for Haunt. I only give this 7/10 because there’s no real fire, no squibs (they could work those in, right?) and no projection mapping. I know, I’m picky, but those 3 things are all I look for in a theme park show. But it’s still great and you should totally go see it.
Score: 10/10This is the perfect scare zone. Dark, but well lit. Lots of fog. Sliders. Actors who are totally amazing and good at scaring people (this zone had the most screams). A classic haunted graveyard theme. This is just perfect (although it could some projection mapping…).
This is strobe city. The entire zone is under a canopy with strobes. It is unnerving, but you can’t see the actors makeup/costumes (sometimes not even the actors) or any props laying around. The thing is though, this zone works because of the strobes but also is held back because of them. It’s a crippling advantage.
CLEAVER BROTHERS CARNIVAL
I don’t really like clown mazes/scare zones (with the exceptions of maybe this and CarnEVIL at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom). It’s not because I’m scared of clowns; it’s the exact opposite. I don’t think evil clowns are menacing, scary, whatever. I think the fear of clowns is irrational. Unfortunately, that’s what these ENTIRELY rely on, the fact that a clown might jump in your face. Oftentimes clown haunts are badly executed, have boring costumes, and can even be annoying. This one though, has some dedicated performers (they are so awesome, especially Skittles) and a really fun atmosphere (lots of lights, props, and a neat soundtrack), as well as some very unique and cool looking costumes. I was pleasantly surprised by this zone.
I really love the unique theme of this zone, as well as the lighting and tons of fog. Also some cool setpieces and costume design. However, it’s just not scary. Very cool, but not scary.
Another theme I don’t like: the kids *insert thing here* gone wrong/creepy little girl (I’m not including Doll Factory in this genre). It’s not scary to me; in fact these haunts are often way too over the top “creepy” and can be annoying. They also tend to have very bland character design. This is is all of that. And it’s pretty small. The only thing going for this maze is the gusto and amount of the actors. There’s a TON of characters in here, which are all unique.
PRIMEVIL: THE KURU CURSE
I don’t like this scare zone. Cool theme, but horrible execution. There’s barely any actors, and they aren’t bad, but they’re not as good as the rest of the park. There’s only one big setpiece, which is so cool that I refrained from giving this zone a lower score. This thing is also REALLY short and REALLY narrow, so there’s no room to even walk around in this. Bleh.
That concludes my review of Kings Dominion Halloween Haunt 2016. This really is a fantastic event and I really enjoyed it. Did you attend this year? How did you like it? Let me know in the comment section!