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Early Haunt 2018 Reviews

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I didn't think this would be appropriate for Trip Reports as this thread is for reviews, not necessarily recalling your story.

I warned myself and others to manage their Haunt expectations, as it seemed that budget cuts would affect the over all product.  It many ways it clearly did.  In many ways I looked like an idiot for saying that.  So hear me out.

Chaos

Chaos is a new maze that I feel like really went under the radar.  The story is creative: a government agency is developing a drug.  A vapor version of the drug leaks out and it causes the people in there to go crazy.  I knew this because I read the description while waiting in line.  As you walk in, there are PVC pipes running along the walls and one is clearly cracked and spilling out the vapor.  So cool!  Unfortunately, if I hadn't read the description, I would have never known this.  I would have just been another "thing" in the room.  I'll never understand why telling the story is so hard with haunted mazes.  It was the same issue with Urgent Scare when it first opened: an awesome backstory that you would never know by going through the maze alone.  With that being said, the visuals inside the maze are nothing short of amazing.  The lighting is incredible and there are some awesome fog effects.

Blood Drums

Blood Drums has a new show this year.  By "new show" it's mainly reworking the old songs.  It seemed like there were a lot of slower parts for the new fire dancer.  The problem is if you aren't in the first row you can't see the fire dancer.  I saw several people walk up during the course of the show, see three guys tapping on things along with a lite beat, and just walk away confused.  They had a riser on the end of the stage almost all season. Why didn't they have it for this?  With that being said the lights are nothing short of incredible.  These are pre-placed Winterfest lights, so it's the good stuff.  They have a dozen or so spot lights that go nuts several times.  You can see the spots shoot up the Eiffel Tower from anywhere in the park.  This is my favorite improvement. 

Pumpkin Eater 

This is actually an amazing addition.  Pumpkin eater is themed to - you guessed it - pumpkins.  There are hundreds of lit up pumpkins along The Vortex/BLSC path.  It looks amazing once the sun goes down.  This one is very cool!!

Coney Maul

I'm on the fence about Coney Maul.  I love the chase lighting, but I still feel like the area is missing something.  There are about a dozen booths, which I presume are just part of the theme, but the group I was with as well as random people I would overhear asked, "when is this going to open?"  It has all of the old Planet Snoopy scare zone props but they are far more spread out.  I like the idea, I like the theme, it just gives out an unfinished feeling.

Wolf Pack

Wolf Pack has a new ending.  Allegedly.  We went through it to see it and it didn't work.  There is supposed to be some sort of animatronic which i've heard is cool.  The maze is fun and it's cool being back in the SOB station.  I like the wooded sections.  That's a little different.

Now time to be honest...

There was so much of the park with absolutely zero decor.  The path between BLSC and Diamondback used to be Backwood Bayou.  Now it's nothing.  That's a huge stretch that's not immersed in the experience.  Same with Planet Snoopy.  That was the scare zone that has since evolved into Coney Maul, but now it's nothing.  In fact, with the retirement of carnEVIL that whole section of the park is essentially closed.   A lot of this kind of contributed to a feeling like this was the first time doing this stuff.  As if these sections of the park were going to be added for future expansion.  I don't want to play down what the decor team did - what they had was absolutely amazing.  I know they've worked day and night and day and night over the past couple of weeks to get ready.  Maybe it's the budget cuts.  Maybe it's that the leadership in the entertainment department is new and a little wet behind the ears, but it just seemed like the park wasn't ready for us last night.  Still had fun, still would recommend the event.  

What did you think of Haunt this year?  What did you like and dislike?  How does it compare to previous years?

 

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After visiting last night, it felt totally dead (pun not intended). We were disappointed in the overall atmosphere, design and scenery, and lack of scare actors. We saw maybe 4 actors in Blackout. There was nearly nobody just roaming the park. It felt cheap.

That being said, the concept of CHAOS is really cool IMO. There is potential if they are willing to invest in it. 

Wolf Pack’s new animatronic was functional when we went through - very neat! 

We will be at Halloweekends next week and will hope that Haunt improves as we get into October.

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My first time visiting Haunt was in 2007, the first year it changed from Fearfest to Halloween Haunt. I was 11 at the time so I didn’t do any of the mazes that year. So I can’t say whether or not the mazes used to be better than they are now. I did however walk all the midways. As I can recall, back then there were a lot more scare actors and monsters roaming the park. Every path you turned down there were at least three or four roaming actors. And I loved having the big set up right inside the front gate with the undertaker.

I didn’t start visiting Haunt on a regular basis until 2015. I totally agree that in recent years, there are a lot less actors and monsters roaming the park. So in my opinion Haunt has gone downhill. I’m guessing part of the problem is that the park just has a hard time finding people who are willing to work for probably minimum-wage and scream at people all night. And now the park is faced with a new challenge of having to tear down Haunt stuff and get ready for Winterfest in a pretty short length of time. Perhaps that might be why there’s not as many decorations up now since they wouldn’t have enough time to transition.


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I put my thoughts in another thread, but I will say I agree with the lack of sceractors in undesignated scare zones. What I mean by this is that there were roaming scareactors in the 4 scarezones and (mostly) only there*. Walking through Planet Snoopy was a bit depressing lol. However, some kid (a guest) made growling noises in an attempt to scare people, which livened it up a bit (and I'm usually one to get annoyed at those kids/teens who try to scare their friends, but props to this future scareactor). I also thought the scareactors would utilize those circus facades in Coney Maul, but that didn't really happen (though I did see a pipe organ in one of them)

*I did see a few characters roaming outside scarezones (plague doctor, bird lady, etc.), along with some western people (like a sheriff guy) in Rivertown, 

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Having not been to Haunt since roughly 2012, I think my opinions differ a bit more than others here; I found there to be quite a lot of monsters out on the streets compared to in the past. At least Coney Mall finally had more than four actors for the entire strip as I had counted at least 15 or so milling about (at least that was with the combination of Maul, the creepers/sliders, and the queue line entertainment for Kill Mart). And I finally didn't have to deal with the one-two punch that was CarnEvil and Tombstone Terror-tory staying unchanged for almost ten years and refusing to fix major issues.

That said, what few mazes I went through last night (Bayou, Slaughterhouse, Cavern, and Kill Mart) had quality levels that were all over the place. They most certainly LOOKED nice (if only the excellent outdoor lighting systems were copied indoors), but aside from Slaughterhouse, the talent was just not into the role at all. Most would literally stand out in the open like (woefully out of place) statues and then slowly lunge at guests (thankfully the screamers were almost non-existent this go-around). It's like there weren't any clever ways of hiding their actors behind doors or drop panels or they simply just didn't care.

As for what BoddaH said about their storytelling abilities...yeah, they've never been successful in that regard, and you mentioned Urgent Scare as an example. I remember the idea behind the "outbreak" was supposed to be due to a release of an energy drink that proved fatal to the town the maze is set in...and yet there was absolutely no mention of said drink anywhere throughout the entire attraction except for the old Action Theater rotating marquee sign with both the logos for the maze and the drink (that remained stationary on the maze logo). And then, after WindSeeker debuted, the first and third acts of US (the riot scene queue line and the military outpost after the main hospital portion) were completely axed, so what little backstory they had that was never fully fleshed out was then gone.

Club Blood had a similar situation where the backstory for its inaugural season was that the club was built to draw human victims in not to simply kill them, but to use them as blood bags and hosts for vampire babies...that again was never fully explained or fleshed out, and was also removed for just more club scenes (although in this case, it made the maze slightly better). If you want to see a much better rendition of Club Blood with a properly fleshed out story, look up Knott's Scary Farm's version from 2008. 

Basically, if they want to tell a story, they better be dag-nab willing to fully commit to telling a cohesive and easy to follow story, or simply just stick to simple themes (see Kill Mart or Slaughterhouse).

Anyway, my initial review scores from the few attractions I did:

Cavern of Terror - 6/10

Wasteland - 6/10

Backwoods Bayou - 6/10

Coney Maul - 7/10

Kill Mart - 7/10

Slaughterhouse - 8/10

Pumpkin Eater - 9/10

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Last year was my first Haunt. In 2015 I did Halloweekends at CP and enjoyed it. So my comments are comparing last year to this year. Last year my husband and both absolutely loved haunt and went on and on about it and quite honestly this past Friday we were disappointed. I know some of it had to do with the weather. Last year I loved the show they had prior to opening the park and how the monsters were released, this year there was nothing.  We did cavern first and I like that it was dark and giving the flash lights. Planet Snoopy having nothing just seemed odd. Loved pumpkin eaters, best addition they had. As always loved slaughter house. Urgent scare was eh, no one really trying to scare. Loved field of screams and kill Mart was ok just not many scares. Now chaos on the other hand I thought was awful, hardly any actors in there and they weren't even trying. Coney maul has potential but I saw no clowns really trying to scare and basically saw them standing around talking. Makeup seemed really good this year. Hardly any scare actors walking around in other places. We didn't do would pack or blackout. Just the overall vibe wasn't there this year and our multiple attempts to eat that night were all not good.

I'm not giving up, I love KI and hope in weeks to come it will get better.

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If the past stays true the second weekend of Haunt always feels like more of the details are in place......there are many reasons for this, a big one has to do with the timing of the corporate sell-out weekends in September.  I would venture to say we will probably notice some additions throughout the park next weekend.

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Question for everyone: We went on Saturday night at about 7:30, and it took us about half an hour to get through the queue to get our season passes scanned. Is this normal for haunt, or was this out of the ordinary?

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I don't think so. It didn't seem like they starting letting people in at 7. I stood in the line from before 7 to 730 as well last night.  Longest I've ever waited to enter the park

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Went last night as well. It stinks. The scare zones look like they were done by a high school drama club raising money for their next production and I’m pretty sure the roaming scare actors spent more time talking to their friends out of character instead of actually doing their job. 

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The new show Haunted Homecoming was the worst Kings Island has ever had for Haunt or Fearfest in my opinion.  The lack of a good soundtrack and overall excitement just made this a sad show.  The story line quickly fell apart in the first two minutes. The show really belongs over in Planet Snoopy in the Barnyard theater.  Can Hot Blooded or Dead Awakenings please return next year and let this awful show RIP after one year?  Budget cuts so obvious.

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2 hours ago, Winterfestguy said:

The new show Haunted Homecoming was the worst Kings Island has ever had for Haunt or Fearfest in my opinion.  The lack of a good soundtrack and overall excitement just made this a sad show.  The story line quickly fell apart in the first two minutes. The show really belongs over in Planet Snoopy in the Barnyard theater.  Can Hot Blooded or Dead Awakenings please return next year and let this awful show RIP after one year?  Budget cuts so obvious.

The problem with Haunted Homecoming is that it was written for a different park in what I assume is a smaller venue; I think Cedar Fair pretty much foisted it on the folks at Kings Island and they did their best with it.  The soundtrack is poor and I think it just spotlights how good KiE's original works have been over the years.  I feel bad for the performers who are working really hard to make this material as good as possible.

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3 minutes ago, Kirk Sheppard said:

The problem with Haunted Homecoming is that it was written for a different park in what I assume is a smaller venue; I think Cedar Fair pretty much foisted it on the folks at Kings Island and they did their best with it.  The soundtrack is poor and I think it just spotlights how good KiE's original works have been over the years.  I feel bad for the performers who are working really hard to make this material as good as possible.

If by "smaller venue" you mean on a midway during the day then you hit the nail on the head.

 

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17 hours ago, Phoebestar said:

Question for everyone: We went on Saturday night at about 7:30, and it took us about half an hour to get through the queue to get our season passes scanned. Is this normal for haunt, or was this out of the ordinary?

No, Toyota had a private event from 10am-7pm on Saturday. The general public was allowed in starting at 7pm and crowds started to form around 5pm to get in Saturday. No more private events this year, so normal Saturday hours are 11am-1am until October 27. You should have no problems.

 

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I went with my family yesterday so I can't weigh in on the scare zones...but I felt like the decorations in the entrance were sad compared to years past from what I remember...at least in the daylight. We loved Pumpkin Eater, that was really neat. I can't wait to see it in the dark. I agree with what some of the others said..that it was a half-done effort. But maybe one of the other posts is right and we will see more decorations added now that the corporate events are over. Or...the theory that breaking down Haunt for Winterfest isn't worth the extra decor given the short time frame. Who knows. I really enjoyed the light crowds yesterday and all of the food I had was amazing! 

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I mostly enjoyed Haunted Homecoming. It is mostly fun and goofy. And I think I probably will end up doing the Time Warp with friends in the aisle at some point this season... 

I was never a big fan of Hot Blooded beyond appreciation for the water curtain. There were some good performances in the show but mostly I was left uncomfortable. It was a show that was trying desperately to be sexy and edgy, but just never came through with any chemistry. HHC manages to sidestep that by having the interactions between the performers be purposefully a bit corny, and gives the backstory of it being a high school show-choir (albeit back from the dead).

All in all, it's goofy, corny, and fun, rather than spooky, dark, or edgy. I enjoyed most of the song selections, and they were by-and-large well performed.

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I will miss hearing the explosions reverberating throughout the park at the end of Hot Blooded shows, though. 

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On 9/23/2018 at 8:14 PM, Winterfestguy said:

The new show Haunted Homecoming was the worst Kings Island has ever had for Haunt or Fearfest in my opinion.  The lack of a good soundtrack and overall excitement just made this a sad show.  The story line quickly fell apart in the first two minutes. The show really belongs over in Planet Snoopy in the Barnyard theater.  Can Hot Blooded or Dead Awakenings please return next year and let this awful show RIP after one year?  Budget cuts so obvious.

The only part of the show we liked, including a 10 year old girl was Time Warp, but that's cause she knew the song. So yeah I'd say scoot to Barnyard.

We only hit up the wax museum opening night the kid was laughing all the way through when she wasn't getting startled so A+ to her. Spent the rest of the time riding coaster in the dark (novelty for a kid that hasn't done em at night). Scare zones were cool but Coney Maul seemed a bit too spread out IMO. Pumpkin Eater area she got startled enough to run at one point so that was hilarious cause she instantly started laughing at herself for running when she swore she'd "never run". Sat waiting on Blood Drums and creepers came out when were "soooo awesome!!!!" All in all hopefully I get another weekend off work we can go back.

Side note: had some guest from a group come up while we were smoking asking to BUY a lighter in the smoking area, we offered to let him borrow but didn't want to do that, hmmm. I may be older but only remember refusing to light up with witnesses for one reason eons ago....

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On 9/23/2018 at 11:09 PM, Kirk Sheppard said:

The problem with Haunted Homecoming is that it was written for a different park in what I assume is a smaller venue; I think Cedar Fair pretty much foisted it on the folks at Kings Island and they did their best with it.  The soundtrack is poor and I think it just spotlights how good KiE's original works have been over the years.  I feel bad for the performers who are working really hard to make this material as good as possible.

Or someone got butthurt over Hot Blooded being “too inappropriate” (obviously not paying attention to the many warnings before the show) so they had to result to this.

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If they’re going to keep using other Cedar Fair Haunt concepts, I hope we get Zombie High School next year (Enchanted Theatre?!)

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19 hours ago, Magenta Lizard said:

I will miss hearing the explosions reverberating throughout the park at the end of Hot Blooded shows, though. 

Don't forget the screams from guests that followed the explosions. That was priceless.

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35 minutes ago, ki95 said:

Or someone got butthurt over Hot Blooded being “too inappropriate” (obviously not paying attention to the many warnings before the show) so they had to result to this.

I don’t think it would have lasted 10 years if that were the case. I think the show was retired as planned (was actually supposed to be retired last year) and someone thought this show was a suitable replacement.

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On 9/22/2018 at 8:41 PM, RingMaster said:

...but aside from Slaughterhouse, the talent was just not into the role at all.

Slaughterhouse - 8/10

I'll take this as a win for Slaughterhouse.  Sam says it was good seeing you again the other night!

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 I want to do a Haunt sometime. It's tough for me to drive the 2 hours over there to hang out though, because other than the rides, we have a phenomenal experience about 25 minutes up 69 from me. I am a haunt nut, and love looking at the production quality of the set ups. 

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Those people pretending to be statues, I mean those are really cool that’s one prediction that I have although I do believe the last time I saw one of those was in 2014.

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