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USA Today Poll Ranks Kings Island's Halloween Haunt as #1


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After 4 weeks of spirited voting, Kings Island’s Halloween Haunt has been named the Best Theme Park Halloween Event in the country. Halloween Haunt was nominated by a panel of theme park industry experts along with 19 other theme park Halloween events. Rules allowed the public the right to vote online for one nominee per category, per day. After a hiatus in 2020 due to Covid. Halloween Haunt returns on September 24th, 2021 ever Friday and Saturday nights through October 30th.

To see more details about Halloween Haunt visit: https://www.visitkingsisland.com/events/haunt/attractions

For KICentral discussions about the 2021 season of Halloween Haunt visit: https://kicentral.com/forums/index.php?/topic/38024-kings-island-haunt-2021

 

 

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Congratulations to Kings Island! I know what many people are going to say in regards to cutting mazes, but in Kings Island’s view, they think they must be doing something right.

I do actually think Kings Island’s fall lineup is better this year than ever before because now there is both the Tricks and Treats Fall Fest and Halloween Haunt. I know Kings Island cut two mazes from Halloween Haunt, but I think Tricks and Treats Fall Fest more than makes up for it.

As to why Kings Island won the award for Halloween Haunt, this award is like a golden ticket. It really doesn’t mean anything.

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4 hours ago, IndyGuy4KI said:

After 4 weeks of spirited voting, Kings Island’s Halloween Haunt has been named the Best Theme Park Halloween Event in the country. 

Thank goodness...that should help them be able to fill the park...even more...if that's possible. 

(I am happy that the event received recognition...just hate the insane Saturday crowds.)

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36 minutes ago, standbyme said:

Thank goodness...that should help them be able to fill the park...even more...if that's possible. 

(I am happy that the event received recognition...just hate the insane Saturday crowds.)

I know people don’t like going on crowded days, but crowds are what bring in the revenue. There are more people paying admission, go food, and for Fast Lane. If Kings Island did not see huge crowds, we wouldn’t have received rides like Diamondback, Banshee, Mystic Timbers, and Orion.

I actually like seeing the park really busy because I know that it what we need to get more investment in the future. Also, when the park is busy, it is still possible to have fun. I always know too that I can come back on a rainy day or a weekday when crowds will be lighter if not very, very minimal. But I know many people only can visit Kings Island once per year. These people could either be greeted with light crowds or heavy crowds, but either way, I still think it is possible to have fun without getting every attraction in. For people worried about getting all of the rides and attractions in, Kings Island offers Fast Lane which is actually a really good value on crowded days.

I know a lot of people want to go particularly during Halloween Haunt, and with the limited operating days, it is nearly impossible to go when crowds are light. That’s just the unfortunate reality of the event, however, and adding days to their Halloween Haunt schedule wouldn’t be practical for Kings Island. Unlike other states, workers under the age of 18 can’t drive past 11:00 PM on school nights in Ohio. This is probably why Cedar Point is only staying open until 10:00 PM on Sundays instead of 12:00 AM like Canada’s Wonderland, Carowinds, and Kings Dominion. I still don’t understand how Cedar Point is managing to stay open until 12:00 AM on Thursday nights, but I assume that they can still get the needed staff because they don’t open until the evening.

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@FUN&ONLY! I wouldn’t necessarily say Fast Lane is a “really good value”. Do you realize that on a Saturday in October for a Fast Lane+ the cost has now skyrocketed to $125.00. That is more than a Gold Pass for a whole year of attendance! One of those two prices is wrong…you choose.

I have never missed a year of Fearfest or Halloween Haunt…so I know from experience just how much it has changed.


Since I live in Illinois I do not have the luxury of “popping over” to the park on a slow/rainy day….and I understand that you are wise enough to see this side…but that still puts me in a no win situation. When the weather is nice, there are usually shoulder-to-shoulder crowds on Saturday nights on the main drags. I can always judge just how crowded the park is by looking at the crowd on the pathway over by White Water Canyon that heads towards Mystic Timbers….if you stand on top of the hill by the bathrooms and look towards LaRosa’s it can be both amazing and depressing at the same time.  
I have seen photos of crowds at Walt Disney World on Christmas Day that look similar!

Anyway, I digress, with the way the crowds are…of mostly season pass holders visiting multiple times….my family usually has three choices:

1. Just don’t go…which I haven’t been able to actually do, yet.

2. Get as much in during the daytime and endure the crowds as long as we can at night…then head back to the hotel to swim.

3. Fork over the money for Fast Lane passes…we don’t even usually consider buying the Fright Lane passes…7 Fast Lane+ Passes would cost me $850.00 plus processing fee this year! That is an expensive day…at least for me it is…and that’s not including food, souvenirs…etc..

(If nothing else, how about a family discount on Fast Lane passes?)

I have said it over and over, why can’t the park just go back to making this an up charge event…nothing major…just enough to thin the herd. 

(If you made it all the way through my rant…thanks for caring about my opinion. :P )

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2 hours ago, standbyme said:

@FUN&ONLY! I wouldn’t necessarily say Fast Lane is a “really good value”. Do you realize that on a Saturday in October for a Fast Lane+ the cost has now skyrocketed to $125.00. That is more than a Gold Pass for a whole year of attendance! One of those two prices is wrong…you choose.

I have never missed a year of Fearfest or Halloween Haunt…so I know from experience just how much it has changed.


Since I live in Illinois I do not have the luxury of “popping over” to the park on a slow/rainy day….and I understand that you are wise enough to see this side…but that still puts me in a no win situation. When the weather is nice, there are usually shoulder-to-shoulder crowds on Saturday nights on the main drags. I can always judge just how crowded the park is by looking at the crowd on the pathway over by White Water Canyon that heads towards Mystic Timbers….if you stand on top of the hill by the bathrooms and look towards LaRosa’s it can be both amazing and depressing at the same time.  
I have seen photos of crowds at Walt Disney World on Christmas Day that look similar!

Anyway, I digress, with the way the crowds are…of mostly season pass holders visiting multiple times….my family usually has three choices:

1. Just don’t go…which I haven’t been able to actually do, yet.

2. Get as much in during the daytime and endure the crowds as long as we can at night…then head back to the hotel to swim.

3. Fork over the money for Fast Lane passes…we don’t even usually consider buying the Fright Lane passes…7 Fast Lane+ Passes would cost me $850.00 plus processing fee this year! That is an expensive day…at least for me it is…and that’s not including food, souvenirs…etc..

(If nothing else, how about a family discount on Fast Lane passes?)

I have said it over and over, why can’t the park just go back to making this an up charge event…nothing major…just enough to thin the herd. 

(If you made it all the way through my rant…thanks for caring about my opinion. :P )

I do see your side of the argument. I know Fast Lane is expensive, but if you do fork over the money, you really can ride everything unlike at Cedar Point. However, when you go with a larger family (like in your situation), it isn’t very practical to buy that many Fast Lane passes and spend a small fortune. I do think the Gold Passes are a little too cheap. Fast Lane should never cost more than the price of all season entry into the park and a Fast Lane pass that you get when buying or renewing a Gold Pass.

In your situation, the best bet it to go on a rainy Halloween Haunt day, but that is almost impossible to plan for in advance. Nevertheless, if you decide to go, I hope you enjoy your time even if it is crowded.

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12 hours ago, coaster sally said:

Halloween horror nights is an upcharge event and it didn't even win USA today's contest.

 

I partially feel like there's a certain "weight" to that stuff. HHN is run by Universal, a movie company, so they have access to IP and certain cinematic elements at their disposal. Not that HHN isn't a good event, in fact I'm arguing the opposite... I feel like their event is guaranteed to be good.

I mean look at this

 

I don't know if their use of IPs gives them an unfair advantage or not.

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21 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

I partially feel like there's a certain "weight" to that stuff. HHN is run by Universal, a movie company, so they have access to IP and certain cinematic elements at their disposal. Not that HHN isn't a good event, in fact I'm arguing the opposite... I feel like their event is guaranteed to be good.

I mean look at this

 

I don't know if their use of IPs gives them an unfair advantage or not.

Eh sometimes I enjoy originality over an IP theme. IPs have to meet higher expectations than an original theme. 

Also I noticed quite a few of the other top 10 include the activities with admission vs a big upcharge to experience with Uni or Disney. 

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5 minutes ago, PatchesC said:

Eh sometimes I enjoy originality over an IP theme. IPs have to meet higher expectations than an original theme. 

Also I noticed quite a few of the other top 10 include the activities with admission vs a big upcharge to experience with Uni or Disney. 

No I completely agree. I prefer originality over IPs, I'm merely arguing that IPs can give an unfair advantage.

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On 9/11/2021 at 9:18 PM, SonofBaconator said:

I partially feel like there's a certain "weight" to that stuff. HHN is run by Universal, a movie company, so they have access to IP and certain cinematic elements at their disposal. Not that HHN isn't a good event, in fact I'm arguing the opposite... I feel like their event is guaranteed to be good.

I mean look at this

 

I don't know if their use of IPs gives them an unfair advantage or not.

To put things in perspective, when HHN did a Walking Dead maze a few years ago many found it disappointing because there was nothing special to it. Just a typical zombie theme.  If a maze half that good was at Kings Island we’d still be talking about it in 10 years. Of course by year 2 they’d only staff it with 3 scare actors and the whole concept would be ruined. 
 

Many of the IPs HHN uses aren’t Universal properties. They pay for at least 2/3rds.  I do agree that without IPs it gives freedom of originality, but with very little money and very little creative effort you end up with your “new” maze being a corn field theme on its 14th year, 3rd name, and 4th location (well, back to the original spot so it’s moved 3 times). 
 

No one in their right mind thinks KI’s Haunt is the #1 in the USA and HHN isn’t a top 10. The difference is when you have the park and sycophantic Facebook groups posting about it over and over then yes - you’re going to get votes. If USF had tweeted once at 3am on a Tuesday that they were looking for votes then they would have won. They didn’t because they don’t care. They know they’re the best.  They don’t need USA Today or Readers Digest. They sell out every night without them. See also: Disney and Universal rarely even show up to the Golden Ticket Award ceremony. That would be like the US Army getting involved in a kids water balloon fight.   

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9 hours ago, BoddaH1994 said:

To put things in perspective, when HHN did a Walking Dead maze a few years ago many found it disappointing because there was nothing special to it. Just a typical zombie theme.  If a maze half that good was at Kings Island we’d still be talking about it in 10 years. Of course by year 2 they’d only staff it with 3 scare actors and the whole concept would be ruined. 
 

Many of the IPs HHN uses aren’t Universal properties. They pay for at least 2/3rds.  I do agree that without IPs it gives freedom of originality, but with very little money and very little creative effort you end up with your “new” maze being a corn field theme on its 14th year, 3rd name, and 4th location (well, back to the original spot so it’s moved 3 times). 
 

No one in their right mind thinks KI’s Haunt is the #1 in the USA and HHN isn’t a top 10. The difference is when you have the park and sycophantic Facebook groups posting about it over and over then yes - you’re going to get votes. If USF had tweeted once at 3am on a Tuesday that they were looking for votes then they would have won. They didn’t because they don’t care. They know they’re the best.  They don’t need USA Today or Readers Digest. They sell out every night without them. See also: Disney and Universal rarely even show up to the Golden Ticket Award ceremony. That would be like the US Army getting involved in a kids water balloon fight.   

And to go along with this, as long as the park continues to win this meaningless fan popularity contest, why invest in improving the product?  If the park going guests think highly enough of it as it is right now that they "stuff the ballots" for KI to win this, then "why fix what ain't broke"...

As pointed out, we get a "new" maze being a corn field theme on its 14th year under 3 different names and as many locations...a lot less expensive to do that they create something new every two years.

This year we get Haunt like it's a 2019 watered down event and win a popularity contest as best Halloween attraction by the people that will actually attend the event (compared to a ranking that could be done by non-biased "industry experts").  Easy to see why the powers that be provide very little budget for the event.  Haunt Saturdays tend to already be very well attended, so spending X amount more will not bring in enough guests to justify the additional expenditure (if the park could even handle much more)....

What incentive is there to put any more effort and budget into it?  As long as the guests continue to come and vote to make it the #1 Haunt event, we will continue down this path...

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5 hours ago, disco2000 said:

And to go along with this, as long as the park continues to win this meaningless fan popularity contest, why invest in improving the product?  If the park going guests think highly enough of it as it is right now that they "stuff the ballots" for KI to win this, then "why fix what ain't broke"...

As pointed out, we get a "new" maze being a corn field theme on its 14th year under 3 different names and as many locations...a lot less expensive to do that they create something new every two years.

This year we get Haunt like it's a 2019 watered down event and win a popularity contest as best Halloween attraction by the people that will actually attend the event (compared to a ranking that could be done by non-biased "industry experts").  Easy to see why the powers that be provide very little budget for the event.  Haunt Saturdays tend to already be very well attended, so spending X amount more will not bring in enough guests to justify the additional expenditure (if the park could even handle much more)....

What incentive is there to put any more effort and budget into it?  As long as the guests continue to come and vote to make it the #1 Haunt event, we will continue down this path...

What’s going to happen when there are tens of thousands of people in the park on a Saturday and there’s far far less to do? Are teens going to wait 3 hours for the mazes or are they going to drop the gloves in Coney Mall again?  Even if that doesn’t happen, is the average paying guest going to have a good experience waiting all that time? Are they going to come back, or will the only people having a fun the ones that are doing things they should?

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4 minutes ago, BoddaH1994 said:

What’s going to happen when there are tens of thousands of people in the park on a Saturday and there’s far far less to do? Are teens going to wait 3 hours for the mazes or are they going to drop the gloves in Coney Mall again?  Even if that doesn’t happen, is the average paying guest going to have a good experience waiting all that time? Are they going to come back, or will the only people having a fun the ones that are doing things they should?

True, but despite the long Fast Lane lines at Cedar Point, issues, anecdotal accounts of parks being busier than in the past (since CF claims attendance is down despite park goer observations); other issues at parks, etc. CF execs said on the conference call that guest satisfaction surveys are high and in some cases record highs ("We have also witnessed this firsthand at Knott's Berry Farm where we achieved some of our highest customer satisfaction scores...")

CF said they made more money the 10 weeks leading into Labor Day 2021 than they did for the same period pre-pandemic 2019 and this is despite less operating hours, higher labor rates, majority of passholders were rollovers without much "new" pass revenue, and supposedly a 20% reduction in attendance.  Who would have thought the per caps spending would have jumped so much.  If true, it then shows that they can make money with less attendance.

Most here would say that the offerings of the parks this year were less than previous years (discounting 2020 for obvious reasons), yet on the parameters that CF looks at, attendance is the only one that is down chainwide, most likely due to CW late opening and restrictions and less operating days.

Sadly it appears that we are in the minority in this thinking regarding a degraded experience.  If people are willing to pay $250 for a FL+ on Saturdays at CP and still experience hour plus waits, then clearly the price of the admission to get in is deemed too low by the majority of guest that attend so they just accept that the longer lines come with cheaper entry...

Social Media exploded this year with people saying CP is too busy this year and it is the last time they attend, blah blah blah...and watch come October we will hear the same overcrowding complaints we have heard the past several years.

As long as the crowds and per cap increases continue, why invest they say...

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2 hours ago, disco2000 said:

True, but despite the long Fast Lane lines at Cedar Point, issues, anecdotal accounts of parks being busier than in the past (since CF claims attendance is down despite park goer observations); other issues at parks, etc. CF execs said on the conference call that guest satisfaction surveys are high and in some cases record highs ("We have also witnessed this firsthand at Knott's Berry Farm where we achieved some of our highest customer satisfaction scores...")

CF said they made more money the 10 weeks leading into Labor Day 2021 than they did for the same period pre-pandemic 2019 and this is despite less operating hours, higher labor rates, majority of passholders were rollovers without much "new" pass revenue, and supposedly a 20% reduction in attendance.  Who would have thought the per caps spending would have jumped so much.  If true, it then shows that they can make money with less attendance.

Most here would say that the offerings of the parks this year were less than previous years (discounting 2020 for obvious reasons), yet on the parameters that CF looks at, attendance is the only one that is down chainwide, most likely due to CW late opening and restrictions and less operating days.

Sadly it appears that we are in the minority in this thinking regarding a degraded experience.  If people are willing to pay $250 for a FL+ on Saturdays at CP and still experience hour plus waits, then clearly the price of the admission to get in is deemed too low by the majority of guest that attend so they just accept that the longer lines come with cheaper entry...

Social Media exploded this year with people saying CP is too busy this year and it is the last time they attend, blah blah blah...and watch come October we will hear the same overcrowding complaints we have heard the past several years.

As long as the crowds and per cap increases continue, why invest they say...

Have to wonder how much of the stimulus has to do with per cap spending.  With the monthly checks a family with 4 children gets $1000 a month that's alot of extra cash floating around.  It ends in December so next year we will feel the effects.  It will also be a big surprise to people when they file their taxes next year because the cash they are getting now is what they would usually deduct on their tax return.  So basically those refunds people usually get may be lower or they may end up owing taxes.

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51 minutes ago, robintodd said:

Have to wonder how much of the stimulus has to do with per cap spending.  With the monthly checks a family with 4 children gets $1000 a month that's alot of extra cash floating around.  It ends in December so next year we will feel the effects.  It will also be a big surprise to people when they file their taxes next year because the cash they are getting now is what they would usually deduct on their tax return.  So basically those refunds people usually get may be lower or they may end up owing taxes.

I don’t know if the taxes thing is correct. I know there was a rumor that you had to pay back the stimulus and that wasn’t true. I know you have to pay taxes on unemployment. I’d like to think that most people who visited had jobs. lol  What I’m more concerned with is the pent up demand easing so they visit the first few months and there is very little to do besides standing in the hot sun waiting in lines for rides and they won’t make many return visits. 

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The child payment is not considered taxable income.  They only have to pay back if their tax filing status changes - like this year they made more than the previous and it bumped them to the next tax bracket, divorce, that sort of thing.

From my observations, not many were deterred by long lines and made several visits.  I believe we will hear at the end of year results call that the number of times a pass was used per person will be up this year over pre-pandemic numbers.

The bigger question that plays into your concern is when the stimulus/child credit dries up, will these same families then purchase a pass or will they decide to spend their money elsewhere based on their experiences this year.  

Many of us have predicted that the short term gains CF tends to employ will come back to bite them long term.  One of these days we will be right LOL.

 

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15 hours ago, disco2000 said:

The child payment is not considered taxable income.  They only have to pay back if their tax filing status changes - like this year they made more than the previous and it bumped them to the next tax bracket, divorce, that sort of thing.

From my observations, not many were deterred by long lines and made several visits.  I believe we will hear at the end of year results call that the number of times a pass was used per person will be up this year over pre-pandemic numbers.

The bigger question that plays into your concern is when the stimulus/child credit dries up, will these same families then purchase a pass or will they decide to spend their money elsewhere based on their experiences this year.  

Many of us have predicted that the short term gains CF tends to employ will come back to bite them long term.  One of these days we will be right LOL.

 

I believe I didn't make my point clear.  My point is in the past people would use the tax credit when they filed their taxes thus receiving the credit on a lump sum, and increasing the refund they would get or decreasing the amount of taxes they owe.  What the tax act is doing is allowing people to receive the credit over months (like a payment plan).  In that instance they won't have the lump sum amount to claim as a tax credit on their taxes when they file.  These monthly payments were automatic and you had to opt out of them.  Some families may have a surprise bill coming next April if they didn't plan accordingly. 

That being said one of the sites did say that  1 million families have already opted to forgo the monthly payments in favor of the lump sum when they file.  Some families in the past may have used a tax return for a vacation but if that total is reduced by $3,000 (more for over 1 child) they may find themselves not going on that vacation.  Instead they were spending the money all along which may account for some of the raised per-cap spending in the parks.  

Just my 2 cents.

BTW, the current administration is wanting to extend the child tax credits till 2025.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/26/opting-out-of-monthly-child-tax-credit-payments-makes-sense-for-some-.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit/

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3 hours ago, robintodd said:

I believe I didn't make my point clear.  My point is in the past people would use the tax credit when they filed their taxes thus receiving the credit on a lump sum, and increasing the refund they would get or decreasing the amount of taxes they owe.  What the tax act is doing is allowing people to receive the credit over months (like a payment plan).  In that instance they won't have the lump sum amount to claim as a tax credit on their taxes when they file.  These monthly payments were automatic and you had to opt out of them.  Some families may have a surprise bill coming next April if they didn't plan accordingly. 

That being said one of the sites did say that  1 million families have already opted to forgo the monthly payments in favor of the lump sum when they file.  Some families in the past may have used a tax return for a vacation but if that total is reduced by $3,000 (more for over 1 child) they may find themselves not going on that vacation.  Instead they were spending the money all along which may account for some of the raised per-cap spending in the parks.  

Just my 2 cents.

BTW, the current administration is wanting to extend the child tax credits till 2025.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/26/opting-out-of-monthly-child-tax-credit-payments-makes-sense-for-some-.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/child-tax-credit/

We opted out because with the 2020 tax filing the only thing that saved us from paying was the child tax credit for one kid. But I also worked double my normal hours due to lack of people, so it put us in a much higher tax bracket. 

I'd rather put off getting a refund than possibly need to come up with money to pay back. 

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Back on topic I for one am proud of KI winning this award.  Seems to me like a USA today poll is much more "diverse" of a voting pool than amusement park fan boys for the golden ticket awards.  To be clear the USA today poll would also include people who do not necesarially have their finger on the amusement park pulse.  Either way kudo's to the home team.  It's a recognition well deserved!

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