Haunt 2012: The Full Review

©KDFans 2012
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A few things to think about before reading this review: I went on a Sunday and again on a Saturday. This review is based off both of those experiences. Sometimes the house can fluctuate in quality drastically depending on when you experience them. Actors could be tired or some actors could be on break; no matter the reason, the point is that mazes can be very different from one day to the next. Remember that this review is based on going through each house twice over the span of two different weekends.  Anyway, enough stalling, lets get to the reviews.

Houses

 

 

 

Each house will be judged on two aspects: First, the quality of the house itself. This will take into account the theming quality, atmosphere, hiding places, music, location, etc. Secondly, each house will be rated on how well staffed it feels and how well I think the actors are working their attraction. Each of those to criteria will be worth five points each resulting in a maximum total of ten points per attraction.

Club Blood:

 

House Positives:
  • Excellent Theming
  • Excellent Use of Space
Cast Positives:
  • Great Hiding Spots
  • Very enthusiastic

 

House Negatives:
  • The ending is dark and hard to navigate
Cast Negatives:
  • None

 

Personally, this is one of my favorite maze at the park. It really gives the feel that you’re at a club with all the girls dancing on the stripper poles barely wearing any clothes and the monsters jumping out at you as you’re dancing your way through. The level of detail as you’re walking through is something I really enjoyed. My favorite room to walk through is the bathroom with the cracked sinks and the bloody toilets. One thing that was weird in a way was towards the end it was really difficult to see; therefore, there was lots of running into walls and other people. I would say one of the creepier or scarier parts of the was when you walk through the hall of mirrors. Sometimes the mirrors are angled so someone can hide behind them while you’re distracted by all the mirrors. Overall, the atmosphere of the maze was great and I loved it. Even though it wasn’t all that scary to me it was a fun maze to go through.

Toxic Plague:

 

House Positives:
  • Excellent lighting
  • Great theming inside & out
Cast Positives:
  • Good costumes
  • Very enthusiastic

 

House Negatives:
  • A lot of empty space
Cast Negatives:
  • Boring
  • Understaffed

 

There was a lot of downsides to this maze this year. A lot having to do with the changes that were made inside of the building itself. There was lots of rooms that was just a room and no actors which made it kinda lame. The actors that were there were very boring and only moved around creepily. There isn’t much to talk about for this maze. Hopefully this maze will meet the chopping block next year and we can see something new in its place.

Medieval Macabre:

 

House Positives:
  • Easy to Navigate
  • Open floor plan
  • Excellent Theming
Cast Positives:
  • High Energy
  • Great use of props

 

 

House Negatives:
  • Photobooth Line Tends to Block Main Path
Cast Negatives:
  • None

 

I’ve got to say, this maze was really something. The actors in this one put tons of effort into their scares. Even when the line got backed up, the actors were still on the move scaring people. One came up and stared at me and followed me around until he reached the end of his area. That is when I had confidence that the rest of the maze would be good. One of the best parts of the maze is that it’s not predictable. The actors carried amazing props also. One moment I’m distracted by a prop that resembles an axe stuck in a girl, then I look up and an actor is running at me with an axe. That was probably my favorite part of the maze.

Slaughterhouse:

 

House Positives:
  • Realistic Props
  • Great Layout
Cast Positives:
  • Energetic
  • Well-designed Costumes

 

House Negatives:
  • None
Cast Negatives:
  • None

 

This maze has to have to the most detailed theming of any house that I have been through. I loved almost everything about this house. I’m trying to think of negatives, but nothing comes to mind. This maze was also one of the scarier ones at the park. There was a lot of energy in the actors. There isn’t much to say about this without repeating the words of amazing theming and amazing actors. So I will leave this with a ten out of ten.

The Doll Factory:

 

House Positives:
  • Easy Navigation
  • Distinctive Layout
Cast Positives:
  • Well Positioned
  • Fantastic Costumes
  • Well-designed Costumes

 

House Negatives:
  • Lack of a Ceiling Hurts the House’s Atmosphere
Cast Negatives:
  • None

 

The rating above is a 10/10 even with there being something under the house negatives section; however, I feel that the problem is too small to deduct a point. It isn’t notable to the average person. This maze is by far one of the creepiest, most notably when walking into the receptionist office and finding two naked barbie dolls sitting on the lady’s desk as she welcomes you in a creepy, disturbing voice. The objects and actors have reached new levels of creepiness with doll heads and the way they position their bodies and move around. This maze receives a ten out of ten for its excellence.

OutBreak: The Evolution:

 

House Positives:
  • A Few Great Props
Cast Positives:
  • Provided Some Nice Scares
  • Fairly Good Costumes

 

House Negatives:
  • Short
Cast Negatives:
  • Occasionally Lacking the Energy Found in Other Houses

 

I had high hopes for this maze, but it didn’t reach up to it’s potential. The location that this maze sits in (Flight of Fear Queue Line) has lots of alien-type props. But when entering the maze there wasn’t a lot of stuff to look at. The layout was just going through a series of switchbacks. The maze could have been made a lot better with a better layout and more props. Most of the props were just placed along the wall with a pathway in the middle to walk. I do have to say the props were very well done, but would have been better if there was a better layout for better placement instead of a straight line. The actors were making up for this with their amazing looking costumes and their energy. Some actors occasionally would start lacking energy, but not many.

Camp Killauee:

 

House Positives:
  • Setting Fits the Theme Perfectly
  • Lots of Neat Little Details
  • First Aid Room is Particularly Fantastic
Cast Positives:
  • Great Hiding Places
  • Some Superb Actors- Especially Towards The End

 

 

House Negatives:
  • Some Overly Narrow Pathways
Cast Negatives:
  • Lack of Spontaneity. Much of the Cast Acted Very Predictably

 

This maze astounded me from the beginning. Walking up to the entrance really gives the feeling that the maze is going to be good. There’s not too much that I disliked about this maze, but there’s a lot that I loved. I will start with what I disliked. First, the first section of walkways is very skinny and provides only forward and backward movement. Also, when going along the small pathway, the actors would hide behind trees next the pathway which made the scares very predictable. There was some very nice scares but the majority of them were dull throughout this stretch of the maze. Occasionally they would set up a distraction scare, but the majority of the people would just jump out from behind a tree. Now onto the positive. I will say again the theming was excellent. It was exactly like walking through a creepy camp ground. The actors in the small wooden walkway had lots of energy and would provide good scares. My favorite was the end when an actor came running out of a shed with a chainsaw chasing the group until his extension cord ran out. This maze is receiving an eight out of ten mainly because of the actors that didn’t put much effort into their scares on the small pathway.

Cornstalkers:

 

House Positives:
  • Stunning Lighting Setup
  • Great Costumes that Blend with the Environment Perfectly
  • Cornfields Are Creepy as Hell
Cast Positives:
  • Great Hiding Places
  • Fantastic Startle-scares
  • Very High-energy

 

 

House Negatives:
  • None at All
Cast Negatives:
  • Some Additional Staff Would be Very Much Appreciated
  • The Bungee Scare at the End is Very Disappointing. Not an Ounce of Cover

 

Because Evan didn’t get to go though Cornstalkers (it was closed due to weather) he requested that I (Zachary) write up a review for it. Well, here it is:

 

I’m not going to lie, coming from BGWFans, it feels a little odd to be giving a house a perfect score, but, well, Cornstalkers deserved it. Not only is the cornfield theme a fantastic concept, but it’s also pulled off remarkably well. Even though I had heard nothing but praise about Cornstalkers from others, I was a little worried when I walked up and saw how bright the area was. Coming from Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Howl-O-Scream, bright houses are normally a very, very bad thing. Well, after stepping a few feet into the house, all my concerns were erased. Blinding lighting is used perfectly in this house. Though the area is quite bright (likely out of necessity because of its location) nearly every straight area in the house provides a perfectly placed blinding light. It may just be because I’m not used to this effect, but I actually found the lights to be more effective than the darkness that you’d find in a more traditionally lit house like Club Blood or The Doll Factory. Additionally, the costumes and hiding places are perfect. I’m normally very good at picking out where actors are hiding but between the costumes, the house layout, and the lighting, I found it to be completely impossible. This was, by far, my favorite house of the night and I’m glad I got to review this one instead of, say, Club Blood which would have probably come out to be quite the negative review. Contrary to popular belief, I actually do prefer writing positive reviews. Anyway, back to Evan with his review of the park’s only new house this year, No Vacancy.

No Vacancy:

 

House Positives:
  • Amazing Props
  • Stunning Set Design
Cast Positives:
  • Active but Confined by the House’s Setup

 

 

House Negatives:
  • Airbag Hallway Felt Too Long
  • Severe Lack of Hiding Places
Cast Negatives:
  • Not Enough Actors to Make it Effective

 

 

I’m going to start with of how great they used this space (the left theater in the action theater). The left theater hasn’t been used in years and I was happy to see it being used for something useful. Now onto other things, this maze had spectacular theming. I would compare it to walking into a five star hotel, but with zombies all over. The actors were not acting up to par. The house layout was made to mirror a hotel, but the downside of that is a hotel has lots of empty hallways and that’s what it felt like. Walking down a lot of hallways and people randomly jumping out. One of the hallways is what I like to call the “airbag hallway” which is just a long hallway that has 2 very long sheets getting blown into with fans and you walk in between the two. Now it was really cool… at the beginning but it was super long and it just got a little boring and annoying. Overall the theming and props used for this maze were amazing, but the actors dropped the score down a lot leaving with a seven out of ten.

Blue Ridge Bloodbath:

 

House Positives:
  • Creative Use of a Classic Attraction
  • Quite Well Themed
Cast Positives:
  • Enthusiastic

 

 

House Negatives:
  • Mostly Just Trees
  • Very Inconsistent Theming
Cast Negatives:
  • Horrifically Understaffed

 

 

This maze is unique in many ways. One of the main ways it stands out from any of the other mazes at the park or any other park is that you drive through it. But, unfortunately, there are lots of downsides to that. The staff for this maze was lacking a lot. It got slightly interesting towards the end when more actors appeared. When starting, you’re very anxious as to what’s going to happen. There are very few (if any) actors set along the sides, but when you come across them they do their job very well. To be quite honest, the only “cool” part of it all is all the scenery throughout the maze which can be seen before Haunt starts. Just go into the line and drive through like you would any other day at the park. But this Haunt shouldn’t be considered a maze next year instead just be opened like any other ride, but keep all the scenery objects for the cool effect.

Scarezones

 

 

 

Cleaver Brother’s Carnival:

 

Area Positives:
  • Amazing Props
  • Excellent Hiding Places 
Cast Positives:
  • Nice Costumes

 

 

Area Negatives:
  • None; was amazing
Cast Negatives:
  • Short Staffed
  • Not energetic
  • Most actors walked around doing nothing

Feary Tales:

 

Area Positives:
  • Fairly Good Props
  • Creepy Clotheslines Were a Nice Touch
Cast Positives:
  • None

 

 

Area Negatives:
  • Props Didn’t Stick to the Theme
Cast Negatives:
  • Red Riding Hood Just Sat on the Ground Crying
  • Majorly Understaffed

Ironworx:

 

Area Positives:
  • Rave-style lasers = Automatic win
  • Really great props
Cast Positives:
  • Elaborate costumes

 

 

Area Negatives:
  • None
Cast Negatives:
  • None of them were really doing, well, anything.
  • Very understaffed.

Necropolis:

 

Area Positives:
  • Amazing props
  • Theme fits the location
  • Lots of great hiding places
Cast Positives:
  • High energy
  • Used the area perfectly

 

 

Area Negatives:
  • None
Cast Negatives:
  • None

Prime Evil: The Kuro Curse:

 

Area Positives:
  • Neat theming
Cast Positives:
  • Good looking costumes
  • Energetic at times

 

Area Negatives:
  • Spread out
  • Not many props
Cast Negatives:
  • Most were completely uninterested in scaring people

 

The Lair:

 

Area Positives:
  • Impressive Props
  • Vampires hanging from the ceiling are pretty awesome
Cast Positives:
  • Good costumes
  • Enthusiastic

 

Area Negatives:
  • Coffin framing was clearly visible
Cast Negatives:
  • Horrifically understaffed
Event Overview

 

  

 

The event, overall, was outstanding. There have been a lot of improvements over the last couple years with new mazes and scare zones. Even with The Asylum being dropped this year, there was still lots to do all around the park. If I had to name a particular house as my favorite at this year’s event, it would be either Club Blood or The Doll Factory. Why? Club Blood provides a nice “semi-scare” and a fun time. The Doll Factory however, is very creepy and provides a very nice scare.

 

Sadly, the scare-zones this year took a major drop in comparison to past years. Lots of them could be fixed just by simply staffing more cast members and placing better actors in them. The main issue Kings Dominion had with this year’s haunt was, truly,  the actors. There was lots of amazing looking props and they were all well-placed throughout each section, but it’s remarkable just how many actors I witnessed walking around talking to each other instead of trying to provide a good scare. A similar problem could be found in the houses: While most of the changes to the mazes were nice, the actors were simply not up to par. Most of the actors acted lazy and didn’t even display a desire to do the job properly. Hopefully Haunt 2013 will bring updated mazes, better shows, and, most importantly, better actors.

  • Mwhuff

    I just would like to point out a couple general things with haunt this year based on your review. I do think that KD was shorthanded in the scare-actor department in 2012. If I understood correctly, the park had budgeted/planned to hire about 450 people to work the Haunt. My guess is that they fell 60-70 people short of that goal. That sounds like a lot of people; but, when you have to spread that many folks across 16 mazes and scare zones, that would have added just 3-4 extra people per attraction. Which in turn could have made a better experience for some of the haunt attractions.

    If KD plans to expand the Haunt in future years, they are going to have to be more aggressive in hiring for this event (start earlier, more marketing, maybe more perks for the workers). I can’t see more mazes/scare-zones happening unless the park can find a way to boost hiring.

    I do agree that some casts were a little too chatty with each other and not always focused on scaring people. I think that it comes down to management and enforcing the rules.

    The shows were good this year. KD had great singers and dancers performing in them. The show productions were above average for the park. The only gripe I had, and I think there was some disgruntlement with a percentage of the GP, is that the shows don’t fit the Halloween theme so well; they did not match the show descriptions. Some of the music touches on evil, the damned, etc. But, the show productions were more generic, i.e. For the show “The Night shift” you could have just made it a rock and roll review for the summer with some minor costume changes and set changes. I wish there were a few set changes during the show; but, again, Cedar Fair does not budget a lot of money for entertainment in their parks. Also, there was not much variety in the shows this year. Mostly all rock music and all with this industrial punk/goth sets and costumes. I hope KD switches things up in the future (I think this was the 2nd year for “The Night shift” and “The Uprising”; so, maybe there will be new shows for 2013. I am not sure how much they can change up “Blood Drums”; though, other Cedar Fair parks were getting this show for this year.)

    Overall, Kings Dominion does a good job of putting on Halloween Haunt each year. I feel like it is totally different park in the fall compared to operations in the spring and summer! There is always room for tweaks and improvements in the future; it is always a constant learning experience with events like this and KD gets high marks for putting on Halloween Haunt.

    • Greg

      Actually, Haunt was a bit understaffed this year. KD even had a couple more job fairs after Haunt started, the last one being when there were only 2 weekends left of Haunt. Even had a lot more charity volunteers work this year than in past years.

  • Sxcymike83

    Now I’ve been to every haunt (kd) since they started but I have to say I was dismayed at KD for haunt. Of course it was extremely crowded when I went. I must agree with the previous comment on the actors. I can’t say they were lazy because we hardly saw any in the scare zones. We managed to only do two haunted houses because they werent letting groups of ppl in but the entire line non stop. That was lazy. Every corner and every turn we managed to see the actors position themselves to jump out and scare someone. They had no time to reposition with out anyone seeing them. Some people evening started booing. Ok.. I get that it was crowded but I rather wait in line for an hour for something that’s worth it then to have a five minute wait time for crap. I.E Busch Gardens which wad worth the wait times. We eventually got bored with the houses skipped eating in the park and departed at ten when we were prepared to stay til closing. I’ll skip next year.

    • Greg

      I am a Haunt monster and I do remember very well the nite where they let the people enter the mazes non stop. Its not a lazy thing, its actually very rare when they do that (only 2nd time in my 5 years that I recall). Those times, the lines just got extremely too long and the park was packed so all the mazes got the order to leave the doors open to get the lines back down. Its not a fun time for us since we cant reset or really even catch our breath but we understand why and do the best we can.

    • Evan

      I still believe there was a lot of improvement throughout when considering the mazes. The scare-zones were a major drop. Last year there was a lot of people and tried, but this year the staffing was terrible. The actors in the houses were really good but everyone outside of a house need tons of work. I still have high hopes for what we will see for next years haunt.

  • Dead Alice

    As a monster, yeah we get chatty, yeah we get distracted. Its not easy running around screaming and yelling for 5 hours straight. Days it was really busy, it was difficult to get to everyone to scare, especially in zones understaffed. I was in Feary Tales, and I do agree, we had no where to hide. Like all I could really do was sit on one of the blocks and bang on it. We had the panels to hide behind, but we had issues with people just walking right behind them because its in the middle of the walkway. It was also my first year, and I plan on doing again next year. I’m not sure if I will do Feary Tales again, I hated that our zone was so small. Cleavers Brothers had so much more room to walk around. Thanks for the review.

    -Dead Alice

    • http://KDFans.com/ Evan

      A little late, but thanks for the reply! The overall area looked amazing and the lighting was perfect. Hopefully Kings Dominion will give the actors a lot more to work with for the 2013 season instead of just a foggy open pathway. In 2011, the scare-zones were staffed really good and all of the actors were very energetic. From what I experienced during Feary Tales was not much and could have been a bit better. If the scare-zone was better staffed, then you all (the actors) could take turns on who gets to take a small break and the other person goes and scares a few and repeat. But sadly, the park didn’t staff any of the scare-zones appropriately so this could have been done.

      But thanks for your input and I hope that you continue to read KDFans!