Kings Island's Halloween Haunt just took the title as spookiest theme park event in America, edging out competitors like King Dominion, multiple Six Flags parks, Cedar Point and Busch Gardens.
The “Best Theme Park Halloween Event” was compiled as part of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award. Local experts teamed up with ‘Haunt Girl’ Christine Berger (who travels to haunts across the U.S.) and selected 20 nominees. The final 10 were chosen via popular vote.
And we’re honestly not shocked. Stroll into Halloween Haunt at dusk and guests are immediately greeted by disorientating, ominous fog soundtracked by eerie, wafting tunes. Menacing jack-o-lanterns float above, leering downward. If you dare enter, you’ll likely be spooked by an actor as you walk through the park. Some don zombie makeup, fake blood caked around their mouth and dripping from their jawline. Others wear grungy clown costumes, their features exaggerated. Every monster born of a fever dream you could imagine stalks the amusement park grounds.
"The park would like to thank everyone who voted for Kings Island," reads a statement from Kings Island. "And remind them that there are only three weekends left to experience the annual event this year."
In total, there are nine haunted mazes, like “Kill Mart,” aka a supermarket-turned-post-apocalyptic zombie stomping ground. “Field of Screams” is another popular maze, which takes attendees through a field of corn to encounter not-so-friendly country folk. (To add to the realism, the line seems to wind forever long — the attraction is buried deep in the park.) New this year is sci-fi “Chaos,” a definitely-not-ethical testing laboratory. Except, unbeknownst to you, you’re the subject.
Guests can also expect quirky animatronics, scare zones — two were added this year: Coney Mall and Pumpkin Eater — and spooky shows like Blood Drums (lots of percussion, sparks literally flying and, well, blood), Haunted Homecoming (calling all goths) and Monster Rock (where you might catch a werewolf and vampire dueting to Classic Rock).
Don’t fret, though: 20 coasters and rides are open, too. In the haze of autumn twilight, the trill is upped. A bonus slice of Cincy lore: The Beast just might be the creepiest coaster of them all. R.L. Stine even penned a Goosebumps novel based on it with the same name. In this fictional ‘verse, a ghost rides the wooden coaster after the park closes. One night, two kids find themselves on The Beast. Shocked, it starts to move — only they weren’t alone.
Maybe it’s fiction, but hey, maybe Stine was onto something. Regardless, in its 12th season, this year’s Haunt is still as scream-inducing as ever.
The other top 10 parks are as follows:
Halloween Haunt at Kings Island - Mason, Ohio
Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion - Doswell, Va.
Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America - Gurnee, Ill.
Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain - Valencia, Calif.
SCarowinds at Carowinds - Charlotte, N.C.
The Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce - Bristol, Conn.
Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Williamsburg, Va.
Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood - West Mifflin, Penn.
HalloWeekends at Cedar Point - Sandusky, Ohio
10. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando - Orlando, Fla.