It’s really, really big. As in the biggest haunt you’ll visit this season or, likely, any other.
There are eight indoor mazes, four outdoor mazes, two live shows and a ton of twisted October ambiance to soak up. There’s something particularly creepy about an amusement park at night. Generous volumes of fog and a horde of costumed ghouls and freaks make a simple stroll among the coasters scary for many folks. The kid’s area, Planet Snoopy, gets a makeover at dusk and becomes the all-new Nightmare Alley, a rogues gallery of sideshow freaks that looks as I imagine Jack the Ripper’s London.
The Haunt is light-on animatronics (which I prefer) and strong on the number of prowling ghouls (it really is a legion), makeup and set design. There’s a lot to be said for a big operating budget.
The scariest attractions are Wolf Pack, Club Blood and Massacre Manor. These mazes have the best actors in the park and go the distance to get you to scream. Consider the rest of the haunts a mixed bag of scream therapy. Holiday Horror was kind of flat, Carnevil is a fun clown-themed haunt that’s not too intense for kids and Urgent Scare showed well, offering a visible improvement over last year. In general, expect good haunts but not great ones. It’s a mixed bag and will satisfy most cravings for a big plate of macabre. The Fright Lane pass is the only way you’ll really do it all in one visit. (Stephen Carter-Novotni)
THE WAIT: Fridays have the lightest crowds, but there’s always of lot of folks here waiting for a scare. Lines can be very long during the thick of the evening (we waited an hour to get into one haunt), so go early and plan to stay late: You won’t make it through all of the attractions in one night. Individual attractions take 10-20 minutes to explore.
DETAILS: The park opens at 7 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. Saturdays through Oct. 29, with the Haunt running 7 p.m.-1 a.m. (all 8 indoor mazes open at 5 p.m.) Fridays and Saturdays. Kings Island, Exit 24 off I-71, Mason, 513-754-5700, haunt.visitkingsisland.com.
THE DAMAGE: Free admission for KI season pass holders. Saturdays are $52.99 at the gate or $29.99 online in advance; Fridays are $36.99 at the gate, $24.99 online in advance or at the gate with a college ID. Fright Lane line jumping passes are available for $30 a person.
CITYBEAT RATING: PG-13