6300 Kings Island Drive
We hadn't been to Kings Island in several years and had never experienced the amusement park's Halloween-themed weekends, so when we got invited to attend a preview party on opening night, we jumped at the chance.
The weather on Friday was dismal and rainy; not exactly theme park weather, but we decided to go ahead and make the drive to Mason anyway, on the off chance that the weather cleared.
The 2009 Halloween Haunt preview party was held in the park's International Restaurant and included an impressive mix of hors d'oeuvres, salads, entrees and desserts, which unfortunately for me contained precious little for vegetarians. I knew going into the party that this would be the case though, since the invitation helpfully listed the party menu. I figured I'd just fill up on salad, fruit, crudites and cheese, which is exactly what I did. Admittedly, I also took full advantage of the open bar, which came back to haunt me several hours later on the Backlot Stunt Coaster (formerly the Italian Job).
The party rooms were decked out with black tablecloths and candleholders and a shedload of fake spider webbing. Staff were made up to look like zombies, vampires, and other assorted undead. It was all very well done. The restaurant will be offering an all-you-can-eat Fright Feast on select nights for $13.99 but vegetarians should know that they will be relegated to side dishes and salads.
An explosion heralded the opening of the park to the general public, so we drained our glasses, finished nibbling on chocolate covered strawberries and headed out into the fog. I have no idea how many smoke machines the park utilizes during Halloween Haunt, but they certainly did the trick. By the time we left the park several hours later the fake fog encompassed the park, parking lot and spilled out onto Kings Island Drive.
Luckily, the rain dried up just prior to the park's official 7 p.m. opening time, and I tried to get in some shots before it got too foggy or the rain returned. There are six indoor attractions which open with the park, and five outdoor ones that begin an hour later when night has fallen.
With guide map in hand and "RIP" VIP lanyards around our necks, we set off to sample the haunted offerings. The lanyards gave us front-of-the-line access to all Halloween-themed attractions, and we took full advantage, with only slight twinges of guilt for all those waiting patiently in the queues.
By far CarnEVIL was our favorite but not recommended for anyone with a clown phobia. Thrill-seekers don 3-D glasses and enter a clown-infested funhouse, where the walls are painted in day-glo op-art style and glowing bubbles rain down upon you. We couldn't get enough of it! I won't ruin the surprises - just be sure not to miss this attraction.
Our friend Laura was on a mission to ride The Diamondback, one of 18 regular season rides in operation for Halloween Haunt, so we groped our way through the fog, dodging monsters and patrons alike and got her on the ride. Afterward we nipped over to catch Hot-Blooded, one of two Halloween-themed live shows, where we were highly amused by the unique use of songs like BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" and Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time." Apologies to the guy sat filming the show in front of us because we could NOT stop laughing. This musical revue has adult themes of S&M and sapphic vampire imagery, so best not to bring granny or the kids.
As the night progressed and the fog machines did their work, we found it more difficult to navigate through the park, which was teeming with mostly teenage patrons and a host of scare-mongers, but the fright-themed attractions are lit with red neon skull & crossbones, making them easy to spot through the gloomy murk.
Contrary to what we had thought, the scary attractions are not rides - they are spooky walk-throughs, so even those who don't like thrill-rides can enjoy Kings Island's 2009 Halloween Haunt. It was a great night.