Kings Island’s Halloween Haunt opens for another season of scares

When it comes to Halloween, Kings Island is at the top of its game packing in more thrills, scares and ghouls than any other place in Southern Ohio.

It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings more than 15 years ago.

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Boasting just 75 monsters when it launched in 2000 as FearFest, Kings Island has now become Halloween Haunt growing in scope and popularity with armies of hundreds and hundreds of zombies, witches, clowns, ghouls, vampires, werewolves and other creatures of the night terrorizing guests. The Halloween attraction debuts for the season tonight.

“Halloween Haunt is a seven-hour experience. The breadth of the event is unmatched in the area with 10 haunted attractions, three scare zones, three live shows, evil creatures everywhere, plus 20 rides including The Beast, Banshee, Diamondback and Mystic Timbers roller coasters. The combination of thrills with the rides and chills with the haunted attractions offers a tremendous value for our guests. It’s a full night. There’s a lot to see and experience,” said Don Helbig, Area Manager of Digital Marketing for the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company owned park.

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Clearly no small undertaking, Helbig goes on to say, “it’s a year-long process getting ready for Halloween Haunt, starting with the planning for new attractions and décor. It takes five weeks to get the event set up out in the park with the mazes, scare zones and décor, hiring of scare actors and rehearsal nights.”

The event, which was rebranded in 2007 to Halloween Haunt, with a daytime Halloween event for families with young children that launched in 2008.

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Halloween Haunt takes place Friday and Saturday nights now through Oct. 28. New this year are two scare zones: Dance of the Macabre and Wasteland. Dance of the Macabre is located around the base of the Eiffel Tower and themed to a Royal Masquerade Ball. Helbig says guests will mix and mingle with the crème de la crème of society, maybe grab a selfie with the Duke and Duchess, but they’ll need to be aware — sometimes the mask is there for reason. The backstory for Wasteland revolves around something going terribly wrong at the Miami River Chemical Company with victims of the toxic sludge running rampant at the facility.

Hot Blooded, an after-live music revue show featuring the music of popular rock and roll bands including Aerosmith, Foreigner and Journey, will have a new set this year. Helbig says the popular longstanding vampire-themed show has developed “somewhat of a cult following” and features many performers who return year-after-year.

Helbig cannot emphasize enough to parents that Halloween Haunt includes graphic scenes, suggestive themes and intense imagery and is intended for mature audiences only.

For younger guests, the Great Pumpkin Fest takes place every Saturday and Sunday Sept. 30 through Oct. 29 from noon-6 p.m. to provide fright-free fun. Activities include trick-or-treat stops, kids’ costume contest, hay bale mazes, live entertainment, meet-and-greet opportunities with the Peanuts characters, arts and crafts for kids, and a petting farm with more than 50 animals for guests to interact with and learn about.

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On Saturdays, parents should be advised that rides in Planet Snoopy begin to close at 5 p.m. when the transformation into Halloween Haunt begins. Halloween Haunt does not take place on Sundays, when the park is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“When guests visit the park for Halloween Haunt, from the time they arrive at the front gate until they leave at the end of the night, they’re going to be immersed in the atmosphere. It’s fun, thrilling and chilling at the same time,” says Helbig. “We want our guests to experience the fright of their life at Halloween Haunt by entering a realm of darkness where their worst fears are lurking.”

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