As darkness descends across the rolling hills of Doswell, VA and night creeps throughout the otherwise bright and cheery atmosphere of Kings Dominion, it becomes clear that this isn't an ordinary occurrence. This is what happens when the monsters take over and open the gates on eight terrifying mazes.
As special guests of the park, we were provided with tickets and "Fright Lane" passes, which allow front-of-line access to most of the mazes during Haunt. As you plan your visit at kingsdominion.com, you may very well want to add that to your itinerary as it will ensure maximum fun during your escape.
As the sun sets, Kings Dominion begins to fill with fog and creepy music. This is your sign that things are about to take a dark and spooky turn. Walking through the park becomes a sport of sorts as you dodge and weave your way through various "Scare Zones" where monsters are ready to jump out and unleash their unholy screams. Make sure you're up on your heart meds, if you need that sort of thing.
Our first haunted maze of the night was "No Vacancy"... a haunt that's been around for a bit, but with a brand new twist this year: it's been "Condemned"! This means it's lights-out for your check-in to this dilapidated hotel. Since we had our "Fast Lane" pass, we were able to skip the long line and go right to the front. As you enter, they hand you a dim flashlight to help you find your way through. Let me tell you this flashlight is of very little help navigating the maze, but is highly effective at pointing out ghouls and ghosts split-seconds before they jump. This buys into one of my most visceral fears: a face staring back at me from a dark abyss. I screamed more in this maze than any others for the rest of the evening. You may even want to save this one for last.
After this, we made our way through a scare zone (yep, the terror doesn't stop) and hopped in line for Tollway Terror. Now, to be clear, this line is always quite long and isn't valid for the "Fright Lane" pass...but it's worth the wait this year! You board an antique car and control your own drive through the Virginia backcountry, surrounded by spooky sounds and scares a plenty. I had my foot to the floorboards, but the psychotic beauty of this attraction is that the cars max out at like 5 MPH. So, yeah, you're not getting away from the scares quickly enough. Every corner we turned, every hill we climbed, every straight away we went down, we were petrified with fear. You just never know what's hiding in the woods, waiting to jump out and scare you!
After surviving our trip through the woods, we zipped down to Candy Apple Grove for two haunts: Blood On The Bayou and Zombie High. The Bayou is amazingly detailed and really felt you had been transported to a shanty town on the waters of New Orleans with the addition of heat and humidity to a level I've never experienced inside a building. You're greeted by a Voodoo Priestess and multiple twisted souls who are hell-bent on adding you to their collection. As the path winds through, you'll need to hurry so they don't catch up to you and send you to an early watery grave.
Zombie High transports you to a high school that's been overrun by zombie students. What's on the school lunch menu? Brains. The principal at the start seems rather nonplussed by the whole thing, but focuses on his important announcements to the student body which runs across the school's PA system throughout your escape. The zombies are unpredictable and startling. Covered in blood and guts, it's clear that this is a tough lesson we all are faced to learn. The true test is finding the exit and passing the grade with your life. Don't forget to bring your homework!
Continuing our tour of terror, our next stop was Trick Or Treat, a haunt located smack in the middle of the Candy Apple Grove midway. This house is full of witches, ready to trick you instead of treating you. Careful what you wish for, because these witches are ready to sweep you away and make you into treats for their own nefarious causes.
If you're afraid of clowns, you probably won't want to go for a stroll alone from Trick or Treat down through the rest of Candy Apple Grove. The midway is full of the most hellish clowns you can imagine...all ready to make you laugh - and scream.
If you survive that trek, you'll enter the other side of the park, which honestly seems darker than the rest. You can tell that what's next is not for the faint of heart.
As we walked past the growing line of
victims guests waiting in line to enter "Blackout", we realized just how valuable the "Fright Lane" pass is. We sped past the line and entered the darkness as soon as we arrived at the entrance. I can't stress "darkness" enough. When they say "Blackout", they mean it. This haunt is PITCH BLACK. You cannot see a single thing. You have to feel your way around and HOPE you don't accidentally touch a ghoul. They won't touch you, but when it's this dark, you can't help but run into specters hiding in the shadows. Let's just say I screamed MUCH more than I should have in this one. Much more.
Lockdown was up next, taking up space inside the "Flight Of Fear" coaster building. You're entering a prison on lockdown from an uprising of ghosts and ghouls. As you wind through the cells and corridors full of felons, it's an uneasy trip through the legal system as you try to wrangle your way through the prisoners and deliberately confusing maze. Escaping from this prison proves harder than Alcatraz!
After such a busy night of being scared and if you need your heart to take a break, there is plenty of yummy food throughout the park that's perfect for fall including candy apples, cotton candy and other savory treats. Yes, there's funnel cake. I mean, the park is full of monsters, but they aren't savages!
Before you get that funnel cake though, right next door on International Street, is the final haunt: Cornstalkers. This claustrophobia-inducing maze will have you thinking twice before eating corn ever again. As you wind your way through the twists and turns of a corn maze, there are scares waiting around every corner. Good luck seeing them, because they blend into the corn as your worst nightmares blend into the darkest corners of your subconscious.
If you've made it this far, but haunted scares are still not your thing, all of Kings Dominions biggest and best rides and coasters are open throughout the evening, including Intimidator 305. Race through the fog-covered hills as your friends submit themselves to fear. Everything you fear is here.