Halloween decorations below the Eiffel Tower

Guest post and photos by Jamie Rhein

For the past two years, a friend and I have loaded our cars with teenagers to head to Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, 30 miles north of Cincinnati, for what’s becoming a tradition of thrills at the amusement park’s  Halloween Haunt. The pairing of roller coaster rides with haunted houses and Halloween decorated shops and grounds is brilliant.

Rides on: the Diamond Back– a steel coaster with a 215 ft drop and a speed up to 80 miles per hour; The Beast–the tallest, longest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world: and Mystic Timbers, Kings Island’s newest thrill ride–a wooden coaster that speeds through woods at 53 mph are a fine way to spend a autumn Saturday.

Mixing coasters and haunted house experiences that boast names like “Kill-Mart” and “Field of Screams” is marketing genius. Plus, the price point is doable. Our on-line tickets were $44.99 per person which included all day and all night (11 AM to 1 AM) attractions.

Although we arrived a little before noon and left before midnight, we had enough time for a second rollicking ride on The Beast right before it started to rain. Blue skies lasted until early evening. The storm hit as the coaster train that my friend and I were in clicked up The Beast’s first hill. By the time we hit the crest of the first drop, our thrill experience turned into a face stinging water ride.

In between our 2nd go on The Beast, and our first ride of the day on The Diamond Back, we took in two shows with a Halloween twist: Monster Rock and Hot Blooded. Wearing neon costumes and make-up that turned these twenty something singers into playful monsters, Monster Rock is an energy packed trip through Journey, Foreigner and Bon Jovi classics and more.

The barn entrance at Field of Screams

This show is three times each evening on Friday and Saturday in Festhaus, an indoor eatery with a stage. Panda Express and La Rosa’s pizza does a brisk business here. There’s also a bar where Yuengling and other beer is served as a draft. Meals at Panda Express start at a little less than $10. When you’re hungry, and there’s a place to sit down to watch singers with talent gamely belt out their parts, the price seems worth it.

Hot Blood, a funky musical show with a vampire theme is geared towards adult audiences. The singing is great, but straight off you know that the clean cut guy in the beginning won’t have the happiest of endings.

Because the haunted houses don’t start until 6 p.m., going on as many rides as possible before then is a good idea. The haunted house lines can be longer than lines for rides. Last year we missed out on Field of Screams and Kill Mart because we went to them towards the end. This year, we went to them first and had a fraction of the wait giving us the extra time we needed to get soaked on The Beast.

Even if rides and haunted houses aren’t your thing, the grounds of Kings Island during the Halloween season are fun to walk around. After 6 pm., fog rolls in throughout the park and costumed ghouls and ghosts wander throughout providing elements of surprise when you’re not looking.

A costumed ghost guy that roams Kings Island’s main street

Tips my friend and I have learned over the years that have saved us money and time:

  • Buy one refillable souvenir drink cup and share between more than one person. My son and I shared one. We’d fill the cup with soda and split it by pouring some into a separate cup that I carried in my bag.
  • If you need to store belongings, cram everyone’s into one locker.
  • Purchase tickets, parking and souvenir cups on line. This saved me more than $50.
  • Bring food and eat it before heading into the park. At night, head to a fast food place once you leave Kings Island. This cuts down on the amount of food you’ll buy in the park.
  • Don’t wait in the Backlot Stunt Coaster line if it’s long. You’ll wait and wait and wait. This is a slow load line that takes forever. It is a great ride though, but the line for Flight of Fear, an  indoor coaster that whizzes riders through loop deloops in the dark seems less tiresome.