A few weeks ago, I opened up my inbox and saw an email from King's Dominion asking if I'd like to come out and photograph their Halloween Haunt night as a local Instagram influencer. I don't really think of myself as an Instagram influencer, but one of my friends from work had put in a good word from me and I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity.
The first night I planned shoot there was a thunderstorm, so we rescheduled for the following Friday. That weekend, Hurricane Joaquin swept up the coast and did its best to take South and North Carolina with it. So we rescheduled again for the following weekend. The forecast was showing nothing but sunny skies.
That Friday night, Alicia and I were no more than 10 minutes into the drive when we saw lightning in the distance. It seemed pretty far off though and we were already on our way so we pressed on.
Every other weekend last year we'd driven by the glowing Kings Dominion sign on i95 heading to and from D.C. but this was the first time either of us had actually been to the park. We were met at the front gate by their P.R. Coordinator so was super upbeat, which was impressive considering that men dressed as creepy clowns or disguised as trees had been jumping out at her all night.
Based on my past experience with haunted houses, I was expecting Haunt Night to be the usual, cheesy Halloween themed event with a bunch of underpaid teenagers running around in Party City costumes. I was wrong.
Kings Dominion actually do a great job with their Haunt Nights. They have smoke machines all over the paths, which make it easy for their monsters, who weren't dressed in Party City masks as far as I could tell, to sneak up on you. The giant tower in the middle of the park is illuminated by red spotlights, and eery mechanical music plays through loudspeakers. I was really excited since all the smoke and lights make for some really fun pictures.
Alicia and I wandered around for a bit, stoping every now and then to snap photos of monsters sneaking off into the fog. We were in the middle of a particularly dense bit of artificial smoke when the music cut out and a voice on the PA informed us that a thunderstorm was headed our way and everyone should seek shelter indoors.
Almost as soon as he finished saying this, the wind picked up and a flash of lightning lit up the clouds behind the central tower. In a rush of activity, park goers and monsters began making their way towards gift shops and food courts. My mom would probably kill me for this, but lightning makes for great photos, so I waited outside getting some shots of the decorations in the empty park until the tap, tap, tap of raindrops began.
The tap, tap, tap quickly turned into an outright downpour and I got (deservedly) drenched as I ran back towards a crowded gift shop to meet Alicia.
The rain showed no sign of letting up, so we purchased 2 stylish vinyl ponchos and booked it towards the car.
I was only able to shoot for 45 minutes, but we had a great time and definitely recommend checking out the Haunt.