2005 is the first season I’m sure the park worked with Oak Island. Last Laugh Industries debuted that year, and is the first haunted house that I know they designed. BGW came up with the branding, the story, and left the rest to Oak Island.
Until 2011, most of the last-minute/cheaper-looking mazes were the only ones designed by Oak Island. It is my understanding that prior to 2011, the park tried to do as much as they could on their own, and only used Oak Island as a last resort option for when they didn’t have enough time to design a maze themselves. Masquerage is a key example.
After years of second-rate mazes from Oak Island, it seems the park decided to give them time and money in 2011. They proved their worth with Deadline and Fear Fair, but also gave us 13.
The whole BGW/OIC dynamic reminds me of a quote from Scott Swenson (former creative director in Tampa): “You can build a house fast, cheap, or good... Pick two.”
That means; if BGW called up to Oak Island and said: “Hey! We need a haunted house in less than a month, but we don’t have much money,” they would get a house made fast and cheap, but it would look very lackluster. (Masquerage, Clownfusion, or the original Root of All Evil.) If they paid twice as much, it might have looked ok. To me, ”just good enough,” for the same costs as Kings Dominion’s newer (and better looking) mazes is not worth it.
Sometimes the park would contract Oak Island with insane amounts (given the results and amount of work) just to advise the park on how to recycle props they already had. The result of this type of thing were Cut Throat Cove and the first week of the last season of Catacombs. Inevitably, the park had to do a lot of tweaking in-house to make those products halfway decent.
I’m not sure when Oak Island became the overall contractor for setting up the event, but I believe that was 2007.