Kings Island 7/6 & 7/27 2018

Associated parks:
Kings Island, Mason, Ohio, USA

We have been trying to get to Kings Island for a few years now but something always comes up and plans are scrapped but it finally happened. We paired the trip with a visit to the Air Force Museum in Dayton on our way down. We arrived at the Super 8 around 5:30pm on Wednesday, checked in and walked down to Frisch's Big Boy for dinner. The food and service was good. Our original plans had been to rest up from the drive and museum and then hit the park in the morning for early entry. It was early enough in the evening that the boys were asking about what time the park closed and wanted to go right after dinner and get started. We had driven past already and they were all hyped up. Honestly I was too but I tried to do the adult thing and not show it so much since I knew my husband would be exhausted from all the driving and just want to rest but then he suggested the park is so close why don't me and the boys go check it out ourselves and kind of scope things out. He didn't need to suggest that twice. Coaster shorts were on and out we went.

Arriving at the park the toll booth set up and park sign reminded me of the Griswald's arrival at Wally World. Walking through the gate I was impressed by the view that welcomes you. I wasn't really prepared for it. Cedar Point (my home park) has a more impressive gate but once in you pretty much walk right into a carousel. The fountain and Eiffel Tower (no matter how cheesy a one third scale tower Eiffel Tower in Ohio may be) was beautiful. We started by riding Woodstock Express. It was so cute, looked like a baby Blue Streak. My knees were hitting the front of the car entire ride but I couldn't not ride something that looked like a baby Blue Streak. For a kid's ride it was really good. Then we were off to Mystic Timbers. One of my sons is obsessed with maps so he led the way for most of our time at the park. The midways are a lot more windy than I am used to. Much more intimate and cozy of a feel than CP but I also can't imagine a busy day crowd at CP being able to walk these brick trails and still have any sense of personal space.

Theming for the Mystic Timbers was excellent. There were even fake plants "taking over" the locker area. Theming around the entire park was impressive, at least I thought so. Of course at CP I'm used to little or no theming being the norm so maybe it doesn't take much to impress me in that department. We waited about 30 minutes. It was everything it has been hyped up to be, absolutely amazing. All that and an entire grocery store aisle full of chips. It was like the movement of Maverick but in wood with no inversions and such a smooth track. We headed to The Beast next and waited 20 minutes. While it was not totally dark it was about 9:40 when we rode so light was fading fast. It was amazing, everything I've been hoping it would be. Rough, but not too rough, fast, and disorienting I love it. AT this point we headed for the gates instead of waiting for close to try and avoid any traffic issues because I wanted to be there bright and early the next morning and I was running on four and a half hours of sleep. We saw the fireworks as we were walking to our van.

Wednesday morning, bright and early in line by 9:25 waiting for the gates to open. I haven't been at Cedar Point early enough for the national anthem assuming they still so it so I don't know how the crowd behaves there but on this day everyone turned towards the flag and everyone fell silent. the few voices I heard were quiet and muffled. As soon as the anthem stopped and they opened the gates the next song played and we all (my family) just looked at each other. "There's a hundred and four days of summer vacation 'til school comes along just to end it"...whoever came up with the idea to welcome us all into the park with the Phineas and Ferb theme song deserves a raise. In case anyone is unfamiliar this is the song All four of us headed to Diamondback which really smooth. Then we all hit Mystic Timbers. First time for Hubby, 2nd for the rest of us. From this point we left hubby on a park bench with some Gatorade and went off on our own. The heat was getting him and it was only a bit after 10am. Usually I'm the first to drop. By afternoon he came to the conclusion that his body just doesn't handle rides the way it used to so he mostly followed us around and hung out in the arcade. He also hit Dodgems and the Bat. The Bat was more intense than I had anticipated and was a bit much for him. While Hubby was on the bench the boys and did a second lap on the The Beast and hit Back Lot Stunt Coaster, which was better than I expected, and Vortex. Vortex was cool but a bit hard on the head. We wall worked our way around to the other end of the park for Racer (love it) Adventure Express (also love it more intense than I was expecting). There appeared to be no wait for Banshee so we started walking across the midway towards the entrance but it turned out to be closed. We spent a few minutes in the souvenir shop and then Banshee reopened and we walked on. It was a good ride. From there we rode Flight Of Fear (awesome) and then waited an hour for Firehawk. Did it once, don't ever need to do it again. Not a bad coaster, just found that I don't really care for staring at the ground and hanging while I ride. One of my boys loved it. The other felt about the same as me.

At this point theheat was really becoming a problem and I was hungry. We had chips and salsa and guacamole from Hank's Mexican Grill think it was. While we were riding FOF my husband bought himself some candy and ended up pulling one of his crowns out. While the boys rode Invertigo Hubby and I parked ourselves in the shade and "napped" on a ledge. He wasn't feeling well and though he was pretty much done for the day. I was tired and overheated. I wasn't done with the park but I needed a break if I was going to make it to the end of the day. We left the park with the plan of me and the boys coming back later and drove to the CVS to get something to hold hubby's crown in and ate at Arby's. We went back to the Super 8 and hung around in the AC for a while. When the boys and I were ready for the next round Hubby was feeling better than he expected and came back with us. We went up the tower. The view and the breeze were great. Our elevator host was a nice and funny guy. While answering someone's question about how much of his day he spends in the elevator he mentioned that they had cut back on staff recently due to lower attendance. From this point we rode Dodgems again. I've never ridden an actual track before,, just the free for all that is CP Dodgems so that was different. The cars were a little heavier and faster than the new cars at CP but nothing like the old CP car either. I think their restraint system was bad though at least the way we were being told to use it. We were told to put the belt over our heads and one shoulder which looks like it would make sense but I had to hold the restraint away while driving or else every time I got hit the thing tried to give me sideways whiplash. Maybe it works better for shorter people but it wasn't helping me any.

I was surprised how far we had to walk to get to The Bat. Almost counted as a nature hike. From this point we hit all the rides we wanted second ot third rides on. So another lap on The Beast (in the rain) then Mystic Timbers with barely any line, Back Lot Stunt Coaster, Racer and Adventure Express. With just a few minutes until park closing we rode Viking's Fury because we happened to be standing next to it. That, Dodgems and the tower were the only flat rides we rode.

General impressions of the park, it's beautiful. Theming and landscaping are very well done and everything looked relatively clean. The paths were sort of winding in a really charming way that most of Cedar Point does lack. Food, all we ate in park were the chips. We did purchase numerous bottles of Powerade because I thought the time that would be wasted constantly going back and forth to the cooler in the van (stocked for a 3 day vacation) was worth the extra money. I did notice that it was cheaper to get the Powerade from the fridge in the souvenir shop than the carts on the midway. The only area I felt the park was lacking in was merchandising. Normally every visit to Cedar Point is a test of restraint because there is so much there I would love to buy. Pretty much at any time in the season there is something that catches my eye available in my size. This wasn't the case at Kings Island. I came across the state with souvenir money just burning a hole in my pocket with the intentions of spending with cash in hand and was finding only a few shirts that were speaking to me and they would all be too small. Up until we hit the shop across from Banshee the only shirt I had seen in 2X was the tie die Snoopy which was exactly the same as the one at CP, just with a different park logo. Even shirts that I didn't like I would check sizes on just because and didn't see anything over 1X. Finally at the shop across from Banshee I did find Mystic Timbers shirt I liked in my size. Before the whole "you should lose weight" chorus starts chiming in I'm trying with only limited success. My point is chubby people have money to spend and by not stocking much of anything to fit us the park is leaving money on the table. I also was disappointed by the lack of patches vs. pins for rides. There were some insulated, clear cups in one shop with ride logos in between the plastic layers which upon closer inspection I realized were embroidered patches but they were sealed inside the cups and I wasn't paying $19 each for cups of all the rides to hack saw them open for the patches. If they were $5 like the patches at CP there would be a lot of broken plastic cups in my trash this week...I'm just kind of miffed that patches have obviously been designed and manufactured but they have chosen not to sell them on their own or if they have they have hidden them well. If they had the ride patches available at the same price point as Cedar Point that would have been an easy over $200 more they would have gotten from us. As a family we didn't walk away empty handed but I had budgeted a lot more money for souvenirs than we spent.

I've been looking forward to this trip for some time and did not come away disappointed. I'm hoping we can get back within the next year or so.

One of my favorite things about my trip to Kings Island this year was getting to eat at Frisch’s Big Boy.

As for Cedar Fair souvenirs, this season I have visited Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Carowinds, Dorney, and Cedar Point. CP has some great retro t shirts. Other than that, the merch pretty much sucks. Other than a few exceptions, it is t-shirts I would never wear and stuff I would never buy.

Frisch’s is the holy grail of Big Boys, and one of the originals from Cincinnati. I hope you got the fish sandwich or anything at all, really, with their amazing tartar sauce. The Big Boy would be included in that list.
I’m surprised about your comment regarding merch. I’m also a 2X-er and I always find a shirt of some sort (and that’s if I’m in the mood for one more amusement park shirt...) Did you visit the clothing stores on International Street? There are a couple of places with a decent selection. Maybe it’s that time of season when a re-order is necessary, and Cincinnatians aren’t necessarily known for being thin.

I think as you travel more you’ll find that Cedar Point is the unique park in terms of layout. Most regionals were designed with the wagon wheel concept in mind, and expansions over the years have simply added “legs” to the layouts. That in itself lends itself to curved paths that aren’t as wide. Didn’t we discuss sometime a while back something about total midway length/footage and find out that KI actually is larger than CP? I seem to remember that. Anyway, I’ve been to KI on plenty of busy days over the years and it never seems any more or less crowded than the busy days at CP.
I’m glad you had a fun time. Sometimes I forget that KI really is a beautiful park- if nothing else it certainly is more of a themer, and since acquired by CF has taken giant leaps in the right direction. I call the Paramount era the “dark days”, and there have been many improvements since. And the park has a nice collection of rides and coasters, many unique over what we find at other nearbys.

I remember when Cedar Fair bought the Paramount parks I couldn't imagine them as Cedar Fair parks. Now after all of the additions and investments, I can't imagine them NOT as Cedar Fair parks.

And I agree - Kings Island (and Kings Dominion) are very pretty parks. Moreso than CP for sure.

I tried to duck into every shop I saw that had shirts in it. Maybe it is just time for restocking. My current assignment at work allows me to wear jeans and T-shirts to work everyday if I want to so right now coaster and park shirts are work clothes so I feel less guilt buying them they are getting plenty of use. I'm running out of places to keep them but that's a different problem. While I was buying trip munchies at Walmart before we left the cashier was warning me not to compare Kings Island to Cedar Point because it would lose but KI had the woodies and I love the woodies. I think it compared well I can't wait to go back. I'm not sure if the bacon cheeseburger thing I got had the tartar sauce, I know my son got the big Boy and he really liked it. Hopefully if we can keep up a streak of having a more dependable vehicle we'll be travelling more. We're tossing around the idea of getting passports to do a Niagara Falls/Canada's Wonderland trip we'll see if it happens.

I get that frequently anytime I mention visiting a park that isn’t CP (when in that area) or Disney/Universal (when in Orlando). There are many aspects of Kings Island that are leaps and bounds above CP. Heck, when I went to Dorney this year and the attendant scanned my CP branded Platinum Pass she all but “warned” me not to expect what I was used to. Obviously Cedar Point is a fantastic park, but it always makes me laugh when it is assumed anything else will be a letdown simply because of the size of CP.

BrettV said:

I get that frequently anytime I mention visiting a park that isn’t CP (when in that area) or Disney/Universal (when in Orlando). There are many aspects of Kings Island that are leaps and bounds above CP. Heck, when I went to Dorney this year and the attendant scanned my CP branded Platinum Pass she all but “warned” me not to expect what I was used to. Obviously Cedar Point is a fantastic park, but it always makes me laugh when it is assumed anything else will be a letdown simply because of the size of CP.

I think that you'll find that the coaster community tends to overinflate Cedar Point. I'm not saying that its a bad park, but there's a whole world out there besides it. It has the best of some coaster types, but it doesn't have the best of everything. Technically, its not even anywhere close to the most popular park in America. The attendance and prices of Disney and Universal parks absolutely dwarf it. But typically, in the coaster community, if a ride opens at CP, its going to be a big deal, and it will be higher in the rankings than it should be for years.

That being said, CP is my perfect kind of park. Very little nonsense. Few kiddie rides. Just straight up pure coasters. I also enjoy the clientele a lot more. A lot easier to find other enthusiasts and drum up great conversations.

SFMM is the much bigger park with more coasters, and arguably a better collection, but it just doesn't get the number of enthusiasts that CP does.

Bobbie1951's avatar

Maybe someone can suggest a place to have dinner at Kings Island that features good vegetarian options. This is one of the few parks I've visited this year where I couldn't get a decent meal. Great Adventure offers very tasty black bean burgers, Alton Towers offers good veggie burgers, Kings Dominion offers a mac & cheese bowl, etc. I don't know the layout of KI very well in terms of dining and by dinnertime the only thing I could find to eat was a dish of noodles and onions topped with cold rice at Panda Express. This was the low point of my visit.

Anyone who can withstand more than one ride on The Beast clearly has more fortitude than I do. I found it so rough that I couldn't wait for the ride to end and put me out of my misery. Someone suggested, after the fact, that I would have had a better ride in a non-wheel row, and this suggestion may have some merit. (I was in the very last car.) Even Mystic Timbers was a bit rough for my taste. The only rides in the park that I could ride repeatedly without discomfort were Banshee, Diamondback and Firehawk.


I used to marathon Mean Streak.

Trackmaster said:

SFMM is the much bigger park with more coasters, and arguably a better collection, but it just doesn't get the number of enthusiasts that CP does.

I think the biggest thing Magic Mountain has going against it is itself. It is well known for notoriously awful park operations and the occasional rough crowd. If the park operated with the efficiency and uptime of Cedar Point, the experience would be completely different.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I also think Magic Mountain suffers from inferior coasters and very few non-coaster rides.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Vater's avatar

The amount of enthusiasts a park "gets" isn't even a remote consideration as to which park is preferable, unless maybe I'm visiting during an enthusiast event.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I would venture to say that, unlike Magic Mountain, CP makes enthusiasts.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

So we just headed up to Cedar Point earlier today and I have to say I just experienced what I guess I would call the post vacation home park "meh". I realize how lucky I am to live so close to a park like Cedar Point but all day I felt a weird sense of been there, done having experienced something totally new last week made today feel like a little bit of a rut. It may have been colored by the day not working out as hoped and maybe that set the stage but I was feeling a definite craving for the novelty of the newness Kings Island had to offer. There was something to be said for not having every turn of a track memorized.

Vater's avatar

That's how I've felt about our hobby in general for at least the past decade. Last year I think we hit one park--Hershey--and our first park trip this year was Knoebel's just this past Monday. It's nice not having that over-saturuation that I started feeling after 10+ trips a year.

I've actually been to the park less this year than most due to a death in the family and the weather. I usually go to Cedar Point like most women go to the mall. I think it was partly how much I miss Kings Island already. Having the change of scenery and coaster line up was great and I want more of that.

Raven-Phile's avatar

I've definitely gone there less this year, and when I do go, I feel like I make a more quality experience out of it. I have spent more time on the beach and doing leisurely things than riding rides.

I'm just not the coaster nut I used to be, and that's A-OK with me.

Honestly, I'm super surprised at the amount of days I've spent in WDW this year, as an Ohio resident. So far, I've been on 2 trips, with a solo long weekend (meeting friends for Wine & Dine race weekend) and another possible 5 day trip with the GF and kid. I'm so into relaxing by the pool and strolling around the parks at night, rather than power riding. Don't get me wrong, when the opportunity presents itself, I will definitely take the time to enjoy a few rides. Steel Vengeance Media Day was a HUGE one for me, but it's the last time I played ride warrior and even saw a glimpse of my old days. Before that, was PPP.

Few and far between, because my aging body can't take it.

I seem to be the exception within my group of family and friends. As they ride less because they don't tolerate it as much getting older my body seems to crave it that much more. Maybe not so much the roughness but the G forces and round and round. I was the go to adult on the last family trip for rides that required little kids to be accompanied by an adult because me and my teen boys are the only "adults" that can whirl and twirl and not puke for any great period of time.

Frantic Ferret's avatar

Bobbie1951 said:

Maybe someone can suggest a place to have dinner at Kings Island that features good vegetarian options.

I was there last week and managed to eat in the park. The vegetarian options aren't great, but there was enough variety to make the daily meal plan worth it for a two-day visit. My default meal was just the veggie sub from Subway. The Mexican place over by The Racer also has burritos/bowls that you can do meat-free. There also is the option of pizza, if you're not vegan. Only didn't that once, though. They're kind of greasy and loaded with cheese. The pizza places do have an option of just a salad, as well. I couldn't find a veggie burger in the place though.

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