"It's cold, dammit!"
I finally made it to WinterFest this past Friday. Unfortunetely it was bitter cold, and I mean bitter!
First stop was to drive the back road in Kings Mills to the service gate to check on the Great Wolf Lodge construction. The main steel frame for the main building and waterpark section has started going up, and the framing for the South wing is severly underway. I was surprised to see that it is a compeltely wooden frame. I snapped photos, got back in the van, and we proceeded into PKI via the South parking entrance. The trolls are charging $5 per car, with the Preferred option available for $10. Season parking passes are not accepted, which sucks.
We walked up to the gate and got in the short line at security, and right at 4, they opened, and we quickly got through and into the park with our advance sale tickets.
Walking onto International Street I took photos and video of the area during the daylight. Only International Street is open from 4-5PM. After a walk around I-Street, we duck into the right side International Street shops, where I take a look at Kings Island Opoly, and buy a WinterFest Santa hat to keep my head from freezing off, and a couple ornaments and a scarf.
Walking back out onto International Street, I check out the Lakota East High School Choir performing at the stage at the end of the ice rink, and right at 5PM, watch a minute or two of the Scrooge show by Starbucks and proceed over to the Hanna-Barbera entrance next to Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Castle.
For some reason, the rope isn't dropped yet, and the employee staffing it doesn't seem to have a clue what to do. Scooby's overhead door is still sealing the entrance to the building.
Finally, she went and got a superior, and they came back and dropped the rope. We quickly proceeded into Hanna-Barbera Land and I took photos, and walked through Santa's Christmastown and then into Rivertown.
We boarded the White Christmas Express in row 2 of the lead car at around 6:20 following the in-station show as part of the storyline. The overall theme is a soldier returning home for Christmas on the train.
The conductor boarded and the train left, and as it left they said "Watch out for the water!" and used the train's filling tank to soak the roof of the passenger cars. Let's see... it's 25 degrees... that's very smart!
The lack of lights detracts from the experience a little but the conductor keeps things running smoothly, and then the train stops midcourse to let the soldier off the train and run into his "house" before starting back up and returning to Holiday Junction, passing through a funky-ass neon light display under the White Water Canyon exit bridge.
We exited the train into a very dark Rivertown, and proceeded down toward the Rivertown Arcade. I was taking a picture of the Swan Lake trees, and an employee rolling by told me the first light show was in five minutes.
I checked my watch and found it was 5:40. I want to see the tree lighting at 6 on International Street, so I might have to leave it before its over in order to make it.
The show starts slowly, and as the music builds the lights come on and the show starts. I perch on the ground right at the edge of the water, bracing my camera on the railing to hold it steady for night shot. It's a really well done show, and at the end, pyrotechnics shoot off to finish the show.
The show ends and I check my watch. 5:52. Hurry! Hurry! Run! Run! I take off down the pathway leading to the Eiffel Tower and downright SPRINT down International Street, and arrive at the front of the park with a couple minutes to spare.
The Mayor of WinterFest arrives (I can't remember his name... it was too damn complicated.) He goes through the proclamation and such, and calls the family out from their hiding place behind the lighting stage. He activates a few Seuss-like noise making devices, and hands them the plunger, telling them to push it on the count of four, as it only works on even numbers.
Count to four and they press it, shooting a pyrotechnic off from behind the stage. It flies up over the ice rink and to the top of the tower, shooting off rockets from the top of the tower and lighting the Paramount stars. Then, the tower tree lights and color floodlights come on, followed by the decorative lights in the center of the ice rink.
Now that the lights have lit, I make a bathroom stop, wander around for a few minutes, then head for Paramount Theater for our 6:30 appointment at the Toy Factory.
We settled into seats toward the back of the theater. There is a pretty large crowd gathering in here, most seats are full. Good thing we got a ticket...
The show starts. It's a typical "Not enough Christmas spirit" type show, and unfortunately some of the scenes drag a little. But it's overall a decent show, and I'll probably see it again next time I'm here.
After exiting the show, we go to check out the Winter FestHaus. Verdict: It looks very nice! Much better than it used to especially with those damned screens gone for good now. Live entertainment on the center stage is decent as well.
We declined to eat here due to the limited menu options, so we left Festhaus and went to the soup joint on International Street, where she had the firehouse chili, and I, not being that brave, got the potato soup and breadbowl.
Verdict: Good soup, breadbowl a little on the tough side. I finish my soup and down some hot chocolate, then we walk down I-Street and catch the parade passing by.
The parade was good but a little too short. The poor ballerina must have been freezing! We enter the Crafters Village next and check it out. It's totally different than it normally is, with the entire building being third party vendors, with the exception of the stacks of Kings Island Opoly and WinterFest ornaments and cups at one of the counters.
Exiting the building, we take another lap around International Street, and decide that it's too cold to stay out much longer. We go through Nickelodeon Tree Lot, which seems to be a colossal waste of space, with just some cut pines and Nick characters.
While around there I see the carousel is running at approximately Warp Ten. I declined to ride for now because of the bitter cold, and we proceed out of Nick Tree Lot and go through Bubba Gumps really quick just to see what it's like, and walk around the back way past Adventure Express, SlingShot, and Delirium's queue and back out past the Winter FestHaus and onto International Street.
We go to the right side shops again to pick up the Kings Island Opoly and some other things, and grab some mini donuts and hot chocolate, then after watching the strolling performers, exit the park.
Overall it's a very nice, very well done event. Attendance seemed low tonight, likely due to the downright nasty bitter cold. Those that were there were mostly inside Paramount Theater, FestHaus, Bubba Gumps, and the shops, all places that are heated.
I have another set of advance sale tickets for WinterFest and will certainly be back the week after Christmas to do the few things I missed today, and to take video to make a video of the entire event. Paramount has a good event on their hands here, hopefully it will be successful.
-Donald, Owner/Webmaster, KIExtreme.com - The In-Depth Guide to Kings Island
My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.
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"The Future of Roller Coasters"
PKI WinterFest Video
*** Edited 12/21/2005 4:50:45 AM UTC by RollerCoasterGod***
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