Me and my 17 y.o. son (Rock-a-Billy) attended PKI's WinterFest on Friday, Nov. 25.
My spouse (ShrillBilly) and 14 y.o. son (Lil'Billy) opted out of this trip due to Lil' having B-ball practice and Shrill's feeling somewhat nauseated from the previous day's turkey festivities.
Our family had purchased our first PKI season passes since 1994 during Fearfest. We attended that great event two times during October and attended the park on closing weekend in November. We took advantage of the season pass holders bring a friend free that weekend and took five additional teenagers to the park on that day.
We live 2 1/2 hours from PKI. We have kept season passes for Dollywood for many years. We live about 4 1/2 hours from that park. We attend Dollywood 10-12 times per year. I consider Dolly's Smoky Mountain Christmas to be the ultimate Amusement Park Christmas event in the world, especially since they have added, Thunderhead. We were anxious to see how PKI would light up.
We arrived at PKI at the opening time of 4:00 p.m. We had earlier purchased on-line $17.99 specific day tickets and printed at home. Regular price is $24.99. Season pass holders can get a ticket at the gate for $18.99. Parking is $5.00 per car for everyone, including parking pass holders.
We were not sure of what the crowd would be, as PKI has been indicating that they expect some sellouts of this event. The crowd upon our arrival was small but picked up somewhat throughout the night peaking at Parade time (7:30 p.m.) I'm sure that the cold had some effect on the crowd this evening. It was a very cold feeling 28 degrees. PKI did have some portable stand underneath heaters in areas of the park, which helped to relieve the chills.
After a quick walk up ride on Scoobies Haunted Castle where Thrill kicked Rock-A's behind we attended the indoor show "Santa's Toy Factory Musical" in the Paramount Theater at 4:30. Following some initial sound problems this show proved to be fun. It lasts for 30 minutes. You have to get a timed entry ticket for this show for admission.
We then walked to the Carousel and Rock-A-Billy rode the horse they have specifically applied a Christmas coat of paint to. That was a nice touch. I don't know that we would have spotted this pony if not had earlier reading a preview article on WinterFest at the hotel from the Mason newspaper.
The highlight of the evening for me was the "Holiday Illumination's Light Show". This is held on the lake in Rivertown right in front of LaRosa's Pizza. This show last about 15 minutes and was simply beautiful. Dollywood has a program that is probably like this one but I've never taken the time to fight through the crowd to see it.
Rock-A-Billy went ice-skating for the first time ever while I checked out some of local craftsman’s displays inside the warm shops of International Street. Upon leaving the shops I was looking for a 6'2 teen in a Bengal’s toboggan lying on the ice. Much to my surprise, Rock-A actually went flying by looking as if he had been doing this forever. The only thing he couldn't do well was STOP, LOL. The skating is $10 for unlimited time. You can even leave, get a hand stamp and come back later.
The parade was colorful and fun. I found a low brick wall to observe away from the crowd right beside of the Lost Parents building. Rock-A missed the parade due to skating.
Following the parade Rock-A and I got back together. After another butt kicking in the Haunted Mansion (Still no wait at 8:00 p.m.) we went to the much-anticipated "White Christmas Express" train ride. On the way we made a quick walk through "Santa's Christmastown" where the kids can meet with Santa. Pretty indoor setting with lots of toy and decorated trees.
The train ride was 1940's themed with characters like a WWII soldier and WWII nurse whom sang for us prior to the train ride and rode the train to her "HOME" with us. This character "Nurse Wallace" was a beautiful blond girl with a great singing voice. There were very few people left in the park following the parade, as the temps were getting quite uncomfortable.
We left the park at 8:45 p.m. Also saw the Scrooge show right next to Starbucks. This was a cute little show with Scrooge at his playful insultingly best.
The Eiffel Tower was pretty with changing light colors on the tower. I was surprised that the lights didn't wrap around the back of the tower however.
Overall impressions were that I was happy we attended Winterfest. It's hard to compare this event to Dollywood's as they are quite different in many ways. Dolly's has many more shows, which are indoors. Dolly has all of the coasters and rides going as long as the temps are above 40 degrees. PKI's event, however, accomplishes what it sets out to do. The lights are beautiful especially on International Street. They had some beautiful Winterfest apparel and stuffed bears. We didn't try any of the food as we headed to Culver's in Mason right after leaving the park.
This event is a good value and I do not feel bad that the park has made this a separate event not covered by the season pass. This event would not be as enjoyable with large crowds. They could let parking pass holder's park for free however as a good gesture.
We stayed at the Comfort Inn Northeast on Fields Ertel. This is a clean cheap location for us ($39.00 Gov't rate) and we have stayed there many times in the past.
We went to Cincy Mill’s the following day and then made our first trip ever to Camp Washington Chili on Hopple and Colerain. It really is the “Best Chili in the World.”
Take it easy,
I hear that Smokey Mountain Christmas at Dollywood is out of this world. I hope to also attend that one in the near future.
Again, thanks ThrillBilly for such a positive and enjoyable report on my favorite park, Paramounts Kings Island !!!
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