Located just north of Cincinnati, Ohio, Kings Island consistently ranks among the highest attended seasonal amusement parks in the country; nearly 4 million people will visit this year. With twenty thrill rides, a dozen family rides, the most award-winning kids area in the world, and a number of other attractions, where should you start? A passholder for more than 30 years, Wayfinding TravelingMom Jennifer Kaufman has you covered with insider Kings Island tips for first-time visitors.
How to Make your First Trip to Kings Island Great
Kings Island, arguably Cincinnati’s most famous tourist destination and the largest amusement and waterpark in the Midwest, has been a family favorite for longer than I’ve been alive. My parents fell in love while working there as teenagers, got married shortly thereafter, and I have had a season pass every single one of my 33 years. Now living just moments away from the front gates, my kids have started such streaks of their own. But you don’t have to be an insider to have an amazing first visit. You just need to know these important Kings Island tips.
Kings Island Tips: Know before You Go
1. Download the Kings Island app
Load your admission tickets and enter the park using the app (or even your Apple Watch). Also, the app allows you to note where you parked, find ride wait times and height requirements, add fun borders to your in-park pictures, and so much more.
There is free wifi throughout the park, and you can even tweet with Kings Island employees to get your questions answered.
2. Buy your tickets in advance
The best publicly available prices – a savings up to $20 per ticket – are available in advance via the park’s website. You can also find discounted tickets at Kroger stores around the city.
3. Consider purchasing a “FastLane” upgrade
We have never experienced Fast Lane since we go regularly, but it often makes sense for guests visiting just a day or two – especially on days with high attendance. There are a limited number of wristbands sold for special Fast Lane queues, where we’ve never seen a wait. This may be a “time is money” scenario, where a small investment could make your first visit even better!
Kings Island Tips: During your Visit
4. Take in the specialty shops
Just inside the park on International Street discover, among other gems, an “I love the ’80s” store, a super fun candy shop, and local favorite treats such as Graeter’s Ice Cream and LaRosa’s pizza. My son went nuts over the Muppets merchandise he found!
5. See unique live entertainment
Depending on your family’s interests, plan to see a dog show (featuring stunts performed by rescued animals), a Cirque performance, or live instrumental and vocal music throughout the park. My kids’ favorite live entertainment last year was definitely “PEANUTS Party in the Park,” a hybrid show/dance party in front of the Eiffel Tower. After the show, the kids spent time with their favorite Peanuts characters!
6. Get a birds’ eye view from the Eiffel Tower
At 315 feet, the Kings Island Eiffel Tower is a 1/3 replica of the iconic landmark found in Paris, France. Visitors can take the elevator to a 275′ viewing platform to get an incredible view of the park and surrounding towns. We like to look for our neighborhood, but even if you don’t live nearby, it’s a view worth seeing!
7. Don’t overlook the Family Care Center
In addition to the First Aid center, there is a beautiful new Family Care Center with restrooms, charging outlets, televisions, refrigeration, hot water, and full-size changing stations – all at no additional charge.
8. Purchase the All-Day Dining Plan and a refillable souvenir cup
We always utilize the dining plan for season pass holders, but the park also offers a single day option. For just $29.99 you can get a meal as often as every 90 minutes, all day. The dining plan is accepted at more than a dozen different restaurants.
There are two options for refillable souvenir cups. If visiting just a day or two, purchase the cup that allows free refills the first day, and refills for just $0.99 on subsequent visits in 2017. Be sure to seek out the dedicated beverage refill stations for the most drink options anywhere in the park.
9. Visit Planet Snoopy
If you have little ones in your party, you simply cannot miss Planet Snoopy. This kids’ area has won Amusement’s Best Kids Area “Golden Ticket Award” for 16 years straight. It has dozens of rides for kids of all ages, and several the entire family can enjoy together!
10. Eat blue ice cream
Kings Island’s blueberry soft-serve has been a local favorite since they began serving it as a tie-in to the Smurf-themed Enchanted Voyage ride in the 1980s. No visit is complete without a helping of blue ice cream.
11. Board the train
If you need to cool off or rest your feet, hop aboard the train in Rivertown. Guests who do not want to walk to Soak City – the adjacent waterpark included with any admission to Kings Island – can take the train between parks. Even if you aren’t visiting the waterpark, the round-trip ride on one of these authentic steam engines is a lot of fun.
12. Ride The Beast at night
When it was built in 1979, The Beast was the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden roller coaster in the world. After more than 30 years, it is still beloved by coaster enthusiasts everywhere.
My absolute favorite thing to do in the entire park is to ride The Beast after the sun goes down. As you make your way through the woods, the darkness, speed, and unmistakeable sound of a wooden track may just be your favorite 4 minutes of the entire day, too.
13. Stay for the fireworks
If you’re able to stay up late enough (or return to the park after resting at home or in a nearby hotel), check out the nightly fireworks. Fireworks can be seen throughout the park, but the best viewing areas are along International Street.
Traveling Mom tip: If you’re in line for a ride when the fireworks display takes place, they may stop the queue temporarily, but you will be able to ride when the show is over!
Have you been to Kings Island or another Cedar Fair park? On your first visit, would you head for the thrill rides or live entertainment first?