“The No. 1 question that we’ve had from our guests since the last year that we had WinterFest open (in 2005) was ‘When are you bringing WinterFest back?’ It’s definitely a cherished tradition for people in the Greater Cincinnati community, and it’s something we wanted to bring back to help them celebrate that tradition,” said Chad Showalter, director of communications, Kings Island.
The first year Kings Island held WinterFest was 1982, and it continued every year through 1992. It was brought back briefly in 2005. Each time Kings Island ended WinterFest, it was also during a time of ownership change at Kings Island, and the business owners wanted to focus on other business priorities. Because guests have been asking about it for years, it was the right time to bring WinterFest back, Showalter said.
Kings Island will bring back WinterFest in 2017 after its 12-year hiatus. The attraction will continue throughout the season, and be open on select nights through Saturday, Dec. 30. For a complete schedule, details and pricing, go to www.visitkingsisland.com.
WinterFest will include a Christmas tree display with the park’s iconic 314-foot tall Eiffel Tower decorated with thousands of lights. International Street will be transformed into a winter village, with Christmas carolers and other festivities.
Much of the park will be open, and many of Kings Island’s popular attractions have been renamed to reflect the spirit of the holidays. For example, the “Action Zone” will transform into the “Action Ice Zone,” and the gardens next to the Eiffel Tower will become “Candy Cane Lane.” Planet Snoopy” will be known as “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town.” There are nine of these Winter Wonderlands throughout the park, glowing with more than five million lights.
There will also be live entertainment and stage shows like “Jingle Jazz,” “A Peanuts Guide to Christmas,” “Sounds of the Nativity” and “What the Dickens?!” among others. Strolling characters will spread holiday cheer in the midways throughout the park, such as Jack Frost, Jingle Bell and Sugar Plum Fairy.
Additionally, up to 17 rides will be open, including Mystic Timbers, K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad and the Grand Carousel. Plus, there are plenty of tasty food options and shopping opportunities for those looking to purchase holiday gifts.
Another feature to note is International Restaurant, offering spectacular views and overlooking the front entry gate, will be open again for a holiday buffet. (The buffet is a separate ticket/cost for $24.99 plus applicable taxes/fees.)
“WinterFest will become for families that tradition that it was for so many years, and you can experience so many familiar holiday traditions, and so much more at Kings Island. From ice skating on a 320-ft. long ice skating rink in the Royal Fountain to being able to decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and see holiday performances all throughout the park, and enjoy some unique food offerings. It’s an experience people will be talking about long after their visit to WinterFest this year,” Showalter said.
WANT TO GO?
Where: Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason
When: Select nights, beginning on Friday, Nov. 24, through Saturday, Dec.30. 5 p.m.-10 p.m. International Street opens at 4 p.m. Saturdays, and at 4:30 p.m. on all other operating days. Select food and merchandise locations on International Street will be open. The Lighting Ceremony with Snoopy and the Kings Island Holiday Singers will kick-off WinterFest nightly at 5:30 p.m. from the International Street Stage.
Cost: Tickets start at $25 and go up to $45 for an all-inclusive ticket. Discounts are available when purchasing tickets online. (WinterFest will be included free for 2017 Gold and Platinum season passholders.)