American Coaster Enthusiasts: Kings Island earns reputation as ‘must-do’ experience

Ride enthusiasts enjoy a ride on the wooden roller coaster, Mystic Timbers, at Kings Island, during a preview of the attraction Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017. The ride is among 11 roller coaster featured at the 364-acre amusement park, which opened in 1972. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

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Ride enthusiasts enjoy a ride on the wooden roller coaster, Mystic Timbers, at Kings Island, during a preview of the attraction Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017. The ride is among 11 roller coaster featured at the 364-acre amusement park, which opened in 1972. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Park’s ability to take good care of coasters help push it up in rankings, official says

Kings Island, over its 50 years history, continues to rate high among amusement park fans seeking their next big thrill.

The park is “iconic” among its peers, consistently drawing people because of the quantity and quality of its rides and attractions, according to Elizabeth Ringas, spokeswoman for American Coaster Enthusiasts the world’s largest ride enthusiast organization.

“Kings Island is one of those parks that you have to get to,” Ringas said. “It’s known throughout the enthusiast, world across the world, as a park that you have to experience.”

The park’s 11 roller coasters stack up very well against their competition — the more than 2,000 roller coasters in the world, said Ringas of ACE, which holds events worldwide for its 6,500 members from across the United States, Europe, and Japan.

But the 364-acre park also boasts dozens of other attractions and is about more than dive loops, barrel rolls and corkscrew twists and turns.

“It’s the whole package,” she said. “It’s not about the biggest and the baddest roller coasters. Yes, the Beast is the longest (wooden roller coaster in the world), but it’s about ... it’s classic. It’s still such a solid experience even after all these years.”

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That’s because the park takes care of its rides, Ringas said, maintaining them well and renovating them entirely, when necessary. The park’s owner, Cedar Fair, recently made a “huge” investment in updating The Racer and is now is investing in The Beast.

They want them to stay around, they want them to be there for the next generation to experience,” she said. “You can go back and have that experience again or share it with a new group of friends, or take your kids or your grandkids. They really want to make sure that you’re making memories.”

Nick Dailey, of Kettering, said the most memorable part of Kings Island has been getting to experience, as a father, his 4-year-old daughter enjoying rides and events that he enjoyed as a kid with his mother. He also revels in annual attractions like WinterFest and Halloween Haunt, dressing his daughter up and trick or treating with her just like his mother did for him.

“It’s a generational family thing that makes memories and creates stories that can be told forever,” said Dailey, who visits Kings Island three or four times a month. “That’s the best part.”

Sarah Lemon, of Springfield, said she visits the park about 10 times a year because of its coasters and other rides, plus its restaurants, live entertainment, Planet Snoopy area for children, Soak City water park and Halloween Haunt.

She said her most memorable moments at Kings Island include riding roller coasters with her children for their first time.

“They were hooked from that moment on,” she said. “It’s a way for our family to get away and be together. Every day at Kings Island has had a special moment for all of us, but mainly just spending time together as a family.”

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Kings Island is a destination park due to its wide variety of coasters, including wooden, inverted, suspended, giga coasters and more, according to Ringas and Nick Weisenberger, a content producer and spokesman for Coaster101.com, which reports on roller coaster and amusement park news.

“From the classic Beast to the new Orion, they’ve got something for every coaster fan’s taste,” Weisenberger said. “They also have one of the best annual events for coaster enthusiasts.”

That 2-day event in May, Coasterstock, has been one of the top enthusiast gatherings in the industry since its debut in 2015 with tickets always selling out in a matter of minutes, according to Coaster101. The two-day extravaganza is full of exclusive ride time, behind-the-scenes tours, speakers and food with roughly 600 attendees.

Kings Island also is a consistent contender in Coaster101’s Park Mania competition and, in 2018, defeated Kentucky’s Beech Bend, fellow Cedar Fair park Worlds of Fun, Six Flags Great America, Kentucky Kingdom and Disneyland Resort before beating Hersheypark in the final voting period.

But it’s not just about the fun and games at the Warren County amusement park, Weisenberger said. Staff at the park also contribute greatly to the overall experience.

“After visiting a few parks across the country last year, one of the biggest things that stood out at Kings Island was the staff,” he said. “The staff there do an amazing job. You can tell that they take pride in their work and especially of their park and are proud to represent Kings Island.”

For the 2022 season, Kings Island opens April 16.

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