Winterfest ~ Kings Island ~ Opening Weekend Highlights

Opening weekend of Winterfest is in the books for Kings Island and we had a great time! After a 12-year absence, the event returned with a huge turnout and tons of holiday cheer. So let’s take a look at some of the many highlights at the event:

Just walking towards the decked out park entrance, you can see the yet to be lit Eiffel Tower Christmas Tree:

The tree lighting takes place 5:30 daily, just 30 mins after the start of the event. It should be noted, the entrance gates and International Street area open a little sooner than the park’s 5 PM opening time.

Once the tree is lit, it becomes a spectacular site all around the park:

One of our favorite angles was right underneath it looking up though:

The lack of a fountain on International Street means ice skating and Snowflake Lake is a vast unique experience:

Candy Cane Lane has tons of photo-ops throughout the pathway:

As you may have seen in the video above, Winterfest Way is a brightly decorated pathways headed back towards the back of the park:

Another colorful pathway is the Coney Elf Mall:

Lots of kids rides are open over in Planet Snoopy which has been transformed into Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town. This is also the perfect place to run into Santa Snoopy:

The Grand Carousel is also open for a great family ride:

Another ride open, weather permitting, is the all new Mystic Timbers. As an added bonus, Mystic Timbers has a single rider line available during the event.

Food options are plenty and we sadly barely got to scratch the surface on our first weekend. Below is a look at the Turkey and Ham dinners that are available in the Festhaus:

The big hit everyone seems to be raving about online is the build your own Mac and Cheese or Tater Tots Bar. With lots of topping selections a generous portion size this place is included on your all season dining plan! Also worth noting they have 2 types of Mac and Cheese: White Cheddar and traditional. We’ll have more coverage of the specialty food options in our subsequent visits.

Another great variety lies in the gift shop carrying tons of Winterfest merchandise. From coaster ornaments to ugly sweaters, here’s some of our highlights that we’ve seen:

Finally a look over in the Action Ice Zone, home to snow tubing and an ice carver:

Jim’s personal thoughts:

Having attended the last Winterfest at Kings Island 12 years ago, this is a vast improvement. After just one lap around the park it quickly ranked easily within my top 5 Christmas events in parks that I’ve been too. Remember that for me that includes the prestigious Dollywood and Orlando parks events. At first impression I’m prepared to say it easily tops all the Orlando Christmas offerings.

That’s also not meant to discredit any of the Orlando parks either.  Improvements and things can be learned, but given it was the first weekend in 12 years I’ll give them some slack. I would like to see the food lines managed better, and feel the train ride was nice but could be a lot more decorations out along the tracks. The event definitely left me wanting more and a chance to return to try more favorites.

We have barely scratched the surface, the pictures/ video don’t do the wonderfully decorated park justice. We’ll have lots more coverage, including more of the offerings available in the coming weekends. Be sure to keep it tuned to our social accounts for that additional coverage! We can’t wait to visit again!

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