Kings Island has always been on my theme park bucket list. Happily, the stars aligned on a recent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Mr. Locke and I checked it out for my first time. Are there things I wish I would have known before I crossed the gates? You betcha. Here are 11 important tips for your first visit to Kings Island.
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- Test Drive Gourmet Cotton Candy
1. Download the App
Kings Island has a free app that works for both iPhone and Android users. Honestly, take time to get to know the app before you visit. It will save you so much time and energy while you’re in the parks. The Kings Island app includes important information like park hours, ride wait times, and prices. You can even make park purchases on it, too.
Once you’re in the park, Kings Island offers free wifi to all of its guests. When we visited we had no issues at all connecting. On your visit, use the app for checking ride wait times, show times, and park special events.
2. Learn the Lay of the Park Ahead of Time
While it’s fun to be surprised by what a theme park has to offer, knowing the lay of the land before you visit is integral. Not only will it save you time by not staring at a park map, you can make a mental list of what you want to ride and what shows to see when you visit.
3. Buy your Tickets Before You Visit
Want to save some serious cash before you even hit the gates? But your tickets ahead of time. At the time this post was written, a single day Kings Island park adult ticket at the gate is $70.00. Online or via the KI app? $49.99. That’s a $20 savings per ticket. There are also military and two-park discounts, too. Make sure to buy the tickets that are best suitable for you and your visiting party.
4. Take Advantage of Midweek Visits
If you can swing visiting on a Tuesday or Wednesday you’ll not only save time waiting in line, you’ll find less people in the park.
5. Arrive at Rope Drop
I’m a huge proponent of taking advantage of the first two hours of park opening. Heck, I write about the benefits of rope drop for Walt Disney World all of the time. The first two hours of any theme park are the golden hours. Not only will you see lighter crowds, you can take advantage of less ride wait times. Parking will also be easier, too.
6. Consider the Dining Plan
Here’s my take on the Kings Island Dining Plan and why it made sense for us to purchase. Using the All Day Dining Plan as an example, the cost is $29.99/tax for an entire day’s meals. We were able to take advantage of the plan even more with the fact that you can order a meal and side every 90 minutes.
So what did we do? As a gal that wanted to try a little of everything, I did just that. Beginning at 11am and every 90 minutes thereafter, I ordered a meal and had a few bites. I tried Chicken Shack, Reds Hall of Fame Grill, Tom + Chee, and LaRosa’s Pizza. While it was a ton of food, I wanted to find out my favorite dining spot. The winner? Tom + Chee and some of the best grilled cheeses I’ve eaten.
Dining Plan note: Dining Plans do not include drinks. We did end up purchasing a refillable mug using the app and took full advantage of staying hydrated. Use the app to purchase and you’ll save a couple of dollars, too.
7. Wait Before You Buy a Fast Lane Pass
The second we walked into the park, I considered purchasing a Fast Lane Pass as they’ve worked very well for us at Cedar Point. but here’s the rub: on the day we visited there was no need. The crowds were super low on our midweek visit and we walked on/waited for less than five minutes for all of the rides we wanted to try.
Should you get in the park and realize you need one, you can purchase a Fast Lane Pass inside.
8. Check the Ride Thrill Level & Height Requirement Before You Board
Kings Island has done a fab job by posting thrill levels for its rides so there’s zero surprise it intensity. If you’re visiting with younger children, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Also, if there’s any doubt as to your child’s height, they will check. If the kiddos don’t measure up, head to Planet Snoopy for fun. It was voted the best Kid’s Area for 17 consecutive years, after all.
9. Visit the Kids’ Area – Even if You Have None With You
I LOVE Planet Snoopy! I think the theming is adorable, the music fun. Another fun fact: there’s an in-house petting zoo. There’s nothing like taking a break from the rides to give the laid-back farm animals a quick scratch.
10. Try a Blue Ice Cream
And not just any blue ice cream, either. Located in Planet Snoopy, the blueberry soft serve has a cult following at this point. While its ties originally were attached to a Smurf ride in the Kids’ area, the ride is long gone but the ice cream remains.
Not only is Blue Ice Cream delicious, it’s a fun way to cool off on hot park days.
11. Test Drive Gourmet Cotton Candy
Last, but certainly not least, you really should try the go beyond the original cotton candy taste and try a cool flavor like Ranch or Licorice. At The Sweet Spot, new flavors are debuted each week and are available to take home.
Where We Stayed
Here’s the story on lodging near Kings Island. If you have kiddos with you, there is one with an indoor waterpark bang next to Kings Island. If not? You’ll be driving for a few minutes. We stayed at Drury Inn & Suites Middletown (about 15-20 minutes away from Kings Island) and really enjoyed it. The beds were super comfy. There was plenty of shopping and dining nearby.
And our king room was huge! Add to the fact that there was a pool, free breakfast, and a free nightly social hour (we only had to pay for lunch during our stay!), and I’m happy to visit again.