King’s Island’s New Planet Snoopy Kid’s Zone
I hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. I know I did. After a very rainy May, we finally got around to using our 2010 season passes to King’s Island for the first time.
Our oldest daughter is five and the youngest is one. (The youngest stayed with grandma and we brought along an older niece who had never been to King’s Island before.) Neither of the girls is very adventurous, so a trip to King’s Island for us pretty much begins and ends in the kid’s zone.
This year, King’s Island has rethemed their kid’s zone from the popular Nickelodeon Universe to the timeless (but infinitely less relevant) Planet Snoopy featuring the characters from the Peanuts comic strip.
I have to think this is a cost-cutting move on the part of the park’s new owners, Cedar Fair. They have owned the Peanuts license for years at Cedar Point. From their point of view, why maintain two separate licenses when you can have the same one at both parks?
I understand the thinking, but I was still sad to see the Nick characters go. My oldest daughter loves Spongebob and Dora, etc. But she barely knows the Peanuts characters. Also, from my own point of view, I was a little sad to finally see Scooby Doo completely removed from the park. It was the last remainder of the Hanna Barbara properties that I enjoyed when I was a kid.
After opening the spectacular Diamondback last year, King’s Island is basing this year’s marketing around the “new” Planet Snoopy area the “new” Boo Blasters dark ride. But the use of the word “new” is at best misleading. Aside from new paint jobs, there are very few changes in the park this year.
In fact, all of the rides (except Boo Blasters) are more or less identical to years past. They’ve all got a fresh coat of paint and Snoopy-themed names. Statues and card board cutouts that had featured Jimmy Neutron and the Fairly Odd Parents have been replaced by Charlie Brown and Woodstock. The ride vehicles on the Blue’s Scadoo have changed from cartoon dogs to Red Baron bi-planes. But other than cosmetic changes, the attractions are the same.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. King’s Island’s kid’s area is highly regarded and has been winning awards for years. There’s no point messing with a successful formula. And with a fresh coat of paint, the entire area looks great. Just don’t expect anything truly new in spite of what the marketing materials tell you.
That includes the new Boo Blasters ride. This is just the Scooby Doo dark ride minus Scooby Doo. They’ve definitely cleaned it up. The guns were working better than they have in years (although my wife said one of the guns in her ride vehicle was already out.) They’ve also added a “3-D” effect. To experience the “3-D”, you have to fork out $1 for cardboard glasses. I can’t really comment on this as I wasn’t about to spend the extra money.
Most of the ride remains unchanged aside from the removal of Scooby and some general (and much needed) maintenance. The ending is noticeably scarier with very dark rooms filled will menacing skeletons with red eyes. Without Scooby and with the slightly scarier creatures, the ride may be too scary for some little ones.
Which is a shame. I love dark rides and I wish King’s Island had more of them. One of the things I love about Disney parks is all of the family friendly dark rides. However, dark rides don’t sell tickets like big coasters. And for what it is, Boo Blasters is a fun dark ride. Hopefully they will keep up with the maintenance and not let it fall into the same state of disrepair as Scooby Doo.
While the girls were enjoying some sno cones, I went on a brief solo adventure. I didn’t dare stray outside of Planet Snoopy. But in the time it took to eat sno cones, I figured I could hop a ride on the old log flume ride (now called Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown).
I hadn’t been on this ride in at least 20 years. But it was pretty much exactly as I remembered it. Only faster and a little more bumpy. I’m sure the ride didn’t change. I’d just forgotten what a fast and bumpy little ride the flume was. On the whole, I really enjoyed my little nostalgia trip. And the fresh coat of paint made the ride look great. It’s no Splash Mountain. But it’s not trying to be. It’s just a well-made mild thrill ride that ends in a nice sized splash (which was welcome on a hot day).
As a fan of Disney Parks, the comparison between Race for Your Life and Splash Mountain kind of sums up my feelings on the two experiences. The Magic Kingdom, for example, is a premium experience. King’s Island, on the other hand, is much less ambitious. But you can’t beat it for price and convenience.
When you compare King’s Island with other regional, seasonal parks, I think it really shines. Compared to these parks, King’s Island really goes the extra mile. While King’s Island could safely be considered a “coaster” park, they actually have a pretty wide variety of attractions beyond the headliners. And their kid’s area is second to none among these kinds of parks.
While I would love to be able to hop in my car and drive to the Magic Kingdom on weekends, I came away from this half-day trip with a newfound appreciation of King’s Island. It’s a little gem of a park. And if I can’t have the Magic Kingdom in my backyard, I’m glad I have King’s Island instead of your run of the mill coaster park.