Kings Island Passholder Preview Night
This weekend was opening day at Kings Island. The weather was beautiful. The park has added two new family-friendly rides to its award-winning kids’ area. But we weren’t there. Why not? Because as Gold Pass holders who renewed our passes last fall, we were invited to start the season a day early at Kings Island’s Passholder Preview Night!
You really couldn’t have asked for a better evening for Kings Island’s first Passholder Preview. The temperature was moderate and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We knew it was going to be a wonderful evening when we pulled into the parking lot. Usually, there are employees manning booths in the parking lot. But tonight, since everyone in attendance was a Gold Pass holder and parking is included as a perk for passholder, we were able to sail right past the booths with no waiting. It’s a small thing. But it was a great start to the night.
Soon we were at the gates. Typically, when we go on opening day, we are greeted by a large crowd waiting to be admitted. But not so on Passholder Preview Night. We walked right in. Usually, International Street is filled with guests entering the park. But tonight, it was practically empty.
One of the park improvements this year is the addition of a giant Starbucks Coffee on International Street. I didn’t get a chance to check it out tonight. But I did snap a picture from across the fountain. I’ll be sure to step inside in a couple of weeks when I return to Kings Island for another event, Superhero Weekend.
Mindy had a friend who she knew would be attending the Passholder Preview as well. Just as she was in the process of telling us she wanted to try and meet up with her friend, we saw her sitting at the tables by the fountain. While Mindy caught up with her friend, I decided to take a stroll down International Street and see what else had changed.
If you’re unfamiliar with Kings Island, International Street is the equivalent of Main Street USA at a Disney park. You walk past a series of shops and snack locations on your way to the Eiffel Tower which serves as the park’s hub. This year, International Street got a fresh coat of paint and a few new residents.
In addition to the Starbucks, International Street saw the addition of a frozen yogurt shop and the Sweet Spot. The Sweet Spot is a truly gigantic store selling candy and baked goods. I grabbed my camera and checked out the wares.
I have to admit, I was impressed with the offerings at the Sweet Spot. I’m a veteran of Disney bakeries and I would put the Sweet Spot on about the same level as what you will find in the Orlando parks. At the end of the evening, we came back to this display case and the girls picked out a treatcicle (decorated rice cereal on a stick, a giant peanut butter cup and a snickerdoodle. I’ll have more on those later.
If you frequent Disney food blogs, you will see lots of fancy caramel apples. The Sweet Spot might not have any apples that look like Mickey Mouse, they have fancy, decadent apples covered.
Another popular treat at any theme park bakery is fudge. The Sweet Spot had sheets of the stuff in several appetizing flavors. You can bet I’ll be back to sample some of that later this summer!
The store just went on and on. There was taffy, a bulk candy, a section for Jelly Belly jelly beans. There was even packaged funnel cake mix in case you wanted to make funnel cakes at home.
There were also several registers open and lots of helpful employees. Since most of the guests were hitting the rides, the store was pretty empty when I was there. But when we came back after the rides closed, the store was busy. Even when the store was full, the staff did an excellent job of managing the crowd. There really weren’t any long waits. The store also has a signature sign-off. Everyone who helped us told us to “have a sweet night.”
By the time I finished taking pictures of the Sweet Spot, the kids were ready to ride some rides. So we headed straight for Planet Snoopy. Since this is where the new attractions were, it seemed a little busier than the other areas of the park we visited. But the lines weren’t bad overall. We decided to hop on the Woodstock Whirlybirds before the line for that got too long. While we waited, I snapped a picture of the new Space Buggies. We didn’t try out either of the new rides this evening, but they were definitely nice additions to Planet Snoopy. We’ll check them out first hand on a later visit.
While we were riding, I noticed someone waving furiously at us from the ground. It was my niece, Ella. My sister was there with her.
Ella and Kara are close in age. So we ended up splitting up. I took Josie to ride Surf Dog while the younger kids enjoyed the carousel.
While Josie and I waited to ride Surf Dog, I took a picture of the new flying scooters, the Woodstock Gliders. The old scooters were a family favorite when I was a kid, so it was great to get a new version of the ride back in the park. From what I could tell sitting on the sidelines, you can get a pretty wild ride by snapping the sail just like on the old scooters.
It was starting to get dark and you can barely make out the colored lights on the arms of the ride. The park was starting to come alive.
When we were done, we met back up with the younger kids. The girls were hungry. The park was offering a special that night. Hot pretzels and soft serve ice cream was only $1. Most of us grabbed pretzels and ice cream. But Mindy and Kara had a hankering for some funnel cake. So we all went our separate ways and met back up to enjoy our snacks. There was a lot of sharing going on. I think Kara had some of everything. Mindy also bought a fountain drink that was beyond nasty. Someone hadn’t cleaned out the hoses properly because this drink had a very strong chemical aftertaste. We ended up pitching it.
After our snacks, Josie wanted to punish me on the Scrambler. I was hoping the younger girls would give it a try. Ella had proclaimed the Scrambler her favorite ride earlier in the week. But the younger girls thought it would be a good idea to stay in Planey Snoopy, so we split up again.
On the way to Coney Mall, I took a few more pictures. Here’s the lights coming on on International Street.
We passed under the park’s icon, the Eiffel Tower.
The we arrived at our destination, the Scrambler. Josie likes it because the swinging motion throws her into me. So not only do I get spun all to heck and back, she gets to squish me as well. I should probably be worried that she enjoys punishing me so much.
While we were waiting in line, Josie spied the nearby Monster. It was a ride she had never experienced before. It spun which was definitely a bonus in her mind. All lit up, it was too appealing to pass up. So our next ride was on the Monster which Josie proclaimed her new favorite. That honor changes hands several times every season.
Meanwhile Kara and Ella were having a blast on the smaller attractions at Planet Snoopy.
I don’t know about Ella, but Kara is still usually too timid to approach Snoopy when he makes appearances in the park. So the Snoopy statue is as close as she usually comes to meeting the famous beagle.
As the night progressed, the lines were getting shorter, so the girls were able to hop from one ride to the next. They rode the swings and the dodgems a couple of times each.
Josie and I returned from Coney Mall just in time for Mindy to challenge Josie to a ride on Boo Blasters. I took the younger kids over to The Great Pumpkin Coaster. But Ella decided she didn’t want to ride. Fortunately, Josie got out just in time to ride with her sister sparing me from having to squeeze into the kid-sized coaster.
It was 10 o’clock and the fireworks started while the girls were on their ride. We had a terrific view of the display which was pretty impressive for a nightly show at a regional park. It was the perfect capper to our evening.
On our way out, we visited the Sweet Spot and picked up the aforementioned treats. The giant peanut butter cup got split up and eaten in the car. So it is not pictured here. We enjoyed the other treats the next day. The treatcicle was essentially a rice cereal treat dipped in chocolate with sprinkles. Josie said it was very yummy.
Kara decided her snickeroodle was “too hard” so she didn’t eat it. She’s used to her mom’s snickerdoodles which are very soft. Her loss was my gain. The snickerdoodle was very cakey and soft in the center. The outside was crisp, but not unpleasantly so. The cookie was not overly sweet. It had a nice, crumbly texture and a subtle cinnamon flavor.
All in all, Passholder Preview night was a great perk. I sincerely hope Kings Island continues to offer it in the future. I have always said that Kings Island passes are a terrific value for family entertainment. But little perks like these really put it over the top. It was a great start to the season.
I’ll have another report in a couple of weeks when I have breakfast with the Avengers for Superhero Sunday!