Having grown up in the Cincinnati area, I have been going to Kings Island my whole life. My family and I were season pass holders for most of my childhood and I even worked at the Boomerang Bay water park when I was in high school and during the early part of my time in college. Over the years, quite a bit has changed but many of the same rides that people in my parents’ generation were enjoying are still around today as well. Classic thrills such as The Beast, The Vortex, The Racer, and Viking Fury enjoy an equal following to the newer Diamondback, Drop Tower, Delirium, and Flight of Fear. Although many of Kings Island’s rides have made it world famous, it still tends to attract mostly locals or people within a few hours driving distance of the park, which honestly baffles me.
No matter where you live, Kings Island and its adjacent Boomerang Bay water park is a great place to visit. If you are planning your first trip to Kings Island and aren’t sure what to check out, there are plenty of diverse attraction types depending upon what you are into and what kind of group you are going with. It doesn’t matter if you’re coming with a family, a church group or student organization, or just you and a few friends wanting to make a road trip, Kings Island has something for you. Best of all, admission to Kings Island includes Boomerang Bay admission as well, so you get two parks for the price of one and it’s easy to spend a whole day here. Here are 15 attractions you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Kings Island :
Looking for some intense thrills? Start here:
A “Frisbee” style, ride, Delirium swings you like a pendulum while your round gondola rotates. It’s good at any time of the day, but if you know you are going to have a clear night, don’t miss your chance to ride it in the dark. The rotating motion along with the up to 50mph speed makes it feel like you are floating in space when your seat is facing only the sky. Located in the Action Zone, Delirium is adjacent to some of King’s Island’s most intense attractions like Diamondback and Drop Tower and is a thrill seeker’s paradise.
Drop Tower: Scream Zone
Also located in the Action Zone, Drop Tower (once known as DropZone ) is the tallest gyro drop tower in the world at 315 feet with a 67mph free fall drop. You’ll slowly be taken up to the top in a circular car. Once you reach the top, your car will spin for a bit, giving you an awesome view of the park and surrounding area. But you won’t notice that. All you’ll be able to think about is “when are we going to drop?!” since the amount of time spent at the top can vary from a few seconds to even half a minute or more. You’ll feel your heart beat in your throat in anticipation before the drop of a lifetime, and walk away still shaking as you get back in line for another ride.
As the park’s signature ride, The Beast is the world’s longest, tallest, and fastest wooden roller coaster and definitely earns it name. From the very first plunge into a dark tunnel to the famed double helix at the ride’s climax, you’re sure to agree. Most roller coasters only last less than two minutes, but this bad boy will drop you, twist you and turn you for almost five whole minutes through 1.4 miles of dense woods that is indeed a fitting home for a beast. My advice? If you want a faster ride, don’t sit up front, sit in the back. You’re being pulled so you will go faster (this is true of any coaster really but I notice it most on The Beast). However, the first drop into total darkness can’t be beat by sitting anywhere else but the very front, so try both out…if you’re willing to wait in line twice. Yes, sadly the line for The Beast will likely be the longest you’ll wait in all day as it is the most popular classic ride in the park. The Beast is so popular that it spawned two horror novels for children by Ohio native author RL Stine (of Goosebumps fame) which was a favorite of mine as a kid. Maybe you can pick up a copy of both and read it while you wait in line- you just might finish them in time. The Beast is located in the Rivertown area of the park.
Kings Island ‘s classic metal coaster is located in Coney Mall. The ride features two huge loops and corkscrew turns as well as a g-force inducing 360-degree helix. While not as long as The Beast, The Vortex is almost four minutes in length, making it one of the longer metal coasters. It’s also a much smoother ride as a metal coaster as compared to the wooden Beast. The Vortex is another one of the park’s more popular rides, but if you get to it early in the day and later at night before close you shouldn’t have to wait too long. The Vortex is also (long with The Beast and Delirium) one of the better rides to ride at night.
Flight of Fear
Forget the first hill, and forget being able to see anything either. This roller coaster takes place entirely in the dark and uses a motor launched slingshot method to start- you will go from 0 to 54 mph in just four seconds! Keep you head firmly against the back of the seat before the ride begins. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of hitting the back of your head against the seat when you launch, which can cause injury at worst and give you an annoying head and neck ache for the rest of the day at best. With no way to see what’s coming next, you’ll go through four inversions and down several hills and experience several twists. With your vision gone, these thrills seem will seem even more intense! Flight of Fear is located just off of Coney Mall behind The Racer.
Speaking of which, I can’t leave out this classic wooden coaster from the earliest days of the park. While not the most exciting of roller coasters, the classic feel to brings back nostalgia for many park guests young and old alike. The Racer is the most prominently visible attraction of the Coney Mall area, which in turn was based off of the old Coney Island amusement park along the Ohio River as well as the famous Brooklyn , New York park. There are two tracks that run right next to each other at the same time, and the trains will “race” to see which one reaches the end first. It used to be that one train was run forward while the other was run backward, but I have heard rumors that both now run forward as of the 2010 season although I am not quite sure if that is true or not. Nevertheless, The Racer has been a Kings Island staple and guest favorite since it opened in 1972 and still is very popular among guests. Lines are usually reasonable for both tracks, so this is one ride you can finish and then get back in line and ride again a few times without too much time spent in the queue.
Somehow, I am yet to ride Diamondback. This ride, located just behind the Eiffel Tower , was introduced in 2009 and features three minutes of up to 80 mph speeds. The first 215 foot drop is at a whopping 74 degree angle, and nine more drops are in store for you as well. And the finale? Diamondback features a splashdown into a small pool at the end and is one of the few roller coasters in the world to do so.
Are you in the mood for some lighter thrills or a place to take little ones? Try these attractions:
Many park fans may disagree with my choice to place Viking Fury in the category of “lighter thrills” but the park rates it at a 3/5 on their thrill scale, with five being the highest. I have seen people go on this right after lunch and be just fine, but I have also seen people toss their cookies after riding just as well. Located just off International Street and across from the Festhaus , the Viking Fury has been in operation since 1982, so this is another classic ride. Riders board a Viking ship that swings back and forth, but reaches higher and higher with each swing. This was my favorite non-roller coaster ride when I was a kid, so this ride is nostalgic for me personally. Although I’m not sure if this is still frequently done, riders on one end of the ship will often shout “tastes great!” when their end is higher in the air, and the riders on the opposite side will respond with “less filling!” when they swing to the top, in a reference to an old commercial for Miller Lite beer. I’m not sure where that started or if that’s even still done, but its one fun memory of Viking Fury that I always carry with me.
Coney Mall is a portion of the park containing old carnival and boardwalk style rides and games. Dodgem cars, The Scrambler, and The Monster all take riders for a nice spin without too much intensity. People who don’t like roller coasters will enjoy Coney Mall’s attractions. My favorite is the Zephyr, which is sort of like a “flying carousel” that takes riders on a swing 30 feet in the air and spins them around. I like it because it was another childhood favorite of mine since I didn’t like roller coasters until I was about ten years old. Coney Mall also features restaurants, games and an arcade where tickets won during the games can be redeemed for prizes.
Going to the park with young kids? Head on over to Planet Snoopy! Once known as Hanna- Barbera land and later Nickelodeon Universe, Snoopy and his gang took over the kids area once Cedar Fair bought the park. Pretty much everything here is far different than when I was a young duck, but one thing that remains is a small kids coaster known as Woodstock Express, and formerly known by names such as The Beastie and Fairly Odd Coaster. This is a good place to start kids on roller coasters before they reach the age an height appropriate for the bigger ones. Kids and parents can also ride that together, which is a plus. The same is true for the Flying Ace Aerial Chase (formerly known as Runaway Reptar ) and is the first suspended roller coaster made just for kids; this is a good introduction to roller coasters and thrill rides in general. Is your child not into that yet? That’s okay, because a smaller version of the Dodgem cars in Coney Mall, a spinning biplane ride called Snoopy vs. the Red Baron and a Peanuts themed carousel are good choices for them. Linus’ Beetle Bugs is a classic whip ride from the old Coney Island that will bring back memories for the parents and grandparents as well as delight the kids, and finally, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown is a log flume ride that’s a good choice for those hot and humid days where you need to cool off quickly.
Speaking of trying to beat the heat, how about the water park? Head on over to Boomerang Bay to check out these fun spots:
Pipeline Paradise is located next to the wave pool and is a favorite of regular season pass holders as well as off duty lifeguards. This is a flow rider surfing ride where riders will body surf on a small board and must maintain their position and bodily control in a flow that is powered by several giant pumps. This ride is so popular that it has even spawned a surfing club of regular riders that include season pass holders and current and former park lifeguards. In fact, many of these “regulars” as they are so termed will buy a season pass and go to the park just to ride this ride! If you see anyone with their own body board vs. a park owned board, chances are they are a regular. They will almost always ride the more difficult of the two courses. Watch them and learn, and maybe they can give you a few pointers if you get to talking to one as well. People like to splash the guards on duty when they are able, which is not against the rules per se (and honestly, on some hot days it was welcome!) but be smart about it if you do and don’t do it on a cold or cloudy day. Overall, this is one of the top attractions at Boomerang Bay , but rides go quickly so lines aren’t always ridiculous; it’s one you can do several times in a row.
On a four seat shamrock shaped tube, two to four guests will plunge through total darkness into a funnel, where they will shoot back and forth along the sides and catch some air in the process before coming down into the splash pool. You’ll go even higher if you have four people, but you’ll spin more if you have two. This was my favorite ride to work, especially at the bottom splash pool because you and the other guard on duty were able to chat while you caught tubes, gave exit instructions and loaded tubes back onto the conveyor belt that carried them to the top. As a result, when you splash down expect a few of them to speak in accents or tell you jokes as you hop out; it was a fun mood down there and the guests really did enjoy our jokes as well. The ride itself will be the longest line you’ll see at the water park on any given day, so go early or late in the day and save the middle of the day for other things. Since the water park closes at 7pm and the main park closes at 10 normally, you’ll have ample time to get the last ride in on ” Tazzy ” before heading back into the main park for the night.
Four riders will race one other on mats to the bottom of a luge track like slide. Located near the Boomerang Bay entrance from the parking lot as well as next to the train stop from the main park, it will be the first large slide that you see on your way in. Challenge your friends to a couple races for bragging rights or even to see who will have to buy lunch that day!
Wave Pool and Children’s Area
The Great Barrier Reef Wave pool features machine made waves that run for ten minutes and then rest for ten minutes. The area in front of the wave pool contain a good amount of chairs for sunbathing as well as a few large umbrellas to shade you from it, whichever your prefer. A few food associates roam around the wave pool area taking drink and food orders, and cabanas are available for full or half day rent near the wave pool as well.
Life jackets are available throughout the park for free, but a good number of them are located near the wave pool for use by non-swimmers or less strong of swimmers. Parents, when choosing a life jacket for your child, make sure it fits them properly- a life jacket that is too small won’t hold up their weight and a life jacket that is too small can easily slip off them. If you have your own life jacket to bring, make sure it is approved by the United States Coast Guard because those are the only flotation devices allowed in the park- including water wings or anything inflatable, since they can easily pop or become deflated. As the deepest pool in the park, anyone in your group who either can’t swim or can’t swim very well should heed these recommendations to get the most enjoyment possible out of the wave pool.
The children’s area is right behind the wave pool chairs and features a pirate ship with small slides and water cannons, several small one person slides and even one where three kids can go at once, which is perfect for siblings our groups of friends. Koala Splash is a small two person inner tube slide that parents and kids can ride together and Jackaroo Landing is a sort of water playground featuring slides, waterfalls and giant water cannons (including one that takes 5-6 seconds to warm up to fire!) that is a favorite of kids. There is also an infant pool (with an infant slide) and a few small shallow pools where kids will be able to easily touch the bottom. The kids will have good fun here; in fact the entire water park seems to be aimed more at families with small children than others in the area. Additionally, parents should tell children to leave any bath or pool toys at home; they aren’t allowed in any of the park’s pools.
Snowy River Rampage
Have you ever wanted to bobsled? I sure have, and the closest I’ve ever gotten is Snowy River Rampage. Although the tube you and three others will ride in is large and circular, the slide itself is long with high banks that resemble a bobsled track. I grew up in a family of four so naturally this was our favorite family ride (since Tasmanian Typhoon hadn’t been built yet). Located deep in the older section of the park behind Sydney Sidewinder and Down Under Thunder and tucked back into the woods, this ride has been a favorite of families of four such as mine and groups since 1990, making it one of the oldest rides at Boomerang Bay .
Kings Island ‘s operating season runs from April 30 while Boomerang Bay will open on May 21st. Both will run until Labor Day, not including weekends in October for the Halloween Haunt event (formerly known as FearFest ). Hopefully these recommendations will give you a good idea of what Kings Island has to offer, although I did leave out quite a few other fun rides that you’ll no doubt enjoy as well. So ditch your Disney plans, forget about Six Flags and make your way over to Kings Island- a Cincinnati summer tradition since 1972; you’ll be glad you did.