Kings Island changes: What to know about new park rules as it opens today

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Kings Island has added many coronavirus precautions for 2020

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Kings Island is implementing an array of safety precautions aimed at protecting the health of guests and staffers as the Warren County amusement park opens for the 2020 season today.

Buying a ticket requires a reservation and a completed health screening questionnaire within 24 hours of the visit, and a temperature check will be done outside the park’s main entrance. Those who pass the screening are required to wear a mask and will find 600 hand sanitizer stations located throughout the park, including entrances, exits, food stands, restaurants and restrooms.

“If you’ve been coming to Kings Island for your lifetime or for awhile, you know that safety is our top priority, so this was nothing new to us,” said Chad Showalter, the park’s spokesman. “We’ve consulted and were informed by the CDC and our state and local health agencies on what the best practices were in an environment like Kings Island.”

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Showalter said the best place to view the park's plan is at www.visitkingsisland.com, which allows guests to download a guide showing them what the park experience will be like.

The park’s rides, including the new, $31 million giga coaster Orion, also will be regularly sanitized. The ride is one of only seven giga coasters in the world, part of a class of coasters having a height or drop of 300 to 399 feet.

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While the park opens today to season passholders, the general public can make reservations starting July 12. The percentage of Kings Island’s capacity will change based on the time of the year, and the new reservation system will help the park avoid going over capacity.

“We’re going to start out small at first because we want to make sure our associates are comfortable with the processes that we’ve put in place,” he said. “Then, as we have more experience with that, we’ll to slowly increase the capacity, but we’re not going to be anywhere near the attendance levels on a single day that we would have been in the past.”

The date-and-time element of the reservation system will help to minimize wait times, Showalter said.

“You don’t have to worry about a long line to get in because we’ve specifically set aside only a handful of reservations for that entry time,” he said. “Operating at a reduced capacity, it’s going to make it a comfortable experience at the park and it’ll enable people to … maintain that social distance from each other.”

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All rides are slated to be open but will be operated at a 50 percent capacity, which typically will mean seating guests in every other row, Showalter said.

Ambassadors throughout the park will remind guests of the park’s mask-wearing and social distancing policies, he said.

Those wanting to take a break from those measures can stop by Kings Island’s new, fenced-in “RelaxZone” areas where guests can sit and remove their masks.

“We want to make sure that our guests have the ability to come and take a break in a nice, shaded area … and spend time with their families,” Showalter said while standing in a “Relaxed Zone” near the Eiffel Tower.

Kings Island eliminated its printed maps. Instead, it erected a giant map just past the Eiffel Tower for guests to snap a photo of to navigate the park. Guests also may use the park’s app, to determine their location.

Clear acrylic shields inside King Island restaurants add an extra layer of protection between guests and employees. Food will be served on disposable items with disposable cutlery. Plastic trays will not be available.

Condiments will be served from behind the counter instead of guests being able to pump them into containers themselves, Showalter said.

“We’re doing that as an extra layer of protection at all our food and beverage locations,” he said.

Shields also are in place at gaming locations parkwide and staffers sanitize each area in between guests.