We previewed Kings Island’s newest features this year. Here’s what we found.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Kings Island gave us a sneak peek this afternoon at the new features coming to the park this season, which kicks off for passholders from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and for the public between 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Here’s a few takeaways from our nearly four-hour tour behind the scenes.

Antique autos return with nods to Kings Island’s past

Two-third-scale replicas of a 1911 Ford Model T are motoring along Kings Mills Antique Autos, a renamed family-oriented, fan favorite next to The Racer in the park’s Coney Mall area. The ride lasts about three minutes and is comparable to the original “Les Taxis” antique car ride, which closed in 2004.

Guests drive the colorful vehicles around a scenic quarter-mile track equipped with a small rail to keep the car on path. The billboards that riders pass during their leisurely ride are nods to the park’s past, including the Zodiac Gas Staton. That’s a reference to The Zodiac, a double ferris wheel that operated at Kings Island from 1975 to 1986, where the gas station stands today.

The ride has 18 cars, and its route features lush landscaping, water features and a covered bridge. License plates reference Kings Island attractions

MORE: Kings Island’s antique car ride was first driving experience for many kids

New restaurant offers food, brews previously unavailable at park

Replacing the Reds Hall of Fame Grille across from roller coaster Mystic Timbers in the park’s Rivertown area, Miami River Brewhouse features a menu personally crafted by Kings Island Executive Chef James Major.

Guests can enjoy beer on tap from local breweries as well as menu with 27 different choices, including selections previously unavailable at Kings Island.

That includes appetizers, salads, gourmet sandwiches and premium burgers. The eclectic menu features everything from Pull-Apart Bread (cheddar, garlic butter, scallions with beer mustard and a Sri-Rancha sauce) and Smoked Chicken Wings (wih Sweet BBQ or Brew Buffalo Sauce) to Three Pigs (3 pulled pork sliders with barbecue sauce and pickles) and the aptly named Big Bacon, featuring two patties, Muenster cheese, bacon jam, sliced bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion.

A dozen selections from Miami River Brewhouse, including three kids menu items, are feature on the park’s all-season dining plan.

MORE: New restaurant, brewhouse set to debut at Kings Island

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Entry upgrades enhance park’s look, add entertainment options

Kings Island’s iconic International Street near its main entance underwent a facelift during the off-season, the first upgrade of its kind since the park opened more than 45 years ago.

Guests may now get closer than ever before to the park’s Royal Fountain, which itself underwent technology upgrades to allow for choreographed daytime and nighttime shows. Part of those improvements feature water that shoots 50 percent higher into the air, and the ability to individually control each of the fountain’s new 112 nozzles and 176 LED lights.

A new fountain-and-fireworks finals show will debut Memorial Day weekend.

International Street upgrades also include a new, much larger bandstand located at the foot of the Eiffel Tower means bigger celebrations and performances.

Crews installed more than 130,000 new pavers enhances landscaping and updated building facades with fresh pain, detailed stenciling and each of the countriess’ flags that the building architecture represents.

MORE: Kings Island will make changes to stage BIGGER shows by the fountain, Eiffel Tower

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Beast’s ‘significant birthday’ makeover pays tribute to its ‘fiery’ origins

To celebrate 40 years of The Beast, Kings Island repainted the beloved ride its original “flame-themed” color palette with red for the front cars, orange for the middle cars and yellow for the back cars. Guests can take a photo in the new Photo Opportunity station just outside the ride’s “station.”

Providing more than 54 million rides since opening in 1979, the ride holds the records as the world’s longest wooden roller coaster in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Returning this year after a 20-year hiatus are white beast-like pawprints leading the way to the station.

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, park guests on the first 40 trains to depart The Beast’s station will score a commemorative T-shirt.

New festivals are on the way

Not features on today’s sneak peek tour, but featured prominently in printed material, is new festival Grand Carnivale, “an international festival complete with a parade, creative culinary experiences, fireworks, live entertainment and activities inspired by celebrations from around the world.” It runs daily from June 15 to July 7.

Island Nights at Soak City will allows guests to extend their summer nights for more slide time, beach games and island-inspired cuisine. Scheduled for 8 to 11 p.m. July 12, 19 and 26, Island Nights also will give guests a chance to relax and unwind while the park’s Island Bands perform “live, breezy beats” or an opportunity to dance the night away in a “Silent Disco.”


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