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KINGS ISLAND: What to know and what to check out this season

The story of Kings Island can maybe best be told by the sheer number of guests the park plays host to each year.

Last year a whopping 25 million rides and attractions were enjoyed by park guests.

>> The mouthwatering new foods coming to Kings Island this season

Five attractions gave more than one million rides: Banshee (1,636,279), Diamondback (1,557,021), Mystic Timbers (1,312,990), The Racer (1,254,127) and The Beast (1,058,500). The K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad just missed giving one million rides, finishing the year at 998,907.

>>SPECIAL DEAL: Kings Island offering free admission for military over Memorial Day weekend

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These numbers taken collectively since the park opened its doors 46 years ago are staggering. More than 1.3 billion rides — 1,377,564,183 to be exact — have been given since 1972, which means that the 2018 season, which begins this weekend, will likely push the park past the 1.4 billion ride mark this year.

>> 9 things you never knew about Kings Island

Mystic Timbers continues to be one of Kings Island’s top attractions. CONTRIBUTED (Contributing Writer)

MYSTIC TIMBERS A HUGE SUCCESS

“Last season was a good one for Kings Island. As first years for roller coasters go, Mystic Timbers was nearly perfect. We started out the year being named the Most Anticipated Roller Coaster of the Year, and in the fall we won the Golden Ticket Award for Best New Ride in the World. We also introduced the Island Smokehouse inside our Soak City Water Park, which was received by our guests as one of the best new food offerings we’ve introduced over the past several years,” said Chad Showalter, Kings Island Director of Communications. “Our guests tell us that Kings Island is a place where they come with their family and friends to create memories and traditions together. For some that might be the big thrills, like The Beast and Mystic Timbers. For others, it might be the little thrills, like Planet Snoopy or the Dodgem bumper cars. No matter what our guests are looking for, we have something for everyone.”

Kings Island held a preview event for the new restaurant and food items that will be available in the park this season. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

NEW FOOD OFFERINGS

Food is the focus for the 2018 season at the popular Warren County attraction. James Major, two-time winner of the Food Network’s Chopped reality TV cooking contest and contestant on Alton Brown’s Cutthroat Kitchen, has taken on the executive chef position at Kings Island. Major is a Culinary Institute of America Certified Pro Chef II, a U.S. Navy veteran, and Ohio native. He previously served as executive chef at Great American Ball Park and Funky’s Catering.

“Chef Major is here to help create those memorable food and dining options throughout the park that will enhance the guest’s visit,” said Mike Koontz, Kings Island Vice President and General Manager. “In the amusement park industry, you’re constantly challenging your team to find new ways to help friends and family come together, and the culinary experience is a big part of that.

Kings Island held a preview event for the new restaurant and food items that will be available in the park this season. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

In addition to a new person leading their food service, Kings Island will be adding a new restaurant in Coney Mall. Coney Bar B Que will join the Kings Island restaurant line-up serving smoked St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken and Queen City Sausage along with a fresh selection of side dishes. Located next to the Scrambler, the restaurant’s architecture and theming will pay tribute to the early days of Kings Island and Coney Mall.

WINTERFEST

And of course some of the best additions to last year will continue.

“Since 2005, the most popular question we were asked by guests was, ‘When are you bringing WinterFest back?’ In 2017 we not only brought it back, but it was bigger and better than it had ever been. With more than five million lights, up to 17 rides operating, skating on the Royal Fountain and the transformation of the Eiffel Tower into a magical Christmas tree, our guests resoundingly responded to make it the best WinterFest we’ve ever had. WinterFest will be back in 2018, starting November 23 for select nights through December 30,” said Showalter.

UPCOMING KINGS ISLAND EVENTS

Many of the special events happening this year have been announced. Here is the list of upcoming events at Kings Island as they currently stand. For more information visit www.visitkingsisland.com/play/events

• May 25-28: Military Appreciation Days (free admission for military)

• June 15-16: Coaster Campout

• June 21-23: SpiritSong Christian Music Festival

• July 4: Fourth of July Spectacular

• Sept. 21 – Oct. 28: Halloween Haunt on Fridays and Saturdays

• Nov. 23 – Dec. 30: WinterFest on select nights

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