Kings Island opening day coming Saturday: What to know about the park in 2021

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Kings Island Orion giga coaster

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

After a shortened season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kings Island is ready for visitors to return to the park.

“At Kings Island, there are not many things each year that are more exciting than opening our gates for the first time and welcoming our guests and passholders into the park,” said Chad Showalter, Kings Island communications director. “Families from near and far are looking forward to their first rides on Orion and their first blue ice cream cone of the season. For some, they’ve been waiting far too long for that.”

Last weekend’s season passholders preview underlined Showalter’s thought of the pent up demand to return to the park as the parking lot was nearly full last Saturday. Showalter said the park doesn’t release attendance numbers except in company earnings reports, but said “the park was very popular last weekend.”

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He said passholders who had their 2020 passes extended through 2021 have been waiting for the new season to begin for many months, and many of them were able to experience Orion for the first time last weekend. In addition, Soak City Water Park will reopen since it closed in Sept. 2, 2019.

This will be the first full season for the Orion, one of seven giga coasters on the planet. Showalter said the new coaster debuted in July 2020 during the pandemic shortened season but not many visitors were not able to ride it. Giga coasters have a first drop of 300 to 399 feet.

Orion’s first drop is 300 feet, which is 25 feet taller than the top viewing platform of the park’s Eiffel Tower. The coaster reaches speeds of up to 91 mph on the 5,321 track. Showalter said park officials expect Orion to give its millionth ride and possibly its two millionth ride this summer on fully loaded trains.

In 2020, readers of the national 10Best.com (USA Today) poll named Orion the “Best New Amusement Park Attraction.”

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While Orion remains the newest coaster at Kings Island, The Racer, one of the park’s original coasters was retracked during the off-season. Between seasons, more than 500 feet of the old and mostly original track was replaced on the 48-year-old coaster. Showalter said the new section of track will provide more air time and quicker speeds this year.

When The Racer opened, it was the tallest, fastest and longest racing coaster in the world. The coaster has given more than 106 million rides since it opened in 1972.

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As the state protocols begin to be lifted, Kings Island has put together an extensive opening plan to help keep guests safe and having fun during their visit, Showalter said. He said the park has made some changes since the 2020 season, including:

  • Reservations will only be required for visiting Soak City Water Park. Both season passholders and single day ticketholders will need reservations for Soak City.
  • The health screen questionnaire will be conducted by front gate associates and will not be conducted through the Kings Island mobile app. The temperature checks have been discontinued.
  • Guests aged 10 years and older are required to wear face coverings while indoors, unless actively eating and drinking. Face coverings are not required outdoors unless it is not possible to maintain six feet of social distancing. Face coverings should completely cover the nose and mouth, and should not have exhalation valves or vents, which allows virus particles to escape.
  • There will be no limitations to ride capacity for most rides. Face coverings are recommended for outdoor rides and required for indoor rides.
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