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A ride back through 2017

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If Kings Island’s 45th anniversary season was anything, it was … memorable.

For my final blog post of the year, here’s a ride back through 2017 with my take on the top 17 things that happened this year at the 364-acre amusement and waterpark.

Please leave your feedback, and any alternative nominations, in the comments.

And here … we … go!

17. Kings Island’s first family

The Hitson family from Anderson TWP in Cincinnati was the first family to arrive at Kings Island when the park opened its gates April 29, 1972. This summer, sisters Taryn, Tamara, Heather and their mother, Carolyn, visited the park together for the first time since that day and shared their memories as the first official guests with park officials and members of the news media.

16. Dinosaurs Alive!

Guests took a final journey back in time to see our prehistoric friends in the world’s largest animatronic dinosaur park, Dinosaurs Alive!, before they became extinct … again. The exhibit, which featured over 65 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs in a Jurassic forest setting, closed after seven seasons in the fall.

15. Food Truck Fridays

Food Trucks from the Greater Cincinnati area again rolled into Kings Island, offering guests a unique culinary experience with a different theme each week of the event: All Around The World; Classic Cuisines; Sauce is Boss and All American.

14. Origins: A Cirque Experience

Guests of all ages were again mesmerized by the acrobatic performances in Origins: A Cirque Experience. The 30-minute show featured an incredible showcase of strength, balance and athleticism everyone in the family enjoyed, often being performed in front of standing room only crowds in the Kings Island Theater on International Street.

13. Budweiser Clydesdales

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales pulled into Kings Island for a special appearance in April. The eight-horse hitch paraded down International Street and then stuck around for photo opportunities and interaction with guests around the base of the Eiffel Tower.

12. JDRF One Walk

More than 7,000 people gathered at Kings Island to share JDRF’s mission to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). The JDRF One Walk is one of the largest fundraising walks in the country, and 2017 was no exception. Since 1994, more than $12 million has been raised from the walk at Kings Island, including $700,000 this year.

11. The Great Pumpkin Fest

The Great Pumpkin Fest returned to Kings Island in the fall and was all treats and no tricks when it came to frightful family Halloween fun. The event featured live entertainment, mazes, trick-or-treating, a kids’ costume contest, and meet-and-greet opportunities with the PEANUTS gang.

10. Halloween Haunt

Halloween Haunt returned in the fall and was as popular as ever with park guests with screams of pure panic piercing the night. The event featured 10 haunted attractions, three scare zones, three live shows and 20 rides, including Mystic Timbers, The Beast, Diamondback and Banshee.

9. Coaster Campout

More than 400 campers from 10 states spent the night under the stars and roller coasters at Kigns Island as part of the park’s third annual Coaster Campout. The event helped raise $21,800 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Cedar Fair charities.

8. The Beast

The Beast kept prowling and growling in its 39th season, ranking sixth on Amusement Today’s top 10 wooden roller coasters list. It is one of only two roller coasters that have been on every top 10 list Amusement Today has published since the inception of the Golden Ticket Awards in 1998.

7. Coasterstock

More than 700 roller coaster enthusiasts representing 28 states, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland descended on Kings Island in the spring to take part in the third annual Coasterstock, making it one of the largest enthusiast events of the year.

6. The Ultimate Stunt Show

The Ultimate Stunt Show came to Kings Island in August. With edge-of-year-seat thrills including a Motorcycle High Wire over the Royal Fountain on International Street, the Globe of Fear, Wheel of Destiny and a Human Cannon Ball, the show thrilled and amazed guests during its three-week run.

5. The Island Smokehouse

A brand new dining option opened in Soak City Water Park – the Island Smokehouse. Offering a completely unique dining experience and a menu created by the park’s executive chef, Nathan Gushulak, guests enjoyed the smells and tastes of smoked pulled pork, briskets and wings, hand-breaded chicken tenders and shrimp, all cooked to perfection on the restaurant’s wood fired smoker.

4. Planet Snoopy

For the 17th consecutive year, the Golden Ticket Award for the “Best Kids’ Area in the World” went to Kings Island for Planet Snoopy, which features an elaborate collection of PEANUTS-themed family rides and attractions, including four roller coasters specifically designed for children and their parents and/or grandparents to ride together.

3. Mystic Timbers first riders event

The first official riders on Mystic Timbers raised $60,000 for the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing life-changing experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in the Cincinnati area. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton took the first ride with the top fundraisers.

2. Mystic Timbers

It was an exciting and memorable debut season for Mystic Timbers. The 3,265-foot-long wooden roller coaster opened to rave reviews and was voted “Best New Ride” in 2017 by Amusement Today readers. The addition of Mystic Timbers gave Kings Island a combined total of 18,804 feet of wooden coaster track, the most at any amusement or theme park in the world. John Voigt of Cincinnati, OH scored the one millionth ride in August.

1. WinterFest

Following a 12-year absence, a popular holiday family tradition returned with WinterFest. It didn't disappoint. The event returned bigger and better than ever with the park transformed into nine enchanting winter wonderlands featuring ice skating on the Royal Fountain, the Eiffel Tower turned into a magical 314-foot-tall Christmas tree, up to 17 rides including Mystic Timbers, more than 5 million lights and holiday characters spreading merriment, like Jack Frost and Sugar Plum Fairy.


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Don Helbig

Don Helbig joined the Kings Island marketing team in 2007 as the park's public relations area manager. He began serving in his current role as area manager, digital marketing last summer. 

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