I barely ever post here, but I did come to the meetup, so I thought what better time to start posting.
At noon on Friday, I left work in Cleveland to head 3 1/2 hours down to Kings Island. Got checked into my hotel (didn't stay at GWL) and made my way over to KI. By the time I got there, everyone was being let into the park. Made my way over to meet the group by Chick-fil-a and at rope drop, we all made a b-line for MT. After a chilly ride, we watched the lighting ceremony and headed over to Hank's for the Mac and Cheese bar. The food was as good as I remember from opening night, although they had gotten very strict on their "two scoop" policy - so not quite as big a portion this time. After a relaxing dinner on the heated patio, we enjoyed looking at lights.
After wandering around a bit, we ended up checking out Boo Blasters, which was fun as usual. After some more walking around, debating what to do, we decided to get some of the cinnamon bread. For those of you who have had the heavenly treat of Dollywood cinnamon bread, tamper your expectations slightly, but it is almost as good. I was away from the group while they waited in line and came back to find that they had sold out! Boo. Soon after that, it was time for everyone to get in line for ice skating. Since I don't need to pay $15 for people to watch me fall, I decided instead to walk through a few of the shops. Eventually, I ended up in Sweet Spot and got the Reese's specialty hot chocolate in the "Happy Holidays from The Beast" mug. Aside from the keepsake mug, the hot chocolate itself was amazing. They dropped a few Reese's Pieces in the drink and topped it with mini marshmallows and an Oreo candy cane. There was some kind of peanut butter something around the rim of the mug. It was easily worth the $10. Back at GWL, everyone met in the 3rd floor lobby for the gift exchange. By that point, it was three hours past my bedtime, so I headed back to my hotel and quickly fell asleep.
The next day started with a quick trip to Starbucks and then a delicious breakfast buffet at Great Wolf Lodge. I was very satisfied with the food there, although the service left a little to be desired. After that, I got to hang out in the lobby and watch the story time for the kids as well as catch a little of the animatronic show at the clock tower that followed. However, the best part of the morning was spent relaxing (mostly in solitude) in front of the large fireplace. At 10:30, @IndyGuy4KI and I made our way down to the ACE Ohio holiday party. I was the only person from KIC to attend the full event. It was a nice time getting to know other enthusiasts, having a decent lunch (although I could barely eat any considering the breakfast we just had), and talks from several industry guests, not the least of whom was Don Helbig from Kings Island. KIC got plugs during both his presentation and another during the Gravity Group one. While Tony Clark from CP was unable to attend, we got a replacement presentation from an engineering group. I'm already forgetting their name! The event unfortunately went long and I almost missed rope drop at Winterfest.
The second night of Winterfest was as good as the first. I spent a good amount of time walking around, riding rides, and seeing entertainers on the midways. The highlight, though, was the buffet in the International Restaurant. Many traditional options were available including sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, two different soups, pasta primavera, mac & cheese, and of course turkey and ham for my meat-eating friends. Dessert and soda were also included. However, the reason for being there at all was the amazing surroundings and view. This was my first time in the International Restaurant, but I hope it won't be my last. I'm told the facility has been updated a few times recently. In true Cedar Fair fashion, there are pictures of roller coasters adorning the lobby before entering the restaurant. It is a relatively small space, but the view of International Street is expansive and breathtaking with the holiday lights.
This was a great first holiday party for me. You all are a very welcoming and fun group. I really enjoyed getting to know several of you much better. I promised to tag @whengodsaysgo in this TR so she wouldn't miss it. I hope to be back in years to come.