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WINTERFEST CAROWINDS


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I was just wondering because I saw concert for a group going to be performing at Winterfest and didn't know if Carowind's was in Charlotte, North Carolina or not. I have never been before and I was just curious if they are doing a Winterfest down there even though KI isn't. :huh:

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Christmas time's a comin' Christmas time's a comin' And Bart Kinzel is a gone.... 2016?

Also worth considering: in the 1980s, Kings Island was a park filled with world class family entertainment, authentic and high quality dining, gorgeous gardens and architecture, real craftsmen selling

That's the thing... if a winter event is done correctly, it's NOT "dealing with an event during the off-season." Instead, it becomes part of the season!

HUH? Carowinds isn't doing Winterfest this season. Maybe you saw a flyer form 2006, but I don't recall Winterfest having any concerts. Busch Gardens Europe is having a Christmas event and so is Dollywood, maybe you are thinking of one of those.

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It didn't stop me, or many many others from going in the past. As a matter of fact it was quite fun to huddle up with the family in the Festhouse to warm up after growing icicles on the Carousel. Besides, who goes ice skating outside in 60 deg weather any ways?

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Both Carowinds and Kings Island held Winterfest in 2005. Both events were canceled for the following season because of poor attendance and the fact that Cedar Fair had acquired the parks.

That said, if you have a chance to get down to Pigeon Forge Tennessee this year to visit Dollywood`s Smoky Mountain Christmas, I highly highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed. My first visit to Dollywood was last December and I went this past March and will be returning to check out Smoky Mountain Christmas again, later this month. They don`t have any concerts at Dollywood this time of year that I`m aware of, but their live show offering is superb, to say the least.

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Yeah but that's in California, where the weather is a lot better than here. Probably about high 50s at night, 60s in the day. Would you like to go to Winterfest at Kings Island in 20 degree weather?

Yes I would. I have before, and I would happily do it again.

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One has to wonder if we will see a return to Winterfest, though... Quite a few parks are experimenting with Christmas events that expand the season with minimal operating costs. For example, Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane, Busch Gardens' Christmas Town, Knott's Merry Farm, and quite a few others... One can only assume that, as least the more southern parks, may see a return to the Winterfest idea. The fact of the matter is, when Winterfest was revived at Kings Island and Carowinds, it was a bitterly cold winter with absolutely miserable weather, and it certainly wasn't fair to judge the event based on that year's attendance.

Like Winterfest, the newer Christmas events all section off a small area of the park and only run select rides (most family flat rides - Hersheypark is running no coasters, Busch Gardens is running Griffon and the indoor rides) thereby reducing operating costs. I'm sure that, given a mild winter, a Winterfest even in Ohio would be successful. Perhaps open some Coney Mall flats, Planet Snoopy rides, Diamondback, The Crypt, and make a lit trail back to Flight of Fear. That would certainly draw in off-season crowds as well as families.

I think Busch Gardens' Christmas Town event is priced just right. it's a hard ticket event, but it's $19.99 for one evening, $29.99 for the entire weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) with the park open from 3pm - 10pm each evening. Even with only a few rides operating, I find that to be very worth the money (especially when those three rides are Griffon, DarKastle, and Corkscrew Hill).

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See, with Winterfest in 2005 at Kings Island, they did only have select areas of the park open. Action Zone was closed, Coney Mall was closed, and Hanna Barbera Land was primarily closed (the part closest to Reptar and the picnic grove.

They did have selected rides open, such as the train, Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, and a couple other kiddie rides that were close to International Street. The main emphasis for Winterfest was on entertainment and not rides. And the entertainment was top notch. Santa`s Toy Factory in the Kings Island Theater was wonderful, and the train ride was an experience with performers in the station and on the train. Too bad the train can`t be like that during the regular season! They also had performers in the Festhaus, and at Scrooge`s house next to Starbucks. Not to mention that they had a light show on Swan Lake and a parade every night.

One of the things that hurt Kings Island`s reincarnated Winterfest was in fact the pricing structure. They were charging like $25 at the gate, parking was the normal rate and season pass holders still had to pay like $19 to get in, and they had to pay for parking, even if they had free parking on their season pass. While the event was pricey, it was well worth the cost in my opinion. But not enough people thought so, and attendance was not as high as the park had hoped. Part of that is because of competition. The Beach`s HolidayFest across the street offered admission that year for like $13, and allowed their pass holders to receive entry for free. Even though The Beach`s event was inferior to the experience offered by Winterfest, it seemed to be popular and attract guests. Now by all accounts I`ve heard, the original Winterfet that ran from 1982 through 1992 did in fact make money and attracted lots of crowds.

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I was of course too young to experience the original Winterfest, but the 2005 version was excellent in my opninion! I loved Santa's Toy Factory. The performers scattered throughout I-Street were great, such as the magician and the stilt walkers. People love doing Christmas things with their families and Kings Island is the perfect place! Two of the best memories I have of Winterfest is watching the light show on Swan Lake and drinking hot chocolate under the large heaters outside Starbucks. I loved Winterfest and would be so happy if it returned! We weven went on a night that the Ice-Rink was closed due to the ice being too uneven. We still had a great time! I really hope it does return some day. The park felt magical and got you in the holiday spirit!

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And the Carowinds version was superb, even if the ice rink was about the size of two compact cars parked side by side! The train was a delight, the entertainment, which was largely the same as Kings Island's, was among the best ever seen in the KECO days, and the food offerings were delightful. And yet, The Charlotte Observer ran a review with the relatively famous, and accurate, headline:

WALKING IN AN EMPTY WONDERLAND

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And again with Carowinds version, I think the problems came down to the price point that they were charging for people to gain access to this event. Especially in the inaugural season of doing an event like this. Granted Winterfest had been done at Kings Island before, but it had been thirteen years since the last one was held. They needed a way to attract the initial visit from families, even if at a discount the first season. Then once families visited Winterfest for the first time, they likely would return year after year as part of their family traditions ensuring future revenue in years to come. Not to mention the fact that getting people through the door in the first year can help produce word of mouth reviews which can be just as powerful if not more so than traditional marketing and advertising tactics.

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At Carowinds, people were used to extra charge events.... Scarowinds was an additional charge even for passholders back then, but you could get a ticket in for half price. Winterfest? Nope. People did not see the event provided value for the price paid. World traveled fast, and it was not good.

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Exactly. Word traveled fast. Had the cost of admission been more in line with the value of the event (or the perceived value to the target market) the event may be continuing to this day. Like I said before, had discounts to the admission price been offered that better matched the perceived value of the event, that word of mouth marketing could have established what a wonderful event that Winterfest was and the value that it provided (assuming of course that the admission price fairly represented the value in the eyes of the consumer, which it is evident it didn`t).

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  • 5 years later...

I've given up on KI ever having a winter event. There are so many local events and other theme parks having events now that KI could never get a foothold. Considering that Six jumped into the snow almost immediately. KI would have to put on one heck of a sno show..... nah ain't happenin.... bah humbug.

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Proper management and marketing and some capital could easily revive winterfest as year round event. But I doubt the park wants to deal with a event during the offseason. I believe Kings Island could pull it off, but I'm not to certain with Carowinds

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I know I have said this before....No need for the entire park to be open at Kings Island to have a winter event again.  I think having the fountain open for ice skating again, shops on IS open, restaurant above entrance open, and maybe carriage rides offered around International street.  Dinner show A Charlie Brown Christmas in the Festhaus or holiday show in the indoor theatre with high school choirs and charge like $10 for non-season pass holders to get in with free parking and it could be a success.  Open only Friday night, Saturdays, and Sundays and during winter break for schools.  Much smaller number of employees needed so costs low and potential profits high.  Over course this is not for thrill seekers but for those that like to see lights, ice skate, shop, be entertained, and eat with family and friends.  The Beach has Snow Mountain coming back and the Cincinnati Zoo is packed at wintertime so there is a market for type of winter event like this.  I also realize there are strong opinions on both sides of this so try to consider others peoples points of view.   Realize a small version of Winterfest has never been tried and I see the possibility of not an all (entire park open) option as a real viable possibility.

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