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Winterfest Wishes and Ideas- A Way to Bring It Back


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that would be one terrifying sleigh ride.

Just buy some eggnog and peppermint from any of the Kings Mills Road stores, get a park-facing room at Great Wolf Lodge, crank up Warm 98 on a boom box and, whammo! Winterfest 2014!

I submit another contributing factor. All summer, Kings Island is a thrill seekers paradise with big coasters, mediocre food, generic and 300% price-inflated merchandise, carny games, and choose-your

Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill had an open fire last night. Every one was drinking and getting loose and there was no issue. Of course this was not an amusement park, but I think it is a location that could be even more prone to disaster and nothing has ever happened.

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Why not propane warming stations throughout the event? I think the entire event would be about making childhood memories. Visits with Santa and Mrs. C, family sing-alongs. merry music and funny characters. KI has plenty of indoor space to get warm. I believe the train cars could have clear vinyl drop panels added. (they have them on the trams at Universal Hollywood to prevent riders from getting wet and cold on bad weather days). I really liked the show that they had on the train the year they brought back Winterfest..."Home for the Holidays." I believe they had carriage rides at one time...that would be fun to do through decorated areas.

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With computer controlled LED lights how hard would it be to change the colors on them to reflect the season. You could have them have a lovely warm glow during the summer. orange and reds for haunt. Then for winter put up red green and blue. It would be a big one time expense but it could last for years if maintained nicely. You could do up I street and Coney.

As for some indoor activities. I wonder how hard it would be to swap out Haunt items for a holiday maze or 2.

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Here's my two cents on WinterFest if anyone cares:

The park's main objective is to make money. It's that simple. I think they'll observe how The Beach Mountain goes over this winter. If they get a substantial amount of visitors to their event, it might peak the interest of KI and make them realize that there is an interest in a big winter event in the greater Cincinnati/Dayton area. However, the park is barely able to have enough time to do off-season maintenance within the 5-6 month span from November-April. WinterFest would drastically cut into that, so I don't think that with Halloween Haunt, the park would be able to open the 3rd or 4th week in April like usual. I think it would need to open around Memorial Day at least to allow enough time for everything. I don't want that myself, I would rather the park be open for Spring Break, and have more time to ride the rides. Ohio weather is inconsistent, and that's the main problem here. Sure, you may get a few days in December where it's perfectly fine to be outside, but the majority of the time it is not. I think the main problem with everyone on here is Kings Island withdrawal. You miss being in the park, and I understand that. I'd like to see Kings Island follow in the footsteps of Cedar Point, and maybe have 1 or 2 winter tours that help support charities.

But, I just don't see WinterFest ever coming back, and being a success that is. The park is understaffed in the spring and fall as it is, finding the right amount of people to take care of a park so massive in the winter, with snow plows and everything, just isn't going to happen.

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Cincinnati already has several winter events; Festival of Lights is insanely popular, EnterTRAINment Junction gets busy during the season, Christmas Ranch is a Christmas lights attraction that many people visit along with Sharon Woods.

The Beach Mountain won't be a wake up call for Kings Island to bring back WinterFest. It's not worth all the trouble and money issues to compete with a small sledding attraction.

On the other hand, I don't think it would cut into maintenance that much, would it? I don't know the schedule of the previous WinterFest seasons, but it's most likely only on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, thru Christmas/New Years. That still leaves plenty of time to do offseason maintenance.

And, the whole park wouldn't be open (major roller coasters, large flat rides, waterpark, etc.) so is understaffing that big of a problem? Why were people so adverse to working in the park during the previous WinterFests?

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Cold.

Short season.

Cold.

Low pay.

Cold.

And, oh yeah, cold.

Yeah, I'm not really sure why I asked that; this is coming from the POV of someone who would love working at Kings Island during WinterFest, no matter how cold or how low the pay.

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Cincinnati already has several winter events; Festival of Lights is insanely popular, EnterTRAINment Junction gets busy during the season, Christmas Ranch is a Christmas lights attraction that many people visit along with Sharon Woods.

The Beach Mountain won't be a wake up call for Kings Island to bring back WinterFest. It's not worth all the trouble and money issues to compete with a small sledding attraction.

On the other hand, I don't think it would cut into maintenance that much, would it? I don't know the schedule of the previous WinterFest seasons, but it's most likely only on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays, thru Christmas/New Years. That still leaves plenty of time to do offseason maintenance.

And, the whole park wouldn't be open (major roller coasters, large flat rides, waterpark, etc.) so is understaffing that big of a problem? Why were people so adverse to working in the park during the previous WinterFests?

I agree with you that KI is missing an opportunity here based on the successful winter attractions like Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo which would be more comparable than The Beach which looks like sledding is the main attraction. I think the previous owners of KI made some big mistakes when the tried to bring back Winterfest the way they did by having almost the majority of the park open, big admission price, having to reserve to attend, etc. Many have said in other posts that Winterfest was brought back to make the park more attractive to sell which mostly likely was the case, so admittedly their heart was not right place for it to be successful in the first place. This is the main reason why Cear Fair should look more closely at the mistakes of the past and find ways to make a Winterfest reboot a successful event. Last time it was a horse and pony show to sell a park this time it could be to bring back a wonderful holiday event, that brings back tradition in the park while also making a lot of money.

I will not repeat a lot of my original post but I really think focusing on a much smaller area like International Street, Festhaus, and possibly the train (but I am not sure that would be a must have) could still allow maintenance to happen throughout the park to get ready for the next season and open on time in April all while making lots of money for the park.

I know that the Haunt makes a lot of money due in part to admission but it also has a lot of Haunt attendance that is due to repeat season pass holders. These season pass holders spend money on food, treats, and Haunt items like the Skelton Key. Winerfest reboot could add value to buying maybe say a Platinum season pass or there could be a Winterfest add-on to a Gold Pass, or a lower price for season pass holders thus getting more money to KI from season pass holders. I would suggest not offering the dining plan so that money would be made on food and treats and possible a Peanuts Christmas dinner show. Provide ice skating as a separate charge (look at ice skating at Fountain Square on the weekends--it is PACKED) as well as unique and cool items to sell in the shops and KI is bound to make large sums of money. I would even venture to say more money per square foot (retail terms) would be made than The Haunt based on the limited areas of the park being open. Again Starbucks would be a real shining STAR and add a lot of BUCKS to Kings Islands profit margins during the off season. Come on Cedar Fair at the very least come up with some market research studies (could ask park attendees thiscoming year) and see what the public would support not only in attendance but also monetarily spending for a Winterfest 2015-2016 reboot.

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Maintained is the key word. Though, under CF ownership- maybe more specifically Greg's leadership of the park, attention to detail is far better than it was under Paramount. That said, after year 1, the Starlight Spectacular tended to show signs of neglect. I like the LED light idea of DegenRider though.

A number of comments ago it was mentioned that the turn-around time between Haunt and a potential Winterfest would make it prohibitive because the lag-time is much shorter than in 1992 and before. I've thought about that and want to dig that back up. This isn't to say that KI/CF even wants to tip-toe back into it. However, much of a Winterfest setup would take place on International Street- a location that is part of Haunt, but not as much as the other parts of the park- and baseline preparation could take place there concurrently. On a weekend that the park may be open after Haunt they could use the extra employees to tear down and begin set up. Three weeks isn't a lot of time between events, BUT- its done all the time.

- Columbus Zoo has a Halloween attraction and goes all out for Christmas. They don't close and have to dodge guests for setup.

- same with Cincinnati Zoo and a host of other parks.

A setup would not be park-wide; mostly I-Street and parts of other sections, not the entirety.

And while I'm shelling out opinions, I may be way off but I'm not sure I agree that the only reason Paramount brought Winterfest back up was to showcase the parks for sale. I could be wrong, but discussions for a 2005 event had to have started sometime in 2004, which was well before March 2005 when Viacom announced splitting into two corporations. Winterfest 2005 was already in the books when CBS Corp announced their intent to divest the Park division. So, my thoughts (and my opinion) are that bringing Winterfest back as a test had little to do with selling the parks. It may have played into it eventually, but not as a lead up.

Also, in my humble (but opinionated) opinion, Winterfest lost in 2005 because it was not priced right at all. in the 90's it lost money largely due to the fact that it was priced at some ridiculous low price- a family member worked for Great American Insurance back in the late 80's and 90's and I recall a rumor that Lindner considered Winterfest to be largely a gift to the community. Take that with a grain of salt. Also in the 90's Winterfest grew with the park and expansion year over year was acquired over time. In 2005 the whole attraction, plus expansion came back in one year. All that overhead came in one year, and the event was way overpriced at $29.99. I think the price KI had announced for the 2006 version before it got axed was priced right, $14.99.

Again, if CF determines that they can be profitable operating 6 weeks during the Christmas season, they'll try it- though I don't feel that KI has autonomy to try things as the "flagship" park it once was. KI used to be the Golden child... I think it's probably 4th or 5th now.

may the nay sayers and disagreeing opinions pounce.

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Parks had far more autonomy to make their own decisions under Paramount Parks than they do under Cedar Fair. Under Lindner, the complete lists of parks sharing the same ownership as Kings Island was...Kings Island. KECO managed Kings Island under a management contract which Lindner had already decided not to renew. Paramount Communications bought KECO provided Lindner also agreed to sell Kings Island.

2005 Winterfest at Kings Island and Carowinds was a hastily put together sales showcase. It used rented decorations, outside contractors, etc. in order to open on such short notice. The CBS parks were clearly on the market, and wise insiders like Jeff Seibert were already plotting their exits. It certainly was NOT planned even a year before.

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Parks had far more autonomy to make their own decisions under Paramount Parks than they do under Cedar Fair. Under Lindner, the complete lists of parks sharing the same ownership as Kings Island was...Kings Island. KECO managed Kings Island under a management contract which Lindner had already decided not to renew. Paramount Communications bought KECO provided Lindner also agreed to sell Kings Island.

2005 Winterfest at Kings Island and Carowinds was a hastily put together sales showcase. It used rented decorations, outside contractors, etc. in order to open on such short notice. The CBS parks were clearly on the market, and wise insiders like Jeff Seibert were already plotting their exits. It certainly was NOT planned even a year before.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one- that's OK though, I enjoy a good debate.

I can't speak to the Carowinds event, but as an attender of the 2005 KI event, it didn't seem hastily put together. It actually, I thought, was done well; shows were good, light show(s) done well... it only seemed pricing was off. I know that they had planned to do the event well early in 2005- I participated in the former Paramount Volunteer program, which was one of the best deals going. We received tickets in January (2005) from a day we worked in October 2004; in the fine print on the back it said that the ticket was not valid on park sell-out days, corporate rental dates, or Winterfest. This was January 2005, seven months before it was announced. In Summer 2004 they tested power outlets in Nick U for electrical loads the summer before which almost caused a tree to burn down (a relative was working there the night it happened).

I could be wrong, but I don't buy that they were soley marketing the parks with Winterfest. You want to sell me your $1.2 Billion park chain?, show me Cash Flow / P&L statements with a lot of black ink on them. Don't pepper it with a red-ink experiment; and if it bombs- for the love of all things holy, don't do it in again 2006. I don't know Jeff Siebert at all- I met him a few times for the programs our group was involved with but never had a meaningful conversation with him. My guess is that he left because Schlitterbahn was offering him a corporate marketing Director position; and now he resides at Six Flags Corp in Texas. If you read writing on the wall you don't plot an exit 5 states away; I've noticed working a bit in this industry- these professionals/executives do that. Jeff's boss at Six Flags Corp. started at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, took a promotion to BG in Tampa, bounced back up to Sesame Place- went on to work as the SVP Marketing for Paramount Parks until they closed, then vaulted out to CA to work with Palace Entertainment, then down to TX to work as an SVP, Marketing at Six Flags. Its a common tale of most park chain executives working their way up a ladder. Jeff was at KI for 6 years... that's a pretty long time.

(edited a few words for better clarity of thought)

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Not sure my opinion on the above debate, as it sounds like both could be plausible, so I will leave that in ya'll's hands....

Here is my opinion on Winterfest. What could KI possibly offer than would make it interesting/worth it for families to come to it? When you look at the Zoo stuff, the zoo exhibits are still sort of open. You may not see some/most of the animals, but you can go into the cat house, see the bears, etc + see the lights and experience everything. When you go to KI, would it be just the lights?

For me and my family to attend, there has to be something more than just the lights. Ice Skating would be a nice start. Include people walking around with Christmas carolers, a meet and greet (w/ Photo option) with Santa. See some Reindeer and maybe 1 or 2 shows would be great.

If its not all of the above (at least) then I feel that no matter the price its almost not worth it to me as my Zoo pass works for the lights there....

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Winterfest had all of the things you mentioned, plus excellent shows- and the occasional frostbite...

I would call it a debate loosely. Imagine the "debate" happening over beer and wings- its a debate I could lose interest in quickly. I have opinions, but not ones I'd be willing to dig my heels into. Terp probably feels the same; he's had a pulse on much of this longer than I, so the truth of events past might lean to his end. I disagree; but just because I disagree doesn't make it any less true or false.

From where I sit, I think KI has an opportunity to "increase"- do I think it will happen?; likely not.

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see if it were to come back as that, then you would have my attention as a paying customer. I dont need to go ride rides at KI, but I would need something to drag me out on a 30 degree night. A unique experience would be awesome. I just feel, that overall Christmas is hard to target to people to do things just because it can get so so cold out.

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Especially here. Images of ice skating and hot cocoa and fire pits are cute, but imagine the realities of a park having to keep up with snow fall and truly frigid, icy, dry wind. It's an admirable notion, but Ohio winters can be incredibly unforgiving. And that's no fun.

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What was then known as the complex at Six Flags New Jersey tried Winter Lights, a drive through a decorated Safari a bit less than a decade ago. The weather didn't cooperate. The event failed. And NJFTP no longer offers s holiday event. Grape Adventure, a winefest the weekend after park closing, ends the season.

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The key to having a successful winter event in Ohio and most every other place in the country that can get cold is a good mix of both indoor(for those that want to get out of the cold) and outdoor activities where people are willing to spend money if the event and its activities are priced right and pose a value to them personally. If you don't believe in the product and its not worth it to you than you won't go.

The last time Winterfest came back it wasn't priced right and too much of the park was open making it a recipe for disaster to make a profit in my opinion. Those are the two biggest mistakes that I saw in it not making a profit the last go around. My original post was to offer ideas and suggestions on how it could be a success--believe it or not there are many successful winter events in Ohio--but if you need to research it go ahead. It is obvious that there are strong opinions on this topic and it will be interesting to see whether or not in the end Kings Island will give the green light on a Winterfest type event again. I know that there are many that would support it if the conditions were right (not talking weather) but price of admission and whether there is a good mix of activities both indoor and outdoor. I think weather comes into play but not as much of a factor unless there is extreme cold temps. and snow and ice EVERY WEEKEND of the event. Much like if The Haunt had cold rainy weather the entire run of The Haunt I bet profits would be down too. Attendance was noticeably down at The Haunt when it was rainy and cold but because it offered things indoor too that offered a value to your entertainment dollar people still came. Kings Island adjusted on those nights with staffing and other nights that were warm really made up for the cold rainy nights. I also am venturing that some of you that keep saying the reasons Winterfest cannot happen again would still come to a rebooted Winterfest event if it was priced right and you felt the event offered activities that offered value to you.

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No offense Skyrider but you are making some very broad and obvious points. Of course if it's priced right with things people want then people will come.

Not to mention that the likely hood of cold and miserable day/nights would be higher in November/December than in September/October.

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No offense Skyrider but you are making some very broad and obvious points. Of course if it's priced right with things people want then people will come.

Not to mention that the likely hood of cold and miserable day/nights would be higher in November/December than in September/October.

The reason for the post is not to make very broad or obvious points but to stress that there are many successful winter events in this area that make a profit even in the cold and unpredictable Cincinnati weather. The Haunt does contend with weather related issues too as some nights it was extremely cold this past Sept/October. My original post was to get ideas on "Ways to Bring it Back-- Winterfest" meaning ideas on how it COULD BE SUCCESSFUL (make a profit). Instead their were some that posted instead "Ways or Reasons Why It Can't Come Back" instead of offering ideas on how it could work to bring it back. I have offered my ideas on ways to sucessfully bring it back with many unique entertainment and food options for the event and wanted others to give their ideas too for the Winterfest reboot.

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Unfortunately, not everything is rosy.

"Ways Son of Beast Could Come Back." We could start a whole thread offering ideas on ways to successfully bring it back and ask for others to give their ideas, too. Absolutely! That's what the site is for.

We can talk about it if you want to look at it in a blue-sky way and ignore reality for the sake of discussion. That's fine. But you can't fault people who say, "It's not in the cards right now; here's why."

As is written here over and over and over again, Winterfest came back - in large part - for a very particular reason. It succeeded in that regard. Now, current management deems that it's no longer worthwhile or necessary. In essence, they've traded it for the very lucrative Halloween season, which was never emphasized so entirely in the past. They rake it in during Halloween, and you can say that September and October contend with cool weather too, but tonight's forecast calls for 20-degree weather with freezing rain. That's not something Halloween events contend with. If Winterfest were open this season, would you go to Kings Island in 20-degree weather with freezing rain? 4 or 5 inches of snow and slush? Blisteringly cold wind chills of 10-degrees or less? Maybe you would! But would enough people go to finance the lights and employee shifts needed to run the place, front-of-house and back?

Yes, people have lovely memories. Yes, it would be a lovely event if it was done right. Yes, it would be financially successful if the weather cooperated, it was priced perfectly, interest was high, and activities were thoughtfully prepared. Sure.

But there are some wise folks in this thread providing worthwhile stories, reasons, memories, and information that should help to inform your opinion about Winterfest and the role it played. They shouldn't be brushed off as pessimistic, bothersome trolls.

Is it worth trying again? Kings Island has done their due diligence (as we would hope and expect) and has determined: not this year. Not last year either. Or the year before. If they were staring at an obvious profit center, their own research would inform them of that. Maybe it has and they're just purposefully turning down money. But for now, the answer is no. And hopefully reading this post will help you see why! :)

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This discussion is quite interesting to say the least. It seems the reasons people offer as to why Winterfest can't or won't come back all have to do with sucky Ohio weather. They say Cincinnati weather, in the winter, can be unpredictable and unforgiving. No one would come out in this type of weather so a winter event couldn't possibly survive here in this area. I might be wrong, but doesn't the Cincinnati Zoo have to deal with these same weather conditions? Even though extremely cold, don't people still come out of their houses for that? Isn't that event successful?

I know, I know. We've been down this road before. The Festival of Lights is well established, they have lots to offer, etc, etc. That really isn't the argument though. The argument is weather. Crazy Cincinnati weather hasn't managed to destroy The Festival of Lights yet, so I feel there could still be hope for Winterfest. How many times could you actually go to The Festival of Lights in one season? We usually go just once. Then the other nights/weekends we're looking for other things to do. Things that are different. We like to experience different types of events during the holiday season as I'm sure many other families do. So re-establish Winterfest and people will come. If they're coming out in blistering cold temps to the zoo, then why would coming out to Winterfest in blistering cold temps be any different? As long as Winterfest had enough to offer, I don't think it would be any different. People would still come.

We could basically go around and around in circles and discuss this til we're blue in the face (or blue in the fingertips if you're typing) and we'll pretty much get nowhere. Everyone has their own feelings and their own opinions about the event coming back. These feelings and opinions won't change unless we get an official announcement from the park that it's for sure coming back. Would I like to see it come back? Heck yes, but I'm not holding my breath. If it comes back, great, if not, well then I'll just stick to the list of things I mentioned in my other post. There are plenty of things to do around here for the holidays and for now, we'll just have to stick with those.

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