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Trip Report: KI 8/15 and 8/17


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Took our annual family trip from Detroit to KI this past week with my wife and kids (ages 6 and 2, respectively). It was a bittersweet trip this year. Kings Island was a family childhood tradition for me, dating back nearly 40 years with my grandparents and aunts. My grandmother and one of my aunts who used to make this trip with us both passed away this summer, so there was a sense that this trip was in their memory. 

We'd initially planned on going to the park Wednesday and Thursday, but rain in the forecast caused us to split the days between Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday was a great day. Light lines, nice weather, only a short rainstorm halfway through the day. My kids love Planet Snoopy. Our "home" park would technically be Cedar Point, but I've never cared much for its kids offerings. My son is hesitant to try most of anything that's too intense, but he loves Boo Blasters, the bumper cars, the flight of the Red Baron and the Kite Eating Tree. He also tried the Scrambler this year. Next hear, hopefully we can move him up to Woodstock Express (which will always be The Beastie to me). I was surprised how much my daughter could do. She's just under 36 inches but there was a lot she could ride with adults. She loved (to my chagrin) the Whirlybirds, which I think we did three times and which had the longest lines we encountered all week (and even that was 20 minutes). The kids loved it, which warmed my heart. 

I want to thank Cedar Fair for instituting parent-swap, which means my wife and I could take turns on roller coasters while the other parent sat out with the kids. On Wednesday, it saved us some moderate waits on Mystic Timbers. Pretty much everything else was a walk-on. The Best is still the best, but Diamondback and Banshee are quickly becoming favorites as well. Mystic Timbers is already a classic. A lot of people like to focus on the anticlimactic shed, but that's a shame. The ride itself is fantastic; wild and fast, it's a good stepping stone for kids before they're ready for The Beast. 

Friday looked like it was going to be a wash-out. We were gassing up before heading to the park and it was like a monsoon came down. Rain was going sideways, there was thunder and lightning. But it cleared up just after park opening. The forecast seemed to show that we'd get a few hours of sunshine before the rain came in again. But, in reality, the rain never returned and the sun even made an appearance. The crowds stayed away, so everything was a walk-on. We'd ridden everything by mid-afternoon. 

The park is still gorgeous, one of the most relaxing and beautifully designed parks I've been to (Cedar Point's layout is too busy and hectic). With a deal through our insurance, 2-day admission, parking and All-Day eating for two days didn't cost too much. The food at KI is miles ahead of CP's; I particularly liked the new Coney Bar-B-Que, and I'll always love La Rosa's. I even had my first Skyline coney in about a decade; it was great (although the heartburn that came with it...not so great). The kids loved the Peanuts Block Party, and I thought Gravity was a fantastic addition to the park lineup. 

If there was one complaint, it's with staffing. Many of the workers on the rides (particularly in Planet Snoopy) seemed bored and disinterested. Maybe that's an end-of-season thing, but still. The food service pretty much everywhere was really rough. Many workers seemed baffled by our 2-Day pass for All-Day Dining, and the supervisor at Red's didn't seem to have a handle on their menu or cash register system. That seems very odd at the end of the season. Their confusion over the dining passes was really odd...that's a huge selling point, I'm sure, but few people seemed to know how to activate it or what it was. You'd think after an entire summer, they'd have a handle on it. 

The front gate workers (elderly women for the most part) were also odd, with one openly wondering why we chose to come to the park on Friday since "it's gonna rain all day and everything's going to be closed" and another ordering my 2-year-old daughter around brusquely when she got her return stamp. 

That said, there was a worker on the Whirlybirds who was engaged and fun, and I have to say that the staff at the "Big Ticket" attractions (Beast, Diamondback, Banshee) always seem like they're having a great time.   

KI is a beautiful park with good entertainment, great rides, and good food. If they can, perhaps, Disney-fie their customer service, it will complete the experience. 

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Glad you had fun! As far as food service goes, that's been an ongoing issue for several years with generally poor service, and a lot of people have blamed it on the dining plans (i.e. they already have your money, so there's no incentive to improve anything because they know you're essentially locked to them no matter what).

However, the confusion over the 2-Day All-Day Dining may be explained by the fact that AFAIK they do not sell such a thing to the general public (in fact, I've never heard of it before). There are many things available through group sales (where your insurance almost certainly obtained its deal from) that aren't available by any other means, and the 2-Day All-Day Dining appears to be such a thing. So it's likely something they rarely see, and it's possible those associates may have literally never seen one before, especially since at this point in the season many associates have quit to go back to school, so people are getting shifted around between departments and new associates are being hired for the fall season. That doesn't necessarily excuse the issues with it, but may at least explain it.

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