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Kings Island WinterFest - Why the shortest operating calendar?


Timchat2
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Any theories as to why Kings Island's WinterFest has the shortest operating calendar of the parks? Here are the dates for the five WinterFest events this year:

Carowinds -- Nov. 13 - Jan. 9 (3-11PM many nights)

Kings Dominion -- Nov. 20 - Jan. 9

Canada’s Wonderland -- Nov. 13 - Dec. 31

California’s Great America -- Nov. 26 - Jan. 9

Kings Island -- Nov. 26 - Dec. 31

All of these parks have Halloween events but at least three of the WinterFest events (Carowinds, Kings Dominion and Canada's Wonderland) open before Thanksgiving, so I don't know if the switchover time is entirely the reason.

WinterFest is probably my favorite time of year at Kings Island and I am VERY excited and grateful to have the event again in 2021, particularly with Worlds of Fun losing its WinterFest this year. I just hope the short operating calendar isn't a sign that WinterFest at Kings Island isn't a strong performer in the eyes of Cedar Fair.

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And don't forget Carowinds had passholder preview last weekend.

But hey the Reds used to be the first game of the baseball season as well for being the first pro team but now TV picks who plays first...so KI, like the Reds, is the stepchild in the chain :P

All kidding aside, I think that they got an extended season to make up a little for either not having a season last year and/or a seriously cutback regular season this year.  Although our regular season had reduced days and hours, compared to the rest of the chain, we were a lot better.  Ours was the closest to a normal season than the other parks (except maybe for Knotts).  No 7pm fireworks, No closed middle of the week, most of our summer was 10pm closes compared to others, etc.  I am sure the certification of the rides is why we cannot extend into January.  Ours is calendar year and maybe the other parks certifications are good for a year after the inspection.

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My guess would be the size of the park.  Remember, they have to tear down Haunt and put up Winterfest.  Not all parks have a Royal Skating Rink that size and only 1 has a gigantic Christmas tree.  There is also staffing to be concerned with.

All that being said I could see them extending in a week either way (or both) in the future depending upon how the other parks experience with it.

I for one enjoy the break between Haunt and Winterfest.  It makes the anticipation more palpable and the first entry into the park more magical.  After all I can remember not having it at all so I'm grateful for ANY Winterfest time I get!

 

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I believe that in 2019, the park opened Winterfest the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving.

Yes, I would love to see them extend Winterfest a weekend or two earlier, and would love to see them extend it a weekend into January, then maybe KI could be open on my birthday (January 9th).  However, extending into January is problematic with the rides.  The rides are certified by year.  So once midnight on New Year`s eve hits, the rides technically are no longer certified to operate by the Ohio Department of Agriculture`s Rides Safety Division.  I wonder if they can create some kind of extension to remedy this situation in the future?

I would love for the park to open at say 3pm on some days for Winterfest.  There is just so much to see and do, that you can`t do everything in one visit.  That might be part of the plan, forcing people to visit a second time makes them buy another admission ticket if they do not have a pass, or if the have a pass, gives them more opportunity to spend money buying food/going ice skating, etc.

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Other parks may be opening the event earlier in order to generate more revenue to account for longer COVID related closures. Even if the bulk of the traffic won't come in until after Thanksgiving, it is still something. There could be a balancing act between the parks based on various variables in the market. Also, keep in mind, Canada does not have the same Thanksgiving holiday that we do, so the winter season can, in a more culturally acceptable way, begin sooner.

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I'm sure there will come a time when other parks:

Open in November

Open for Thursdays for Haunt

Open Sundays for Haunt

etc etc etc

...and corporate will come down asking why KI can't pull off the same under the same circumstances. Gotta remember, that whole month of November when the park is sits empty costs the company a lot.Those Thursdays and Sunday nights (assuming the "experiment" at Cedar Point worked) are also a huge opportunity for revenue that is lost. 

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On 11/15/2021 at 1:26 PM, KIBOB said:

Other parks may be opening the event earlier in order to generate more revenue to account for longer COVID related closures. Even if the bulk of the traffic won't come in until after Thanksgiving, it is still something. There could be a balancing act between the parks based on various variables in the market. Also, keep in mind, Canada does not have the same Thanksgiving holiday that we do, so the winter season can, in a more culturally acceptable way, begin sooner.

This hits the nail on the head for Wonderland... Thanksgiving is the 2nd Monday in October... The demarcation line for the start of the 'Christmas Season' in Canada is the day after Remembrance Day. Play a carol before then and people lose their minds, but after November 11th, everyone shifts to Christmas mode...

That and the first year Wonderland did Winterfest it was way, way, way more popular than anyone expected, so after being shut down for May and June, they weren't going to miss the chance to make some extra money in November...

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16 hours ago, Timchat2 said:

Is there something about the labor market in Cincinnati that keeps Kings Island from having the staff to do the switchover that other parks are able to pull off before Thanksgiving?

I doubt it was staffing. Kings Island was better off for staffing this year compared to many other parks as they never had to cut operating days. Also, how many times have you seen Kings Island advertise for Winterfest positions? I have really only see advertisements for live entertainment, so I would imagine the staffing situation is pretty good.

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4 minutes ago, FUN&ONLY! said:

I doubt it was staffing. Kings Island was better off for staffing this year compared to many other parks as they never had to cut operating days. Also, how many times have you seen Kings Island advertise for Winterfest positions? I have really only see advertisements for live entertainment, so I would imagine the staffing situation is pretty good.

The workforce for park turnover would have a different skill-set than your regular (seasonal) day-to-day positions they advertise.  While one can assume maintenance and operations is heavily involved in the turnover, a lot of this work is likely contracted out.  

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49 minutes ago, Maddog said:

The workforce for park turnover would have a different skill-set than your regular (seasonal) day-to-day positions they advertise.  While one can assume maintenance and operations is heavily involved in the turnover, a lot of this work is likely contracted out.  

I was referring to the actual operation of the event which does mostly rely on seasonal labor. When it comes to preparing for Winterfest, if Kings Island contracts out a bunch of the work, I feel like they would be able to get the park flipped on whatever time table they decide. Anyways, I don’t understand why Kings Island cannot stay open after December 31st like other parks because they will already have everything set up and ready.

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Carowinds started their WinterFest on November 13 (the larger show productions start this weekend) with a preview weekend on November 6-7, so apparently Charlotte is as ready for an early holiday season as Canada. Also, Carowinds can pull off the switchover from Haunt AND still have the park operate each weekend. Why isn't Kings Island doing the same? Wouldn't they want the additional operating days generating revenue if they have the staffing? Carowinds, Kings Dominion and Canada's Wonderland seem to think it is worth the effort to get things rolling.

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For Carowinds, I think they ae testing the waters.  The theory is that they are going to attempt to go to a 12 month calendar, and this is an attempt to go that route.  KD usually opens in March, so their extended Winterfest might be a testing for something like BGW did last year with winter weekends.

I'd love to see KI extend a version of Winterfest into Febuary weekends, but focused of just the International Street area with ice skating, shopping and eating.  Not sure if the ODA certifies the ice skating rink, but it seems like it would be  simple task to schedule a recertification during the week days after New Years Day.  

I think most parks will see added days to their schedules in the years to come.  As we know, CF is relatively conservative with growth plans, and this usually pays off for them.

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On 11/15/2021 at 10:11 AM, CoastersRZ said:

 That might be part of the plan, forcing people to visit a second time makes them buy another admission ticket if they do not have a pass, or if the have a pass, gives them more opportunity to spend money buying food/going ice skating, etc.

I agree 99% with this part of the statement in regards to why, to make it 100% change "might" to "most definitely is".

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12 hours ago, BeeastFarmer said:

For Carowinds, I think they ae testing the waters.  The theory is that they are going to attempt to go to a 12 month calendar, and this is an attempt to go that route.  KD usually opens in March, so their extended Winterfest might be a testing for something like BGW did last year with winter weekends.

I'd love to see KI extend a version of Winterfest into Febuary weekends, but focused of just the International Street area with ice skating, shopping and eating.  Not sure if the ODA certifies the ice skating rink, but it seems like it would be  simple task to schedule a recertification during the week days after New Years Day.  

I think most parks will see added days to their schedules in the years to come.  As we know, CF is relatively conservative with growth plans, and this usually pays off for them.

I have no doubt that if they wanted to work something out with ODA they could. They probably just don’t bother because they’re only open one hour in 2022 during this season. They want the crowds to make their way to I Street for the countdown in the last few hours. 
 

Just think: even Scene 75 has roller coasters now and they don’t shut down on New Years Day, so it’s certainly possible. 
 

Side note: if anyone hasn’t been to NYE at KI, I’d highly recommend it. It’s fun, festive, and different. I’ve enjoyed both years that they’ve had it. I plan on making this year three. 

 

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Carowinds does seem to be a test to extend the WinterFest season. I'm still not sure why they are deciding to be so conservative with Kings Island's schedule when all of the other parks are starting their WinterFests before Thanksgiving and/or extending to after New Year's Day. Presumably Kings Island is still one of the most-visited parks in the chain so you'd think they would have some confidence in adding dates sooner than later.

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Carowinds is open 3 to 11 on Friday’s and Saturdays for Winterfest.   That’s the appropriate time to experience most everything plus an extra hour of lights.   It’s also open Mon Tue and Wed before Thanksgiving.  
 

At least Ki did extend Sat and Sun 1 hour in front this year.  I would rather see it go until 11 and have more night time lights like Carowinds. 
 

I agree.  Ki is one of the most attended CF parks.   Plus they attract CP customers for Winterfest.    It should have more time on the schedule. 
 

The Eiffel Tower painting could be part of the later opening but one would think they would stay open through Jan 2 the way the days fall. 

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18 hours ago, BeeastFarmer said:

For Carowinds, I think they ae testing the waters.  The theory is that they are going to attempt to go to a 12 month calendar, and this is an attempt to go that route.  KD usually opens in March, so their extended Winterfest might be a testing for something like BGW did last year with winter weekends.

 

Carowinds may be a test but KD isn’t.  KD has had the shortest hours all season long.  8 hour operating days.  They may have 4 extra Winterfest days, but their Winterfest hours are short 5-9.   It’s a beautiful park with huge potential, but CF has decided to run it into the ground as a locals-only park.    Short hours do not attract destination customers. 

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On 11/15/2021 at 10:11 AM, CoastersRZ said:

However, extending into January is problematic with the rides.  The rides are certified by year.  So once midnight on New Year`s eve hits, the rides technically are no longer certified to operate by the Ohio Department of Agriculture`s Rides Safety Division.  I wonder if they can create some kind of extension to remedy this situation in the future?

Ohio Department of Agriculture has an annual inspection and a supplemental inspection that can take place at any time.  The annual inspection certification is based on a rolling year.

Rides at seasonal parks do need to be inspected before each operating year due to off-season rehab & the ride being down for an extended amount of time.  Traveling rides need inspected each time they are moved & set up.

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^Interesting.  So if the ice rink is inspected by the DoA, it is probably certified in November which is why there is no rush to clear the rink before midnight on 12-31.

I'd conjecture that the rides are inspected in March/early April which means, unless other reasons are in play, that the rides could run after midnight on 12-31.

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16 hours ago, BeeastFarmer said:

I'd conjecture that the rides are inspected in March/early April which means, unless other reasons are in play, that the rides could run after midnight on 12-31.

In conversations I have had with the park, I was always told it was calendar year not year from certification date.

 

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Rule 901:9-1-01 (C)(1)

Quote

All permits for amusement rides, except for inflatable rides, shall expire on the thirty-first day of December following the date of issue.


https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-administrative-code/rule-901:9-1-01

Is there a way around this?  I have no idea.  I have never visited a scene 75 early January to know if the coasters are operating.

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