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Winterfest 2021 Reviews and Updates


IndyGuy4KI
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On 12/25/2021 at 12:04 PM, PKIDelirium said:

I wish the state would make an exemption for situations like WinterFest NYE and let the rides run until close. Currently, all rides have to be shut down by midnight because their annual certification expires.

That is correct; however, places like Scene 75 are open on January 1st and they still run their rides. Clearly they have some sort of arrangement. KI could potentially do they same. They choose not to. It wouldn’t make sense for them.

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Yes. I remember 2 years ago the week after really starts dropping entertainment. What the Dickens was cut I believe. Santa float cut from parade (was used just the other night with elves). We at least had 2 drummers drumming. I get that it’s after Christmas and people probably have commitments they pushed out till after due to working so much before, but if it’s the event, it really needs to be the full event. Some people may be paying full price and this is the first time they’ve had a chance to go. I remember being pretty bored New Year’s Eve when I planned to catch a few smaller shows and half had already wrapped their runs. FYI Knotts cut the run of their big marque show “Home for the Holidays” due to staffing and tech issues the other day as well, so even the big players are not immune to post Christmas cuts. 

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3 hours ago, brenthodge said:

 

PACKED!!!! Fun night, ride lines crazy  food lines moving pretty good. Great to see such a solid closing week  Mike Koontz was at tree lighting  thanked him and team for a great run. Now just bumped into him directing parade traffic on I Street. Good to see a leader… lead  

Tuesday night probably had 500 people with the rain in the forecast.   And it was only drizzly.     Then they did a Cedar Fair special and closed at 8:30.  
 

Cedar Fair parks in general lack indoor attractions and their gaining reputation for closing in bad weather stops people from coming in less than ideal weather.  Not that now is a good time for crowded indoor attractions, but that seems to be a reason for low attendance when it rains.   It’s not just Winterfest that this happens. 
 

It was dry this year and the event had great attendance . If the event is ever plagued by rain it will be a disaster at the gate.    
 

I do wonder how much of Winterfest attendance though is just regurgitating low spending season pass holders.    The park was crowded between 6 and 8:30 this year.   That seems to indicate that a majority of the attendance didn’t pay ticket price to get in. 
 

It’s my favorite event of the year and I’m glad people are going so it can continue , but just some thoughts and observations 

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1 hour ago, BoddaH1994 said:

Anyone else notice that the Tree Lighting had half the cast, Cool Yule didn’t happen, and even the stage for Four Drummers Drumming is gone and erased from existence??

My theory is that COVID played a role in some of the shows being cut. I noticed that only a week ago most performers in the parade did not wear masks. Now almost all performers are wearing masks. I am all for COVID precautions, but I found it interesting that many performers were wearing masks after not wearing them previously. I heard that “What the Dickens” had its run end early as the cast was affected by COVID. For the Four Drummers Drumming, two of them are still in the parade, but the other two and the show is gone. Kings Island makes all performers fill out availability before they can be hired, so it is highly unlikely Kings Island expected to have to cut these shows. I assume that in some cases, one person or multiple performers tested positive or were forced to quarantine resulting in shows being cut. I don’t think there would have been as many shows for Winterfest as were announced if Kings Island knew so many of the shows would end their runs early. I think what we are seeing is just a sign of the times unfortunately. Hopefully, things will be better in 2022 not just for Kings Island but for the world.

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All these things were noticed by myself.  And the Winter Buffet was closed too!  

But I took a friend to his first Winterfest.  He is a theater guy.  He had a blast and was very appreciative  of the entertainment staff.  

 

Saw Tinker's for the first time.  When Tinker gets his spirit, and when Snoopy shows up in Spectacular show, my eyes do get a little misty.  My friend says that is the sign of a good actor/show...a human connection is made.

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5 hours ago, FUN&ONLY! said:

My theory is that COVID played a role in some of the shows being cut. I noticed that only a week ago most performers in the parade did not wear masks. Now almost all performers are wearing masks. I am all for COVID precautions, but I found it interesting that many performers were wearing masks after not wearing them previously. I heard that “What the Dickens” had its run end early as the cast was affected by COVID. For the Four Drummers Drumming, two of them are still in the parade, but the other two and the show is gone. Kings Island makes all performers fill out availability before they can be hired, so it is highly unlikely Kings Island expected to have to cut these shows. I assume that in some cases, one person or multiple performers tested positive or were forced to quarantine resulting in shows being cut. I don’t think there would have been as many shows for Winterfest as were announced if Kings Island knew so many of the shows would end their runs early. I think what we are seeing is just a sign of the times unfortunately. Hopefully, things will be better in 2022 not just for Kings Island but for the world.

I just know from personal experience the last night 2 years ago some of the smaller shows didn’t run on New Year’s Eve so maybe a combo of both. 

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7 hours ago, FUN&ONLY! said:

My theory is that COVID played a role in some of the shows being cut. I noticed that only a week ago most performers in the parade did not wear masks. Now almost all performers are wearing masks. I am all for COVID precautions, but I found it interesting that many performers were wearing masks after not wearing them previously. I heard that “What the Dickens” had its run end early as the cast was affected by COVID. For the Four Drummers Drumming, two of them are still in the parade, but the other two and the show is gone. Kings Island makes all performers fill out availability before they can be hired, so it is highly unlikely Kings Island expected to have to cut these shows. I assume that in some cases, one person or multiple performers tested positive or were forced to quarantine resulting in shows being cut. I don’t think there would have been as many shows for Winterfest as were announced if Kings Island knew so many of the shows would end their runs early. I think what we are seeing is just a sign of the times unfortunately. Hopefully, things will be better in 2022 not just for Kings Island but for the world.

Word on the street is that a cast member in Cool Yule tested positive and the rest of the cast refused to continue to perform because they weren’t comfortable doing so. 
 

If the Drummer Drumming thing was Covid related it would make sense but it’s still strange that they stage and everything was gone. Perhaps once word got out that the show was cancelled they went ahead and broke everything down.

What the Dickens was cancelled since the week before Christmas. Not sure when exactly to stopped. They were standing outside telling people that it was cancelled when I found out, which leads to me believe it wasn’t planned. I’m assuming it was Covid related as well. 

I’ve noticed the mask in the parade thing too. What’s funny is that a lot of walk around characters and cast members would not wear masks all night but would for the parade. I assumed they would elected to wear them or not as a group, but would do so mainly because of the cold. Perhaps it had to do with being near people. Last night most, but not all, cast members of the parade were wearing masks. 
 

Also, the elves in Tinker’s didn’t wear masks during their performance but the cast of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular did. If I had to choose a situation to wear a mask, I’d find it more necessary in the packed Festhaus than the KIT where people are in defined spots that aren’t terribly close to the stage. Then again, maybe this is telling about how much is actually sung for each show vs how much is in the can. I didn’t see Charlie Brown Christmas but my friend did and said it didn’t sound muffled at all. He said it sounded exactly like every other show. This makes me think that their masks are very thin and probably useless, or the audio clearly isn’t coming from behind them anymore. 

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4 hours ago, BeeastFarmer said:

^ I was at the 930pm  Peanuts Spectacular and  thought the masks were odd,  But as the show went on, it was easy to determine that the performers were singing.  Especially when it was just 2 or three perforrmers.

Do you think it sounded muffled or anything? I didn’t see the show, but my friend and his wife saw it and they both agreed that it didn’t sound like they were wearing masks, which would lead me to believe they upped the background tracks or something. 

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9 hours ago, MDMC01 said:

Yeah, I seem to remember "What the Dickens" did indeed end a few days early in 2019 as I think I was at one of the last shows (?).

I feel like the nativity thing didn’t happen NYE either, and I feel like Tinkers was done after the balloon drop thing at like 7 or 8. I just remember feeling like I was biding my time NYE last time until 12. Seems like they need to push the entertainment at least an hour later or something. I feel like a lot of food places closed as well. I remember it feeling more like a sad whimper than a grand finale. I wasn’t there in 2019, so maybe they upped the ante from year one when I was there. 

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1 hour ago, brenthodge said:

I feel like the nativity thing didn’t happen NYE either, and I feel like Tinkers was done after the balloon drop thing at like 7 or 8. I just remember feeling like I was biding my time NYE last time until 12. Seems like they need to push the entertainment at k lol easy an hour later or something. I feel like a lot of food places closed as well. It remember it feeling more like a sad whimper than a grand finale. I wasn’t there in 2019, so maybe they upped the ante from year one when I was there. 

Balloon drop was at 9:00 last year, it’s at 10:00 this year. What was explained to me was that the NYE stuff was taking place on I Street, so they wanted to draw people there as midnight drew closer. I’ve always thought NYE was both fun and special at KI. Something about the party atmosphere is just really neat to me. 

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8 minutes ago, BoddaH1994 said:

Balloon drop was at 9:00 last year, it’s at 10:00 this year. What was explained to me was that the NYE stuff was taking place on I Street, so they wanted to draw people there as midnight drew closer. I’ve always thought NYE was both fun and special at KI. Something about the party atmosphere is just really neat to me. 

Sounds like they are leaning and adapting. First year we got there at around 8 (to not have too much time to kill) balloons were down. As I said, we missed 19, do it sounds like it’s better timing. In a good way, the parade has probably pushed it even later this year. Did they do a later performance of Cool Yule or something else upbeat later I. 19?  (although sounds like that’s out this year anyway) not heading up tonight, but hoping all goes well and it’s a fun night. 

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22 minutes ago, brenthodge said:

Sounds like they are leaning and adapting. First year we got there at around 8 (to not have too much time to kill) balloons were down. As I said, we missed 19, do it sounds like it’s better timing. In a good way, the parade has probably pushed it even later this year. Did they do a later performance of Cool Yule or something else upbeat later I. 19?  (although sounds like that’s out this year anyway) not heading up tonight, but hoping all goes well and it’s a fun night. 

Nah, think of it this way: Winterfest ends at 10:00, NYE Celebration is 10:00-1:00. To me, having that evening to hang out with friends and do the countdown is a cool experience, so that’s why I like it. I could see an argument for there not being enough to do during that time, though. The firework show was solid in ‘19, including some close prox stuff shooting off the buildings on I-Streey. I honestly do not know what the plan is for tonight. 

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2 hours ago, brenthodge said:

I feel like the nativity thing didn’t happen NYE either, and I feel like Tinkers was done after the balloon drop thing at like 7 or 8. I just remember feeling like I was biding my time NYE last time until 12. Seems like they need to push the entertainment at least an hour later or something. I feel like a lot of food places closed as well. I remember it feeling more like a sad whimper than a grand finale. I wasn’t there in 2019, so maybe they upped the ante from year one when I was there. 

For me, it felt like the balloon drop at Festhaus flowed into NYE at the Tower nicely (in 2019). Then again, IIRC, I lingered a bit afterwards before making my way to I-Street.

I'm choosing to spend NYE at home, but I am curious what the park will be like tonight - have fun for those who are attending! :D

Also, does anyone (on here!) know if the H2Overdrive game (hydro craft racing game with a Jet-ski style seat) has been removed from the park? When I went in my birthday, I did not see it in the Coney Arcade and never got around to checking the Rivertown Arcade. TIA

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6 hours ago, BoddaH1994 said:

Do you think it sounded muffled or anything? I didn’t see the show, but my friend and his wife saw it and they both agreed that it didn’t sound like they were wearing masks, which would lead me to believe they upped the background tracks or something. 

It didn't sound muffled at first, during the first song, but as the show went on, you could tell they were singing, especially when it not the entire ensemble.  I did notice that the Peanut Gang's voices had some issues--like if CB was on stage left, it only played on the speakers on stage left, so it sounded unbalanced as we were on stage right.  They were scrambling in the booth.  When they were on stage right, it was extra loud of those of us on that side..

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  • IndyGuy4KI unfeatured and unpinned this topic

Our big Christmas gift to our kids was tickets to Winterfest on NYE (we live in the Detroit area, so it was a big deal -- driving down, doing two nights in a hotel; they were pumped). I always wanted to do Winterfest, and I have to say my expectations were definitely met. 

I've heard some people criticize the decorations -- I don't know what they could have been in the past, but these were pretty great. I loved that every area of the park had its own look and feel in terms of lighting; my particular favorite was either International Street with all the blues and whites, or the gorgeous area by where BLSC is and Vortex used to be. The only area we didn't spend much time in was Action Zone, mainly because it was 10 pm by the time we got out there and everything was closing. 

A few of the pros/cons. Starting with the pros: 

  • Like I said, the decorations were great. I expected there would be entire areas of the park closed off or that we might just get some Christmas lights thrown willy-nilly around some of the lesser-traveled areas. But it's really impressive how many lights and displays there are, along with all the photo opportunities. Also loved the snow machines over Snowflake Lake (on a 60-degree night, it helped it feel wintry). 
  • The ride selection is really great in the winter. Adults can just walk and enjoy things, which is why I don't mind that only Flight of Fear and Mystic Timbers were open (due to lines, we didn't ride either). But for kids, it can be hard to go to one of their favorite places and not be able to ride anything. So I was glad that a lot of kids' rides and flats were open. My daughter loves Boo Blasters, so we got a good ride on that, and my son was thrilled that his personal favorite, Shake Rattle and Roll, was open. For me, I loved the Antique Cars with all the Christmas lights. 
  • I wanted to do the International Restaurant buffet, but that appeared to be switched over to a $100/person lounge event for NYE, so we didn't partake. I didn't realize they also had the buffet back in Rivertown, so we ate at the BBQ in Coney Mall instead. Great smoked turkey, brussel sprouts and biscuits. I still am holding out hope that maybe International Restaurant will get a seasonal reopening for the 50th. 
  • We'd purchased the souvenir mugs online, but they were all sold out by the time we went to get them (at least at Graeter's). But we still got unlimited hot cocoa through the night, and it was darn good hot chocolate. 
  • I was really impressed by the parade. I didn't expect so many floats, singers and dancers, and my daughter (6) was excited to be chosen to ring the jingle bells during one song. I really wish they'd do a parade all year, but I understand that maybe staffing doesn't allow that. But it was great. 
  • Staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, despite working a holiday night. As the night wound down, I saw many of them hugging each other goodbye, and I realized it was the last night of the year, and the last time working together for many of them. The camaraderie was good to see. 
  • We didn't see any shows, except for my wife and daughter stumbling onto the Mistletones, which they enjoyed. I liked the talking reindeer display in Rivertown. 
  • The train ride was fun. Nothing special, but a nice nighttime trip to take. 
  • If you have young kids, you really can't beat springing for preferred parking. Makes that end-of-the-night walk so much easier. 
  • I was a bit worried about walking around a park that just had vacant rides standing, reminding you of everything you couldn't do. The park does a great job of covering up any rides not in operation. I never felt like I was missing out on anything. 

Cons: 

  • We'd purchased ice skating tickets online, but the line was so long that we couldn't justify doing it.
  • Really, only one. It was advertised that the rides would be closing at 10 p.m. However, I took that to mean the park's traditional rides would close at 10, not that pretty much all Winterfest attractions not on International Street would be closed (the tubing hill, crafts, any restaurants, etc.) Basically, they were funneling us all toward International Street or to the Festhaus. Which meant we were all being packed in tight quarters for two hours -- I get the idea of turning it into a party atmosphere, but at this time of the pandemic, it really felt irresponsible. Very few people were wearing masks and it just really felt like it had the potential to be a super-spreader event. Our kids were starting to crash and my wife and didn't like the idea of being packed in close with a bunch of mask-free strangers, so we peaced out around 10:30. I get wanting to get everyone to one area for crowd control and a celebratory feel, but I wish they'd had different areas throughout the park to do this and spread people out a bit. But that's the only real con. 

General question: I was trying to sneak a peak back at Timberwolf. Is it gone? It was dark, so I probably just couldn't see it. But I'd heard rumors here about it potentially going. 

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Great review, and I agree, the decor is over the top in a good way. It’s so well done that it’s a shame most of the great detail is lost at night. I wish they did more general low level wash lighting of all the buildings not on I street so you could really make out things like the garland on Skyline is trimmed in all yellow and blue, Subway has all yellow and green ornaments, Racer had a split red/blue wreath and garland, but then they lit it all white and you totally lost that. The trim is designed as much for day as night, but they open so late,that you don’t really have a chance to appreciate the details like the wheat and cotton in Rivertown decor.  

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Also agree in the “shutting down” at 10. I think it’s a bit odd that essentially everything Winterfest ends at 10 and then it’s just a 2 hour dance party. Maybe if they also had a few other stages set up Coney by Skyline (stays open) with classic rock band , “A Rockin’Countdown” Rivertown at LaRosas (stays open) etc with country band “Country Countdown” maybe even Area 72 with dance music, then top 40 pop at bandstand (like a coast to coast NYE) show, it would spread people out. They could essentially rope off Rivertown at the arcade (kept open) and Coney at the big tree keeping arcade open there as well have only the loop around dodgem open to cycle people back to I street. Maybe even these mini concerts end at 11:30 to get people all moving to I street by 12. 

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I attended Kings Dominion NYE.  Their rides closed at midnight.  Regular activities and about half of dining  closed at 10. I can’t remember when skating stopped. Park and rest of dining  closed at 1am.      

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