In 1982, Kings Island opened its gates in December to a park that was transformed into a winter wonderland. The Eiffel Tower was decked out as a large Christmas tree, and there was ice-skating in the royal fountain. Guests could visit with Scrooge, or enjoy a ride on the Smurf`s Enchanted Voyage. Guests could also embark on the Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad, take a spin on the Grand Carousel or the Hanna Barbera Carousel or take in the shows.
Kings Island`s WinterFest debuted in 1982, one year before the Cincinnati Zoo started their winter festival, dubbed “Festival of Lights.” Millions of guests enjoyed WinterFest over the years. Then Paramount Communications purchased the park and wished to keep the park open longer in the fall. The result of staying open through the end of October was that they would not have enough time to prepare for WinterFest. So they decided to discontinue it, much to the chagrin of the locals.
On July 25, 2005 Kings Island announced that they were bringing back WinterFest in 2005, after a thirteen-season absence. Paramount`s Carowinds also announced that they will introduce WinterFest in 2005, for the first time in their history. It would feature many of the old traditions established at the original, and many more. All the decorations were brand new, as the original ones were either sold off or donated. They decided to reinstate WinterFest after years of surveying park guests about the concept. Preparations began years in advance as well: a new sound system on International Street was installed, more indoor dining establishments in 2005 on International Street , and a renovation of the Royal Fountain.
For WinterFest 2005, the Eiffel Tower will once again be decked out as a large Christmas tree. The Royal Fountain will once again be transformed into a large ice skating rink. The Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad is transformed into the White Christmas Express, complete with a cast of 1940`s era characters. On Swan Lake in Rivertown, they will have Holiday Illuminations, featuring an immersive light show on the lake and in the surrounding forest. There will also be a Christmas parade through the streets, as well as a Toy Factory musical in the Paramount Theater. Nickelodeon Central will be transformed into Santa`s Christmastown and the Paramount Story will be transformed into the Nickelodeon Holiday Tree lot. The Festhaus will transform into the WinterFest Haus, with live entertainers on a revolving turntable stage. The classic Scrooge`s house will return for the reincarnated Winterfest. Also, every night, one lucky family will be chosen to light the Eiffel Tower . In addition to the train ride, the park had both the Grand Carousel, and the Hanna Barbera Carousel open. They also had Pixie and Dixie`s Swingset, Topcat`s Taxi Jam and Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle open for the guests enjoying WinterFest.
The master planning of this multi-million dollar event was conducted by Jack Rouse Associates. They designed and produced the thematic elements for the White Christmas Express, Santa`s Christmastown, Holiday Illuminations on Swan Lake, as well as the thematic elements in the WinterFest Haus and the thematic elements for Scrooge`s house on International Street.