With less than three weeks to go before Kings Island's 2019 opening day, WCPO got a sneak peek of all the changes guests will see when they come to the park this year.
Park spokesman Chad Showalter gave us access to the most anticipated new attraction for 2019: the return of Antique Autos, an original ride that has been gone almost 15 years.
Classic car ride returns with updates
"This is our antique autos," Showalter said." They are putting the final touches on the landscaping. The building is complete the track's complete."
If you are too young or don't remember the antique cars ride, these are gas powered Model T's that you'll drive on a quarter mile track.
"You have a gas pedal and you push it down, not a brake pedal though, so when you let your foot off the gas the car will slow to a stop." These are all new cars for 2019, not just the old cars painted over.
Sure, it's not a thrilling new coaster, like the Mystic Timbers or Banshee rollout of recent years.
But Showalter says this is part of the park's "back to the future" trend this year, where it hopes to bring back families, grandparents, and others who love Kings Island but don't want to fly down a 200 foot hill at 60 miles per hour.
Antique Autos is for them.
"It's really going to bring back memories for those who rode it, maybe with their parents. And now they are able to bring back their kids and ride it, and share that same experience they had when they were younger."
As you drive, you'll see signs referring to Zodiac, the original ride that stood on this part of Coney Mall in the 70s.
Other vintage attractions are spruced up
Other improvements, also harking back to the park's early years, include new track underneath parts of The Racer.
The vintage roller coaster got new track in its turns over the winter, to make the sometimes bumpy ride much smoother.
If you look closely, meantime, you'll see the throwback theme in other ways.
Workers are refurbishing the Festhaus Glockenspiel, with moving figures that had not worked for a decade. "They look brand new and i am excited to see how gusts respond to that," Showalter said.
It will be part of an updated International Street, with fresh paint, updated fountains, and thousands of new paver stones.
Then, to honor The Beast's 40th anniversary, workers have painted its cars the original red and orange, like a vintage '70s Hot Wheels car.
"The beast loyalists, who show up and ride The Beast hundreds of times a season, are going to love seeing it look like 1979 when it opened," Showalter said.
Some new attractions
Not every update will be retro. One nod to current times: the former Reds Hall of Fame grill will become the Miami River Brewhouse, with local craft beers on tap.
But most of the updates are a throwback to those early Brady Bunch and Partridge Family years at Kings Island, when whole generations of families would come to enjoy the park, not just coaster enthusiasts.
Those were the days of bell bottoms and tube socks, when Kings Island was regularly featured on TV sitcoms, and was considered the top theme park in the country.
"They are going to see the park like they haven't seen it for decades," Showalter said.
Times and Tickets
Interested in checking it out? Season pass holders will get to see all these changes on Passholder Preview night on Friday, April 19, starting at 5 p.m. For everyone else the park opens to the public Saturday morning, April 20.
You can purchase discount tickets online at VisitKingsIsland.com, or at Cincinnati-area Kroger stores, so you don't waste your money.
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