From The Vault


From the Vault: The first 10 years of Winterfest turned Kings Island into holiday heaven

Will Winterfest look the same when it returns?
Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 16, 2017

MASON, Ohio -- King's Island's Winterfest returns next week for the first time in more than a decade.

A one-time attempt brought Winterfest back to the park in 2005, but Winterfest's peak popularity was in the 1980s. That means many now-season pass holders (kids) have no idea what to expect.

BELOW: Winterfest in the 1980s


Winterfest began in 1982 as a Christmas celebration throughout the park. All rides were closed, except the Grand Carousel and a Christmas-themed train ride, according to several amusement park bloggers.

However, this year, 17 rides will be open and running during Winterfest, according to Kings Island's website. The rides are mostly those in Planet Snoopy -- transformed into Charlie Brown's Christmas Town. Others include the bumper cars, Zephyr (the swings), the Scrambler and, yes, the carousel. The park's newest rollercoaster, Mystic Timbers, will also be open for Winterfest.

Click here to see the Winterfest 2017 park map and attractions list.

A Winterfest staple, ice skating on the frozen International Street fountain, will return. And the iconic Eiffel Tower will be transformed into a giant "Christmas Tree" like in years' past.

BELOW: Ice skating at Kings Island's Winterfest


In the '80s and early '90s, kids could take photos with Santa at Winterfest. That attraction returns, and kids can mail letters to Santa at the "post office" set up in the park.

BELOW: Santa and Mrs. Claus at Winterfest


Christmas crafts and cooking for kids and adults. Also, just for adults: spiked hot chocolates and ciders.

Shows like "The Nutty Nutcracker" (video below) were popular during the original Winterfest days. Similar shows -- like "Jingle Jazz," "Four Drummers Drumming," "Cool Yule Christmas" and "What the Dickens?!" -- will return for 2017. Another new attraction: Ice carvers.

BELOW: Live shows from Winterfest's past


A live nativity scene with animals will also be up throughout Winterfest, according to Kings Island's website. Street performers, like carolers and brass bands, will be back at Winterfest this season.

BELOW: Street performers at Winterfest


Only those who buy daily tickets, as well as gold and platinum pass holders, can get into Winterfest this season. In other words, if you have a regular season pass, you'll need to buy general admission tickets. 

You'll have a chance to go next year, too: Winterfest "will be around for years to come," according to park spokesman Chad Showalter.