We recently became a fulltime RV family. After selling our house and settling in to the road life, it was time for a little celebration. We decided on a short visit to Kings Island in Mason Ohio, near Cincinnati.
Celebrating 50 years in 2022, Kings Island is one of the top amusement parks in North America.
Being in a northern state, the majority of visitors come during the summer months, during which the park is open 7 days a week. If you decide to make your own visit, be sure to check the park’s calendar. We purposely booked towards the end of summer to avoid the large crowds, which worked. However, had we looked a bit harder at their event calendar, we would have seen that the 50th-anniversary fireworks and drone shows ended the day before we arrived.
As school starts back up in August, the park hours are shortened, and eventually, the park is only open on the weekends. Around Halloween, you can expect special shows and decorations during “Halloween Haunt”.
Hosting around 3.5 million visitors a year, Kings Island is third in North American amusement park attendance after its sister parks, Cedar Point and Canada’s Wonderland.
Does that mean Kings Island's yearly attendance is greater than Disney World? Nope, not even close.
Disney parks are “theme parks” and focus on storytelling while the Cedar Fair parks are “amusement parks” that focus on thrill rides, hence their popularity ranking on 2 different lists.
Magic Kingdom alone saw over 20 million visitors in 2019. Every single one of the four Disney parks sees more visitors per year than Kings Island, but keep in mind that Kings Island is not open all year.
Kings Island covers 365 acres. By comparison, Epcot at Disney World is a bit smaller at 305 acres. Kings Island has a lot to do and it is hard see it all in one day.
These two Ohio sister parks are almost identical in size. Kings Island wins in the kids area, compared to Cedar Point. Both parks have Snoopy-themed children’s areas, but Kings Island has real rides that both parents and young kids can enjoy together. All but one kids’ ride at Cedar Point can be found at a local carnival.
Once you pass 48” tall, the majority of coasters at both parks are rideable. Both parks boast a 300ft+ gigacoaster, of which only 7 exist in the world. You will find a variety of world-class coasters at each park. For grown-ups and older kids, you can’t go wrong with either park.
Kings Island is perhaps best known for the Beast, a wooden coaster built in 1979 before fancy computer simulations or even scientific calculators. At the time, it was the tallest, fastest, and longest coaster in the world. At over 4 minutes long, it still holds the record as the longest wooden coaster in the world. With high speeds, dramatic turns, and dark tunnels, it deserves its landmark coaster status.
Orion is one of only 7 gigacoasters in the world with a drop of 300ft. Its fast and smooth.
Food and drinks inside amusement and theme parks can get really pricey. Luckily, Cedar Fair parks have offered food and drink passes for the past few years. You pay a fixed amount for the day and get a wristband with a barcode that you can use every 15 minutes for drinks and every 90 minutes for food. The food pass can be used at most of the dining options in the park, though only a limited set of menu items apply.
*not including tax.
We purchased 1 drink pass and 1 food + drink pass. When we split up, we always had access to drinks. We used the food pass almost as often as we could, grabbing a single entree to share. With the constant walking, we found it helpful to keep our kids snacking all day rather than stopping for large meals. We shared chicken fingers, Tom+Chee bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, and my favorite, the sausage with mac & cheese at Coney BBQ.
By eating light all day long, we kept our family of 5 going for about $60/day.
In case you were wondering about all of that sugar, you can also fill your cup with water and some locations have unsweetened iced tea. I would love to see more low-sugar items in the park.
Besides being fashion-forward, fanny packs let us travel light. They securely hold a phone, wallet, tickets, and some first aid items. Since we were able to get drinks with our wristbands and all of our kids are well past diapers, fanny packs held everything we needed.
Fanny packs can stay on you during rides, and hold your phone more securely than your pants pocket while in an inverted loop. If you bring a backpack, you will have to stow it before each ride.
Walking in the sun for 10 to 12 hours is a long day. Take advantage of the shuttle and head back to your RV around 1pm. Skip the hottest part of the day, let the dog out, and ice your feet. Your younger kids might even get a short nap in. This is also a great time to grab a bite of healthier food.
Be sure to download the Kings Island app. You can purchase your food & drinks passes in the app. The app includes a map of the park with overlays for rides, events, restaurants, and restrooms. It will even provide directions within the park.
The app also provides ride-time estimates, which tend to be a bit pessimistic in our experience.
The Camp Cedar campground features 73 cottages, 164 full hook-up RV spots, and two pools.
One pool is dedicated for adults and is next to a bar. The large kid pool gradually slopes to 3’6” and includes a waterfall and basketball hoops. The kid pool has lifeguards and is heated. I assume the adult pool is also heated, but my kids don’t allow me to swim alone.
Near the pool are 3 food-truck-esque restaurants built out of shipping containers. Since we arrived late in the season, we never saw these open. I assume they are during peak season.
The camp lodge has a nice seating area with a fireplace plus a bar and restaurant. We didn’t try the food, but I did notice they will deliver to your site for just a couple of dollars.
The RV spots are very much on the small side, but that’s not really why you come to Camp Cedar. The campground is fairly new and all the grass hasn't taken hold yet, but the sites are well maintained. Small arborvitaes are strategically placed to block your view of the neighboring sewer hookup.
The back-in pad was deep enough for our 37ft fifth wheel, but not much more. The pad sits at a 90 degree angle to the road making for a somewhat challenging back-in. They do have quite a few pull-through sites though.
There is an additional pad for your tow vehicle, just barely deep enough for our F-350 standard bed. I saw several long bed trucks using visitor parking spots located around the campground.
The campground is a 30-minute walk from Kings Island, but a dedicated campground shuttle runs all day long. When you buy your tickets through the campground, you can get into the park 30 minutes early along with the season pass holders. The shuttle starts about 15 minutes before early entry.
If you decide to take advantage of the early entry, be sure to check the Kings Island website as only a handful of rides start early. The early coasters change through the season and are not listed in the app.
Camp Cedar is not the nature-filled campground some people dream of, but location, location, location. With the short shuttle ride to the park, it is the perfect place to stay if you want to go to Kings Island in your RV.
Kings Island is a blast, a great place to go for roller coaster enthusiasts. We spent 2 days in the park and there are still several attractions we missed. That's ok, there is always next year. Every time we visit, its a fresh experience as the kids get older and can experience the park in new ways.
Speaking of next year, Cedar Fair offers an upgraded season pass that is good at all of their amusement parks and water parks. With a dozen amusement parks and another dozen water parks scattered around the country, visiting every one in a year seems like a perfect RV challenge.
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