A major road project and changes to the entrances at Kings Island will help alleviate traffic issues in that area, park and city officials said.
The amusement park opens for the season Saturday, though the city of Mason’s $6 million project to widen Kings Island Drive is not expected to be completed until later this year.
That project involves widening Kings Island Drive to better support incoming traffic off of Interstate 71. A left turn lane into Kings Island for southbound traffic will also be added as well as new traffic signals and overhead signage, according to Kurt Seiler, engineer for the city of Mason.
In conjunction with the city’s project, Kings Island has constructed a new entrance to eliminate the backups that have extended south to the I-71 on ramp.
The main entrance plaza features 13 traffic lanes and improve efficiency for those entering the park, according to Kings Island spokesman Don Helbig.
Season pass holders and those who have printed online e-tickets will have dedicated lanes within the toll plaza to also expedite traffic.
“We think this is a more welcoming entrance,” Helbig said. “Overall it’s going to be a big improvement for our guests.”
The removal of the north and south entrances, which have been there since the park opened in 1972, will also help traffic flows, Helbig said.
The north and south exits are still in place and there is a third exit from Soak City Drive.
Two of the three new traffic signals should be operational by Saturday, Seiler said.
The city and Kings Island have entered an agreement for Mason police officers to help with traffic at opening and closing each day, he said.
In addition to the new lanes, curbs and gutters on the east side off Kings Island Drive, Seiler said the drop-off near the park’s marquee has been modified with a cleaner entrance and exit.
For the remainder of the year, construction crews will be working on medians along Kings Island Drive as well as removing the shoulder and installing curbs on the west side of the road, he said.
The project, which Mason is managing, is funded with $4.6 million from an Ohio-Indiana-Kentucky Regional Council of Governments grant, a $600,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission and the balance paid by Mason.
It is one of several major infrastructure projects in that area of southwest Warren County that also includes a wider Socialville-Foster Road Bridge, the relocation of Columbia Road and a new northbound ramp to I-71 as well as a new southbound I-71 exit near Western Row Road.
Helbig also said early spring is a less busy time to visit the park on weekends because vacation season hasn’t yet started.
Kings Island owner Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. broke attendance records in 2015. A record 24.4 million people visited one of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.’s amusement parks and attractions last year, growing attendance 5 percent from the year before, according to the company’s financial results.
Those attendance figures include ticket holders passing through the gates of northern Ohio amusement park Cedar Point and Kings Island.