Kings Island boosts economic growth of Warren County

An area attraction that helped its publicly-traded parent company boost attendance totals continues to increase its economic impact on Southwest Ohio by adding attractions.

Kings Island is one of the top 10 attractions in Warren County in terms of attendance and “obviously a valued tourism partner” to Warren County, according to Mary Fessler, director of marketing with the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau

“There are few amusement parks in the country that are up to its caliber and so easily accessible,” she said. “Remember, approximately 65 percent of the U.S. can drive here in a day.”

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The 364-acre amusement park’s draw and continued economic success is important to Warren County, and Fessler said its expansion of seasonal offerings enhances the WCCVB’s ability to market Warren County as a year-round destination.

“That’s good business for them and for surrounding hotels, restaurants, (gas stations) and (retail) stores,” she said. “Overall, that brings more money into the local economy, which benefits local residents.”

The amusement park is attempting to do more of that this season by adding a new dining option and a celebrity executive chef. Coney Bar B Que, a casual barbecue restaurant, will feature smoked St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken and Queen City Sausage.

Also new to the park will be executive chef James Major, a two-time winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped” reality TV cooking contest and contestant on Alton Brown’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Major, a Culinary Institute of America Certified Pro Chef II, U.S. Navy veteran and Ohio native, previously served as executive chef at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park and Funky’s Catering.

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Because Kings Island is a part of a publicly traded partnership with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world, it does not release attendance totals or economic impact for Kings Island or any individual park, according to Chad Showalter, Kings Island’s director of communications.

However, information released by Cedar Fair puts attendance at its parks at a record 25.7 million guests for 2017, a 2 percent increase from 2016. Average in-park guest per capita spending increased 1 percent, to a record $47.30 and attendance on a same-park basis for 2017 increased 3 percent, or 856,000 visits, the company said.

It attributed that attendance boost to its strong capital program, including Kings Island's Mystic Timbers, which opened last April and won the Golden Ticket for Best New Ride of 2017 by Amusement Today.

MORE: Kings Island’s Mystic Timbers named one of the best new rides in the country

That, Showalter said, "raised the awareness of both the coaster as well as Kings Island across the globe." Kings Island's Banshee ranked second for the same award in 2014 when it made its debut at the park.

Amusement Today, which covers international amusement and water park news and trends, also awarded the park's Planet Snoopy area the "Best Kid's Area" honors in 2017 for the 17th consecutive year. It also ranked Kings Island's Diamondback at No. 8 and Banshee among the Top 25 Steel Roller Coasters (No. 8 and 22, respectively) and The Beast and Mystic Timbers among the Top 25 Wooden Roller Coasters (No. 6 and 11, respectively).

Cedar Fair also introduced and expanded its immersive special events, including the introduction of three new WinterFest celebrations in November and December, one of them at Kings Island.

MORE: Beloved holiday tradition returns to Kings Island

With Kings Island’s increased popularity comes increased staffing. Park employment for 2018 will be at all-time high.

“In 2017, Kings Island had 4,200 positions available throughout the season,” Showalter said. “This year, with the continued success of Halloween Haunt and the return of WinterFest we have more than 5,000 positions available.”

The park will continue to hire throughout the season, he said.

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