Today we are introducing a new feature on Theme Park Insider: Which is better?
In each article, I will write about two theme parks, attraction types, or practices and then ask you to vote for the one your prefer. Then I will invite you to add your own perspective and analysis, in the comments. My hope is that these questions will help create a useful planning tool for all of you for when the parks reopen, as well as an engaging topic for discussion while they remain closed.
First up: I'm setting up a face off between two Midwestern theme parks that happen to have been the closest thing to a "home" park that I had when I was going to high school in Indianapolis. Which is better: Holiday World or Kings Island?
In some ways, these parks could not be more different. Holiday World is a family-owned park in the tiny town of Santa Claus, Indiana - located an hour's drive away from anything that could be called a metropolitan area. Kings Island is part of the Cedar Fair theme park chain, located in the Cincinnati suburbs and built years ago by Cincinnati's Taft Broadcasting Company, which helped the park to launch with national television exposure.
Kings Island has been part of three corporations over the years, while Holiday World remains the property of members of Indiana's Koch family that founded it more than 70 years ago. (They're not part of *that* Koch family, by the way. But if someone would like to reward the Holiday World Kochs with a billion dollars to build us the complete B&M line-up, well, I'd get line for that. Just sayin'.)
But both Holiday World and Kings Island share a commitment to world-class roller coasters. Holiday World got on fans' radar back in 1995 with the opening of Raven, a CCI coaster that immediately won great reviews. The park followed with another CCI production, Legend, five years later. Then it rocked fans in 2006 with Voyage, a hybrid coaster that features a wooden track atop a steel frame and delivers one of the great rides in roller coaster history. Holiday World opened its first steel roller coaster in 2015 with B&M's Thunderbird, the first launched wing coaster in America and another all-around winner for the park.
Over at Kings Island, the park was getting ready to open Orion, a 300-foot, 91-mph B&M giga. It will be the park's third B&M coaster, following the inverted Banshee and hyper Diamondback. But if there's one coaster most associated with Kings Island, it's the Charlie Dinn 1979 classic, The Beast. Overall, Kings Island's 14 coasters puts it tied for fourth for the most coasters of any park in the United States.
You can't go wrong with either park, really, which is what makes this question fun rather than anything mean-spirited. Both offer deep and diverse line-ups of thrill and family rides. You can find plenty of signature food, from Skyline Coneys at Kings Island to Thanksgiving dinner all summer long at Holiday World.
But the parks' differences are real and potentially significant for fans. Superficially, Kings Island follows a much more traditional design, with an entry plaza leading to a "weenie" (in this case, a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower), with attractions surrounding. Holiday World's design - such as it is - is more organic, following a series of expansions from its roadside attraction origins as Santa Claus Land.
Beyond that, Kings Island offers the benefits of being part of the Cedar Fair chain, meaning that Platinum passholders from its other parks can enjoy free admission and benefits here, while Kings Island passholders can buy the same pass to enjoy access to the other Cedar Fair parks around North America, including Cedar Point, Canada's Wonderland, and Knott's Berry Farm.
Meanwhile, Holiday World counters with some pretty impressive value of its own, including free parking, free sunscreen, and most notably, free soft drinks throughout the park. The adjacent Splashin' Safari water park, with its record-setting line-up of water coasters, is included with Holiday World admission, instead of being a separate gate, as water parks are at most other theme parks.
So it all comes down to your preferences, and how you judge the value, convenience, and line-up offered by each park.
Let's hear your thoughts about these parks, in the comments.Tweet
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