So you want to bring your toddler to Kings Island in Mason, Ohio! It’s an amazing place to visit, especially for your pint-sized explorer. There are so many rides to experience, places to visit, and food to eat; but if you’re visiting for the first time, especially with young children, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you can do. Let this post be your complete toddler’s guide to Kings Island, to help you get the most out of your visit and make your toddler want to come back again and again!
How much does it cost?
Great news! If your toddler is age 2 or younger, he doesn’t need a ticket! Once he reaches age 3, he qualifies for the Jr./Sr. ticket. The exact prices of the ticket vary, depending on whether you’re buying at the gate, online, or at a Kroger store. You’ll save $3.00-$6.00 buying them anywhere besides the front gate, so definitely purchase your tickets in advance!
If you know you’ll be going multiple times this year, consider investing in season passes; they include free parking and free unlimited entries during regular park hours, and they basically pay for themselves after a few visits. A Platinum pass will get you free access to any Cedar Fair Park during the season, so if you live near any of the other parks, this might be a good investment!
The Gold and Platinum passes tend to be the cheapest right before the season ends. So for example, if you want to buy passes for the 2019 season, buy them in October 2018. Kings Island usually offers an incentive, like one free visit during this year’s season if you buy early. You can also get a discount for renewing next year if you decide you like the passes!
What should we bring?
Since you’re bringing a toddler, you’ll definitely want to be prepared. You’re allowed to bring backpacks, although they’ll be checked at the gate before you’re allowed to enter. Here’s what I suggest bringing:
- Extra change of clothes (shirt, pants, socks, underwear, even shoes if you think it’ll rain)
- Grocery bag to put wet clothes
- Bathing suit/towel/jacket/blanket
- Stroller or wagon– I can’t stress this one enough! Even better if you have a large stroller with a basket on the bottom. It really helps to hold all the extra stuff you bring or buy; plus, it’s perfect for toddlers who may not want to walk through the entire park! Wagons are super convenient as well. We have a Radio Flyer wagon that folds up easily in the car, and has a canopy for those hot sunny days.
Make sure you dress appropriately according to the weather, or at least bring extra clothes! The very beginning and end of the season can get pretty cold, so bring a jacket. You can always throw it in your stroller!
What days are less crowded?
Obviously, the weekends are going to be the busiest because people are off work. From my experience, I’ve found that weekday mornings, as early as possible, seem to be the best days to go. If you have a Gold pass, you can get in 30 minutes early, which is usually 9:30 AM.
I highly recommend getting there as early as you can to take advantage of the short lines, especially in Planet Snoopy. We’ve gone on multiple occasions where Allison’s been able to walk right onto rides, then get right back in line to ride again immediately.
What can my toddler ride?
You’ve chosen a great park to visit! Planet Snoopy is voted the World’s Best Kids Area, with over 20 rides for your child to enjoy. Between the roller coasters and the milder carousel, you’ll find at least something your toddler will love! There are height requirements for each ride, and there’s a convenient measuring station at the front of Planet Snoopy. After your toddler is measured, he’ll get a colored bracelet to wear based on his height, so he doesn’t have to be stopped at every ride to check if he’s tall enough.
Some rides don’t have a height requirement (but need an adult with them), some have a minimum height, and others have a maximum height. Here’s a list of what you can ride:
No minimum height
- Character Carousel (Requires an adult until 46″)
- Sally’s Sea Plane
- Snoopy’s Junction
- Snoopy’s Space Buggies
- Woodstock Whirlybirds– Hit this one up first thing, and only once if you can! The line gets really long and takes quite awhile to get through.
- Joe Cool’s Dodgem School (Under 54″)
- Linus’ Beetle Bugs (Under 54″)
Minimum height of 36″
- Charlie Brown’s Wind Up
- Kite Eating Tree
- Race For Your Life Charlie Brown– A water log ride. If you ride this with your toddler, put him between you and another adult; otherwise, the force of landing at the bottom of the hill could send you both forward and smash his face (Ask me how I know this!).
- Snoopy vs. Red Baron
- The Great Pumpkin Coaster– Another one to ride first thing, and as much as you can! This is another ride that can have a long queue, so get there early and take advantage of short wait times.
- Woodstock Gliders
Minimum height over 36″
- Woodstock Express (40″)- The best kids roller coaster ever, in my opinion. Ride this one first thing as well because the lines get long. I think our record for riding this one is 17 times in one day!
- Linus’ Launcher (42″)
- Flying Ace Aerial Chase (44″)
- Surf Dog (44″)
Rides outside of Planet Snoopy
- Eiffel Tower
- Grand Carousel
- KI & Miami Valley Railroad– The train goes around some of the park, and will also take you to Soak City.
- Scrambler (36″)
What your toddler can ride just depends on his size! If he’s tall for his age, he may have no problem riding everything. Allison was about 2 and a half when she reached 36″, but before that, she had fun on a lot of the smaller rides, and she was perfectly happy with that.
What shows can we watch?
Definitely check out the attractions page for details, especially since they change every year and the times differ based on the month and day of the week. There are four main areas you can watch the shows: The outside theater next to the Eiffel Tower; the stage by the front fountain, on the Eiffel Tower side; inside Festhaus; and the Kings Island Theater, an inside theater on the left side when you enter the park.
Each area contains different types of shows and are usually geared toward all ages. Your toddler will most likely love the shows starring the Peanuts characters; there are usually one or two different shows that feature them and are super fun to watch! You can even meet them after the shows and get pictures.
I’ll give you a heads-up about the inside theater: If your toddler doesn’t do well with dark rooms and sitting still, you may want to sit toward the back so you can make a quick exit if needed. We took Allison to see one of the Cirque shows, and she freaked out a little over the dressed up people and lights going dim; she ended up liking it, but other toddlers may have some problems.
What’s the best way to see the characters?
Stay in Planet Snoopy! On nice days (AKA no rain), the Peanuts characters will come out with their helpers and walk around the kids’ area, stopping to say hi and take pictures. Snoopy usually hangs out at his house, and we’ve also seen Charlie Brown, Sally, Lucy, Linus, and Peppermint Patty walking around. They’re great about stopping for the little ones, giving hugs and high-fives, and taking pictures! On hotter days, they may only be out for a few minutes at a time; so make sure you keep an eye out and catch them when you can.
The characters will also hang around after the shows they perform for about 5-10 minutes, so you and your toddler can get in line and say hi to as many as you can before they have to leave. I think looking for the characters is Allison’s favorite part; she’ll look around while she’s riding something, and when she sees someone, she’ll scream. Then we’ll have to run to try and find them before they disappear. Your toddler’s visit will definitely be more magical after seeing his favorite character!
What can my toddler eat?
There are restaurants all over the park, so which one’s the best? That depends on what your toddler likes! Planet Snoopy has Planet Snoopy Grill, which includes hamburgers, chicken tenders, and corndogs; and Chick-Fil-A, which could be a safe bet for your toddler if he’s familiar with their food. Other options include Subway, Skyline Chili, and LaRosa’s Pizza, as well as other great restaurants that also sell chicken and fries.
I know you want to get the most out of your money (especially if you have a toddler who’s picky or doesn’t eat much), so you have a few options.
- Pack your own lunch: Kings Island doesn’t allow outside food in the park (unless you have special dietary needs), so you can always put your lunch in a cooler, get your hand stamped as you exit the park, and eat lunch in the car before going back to the park. This is definitely the least expensive option, especially if you know your toddler will eat what you give him.
- Buy a meal and share with your toddler: Meals at Kings Island range between $9.00 and $15.00, depending on where you go and what you order. That can get expensive fast, so if you know your toddler doesn’t eat much, you can buy something for you both to share. One of the best deals, in my opinion, is LaRosa’s pizza. You get 2 pieces of pizza and 2 breadsticks on your plate, which is perfect for sharing and is the best bang for your buck. Other options include chicken tenders and french fries (I’ve only tried the ones inside Festhaus so far), Panda Express (2 entrees and a side) if your toddler likes Chinese food, and Hank’s Burrito Shack (Huge burrito/bowl and chips/salsa, kind of like Chipotle) if your toddler digs Mexican.
- Get a meal plan: If you’re buying season passes and plan to go a lot, I seriously recommend getting one of the meal plans. Here are the prices as of April 2019:
- Single Meal Deal: $14.99. This gets you one meal only, which includes an entree, side, and a drink.
- All Day Meal Deal: $29.99. This plan lets you eat all day long, every 90 minutes, and does not include a drink. Eating 3 times that day will pay for this!
- All Season Dining: $130.00 for regular and Gold passes, and $146.00 for Platinum passes. With this plan, you can eat every 4 hours (up to twice a day) all season long, and does not include a drink.
I have a confession: Allison has her own meal plan. Yep, a 3 year-old. That’s because when we get her the pizza, she will eat both breadsticks and eat all the pizza up to the crust. My girl has an appetite, and sharing was no longer an option for us. You really have to know your toddler and how much he eats to decide whether a separate food plan is worth it; it definitely is for us!
If you’re visiting Kings Island for the first time, you have to get the blueberry ice cream. It’s an absolute staple treat that we get at least a few times a year! You can find it at the ice cream shop in Planet Snoopy, where you can buy vanilla, blueberry, or swirl.
The kids size is huge, so if you want something smaller or different, I recommend the Sweet Shop right outside Planet Snoopy. You can buy big blocks of delicious fudge to share, or smaller toddler-size treats like mini chocolates and chocolate-covered Oreos.
What are the best souvenirs for my toddler?
There are plenty of souvenir shops scattered throughout the park, and lots of great options inside each one. I’m a fan of practical stuff, so I recommend getting a t-shirt! Snoopy Shop in Planet Snoopy has toddler-sized shirts at a reasonable price, and they’ll sometimes have sales going on.
If your toddler likes toys, the stuffed Peanuts characters are adorable and a must-have! If you have a Gold or Platinum pass, you can also receive 10% off your purchase.
What are Kings Island’s special events?
Kings Island is great at holding special events throughout the season. They stay open late some days for special roller coaster or Soak City events; Military Free Days; and Bring-a-Friend days, where you can buy tickets at a special price.
I think the real magic happens in October, when The Great Pumpkin Fest starts! Soak City is turned into a special Halloween Fest for kids, with trick-or-treating, activities, and special shows. The Peanuts characters even walk around wearing Halloween costumes; it’s super cute! The Great Pumpkin Fest is usually open every weekend in October.
One word of warning about visiting Kings Island in October: the entire park is also decorated for the Halloween Haunt, geared toward adults. You’ll see skeletons, cobwebs, and monster statues throughout the park, including a few right outside Planet Snoopy. If you’re not a big fan of Halloween or your toddler scares easily, I recommend staying in Planet Snoopy the whole time. Nobody’s out to scare you until nighttime, but just the decorations can be a little creepy.
That, my friend, is your complete toddler’s guide to Kings Island! I hope I’ve eased your mind and convinced you that even your toddler can have an amazing time.
With so much information here, I won’t be surprised if you’re overwhelmed! Luckily, I’ve created a toddler bucket-list for Kings Island for you! Print this out to take with you; it’s toddler-approved, as my daughter would agree, and it lists out the must-do items if you only have one day to visit.
Enjoy your visit to Kings Island, and be sure to come back here and let me know your favorite parts!