Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.
By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
If the words “theme park” make you immediately think of a trip to Florida, think again. Our region is home to many great theme parks that boast attractions for all ages, and one of these is really close to us: Kings Dominion, in Doswell, Virginia. For more than 40 years, this park near Richmond has been serving family fun all summer long. Since I did not grow up in Northern Virginia, I do not have fond memories of trips to Kings Dominion during my childhood, as some of my friends do. But I’m thrilled that I can introduce my son to this fun park and that we can discover all its features together.
Last week we made another trip to Kings Dominion to kick off our summer of fun. While this was not our first visit (you can read about that time in this post), we were going to have some new experiences nonetheless: we would be able to check out the new “Soak City” (the renovated water park whose new features made their debut last year) and we got to introduce some friends to Kings Dominion.
Accompanying my family — my husband, our 8-year-old son, and me — were a friend and his 11-year-old daughter, both Kings Dominion first-timers. Our group was a mix not just of newbies and veterans but also of people with different expectations: some were looking for thrills, while others preferred to keep the fun a bit more tame.
The men in our group, my son included, wanted to do some of the most exciting rides, while the women were looking for something just thrilling enough. I had visited Kings Dominion several times but had not yet seen some of the shows or really taken the time to look around. Our friend’s daughter, despite being three years older than our son, wanted to do rides that were a bit more tame, seeking fun without fright.
A good thing about Kings Dominion is that there are plenty of family rides and attractions for all levels, so everyone will find something to enjoy. The park rates its rides on a number level from one (“low thrill”) to five (“aggressive thrill”). Keeping the rating system simple by using just numbers makes it easy to pick the rides best for you (we also downloaded and used the Kings Dominion app, which helped), and we found that the ratings and descriptions were accurate.
Because our group’s interests and tolerance levels varied so much, and because many families may have a similar mix, we didn’t stick with just one type of ride or just one section of the park. We went everywhere, and here are some of our recommendations:
For the thrill enthusiasts
One thing that our son loves about Kings Dominion, as many others do, is the great variety of roller coasters and thrill rides. Whether you prefer a classic wooden coaster, a modern steel one, or the newest, most innovative ones, you’ll have good choices at Kings Dominion. For thrills this time, our group enjoyed the classics such as the Anaconda (which my kid loves because it looks like you’re going to go straight into the lake!) and the Rebel Yell. We were very tempted to do the Crypt — which spins you around eight times! — but we’re saving that (and Volcano) for a next visit when our son is old enough to ride it. I’m also trying to work up the courage to do Delirium, a new ride (it made its debut this year) that allows thrill seekers of all ages to fly through the air as they experience gravity-defying hang time.
Along those lines, we held off on some of the park’s most heart-pounding and newest thrill rides — the Dominator, Delirium, and Intimidator 305 — for next time. Intimidator 305 is a must-do for any adventure-seeker, as it is the “tallest, fastest and most thrilling roller coaster on the East Coast.” We also would have loved to do the Backlot Stunt Coaster, which has you experience a stunt chase sequence, but the lines were surprisingly long, especially since the park wasn’t terribly busy that day (the threat of storms that never materialized seems to have kept some folks away).
For the “just-enough-thrills” seekers
We probably spent most of our time on the mid-level rides, those that provide just enough excitement without being scary. This was the area were our young friend spent the most time. Because the rides were not “over the top,” they fit fine with her comfort level, but they were still exciting for the more daring ones in our group.
One ride that we all went on over and over again was the Woodstock Express in Planet Snoopy, a fast wooden coaster (Thrill level 4) that was a lot of fun. We also enjoyed the classic Scrambler with its twists and turns (Thrill level 4), and Avalanche (Thrill level 3) that mimics a ride on an Olympic bobsled.
For mellow fun
When you need a break from the excitement but still want fun, look for rides such as Boo Blasters on Boo Hill (rated 2), where you ride comfortably in a car as you try to shoot at targets. Planet Snoopy has many other mild options, including the mellow Great Pumpkin Coaster (rated 2), the Flying Ace Balloon Race (2), and other similar rides at Planet Snoopy (this area has 14 acres so there’s plenty to find!). At Planet Snoopy, kids also can meet Peanuts characters who do live shows. Throughout the rest of the park, you also will find mellow classics such as the carousel, Ferris wheel, or bumper cars.
Kings Dominion also host special shows and concerts in its big theatre, and this time I was able to watch a fun performance by African acrobats. Of course no visit to Kings Dominion is complete without a trip to the top of the “Eiffel Tower!” Not only can you enjoy great views of the park from he top of the tower, but at night, you can watch a very pretty light and music show by the fountains.
Don’t forget the water park!
With the expansion of the water park Kings Dominion is practically two parks in one. In 2015, Kings Dominion unveiled its expanded water park, now named Soak City, to include a new 65-foot-tall slide tower, the big children’s play area Splash Island, and more. These features, along with super-fun water slides like Pipeline Peak, Zoom Flume, and Tornado, provide plenty of thrills.
But as with the rest of Kings Dominion, the water park also has some “mellower” options. We were having so much fun on the roller coasters that by the time we arrived at the water park we were exhausted and just wanted to relax. We ended up spending most of the time in the lazy river and, my favorite, the wave pools. Enjoying the Tidal Wave Bay was especially refreshing after walking around all day. This zero-depth-entry wave pool is just like being at the beach… minus scratchy sand, salty water, and worries about sharks!
The attractions I mention are just a handful of what’s available in the park. If you’re planning a visit, I highly recommend checking out all that’s available so you can make everyone in your family happy! Our group, especially our newbie (to Kings Dominion) friends, had a great time and managed to find many rides that suited everyone’s tastes. I wish we could have done more, but there never seems to be enough time. In fact, if you can take two days for a visit, that may be best: one day for the theme park, and one day for the water park and/or to revisit your park favorites. I think we will do that next time!
Whether you’re a #KDFirstTimer or a veteran, you’re bound to try something new with each visit to Kings Dominion. Have you visited this park? Share your favorite memories in the comments below!