By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Fans of theme parks — and the holidays — rejoice! If you can’t get enough of roller coasters and other thrilling experiences, family rides, entertaining shows, and other fun you can expect from a theme park, you have another choice now in the winter months. Kings Dominion WinterFest debuts in 2018, and we have a sneak peak for you!
For the first time ever, in 2018 Kings Dominion is hosting WinterFest, its Christmas season event. WinterFest is packed with all the sights and sounds of the holiday season, plus food and fun experiences for guests of all ages. The park shines bright with millions of shimmering lights, a 300-foot tree, bright decorations throughout, and lavish displays. Even in the cold-weather season, you’ll find a few big rollercoasters open, along with other thrill rides and family rides, plus numerous shows throughout. As a fun only-in-WinterFest bonus, guests also can take carriage rides throughout the park and even enjoy ice skating!
Kings Dominion WinterFest in Doswell, Virginia (just north of Richmond) is open now though December 31, 2018. See below for details on what you can expect!
Decorations and photo opportunities
It’s hard to believe that this is the first year for WinterFest at Kings Dominion, given how elaborately the park is decorated. Even before you walk into the park, you are greeted by a huge, beautifully illuminated tree at the entrance. After you pass through the gates, the park’s Eiffel Tower replica — now transformed into 300-foot tree — becomes the centerpiece for a winter wonderland.
Where you normally see the fountains in the spring and summer is now a very long ice-skating rink ($15 per person). Surrounded by illuminated trees, with holiday music playing, this makes for a great winter activity. Along the side of the ice rink are settings for fun family photo opportunities, such as a fancy carriage.
In this area you also will see several strolling characters, such as Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, future, and present; toy soldiers; and more. In all, there are up to 34 characters at any time, many of them happy to share a song or a story.
Thrill and family rides
With up to 21 of the park’s rides open on any day, WinterFest has plenty of opportunities to get your pulse going. Among the big rides, Dominator (near the park’s entrance) and Racer 75, formerly the Rebel Yell (toward the back of the park) offer high speeds and thrills. Other exciting rides open during WinterFest include Berserker (the swinging ship) and Delirium (the pendulum and swing).
Families with younger kids, or those who just prefer a less-intense thrill that’s still great fun, can ride the Great Pumpkin Coaster. Other fun rides in Planet Snoopy — the park’s Peanuts-themed kids’ area — include swings, race cars, and more. Bumper cars, swings, a carousel, and other attractions provide entertainment at a more mellow pace.
Shows and other attractions
WinterFest has plenty of entertainment: 14 shows and demonstrations in all. Some are indoors, with productions such as Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular, while others take place in various open areas throughout the park. This means if your schedule doesn’t allow time to plan for a specific show at a set time, you still can enjoy entertainment. Among the shows you can see just as you’re walking through the park, are The Mistletoes, a 1950s-style trio, and Sounds of the Nativity, an a cappella group. Sounds of the Nativity takes place in front of a nativity scene, where they sing traditional carols while nearby you can visit live farm animals like those found in the stable.
At Dominator Plaza, we had fun dancing to upbeat music by a DJ (playing both holiday and modern hits), playing games for prizes and even taking a spin or two with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear. In this same area there are also several themed backdrops where you can take your holiday photos. A nice thing here is that all the sets had wheelchair ramps to make them accessible to all visitors.
Special activities at WinterFest include cookie decorating, crafts, an artisan village, the Charlie Brown Christmas tree lot, Santa photos, and more. You can tour the park in style with a horse-drawn carriage ride ($10 per person) that lasts 10-12 minutes).
If you want to treat yourself to a one-of-a kind experience, rent an “igloo” for your group. Jack Frost’s Igloo Village has igloo-shaped clear structures furnished with comfort and warmth. Each reservation (for groups of four; additional guests can join for an extra fee) get concierge services for igloo food and beverage delivery (and also for any shopping you do), reserved seating at WinterFest shows, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, a WinterFest souvenir hot chocolate mug, and a complimentary ice skating or carriage ride session. Igloo rentals are $299 per group of four persons, and you can enjoy them for your entire stay.
And as always, Kings Dominion has dining options, antique photos, and shopping. Have you been to WinterFest yet? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!
Thanks to Kings Dominion for hosting my group for a visit for a chance to write a review in this post.