REVIEW: The Sights And Sounds of Kings Dominion’s Inaugural Winterfest
On August 16, 2017, Kings Dominion made their announcement for what was coming to the park in 2018. While everyone was excited that the park was getting the Mid-Atlantic’s first hybrid coaster in Twisted Timbers (and deservedly so!), Kings Dominion also announced that they would be debuting their own version of WinterFest, the popular winter event that takes place at multiple Cedar Fair parks around the country, at the end of 2018.
We were invited to a VIP/Media Event at Winterfest this weekend that included early entry, along with several other fun perks, and then had the opportunity to visit Winterfest until park close. Here’s a little of what we saw!
Many of the dining outlets and merchandise shops feature new Holiday Themed names.
Reindeer Round-Up was located on International Street.
All of the shops on International Street feature festive holiday decor!
A look inside Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, where there was cookie decorating. I heard that all of these kitchen fixtures were installed between Halloween Haunt and WinterFest.
As part of the VIP event, we got to take part in some cookie decorating. The stocking was my cookie, and the snowman was the finished product of my younger brother. (We’re not going to talk about my finished stocking…it wasn’t nearly as artistic.)
The other pre-Winterfest activity we got to take part in was Ice Skating on Snowflake Lake, which is located on top of Kings Dominion’s Fountains on International Street. I’m not much of a skater (I think this might be the third time in my entire life I’ve ever ice skated), but thankfully, I didn’t wipe out on the ice.
After Cookie Decorating and Ice Skating, the main gates were opened to the general public, and we walked around Planet Snoopy while waiting for the nightly WinterFest “tree” lighting ceremony to take place at the Eiffel Tower (which is decorated as the “tree”).
I was a huge fan of these Peanuts topiaries and their lighting.
Kings Dominion, like several other Cedar Fair parks, has private “igloos,” that feature heating, seating, and a concierge service. For more information, click here!
The stage was set for the WinterFest tree lighting ceremony at the ‘Bandstand Stage facing the Eiffel Tower.
Curious what the tree lighting ceremony looks like? You’re in luck! We filmed the whole thing!
I’ve only previously been to WinterFest at Carowinds, and the tree lighting ceremonies were fairly similar. The bandstand stage sets up well for the tree lighting, but it’s interesting turning around to watch the tree being lit, as opposed to the tree being behind the stage at Carowinds.
After the Eiffel Tower was lit, it was time to explore WinterFest. The first area we walked through was Tinsel Town. It certainly lived up to its name with Tinsel everywhere!
Kings Dominion had a 3D Movie in their motion theater called Sleigh Ride. Lines were pretty consistent all night, so we didn’t get to experience it on this visit.
The next area we walked through was “Old Virginia Christmas,” located around the Kings Dominion theater. Fortunately for all involved, the Shenandoah Lumber Co. was not among the operating rides at WinterFest!
It was in Old Virginia Christmas where we happened upon our second and third live entertainment offerings at WinterFest: The MistleTones (my first time seeing them), and Jingle Jazz, which is a favorite of mine from WinterFest at Carowinds.
We caught the very end of the MistleTones’ performance, and the trio had some great harmonies!
Shortly after the MistleTones, Jingle Jazz took to the Gazebo stage. This quintet performed several holiday classics while wearing period attire.
Between the beatboxing and singing, this was a great performance to see live. We’ve included a few videos below!
Also in Old Virginia Christmas was St. Nick’s Pics, located in the Dinosaurs Alive gift shop building. Though we didn’t wait in line to have our picture taken with Santa, we did go in and get a glimpse of the line.
I loved this middle shelf and all of the Easter Eggs on it. Lots of former Kings Dominion attractions!
Old Virginia Christmas also housed several local artisans who were selling their wares. There was a little bit of everything, from custom cutting boards, to candles, to essential oils. \
Adjacent to Old Virginia Christmas is Candy Cane Lane decked out in the familiar red and white stripes.
Even Kings Dominion’s Carousel was getting into the Candy Cane Decorations!
Continuing our clockwise journey through WinterFest, the next area was WinterFest Way, which has taken over the Candy Apple Grove Midway. One of the larger areas at Kings Dominion’s WinterFest, the focus here were the multi-colored lights that were synced to music.
This area looks absolutely amazing, even in still pictures, but how can you tell lights are synced to music without actually seeing it in action?
Combined with the lights of Bad Apple and Delirium, two of the 20+ attractions that have the potential to be open during WinterFest, this area was REALLY lit up!
Though I didn’t get to see the mushrooms singing, they were all dressed in Santa hats.
One of the smallest areas at WinterFest was Toy Soldier Alley, but don’t let its small size fool you, this is an area of WinterFest that you shouldn’t overlook, if only because of the live entertainment in the area.
Entitled “Four Drummers Drumming,” this show features four very talented percussionists dressed as toy soldiers playing along to remixes of some holiday classics.
Between Four Drummers Drumming and Jingle Jazz, it’s extremely tough for me to pick a favorite show that I experienced at WinterFest. Luckily, we’ve got some video for you to attempt to make a decision on your own.
And what’s Christmas Music without a sample of one of the best Christmas songs of all time?
Now that it was actually dark and I could fully appreciate the lights, I walked back through Planet Snoopy with the familiar giant snowglobe and multi-colored lights.
I loved the way I was able to get the Snoopy fountain, lights, and Eiffel Tower all in the same shot.
Kings Dominion’s Clown Band is now Blitzen’s Brass Band for the Holidays, and I was able to catch them roaming around the park several times.
A few more views of the Eiffel Tower in all of its Christmas Tree glory.
The pathway behind the Eiffel Tower is known as Jack’s Frost Zone, and featured the man himself, Jack Frost, to take pictures with.
There were plenty of roaming characters everywhere! They made for great photo opportunities!
And if characters aren’t your thing, there were several other great photo ops as well!
Though Dominator was not running due to cold temperatures, (I’m not sure of B&M’s recommended minimum temperature to operate their rides, but it wasn’t getting anywhere near there Saturday Night), the area near Dominator was known as Coca-Cola Polar Bear Plaza, and featured the company’s iconic red and white bottles, along with some of their Holiday Icons — Santa Claus and the Polar Bear.
With winter weather approaching (both towards Kings Dominion and back home in North Carolina), we had to call it an early night at WinterFest and hit the road early, so missed out on several live entertainment options and some Holiday-themed dining, but we’ll definitely make a trip back in the future!
After a quick stop in the International Street Shops, we headed home. There’s plenty of great Winterfest Merchandise available for purchase, and I was able to add to my theme park Christmas Ornament collection!
Bottom Line: For a first year event, WinterFest at Kings Dominion was incredible. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area for the holidays. There truly is something for everyone! I look forward to making it an annual tradition!
WinterFest is open select nights, 5:00pm-10:00pm December 14-20, 4:00pm-10:00pm December 21-23 and 26-30, and 4:00pm-1:00am on December 31, New Year’s Eve. For more information, be sure to visit the Kings Dominion Website for WinterFest, and be sure to follow the park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.