Camping near the roller coasters: Explore Kings Island Camp Cedar, the new outdoor resort in the Cincinnati area
MASON, Ohio – I couldn’t quite make out the screams from Kings Island’s newest roller coaster, Orion.
What I could hear from the porch of my cottage at the new Kings Island Camp Cedar: my neighbors chatting around a campfire, the sounds of children playing in the pool, and the faint hum of traffic on I-71.
If you long for a secluded vacation in the middle of nature, this is not for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a comfortable spot to park your RV, ride roller coasters, and keep your kids entertained, check out Kings Island’s new camping resort, located on previously vacant land about a mile north of the Cincinnati-area amusement park .
The $ 27 million, 52-acre resort opened in mid-July after a series of construction-related delays postponed opening by more than a month.
The property has 184 full-service parking spaces for mobile homes (no tents allowed) as well as 73 cottages, more are in preparation. There are two pools – one for adults only – a full-service restaurant, a bar, a café, a warehouse and a food truck alley with other restaurants and bars.
My daughter and I rented a cottage there last month and spent a hot August day exploring the place.
My assessment: It is clear that the clients were in a hurry because parts of the complex were still under construction when I visited. Landscaping is incomplete and maintenance has some kinks to fix (e.g. our bathroom door was left open during the last part of our stay).
Give it a little more time, however, and this place is likely to become a popular spot for Ohio travelers looking for a relaxed, family-friendly destination close to some of the state’s top attractions.
Stay a little longer
The property is a partnership between Kings Island, who operates the resort, and two private developers who built and own it.
It is part of Cedar Fair’s ongoing efforts to expand the company’s reach to include overnight accommodations and encourage guests to stay longer and spend more.
For example, sister park Cedar Point has five accommodations, including two that are currently undergoing major renovations, Castaway Bay and Sawmill Creek. Cedar Fair also recently added a hotel outside of Carowinds, its North Carolina park, and has numerous other accommodations across the country.
Camp Cedar is the first Cedar Fair-operated property for Kings Island (although the park had a previous campground on the land now occupied by the Great Wolf Lodge).
One of Camp Cedar’s greatest assets is its proximity to the park – right across Kings Mill Road from the entrance to Kings Island, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022, and early access to select rides, a benefit previously only available to season ticket holders was available. The morning after our stay, my daughter and I entered the park at 10:30 am, 30 minutes before the official opening, and were able to ride two of the park’s most popular roller coasters, Orion and Diamondback, before most of the guests arrived.
However, I was surprised that some of the Camp Cedar guests I spoke to didn’t even go to the park. Among my fellow guests in mid-August:
* A family from Avon Lake who canceled a trip to Disney World and went to Cincinnati instead because of rising COVID numbers in Florida. They wanted to spend a day in Soak City, Kings Island’s outdoor water park.
* A family from nearby Pike County trying out their new RV for the first time. Rather than going to the park, they took a trip to the Newport Aquarium in northern Kentucky and planned some back-to-school shopping.
* Season ticket holders from Dayton who were curious about the new resort and stayed in the cottage next to mine.
The cottages are available in different configurations and can accommodate four to eight people. My daughter and I lived in a hickory cottage with a separate bedroom, bunk beds in the hallway, a queen-size mattress in the loft area, and a pull-out bed in the small living room, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and porch. It was a lot more than we needed for our short stay, even though it would have been cramped for eight.
These places aren’t cheap – we paid $ 280 plus tax and resort fee for one night, but prices drop significantly on days when Kings Island isn’t open (weekdays this fall, for example, between $ 110 and $ 150 ).
The campsites cost $ 60-110, depending on the day, and seem to have a lot more availability than the cabins.
Common areas include Hornbeam Lodge, Coyote Creek Camp Store, Dry Bean Coffee and Gelato, and Ironwood Grill & Tap Restaurant, where my daughter and I both ate a delicious salad for dinner.
* Spent an hour in the pool during the hot afternoon we arrived. There are two pools here, including the family-friendly Deerfield Springs, with a waterfall, mini slide, no-depth entry, cabanas to rent, and other amenities.
* Enjoyed an ice cream cone on Belize Street, a cluster of take-away food stalls near the pool offering burgers, tacos, wings, and drinks arranged around communal outdoor seating.
* Watched families playing bowls and cornhole in communal squares. Additionally, the resort offers organized children’s activities on select days, including bingo, trivia, and story lesson.
There are golf carts for rent, a fitness center, and an off-leash dog park.
We also took a stroll along the Little Miami Walking Trail, a path that winds through the woods at the back of the property.
Much of the land could use more trees, however. Campsites in particular needed more shade and more mature landscaping, which will hopefully be added in the coming months. I would also avoid the locations on the southwest side of the property that are in close proximity to a McDonald’s and other commercial properties adjacent to the resort.
My main concern about the place was its location – it’s terribly close to commercial real estate on Kings Mill Road as well as Interstate 71.
But I think that’s one of the biggest perks too – not close enough to hear the coasters, but almost.
Kings Island Camp Cedar information and reservations: visitcampcedar.com
Golden Jubilee: Kings Island, which opened in 1972, is celebrating its golden anniversary next year with new dining options, entertainment and special events. Details and dates will be announced later, according to park spokesman Chad Showalter.
In the meantime, the park has temporarily closed its iconic Eiffel Tower for the remainder of 2021. The attraction, built on the scale of a third of the Parisian original, is getting a new coat of paint in preparation for the anniversary year. The 314 foot tall tower with an observation deck at the top is one of the park’s original attractions.
Kings Island opening times for the rest of 2021:
The park is open from September 4th to 6th and September 11th to 12th, and closed from September 18th to 19th. The park’s popular Halloween Haunt, HalloTween, and Tricks & Treats Fall Fest events run Friday through Sunday, September 24th. 31
The park’s popular WinterFest event, which was canceled last year, will return in 2021 and run from November 26th through December. 31
For opening times and ticket prices: visitkingsisland.com
Cedar Point, all Cedar Fair Parks are expected to be cashless in 2022