Kings Island Adventure Port

Adventure Port at Kings Island is a theme park within a theme park . . . a rollercoaster, two family rides, summer food favorites, and a hundred flavors of soda pop. Kings Island added this new area to its roster of nine themed zones for the Summer of 2023 as a portal for adventurers to explore a tropical rainforest.

      Island is showing off its new Adventure Port themed fun zone.

Kings Island is located in Mason, Ohio, on 364 acres (147 ha). Once past the Security screening, with metal detectors, visitors pass through the Front Gate where the ticket-takers are. The first thing that visitors will see is that this new themed area, Adventure Port, is now open. This area has two new family rides and a re-imagined roller coaster.

      is the Oktoberfest Lake entrance to Adventure Port.

There are two pathways into Adventure Port from the Front Gate. The first is from International Street near the Eiffel Tower and the second is near the Oktoberfest-area lake by the Festhaus. The Oktoberfest Lake entrance is shown here. Most of Adventure Port used to be part of the Oktoberfest Zone, including the Adventure Express roller coaster.

      is one view of the Sol Spin gondola ride.

The Sol Spin thrill ride is new for the 2023 season. Riders are seated in spinning gondolas that go from horizontal to vertical very quickly, reaching a height of 60 (18.25 m) feet in the air at 25 miles per hour (40.25 kph). This is a Level 4 thrill ride where riders (min height 48 in/122 cm) are secured with a shoulder harness and a safety belt.

      Sol Spin is ready for another go-round.

The theme around Sol Spin is that it is an ancient sun disk created by a lost civilization deep in a remote jungle. Riders will be turned upside down on this “sun disk” and feel weightless when it reaches top speed. The thematic design on Sol Spin is imaginative and distinctive; the creative build-out lends an air of adventure to this ride.

      is the Cargo Loco turntable ride.

Cargo Loco is a classic barrel ride, built into two spinning turntables. This Level 3 family ride rotates at a tolerable speed and does not rise or descend. The minimum height to ride Cargo Loco is 42 inches (106.5 cm) to ride without a supervising companion. There are no seatbelts on this ride and riders will move around the barrel somewhat as the turntables rotate.

      are lots of fun "cargo" barrels to choose from to ride

The premise, or backstory, of this Adventure Port ride is that it is the Arrow Cargo Company, and that riders must help ship its goods in these barrels to various ports around the world. There are barrels for Potable Water, Limes, Sugar Cane, Fish Oil, Cacao Beans, and Tequila. An attendant comes around to lock the gates on the barrels to secure the riders and their “cargo.”

      old Adventure Express roller coaster has been greatly updated for

The Adventure Express hybrid roller coaster has been here since 1991, but has been refreshed for 2023. A hybrid roller coaster combines two different structural and track materials, such as wood supports and a steel track in the case of this coaster. Adventure Express is called a mine-train coaster as it mimics a mining tunnel with no large drop-hills. There are many banking turns, of course.

      shows the interior of the Adventure Express station house.

The details for the re-theming of this thirty-two-year-old ride are everywhere in the station house. Adventure Express has been shined up and repainted and also has a theme as do the other rides in this zone: riders are lost in a deep rainforest and must board this roller coaster, travel through a make-believe mineshaft, to finally escape before being consumed by a smoldering volcano.

      to the Arrow Dynamics company that created this ride are

Adventure Express was built by Arrow Dynamics, formerly of Clearfield, Utah. The 55-year-old company was purchased by S&S Worldwide in 2001 and was in turn purchased and renamed by a Japanese company in 2012. The Arrow homage is everywhere, especially by the control booth. Arrow’s claim to fame was that its steel tubular tracks were smoother than the railroad-type rails typically used until the 1960s.

      of neat old things from the mid-20th century are here to look at.

Adventure Express has fun stuff to look at. A CB radio sits on the barrel and a Brownie camera sits next to the lunch box on the desk. Riders will appreciate that most of the queue line is now under shelter, and the jungly, cryptic sounds playing enhance the theme of this ride. In 2020, its lift-chain came from the old Vortex coaster. The ride lasts for two minutes and has a top speed of 35 miles per hour (56 kph).

      is Enrique's cantina in Adventure Port.

Kings Island’s cantina-style Mexican restaurant has had a complete outside make-over with an enhanced menu for the debut of Adventure Port. It used to be known as Hank’s, and now it is known as Enrique’s Cantina. The interior decor is largely the same, but the exterior has been completely refreshed with new paint and new, colorful umbrellas over the tables.

      is one of two serving lines at the Cantina.

The meal deals, and there are several types, are the most cost-effective ways to eat at Kings Island. All of the main dishes here are on these plans. The chicken and pork burritos and bowls are mainstays from years past, but this year there are steak and vegetarian options, plus tacos. There are two monthly specials for July 2023: chicken enchiladas and beef-potato-cheese empanadas.

      is a beverage dispensing station.

This cantina has two self-serve drink stations at either end of the two serving lines, and each always had lots of ice. Again, getting any one of the drink plans that KI offers is the best way to go on a hot day, but any open food stand will provide courtesy cups of water. There is also a high-tech bottle filler drinking fountain right across the way.

      is the Mercado bar at Enrique's cantina.

“Mercado” means “market” in Spanish, in keeping with the prevailing Adventure Port theme. Despite its wonderful servers, this watering hole had nothing really to recommend it in years past. Again, bright colors and beautiful flowers have newly enhanced this area. The bar, shown here under the eave, was occasionally busy on this last Saturday in July, and it was sometimes difficult to get a spot to sit in away from the sun.

      close up of the Mercado Bar shows the various drinks and beer

Visitors to Mercado can order appetizers and adult beverages. The staff is great. Appetizers include Loaded Nachos at $13.99 plus tax (6.75%), Taco Tray $11.99, Chips & Salsa with choice of two salsas $8.99, Churos with Dulce de Leche Sauce $6.29, and Sopapillas $4.99. Beers include Yuengling, Blue Moon, the local Rhinegeist Truth, the local Enrique’s Sonder, Samuel Adams Seasonal Summer Ale, and others.

      is one of the few well shaded spots in Adventure Port.

Other than Mercado’s bar, this is the best place at the Cantina to get out of the sun. The UV rays bounce off that unshaded concrete and can be unpleasant. Although a worker was constantly sweeping the floors, litter did pile up and the tables were not cleaned at all. Regardless, there is a lovely view of Oktoberfest Lake and a couple of old fishing boats used as props. The enormous carp are still here, too.

      is the chicken enchilada with red sauce offering.

The chicken enchiladas dish at Enrique’s runs $15.99. Shredded lettuce and pico de gallo are included, as is a choice of red sauce or green sauce. A nice portion of red-beans-and-rice is sitting under the tortillas. This dish is part of the meal-plan offerings. Throughout of the day, the serving lines were clean and moved quickly.

      empanadas were tasty.

The Picadillo Empanada platter is also a monthly special for July 2023 at $15.99. The description is as follows: “cheesy beef and potato empanada with avocado crema / rice and beans.” The three empanadas received today were hot and fresh and cheesy on the inside and the crust was perfect. This is a Spanish dish, which comes from the word “empanar,” which means wrapped or coated in bread.

      is the big Coca Cola drink stand in Adventure Port.

The Coca-Cola Marketplace near the Racer was re-themed for inclusion in Adventure Port. There are other Marketplaces in the Park, and they are all similar in size and offerings if not in appearance. They receive a steady stream of traffic throughout the day, especially when it’s hot and humid. Most people getting drinks here have a drink plan of some sort. Like all of the Cedar Fair parks and venues, this stand is cashless.

      drink stand is really crowded today, all day long.

The Coca-Cola freestyle machines easily have a hundred flavors to offer at each dispenser. There are dozens of cartridges behind the red enamel doors that dispense the flavorings and nozzles to mix them with the carbonated water. The down side to these machines is that on hot days many of the flavors have run out and the ice may be gone too. (Dispensers inside the cafe’s seem to do better on those counts.)

      is the KI VIP lounge in the main park.

The VIP Lounge is a new upmarket experience at Kings Island. Single-day passes can be purchased for $40, or season-long usage can be added to a Gold or Platinum season pass. KI’s own Soak City has a VIP Lounge, The VIP experience is applied only at the guest’s home park; a KI VIP add-on isn’t designated for usage at any other Cedar Fair park. Cedar Point and Carowinds also have VIP Lounges.

      isn't much shady seating at Adventure Port.

A big drawback of Adventure Port is the lack of shady seats for resting. Not for eating or drinking or near a ride; just resting. This bench was the sole non-upcharged space that was out of direct sunlight. Starbucks cafe on International Street has cushioned armchairs in air-conditioning and there are Adirondack chairs on the back porch of the air-conditioned Miami River Brewhouse in Rivertown. The nearby Grand Carousel has a few benches, too.

      parade is coming from Coney Mall to Adventure Port.

The Grand Carnivale International Festival includes a parade that begins at 7 pm daily from July 22-August 6 for the 2023 season. The Spectacle of Color Parade makes its way through the park, featuring huge floats and costumed dancers. Guests can do their best to catch colorful beads and shiny streamers. The parade will pass in front of Adventure Port, as seen here.

      is the fancy lead float for the parade.

This is the lead float for the parade. The Grand Carnivale also includes food tastings that can be bundled with single-day admission or purchased separately. There are Carnivale crafts and “passports” for kids of all ages, plus high-energy entertainment before and after dark. Since the parade doesn’t start till 7 pm, there is a good chance of finding a spot to watch that is out of the sun.

      dancers dance in the style of Thailand.

Following the German float, which has a working clock, is an offering in the style of Thailand featuring several brightly costumed dancers. Every float and dance troupe was a lot of fun to watch. Adventure Port is a great place to see the parade as there are beads and streamers aplenty and many amenities like washrooms and drink stations.

      is the Dragon float from Thailand.

This is the Grand Carnivale parade float stylized for Thailand, following its high-energy dancers. A little truck pulls each float and KI staffers in colorful shirts dance with the little kids who are watching the parade. It takes about five minutes for each troupe and float to pass through any particular street section.

      cheers for the good ole US of A.

This is the dance troupe for the USA, which is toward the end of the parade. The parade will terminate on International Street in just a few minutes, with a rousing ending. There will be more entertainment at the International Street Bandstand across from the Eiffel Tower as the night progresses. All of this is close to Adventure Port.

      is the USA float, featuring Ben Franklin.

This is the Parade float for the USA, which follows its colorful, Revolutionary War dance troupe. Perhaps it is Ben Franklin himself in the airship gondola? The USA float paused in front of the Coney Confections shop for a few minutes for improptu dancing. The floats in this parade included the Carnivale floats plus dance offerings from France, Germany, India, Thailand, USA, and Mexico.

      is the Mexican dance troupe in the parade.

Mexico was the last country featured along the parade route. The dancers in the troupe were fun to watch and their float was one of the fanciest. The parade is well worth taking in at least once every year; the dance routines and floats change a little bit from year-to-year. There is an online guide for the parade at

      is the end float for the KI parade.

Colorful streamers float everywhere after the parade. The parade starts under the Racer and moves past the Monster in Coney Mall, past Adventure Port, then past Starbucks, around the Front Gate, and then ending at The French Corner. While on the Adventure Express roller coaster, the parade floats are visible under the Racer when reaching the front of the line, just before boarding.

      sun is setting on Adventure Port.
The sun is starting to set over Adventure Port at Kings Island. Cargo Loco, Adventure Express, and Sol Spin are still thrilling passengers. Because of its location toward the northern end of the park, Adventure Port has some the shadiest outdoor seating at twenty minutes past 8 pm. Enrique’s will be open til 10 pm as will the Coca-Cola Marketplace.

      last look at the outside of the Front Gate at Kings Island.

The Front Gate is located in the northwest area of Kings Island, where the Adventure Port banner will be displayed until the end of the summer season. While this new zone has only two new rides, it is a well-designed theme park within a theme park. Fans of the old Adventure Express roller coaster will like the re-design, and diners who enjoyed the cantina and its bar will enjoy the new food offerings and summer glow-up.

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