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Looking back at 2014: The Season Food Pass.


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#1
SSR1966

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Except for the occasional blue cone, I rarely ever ate at Kings Island. Once a year I would splurge on LaRosa’s pizza, usually when I brought a guest with me and we would be there for most of the day to get their admission fee worth, but rarely any other time. With a season pass I’m rarely at the park before 4 pm so it was easy and much cheaper to eat before and/ or after my visit. It was hard to justify spending that kind of money on a park dinner when I could eat at a steak house for the same amount. This year, however, the park introduced the season food pass. It sounded like a good deal to me so I splurged and went for it.

Now that I had it for a season, here are my thoughts on it, both good and bad…

Financially, the food pass is a great deal, especially if you go to the park a lot. It’s nice to know that you are already taken care of if you should grow hungry without being worried whether you have enough cash in your bank account to cover it or not. Being that you can use it twice a day is also great because you can have both lunch and dinner. This is especially great if you have more than one kid in your family, you can get food passes for all of them.

The down side is if you have a glutton friend who also has a food pass and is determined to use it as much as possible. I have such a friend. Instead of riding something or taking in a show when you first arrive at the park you have to go eat because he wants to make sure enough time passes so that he can eat again before he leaves. Then at the end of the night, rather than getting that last night ride in on The Beast or Diamondback, you instead find yourself at Skyline or LaRosa’s on International Street, getting in that last meal before you leave. His food pass really cut into my ride time, and you could see he was miserable because he’s forcing down food when he is not even hungry. I’ll admit that there were times that I went to the park and only used the food pass once, and a couple of times I never used it at all. I just wasn’t hungry.

One of the good things about the food pass is that it gave me a chance to try some other food that I might not normally have given a chance.

The down side is that much of the food at Kings Island is really not all that great.

The Chicken Shack is not only the newest restaurant, it is also the best tasting food at the park. The amount of food is also great being that it comes with garlic bread and seasoned fries.

Hank’s Burritos was my second favorite. I loved the chicken burrito until I had one on Labor Day and it had some kind of sauce in it. It tastes like the same awful sauce Taco Bell uses on their Sausage Crunch Wrap. I had never noticed this sauce in a Hank’s Burrito before and thought maybe it was a fluke, so I had another chicken burrito when Haunt opened. This time I watched closely as they made it and never saw anyone add that awful sauce to it, but sure enough, when I started eating it the sauce was there. I guess it’s mixed into the chicken beforehand so you probably can’t even order the burrito without the sauce… Very disappointed that they made this change. Its also possible, I guess, that the sauce was always there but just to light to notice and at some point they started using a heavier amount.

The hamburgers at the park are awful. I’m not a big condiment fan so I always order my plain. I guess with all the fixings that come on it normally, the taste of the meat is not as noticeable, but having tried it plain… I’m not even sure it was beef. Maybe it was Black Angus, the worst tasting beef known to man. I mean really, who like Black Angus? Do people think it taste better because it has a cool name? The burgers tasted the same at both Jukebox Dinner and at Planet Snoopy Grill.

I have never eaten anything from the FestHaus that was fresh. Maybe it’s just my timing, but that place consistently has the worse quality of food. We once had chicken tenders from FestHaus (which are completely different from the ones you get at the Chicken Shack) and they were tough and dry. My friend took his back to the counter and before He even said anything, the employee asked Him “Are they too tough to eat? Other people have complained about them also.” He traded his tenders in for something else… a burger I think.

At the Chicken Shack, you get your food fast but it takes forever to pay and get out. Hank’s Burrito it takes forever to get your food, but you get checked out really fast. This doesn't really bother me that much. It's more of an observation than a complaint.

LaRosa’s is still LaRosa’s, and it’s hard to go wrong with LaRosa’s, but the slices are very small and not worth what you would pay if you did not have a food pass. I’ve also noticed that LaRosa’s in the park taste like frozen pizza these days. It’s still LaRosa’s, but frozen LaRosa’s. Frozen never taste as good as fresh, but I guess having them premade gets people through the line faster.

Skyline is always good, but too much spaghetti on the Three Ways tends to bland out the taste. I hate to complain about getting too much food, but they could probably cut the amount of pasta by a forth or maybe even a third. Too much pasta aside, the 3-Way with Cheese Coney is easily the second best food deal in the park for amount versus cost, right behind Chicken Shack. This only applies to the International Street Skyline since I never ate at the Coney Mall location this past season.

So my dilemma this year is that my friend has already gotten his food pass. Should I get a food pass even though I wasn’t all that thrilled with most of the food, or should I skip it and just go ride some rides and wait for him to text and meet me somewhere after he’s done stuffing his face? I’m really on the fence about this one. For the money I would spin on the food pass I could just upgrade my gold season pass to a Platinum pass or get a season pass to the Cincinnati Zoo or Kentucky Kingdom. On the other hand, the food pass sure came in handy a few times when I was about starving…

Edited by SSR1966, 26 January 2015 - 02:33 AM.


#2
I Am A Rider

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Well, personally, Mr. Roberts, I'd go ride and let him pig out. Only thing we eat at the park is Skyline - a bargain and dependably good - and once in awhile LaRosa's, though you're right; it is too pricey and not that great anymore like it used to be. Drinks are horribly overpriced and don't know if the food pass covers them, but for us it wouldn't pay off. I'd rather have a PB&J in the car before or after, or both, and spend the extra money on a different pass. Zoo passes are definitely worth it; we had Columbus ones for years. Ky. Kingdom is too far to make it worthwhile for us. And water is at least free. For a lot of us, we can't eat and then ride without barfing, so we generally do one or the other or stop after leaving the park to eat, or take a cooler and leave it in the car. It's a lot cheaper that way. And you can go back out to the car and eat if you get hungry before you're ready to leave for the day.

Lot of good info in this; don't know anyone who had a food pass and had been wondering if it was worthwhile, so now I know. Probably the best deal for families with kids who can eat all the time, but not so much a bargain for us older folks who don't eat like we did when we were younger.......many thanks.

#3
SSR1966

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I was trying to give an overview. I hope that it doesn't sound like I was going on a rant.

The beverages are not covered with the food pass and must be purchased. However, they have the souvenir cup that has free refills the day you buy it and 99 cent refills for the rest of the season. The souvenir cup runs for about 10 bucks with your Gold Pass discount and is actually a great bargain. You can even use it with the Coke Freestyle machines located in Juke Box Diner and Hanks Burrito Shack.

I bought one at the beginning of the season but usually left it in my trunk because I didn’t want to carry it around all day or night. If I thought I was going to ride Banshee or Firehawk, I didn’t want to have to buy a locker just for my cup. For the times I did bring it in, I had my name written on it with black magic marker so no one would grab it by mistake out of one of the ride’s storage bins.

Then one night I sat my cup on the floor to take a picture while in the Thrill Seekers store and instantly forgot about it. I came back not even 10 minutes later and it was gone. The employees thought it may have been picked up and thrown away already and they actually helped me dig through the garbage cans and trash bags, but it was not to be found. I don’t blame the employees and I’m actually impressed with how on top of things they were. Long story short, I eventually ended up buying another souvenir cup a few visits later. I ended up leaving that one in my trunk most of the time also.

I guess they could have a season refillable drink pass added on to the Gold Pass as well, where you would still pay your 99 cents but get a new paper cup each time. However, I do like the design and collectability of the souvenir cup and would miss that, even if having to carry it around all day discourages me from using it as much.

On a side note, most of the water fountains have a special station now where you can refill your cups with water yourself. No ice, but it’s quicker than standing in line at a concession stand or restaurant.

If I was to offer a suggestion, besides improving food quality, I would make a trade-in deal where you can give up one of your meals in exchange for a snack. For example, give up a $15 value meal in exchange for a funnel cake, blue cone or Coney cut fries. Seems like this would save the park money in the long run if they were giving away a blue cone instead of a meal, but I say this without really knowing what the cost versus bottom line is on any of food items sold at the park. The snack idea could be the worst idea ever for all that I know.

Edited by SSR1966, 26 January 2015 - 03:22 AM.


#4
I Am A Rider

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No, it does not sound like a rant at all, Mr. Roberts. There's a lot of good information. We do the same thing with the refillable cups - just a pain to carry them around so end up in storage with all the others. Have refilled water at the fountains but prefer ice so usually end up in line. I do like the ideas of a drink pass and the snack exchange. Makes sense to me. Have found food quality to be fairly poor at most parks. Very good at Holiday World for the most part, but everywhere else about the same.

#5
SSR1966

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I had the unlimited food pass at Universal Islands. You could only use it at three of the restaurants in the park, (Comic Strip Cafe, The Burger Digs and Circus McGurkus), but the food was pretty good and it even included snacks that were served at these locations. This was a few years ago and I’m not even sure if they even offer the unlimited dining plan anymore.

I’ve been to Dollywood 4 times and have only ever eaten at Lumberjacks Pizza inside the park. This pizza is not as good as fresh LaRosa’s but better than frozen LaRosa’s. Plus the slice is pretty good sized and quite filling. I think they advertised it as being a half or quarter pound pizza slice. Eating at Lumberjack Pizza has become one of those things that I must do every visit to make my Dollywood visit feel complete.

I’ve had a hamburger at Disney Hollywood (Rosie's All American) and Pizza at the Magic Kingdom (Pinocchio Village Haus) and wasn’t impressed with either. It cost quite a bit for food that isn’t even as good as cafeteria food.

The Cincinnati Chili at The Beach Waterpark is the worst. I think it’s Empress Chili. I’m guessing maybe they could not have a Skyline because of Kings Island being across the street, but was a Gold Star franchise unavailable? I understand that Empress has their following and there are people who think it is better than Skyline or Gold Star, but having tried it a few times myself, I don’t get where that comes from.

Hopefully this summer I will get to a few new parks and maybe try out their food as well.

#6
I Am A Rider

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We thought the food at the Beach was awful. Just couldn't eat it at all. And do not like Empress chili at all either. Gold Star is fine if Skyline isn't available; they are similar. I think I mentioned before that we had the best beef barbeque at the old Ky. Kingdom years ago. No idea if they have it now. And never had anything bad at Holiday World. Their food is good, reasonable, and everything is immaculately clean. Had terrible food at Disney World. Passable at Sea World but not by much and very expensive both places. One place have had good food consistently is Stricker's Grove. And it's cheap. Too bad it's so rarely open to the public; it's such a nice old-fashioned place though a long drive for us. No easy route. Guess it's a good thing that people have such different tastes in food. A lot of stuff I would absolutely not eat, other people think is great. Still haven't made it to Dollywood but maybe some day. Oh, forgot about Busch Gardens Tampa. Been a lot of years but I do remember having fairly decent food there but don't recall what - the kids were young so it was many moons ago. It was early April and the weather was perfect. Other trips to Florida have been impossibly hot.

Edited by I Am A Rider, 27 January 2015 - 11:46 AM.


#7
faeriewench

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I almost never eat at KI's food locations. I can't justify buying the dining plan for the quality of food there....now if Knott's offered one I probably would get it as their food is more tolerable. (their pizza I like way better than the watered cardboard pizza KI serves). I do love Knott's grilled chicken sandwiches though..yum.

But then again...i just don't eat at all, lol. Everyone I know have tried to shove food down my throat at one point or another and to be frank just looking at the food at KI makes me want to yak up my spleen.

Edited by faeriewench, 31 January 2015 - 07:08 AM.


#8
I Am A Rider

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I like the expression "yak up my spleen," Ms. faeriewench. Very descriptive and in many cases regarding park food, appropriate. Think we'll stick to our cooler in the car. Even when young couldn't eat greasy park food and ride; sure couldn't now. Peanut butter is reliable. Heavy food in the heat is not good; would be nice if there were healthier, lighter choices. For many people part of the park experience - or carnival experience - is the food, I suppose, but for the most part we skip it. Kind of like eating fried chicken and going swimming - eating grease and riding often does not turn out well!

#9
SSR1966

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I had a Krispy Cream donut burger at the Ohio State Fair this past summer. I was expecting it to be gross but it turned out to be like Heaven in my mouth. Later, for dinner, I had this pizza roll thing that I was not impressed with. The irony is that the Ohio State Fair has a buffet on the property that is reasonably priced and restaraunt quality food. I regret not eating at the buffet instead of having the pizza roll thing. I had deep fried Pepsi at the Clermont County Fair one year and it was also really good. With that in mind, I wonder if a location at Kings Island that would sell carnival type of food would go over big. I could not eat it all that often but I could see items like deep fried everything (esp. Twinkies), corn still on the husk, donut burgers and Bacon on a stick being a cult hit with young people… Well, maybe not the corn so much. I would put the carnival food location in Coney Mall. It might be something worth trying. Funny how I went from saying much of the park food is not that good to pitching the idea of food that is not that good for you.

And I agree that Stricker's Grove food is really good, at least it was when I was there last in 2009.


#10
I Am A Rider

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I've heard of those donut burgers, Mr. Roberts. Must be like injecting lard directly into your arteries. Ouch. I don't think I'd care for it as not a fan of anything sweet near a burger. And that buffet at the fair was wonderful last time we were there. Been awhile. Used to never miss. Probably have eaten almost everything there over the past forty years. They do have a lot of good food but you're right, not much of it is good for you. Still, some fair food would probably go over well in Coney Mall. And each time we've been to Stricker's, had great burgers, dogs, and ice cream too. Not food we can eat every day at this stage in life but nice to enjoy on occasion.

How on earth do you deep fry Pepsi?

#11
SSR1966

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I didn't watch them make it but I'm assuming they just poor it right into the deep fryer. It came in whipped cream or ice cream. It's been awhile so I don't really remember all the details, but I do remember loving it. I'll try to make it back this summer and get an update with more detail.

#12
I Am A Rider

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Definitely be interesting to find out how they do that, Mr. Roberts. Just sounds so odd.......and here I thought deep fried pickles were strange!

#13
ohiocolts

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Appreciate the love for the Chicken Shack. It truely is a fantastic place to eat!

#14
Big Sexy

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Really healthy choices they have. An individual can easily consume 5000+ calories with two meals and an extra 1000+ calories of sugar in their souvenir cup.




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