Coney Island, The Beach, and Kings Island: These classic Cincinnati amusement parks may sound similar, but each offers unique experiences with signature rides, distinctive attractions and spotlight events throughout the summer.
 
CONEY ISLAND

Coney Island has been the amusement park of Cincinnati for more than a century. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the park's opening. Visitors to the park, situated beside the idyllic Lake Como, can take advantage of the location by renting canoes or paddle boats for an afternoon on the water. The more adventuresome can climb into a bumper boat, a fun update to the classic bumper car.

Sunlite Pool, a stunning headliner at Coney Island, is a massive 200-by-401-foot swimming pool, the largest flat-surface pool in North America. It includes an acre of shallow water for the kids, as well as diving boards and a variety of water slides, even one right in the middle of the water.

The newest addition to this gargantuan pool is the Twister, a water slide with four chutes, two for inner tubes that you can ride single or double and two body slides.

Though the water may be the biggest attraction at Coney, the park also features the Tempest, a spinning ride that is unlike anything else in Ohio. Don't miss the Dodgems, Tilt-a-Whirl and the Trabant. Kids will enjoy the long slide, boats and trains, and the Turtle Parade. From a 40-foot ferris wheel to the recently-installed EuroBungy Dome, Coney has enough to keep the whole family busy all day.

6201 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati, (513) 232-8230 or
www.coneyislandpark.com.

 

KINGS ISLAND
 
Showcasing inventive rides, especially The Beast, the longest wooden coaster in the world, Kings Island is constantly updating attractions. This year, the park is unveiling The Windseeker, a 301-foot tall tower that will hoist riders up 30 stories in suspended swings and then rotate at speeds of up to 30 mph.

"It's a combination of Drop Tower, Zephyr and a little bit of Delirium," says Don Helbig, public relations manager. The Windseeker will appeal to the adventurous, part of Kings Island's move toward more extreme rides in recent times.

The Windseeker will be joining a tradition of innovative rides, especially roller coasters. With names like Delirium, Firehawk, Flight of Fear, Invertigo and Vortex, these rides are for the hardcore amusement park patron.

Not all the rides are so intense. Families can enjoy the classic White Water Canyon, Adventure Express coaster and the Grand Carousel. For smaller children, the recently renamed Planet Snoopy is home to a variety of Peanuts-themed rides and activities. Boomerang Bay features water rides to help visitors cool off during the hot summer months and is included in admission price.

People should check online for discounted tickets, suggests Helbig. "A lot of people don't know about the "¬Ępay once, visit twice' deal." So check Kings Island's website before you head out for a day of thrills.

5688 Kings Island Drive, Mason,
(513) 754-5700 or www.visitkingsisland.com.

 
 
THE BEACH WATERPARK

If you're looking for a true escape, check out The Beach Waterpark. With live palm trees, sandy beaches, waterfalls and Reggae music, you can easily imagine you just stepped off a cruise ship and onto the tropical coast of Aruba. Named the Number One Privately Owned Waterpark in the Nation by Aquatics International Magazine, The Beach features rides as diverse as the Aztec Adventure, the Midwest's only water coaster, and the Lazy Miami River, a relaxing 1,200-foot float around the park in inner tubes that appeals to all ages.

2590 Waterpark Drive , Mason, Ohio,
(513) 398-7946 or www.thebeachwaterpark.com.

 
CEDAR POINT

Further afield but worth the trip is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Known for the Top Thrill Dragster, a roller coaster that reaches 420 feet into the sky, Cedar Point is an amusement park to experience.

1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio,
(419) 627-2350 or www.cedarpoint.com.