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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Kings Island Opens 49th Season With New Giga Coaster, Safety Rules

Kings Island is opening for its 49th season with a brand new giga coaster, Orion, and a slew of new safety precautions as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Reservations are required, as are face coverings and pre-entry temperature and health screenings for visitors and staff.

"Face coverings are required at the park for anyone that's over the age of two," says Chad Showalter, director of communications. "We will have ambassadors walking around to help remind our guests and also to tell them where the closest relax zone is. We want to make sure that that policy is followed by all of our guests."

Face coverings are required everywhere except in marked "relax" zones, while eating or drinking, or on water rides. So that means, yes, they are required on rides like the new Orion roller coaster that reaches speeds of 91 mph.

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
Riders in face coverings get an early ride on Orion before the park opens to passholders July 2.

"I've ridden that more than a dozen times and my mask hasn't come off," Showalter states. "I'm confident that riding rides with a face covering on is going to be possible and we're not going to have that many face masks that are lost."

Masks are for sale throughout the park just in case, and Showalter says it's a good idea to bring several per person in case yours gets dirty or wet.

Rides, games and other public areas will be sanitized routinely throughout the day followed by a deep cleaning each evening, he says.

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
A park employee disinfected the table followed by the sides, backs and arms of each chair.

Social distancing markers have been added to queuing areas and alternating sections of dining spaces and rides are marked off to allow for proper distancing. Restaurants and shops have one-way entrances and exits marked with signs.

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
Anywhere people are likely to queue in line, like this restaurant on the Coney Mall, now features social distancing markers.

More than 600 hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout the park.

"You'll see them in the midways, at our games, in our merchandise stores, at our food and beverage locations, at our ride entrances and exits," Showalter says. "Really anywhere that you are, you're not going to be far from a hand sanitizing station."

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Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
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WVXU
Park visitors try out the new hand sanitizing stations stationed around Kings Island.

Guests must make reservations online and fill out a yes/no health screening form 24 hours in advance of a scheduled visit. The park opens to passholders July 2 and the general public on July 12. Prior to entering, visitors will pass through a temperature screening area. Here is a video explaining some changes guests can expect. 

Click on the image at the top of the page to see additional photos.