Park History

A place where kids of all ages and their parents can really and truly play together.

In the fall of 1971, Coney Island, a popular amusement park on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, closed its gates for the final time, ending an era in entertainment. The following spring, another era began when the turnstiles began spinning in Mason, Ohio at the new Kings Island Amusement Park. When the gates opened April 29, 1972, the stage was set for decades of world-class thrills, fun and family entertainment.

 

Planning for the Park

The idea for Kings Island was conceived in 1964 when Coney Island, a popular amusement park located on the banks of the Ohio River 10 miles east of downtown Cincinnati, suffered from a major flood that submerged the park in over 14 feet of water.  Flooding was nothing new for Coney Island.  The park was very successful, but due to limited space there was no room for expansion.  Parking was also an issue.  The Wachs family who owned and operated Coney Island began to explore the possibility of relocating the park.  They had no choice if they wanted to remain competitive.  In 1968, following actor Fess Parker's announced plans to build a new theme park across the river in Kentucky, the need to relocate the park became much more urgent.  The Wachs family had been trying for nearly five years to find a major financial partner.  With time of the essence, the Wachs family in July of 1969, sold their much beloved park to the Taft Broadcasting Company for $6.5 million.   Taft Broadcasting had been looking for a way to market and promote its newly acquired Hanna-Barbera division, and the amusement park industry was the perfect place.  In the fall of 1969, Taft Broadcasting purchased 1,600 acres of land in Warren County, Ohio for $3.2 million for the purpose of building one of the finest amusement/theme parks in the country, Kings Island! 

 

Building the Park

The construction of Kings Island began June 15, 1970.   A public contest was held to name the new park.  Kings Island emerged as the most popular choice for its recognition of the town where the park was being built, Kings Mills, as well as its predecessor, Coney Island.  Many of Coney Island's rides were transported and installed at Kings Island within three months of Coney Island closing its gates on September 6, 1971, including: The Tumblebug, Scrambler, Flying Scooters, Spider, Dodgem, Turnkpike Cars, Sky Ride and Rotor.   There had been lengthy discussions about relocating the popular Shooting Star roller coaster to Kings Island, but the decision was made to build a new, bigger, faster and better roller coaster, The Racer.  The Eiffel Tower, originally planned for Coney Island and a one-third replica of the original Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, The design and steel fabrication for the Eiffel Tower was done by Intamin AG of Zurich, Switzerland. Installation costs and equipment costs for the tower exceeded $1 million when it was being built. The attraction was erected in just over 30 days by Southern Ohio Fabricators, Inc., after the steel arrive on property in the spring of 1971. The Eiffel Tower became the centerpiece of the new park.  After nearly two years of construction, the park was ready to open for families and thrill-seekers in April, 1972. 

 

The 70's

Kings Island opened its gates April 29, 1972 It quickly emerged as one of the most popular parks in the United States of America. During its first season,they were averaging 25,000 to 30,000 guests a day approximate 2 million and 12 thousand  people visited the park, they were the first theme park in the US outside of Disney to hit 2 million people in its first season of operating.kings island which covered 150 acres and had thirty-one rides admission tickets cost six dollars, and parking was free, C’mon Get Happy!” was the slogan for Kings Island when it opened April 29, 1972. The name Kings Island is a combination of the community of Kings Mills and Coney Island, its amusement park predecessor  The star attractions early on were the twin-track Racer roller coaster the Philadelphia Toboggan Company made wooden coaster was the highlight attraction at the park The Racer was the first twin-track wooden coaster built in modern times, according to the Kings Island website. It could hit speeds close to 60 mph.The Racer was an integral part of the roller coaster renaissance of the 1970s. Years later, it would be awarded the Roller Coaster Landmark plaque from American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) for its achievement. the Enchanted Voyage dark ride when it premiered with the park in 1972, “The Enchanted Voyage” was Kings Island’s most expensive attraction at $2 million the indoor voyage would feature six vignettes during it’s nearly five-minute journey including: a colorful cave, a wedding in the land of Little People, a hillbilly-esque hoedown, an elaborate water world, a spooky haunted house and an over-the-top circus finale.

Among the interior scenes, the ride featured over 100 animated Hanna-Barbera characters (built and shipped from Japan), tens of thousands of twinkling lights, and a $5,000 ghost-projector. Sixteen sequentially timed surround-sound systems relayed a theme song recorded at the famed Glen Glenn Sound in North Hollywood  and the Eiffel Tower. 

Kings Island gained national attention when two well-known ABC sitcoms filmed episodes at the park: The Partridge Family in 1972, and The Brady Bunch in 1973.  

In 197. The Arrow Dynamics  Screamin' Demon debuted as the first forward and then backward-looping roller coaster in the United States. The ride consists of two raised sections of track with a vertical loop in the centre. The train is launched off the first raised platform, into the loop, and up onto the second platform, where it repeats the process in reverse. As a result of the design, riders are required to climb a series of stairs to get to the loading station People came from coast-to-coast to ride it. 

Guided by legendary coaster designer Ron Toomer, prolific amusement manufacturing firm “Arrow Development” had recently introduced its first steel looping coaster in 1975 to tremendous success. Kings Island executives had previously worked with Arrow at  the park with there two flumes and Enchanted Voyage boat conveyance. So, in 1976, Kings Island signed the deal to have the firm install the park’s first modern steel roller coaster.

The park chose one of Arrow’s “launched shuttle loop” coasters, and its price tag was part of a $5 million park expansion program for 1977. It was one of the first three that Arrow built and the first of those to open to the public (that same year, the original prototype was installed in Florida, and another identical model in Massachusetts). The ride used an electric winch launch that propelled a five-car train filled with 20 passengers down a 50-foot drop, into a 52-foot high, 360-degree loop, up an identical 50-foot incline before pausing and repeating the entire process in reverse. The entire ride lasted one-minute, six-seconds and reached a speed up to 45 miles per hour. 

But in 1979, the park unveiled a ride that would forever change the world ... well, at least the roller coaster world when Kings Island unleashed The Beast.  It was the biggest, baddest, longest, fastest wooden roller coaster in the world.  The ride still stands today as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world at 7,400 feet. The Beast has been consistently rated one of the top roller coasters in the world since its debut, having earned a solid reputation among roller coaster enthusiasts. After more than 35 years, it remains one of the most popular attractions at Kings Island and has accommodated over 50 million riders.

The decade of the 80's featured a series of world firsts at Kings Island, and the first ownership change in the park's history.  In 1981, the park introduced Arrow Dynamics The Bat, which was the world's first suspended roller coaster. The ride took 18 months to design and then another 2 years to build which means it took longer to build then it was open,   The ride's history was brief due to mechanical issues -- just two short years of operation -- but it was the first step in the fourth generation of roller coasters. 

 

In 1982, Kings Island again made history when one side of the Racer was turned around backwards, making it the world's first full-length, backwards traveling roller coaster.More than 91,000,000 guests have taken a ride on the Racer since it opened in 1972 with the park.  Later that year, Kings Island became the first amusement/theme park to hold a winter event when Winterfest was introduced.   King Cobra debuted in 1984.  It was the first roller coaster in the world designed from the ground-up as a stand-up roller coaster.The trains used a standard Arrow chassis, just like Corkscrew trains. the TOGO ride would feature a 90ft  lift hill, the riders would plummet 90 feet down at an 53 degree angle. 
After the drop, King Cobra would roar up into a large vertical loop, the first of its kind on a stand-up ride. The loop was followed with a large, steeply banked helix  Following the helix, the train would encounter a section of "Trick-Track" which had never been used before on a steel coaster. it featured a straight section of track that banked sharply from the left, and then the right, and into a raised right turn.  

The 1984 season also saw the Taft Broadcasting Company sell its theme park division to Kings Entertainment Company (KECO), a company formed by senior executives and general managers of Taft's Amusement Park division. Kings Island invested $4 million on building The Vortex which was added in 1987 and was the first roller coaster in the world to feature six inversions.  Before the end of the 1987 season Screamin' Demon closes at the end of the season. Kings Island was sold for the second time in three years when American Financial Corporation purchased Kings Island and two other parks (Carowinds and Kings Dominion) and a 20-percent stake in Canada's Wonderland for $150 million.  While new and innovative roller coasters dominated the headlines for most of the decade, a new section of the park was added in 1989 when WaterWorks made its debut as a family waterpark.

Lets look back at the coasters that Kings island had in the park up till now opened and closed

The Beast the worlds longest fastest wooden coaster

The Bat the worlds first suspended coaster

Racer the worlds first fully backwards facing coaster

King Cobra the worlds first inverted stand up coaster

Vortex worlds first 6 inverted coaster 

Kings island wanted to make a statement and from the opening they did that it was 5 coasters that put kings island on the map could it get any better from them lets find out.

The 90's

Kings Island and the rest of the parks in the chain were purchased by Paramount Communications, Inc. for $400 million in 1992.  Paramount formed a new division which was known as Paramount Parks.  That same year, Paramount Parks began adding its themes from movies released by the studio, like Top Gun and Face/Off. kings island released a 20 year anniversary video which showed off the park and you get to see the racer riding backwards back stage at some ride maintenance and shows what were on at that time. Viacom entered the picture in 1994 and purchased Paramount Communications, Inc., which opened the door for Nickelodeon themes and characters to be used in the park.  In 1993, the Top Gun roller coaster opened as the first new ride in the Paramount era.  Three years later, in 1996, Kings Island unveiled the world's first Linear Induction Motor (LIM) launch roller coaster, The Premier rides Outer Limits: Flight of Fear cost around $15 milllion at a height of 72.4ft and 54mph with 4 inversions, The trains originally featured over-the-shoulder restraints. For the 2001 season, three of the four trains which came with the ride were converted to use individual ratcheting lap bar restraints instead of the original over-the-shoulder restraints which caused riders to experience significant headbanging the coaster is still operating today.

 

In 1997, Kings Island celebrated its 25th Anniversary season.  The Hanna-Barbera kids' area received a major makeover in 1998.  Drop Zone (now Drop Tower) and Face/Off (now Invertigo) were added in 1999 in the newly dubbed Action Zone area of the park.   Closing out the decade of the 90's was a major announcement on July 8, 1999, when Kings Island revealed plans to build the Son of Beast roller coaster.  The new ride claimed several world records, including the tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster. Where do we start with this crazy ride? well first of all the photo we reposted of this coaster is our highest like photo with 1500 likes, the coaster was made by Roller Coaster Corporation of America and featured 1 inversion yes thats right 1 inversion and boy it was a massive one, at its peak it stood a massive 218ft, The first drop was 216ft at an angle of 55 degrees the second drop was big enough in its self at 164ft tall. the ride would hit speeds of 78mph, Now lets talk about this inversion the tear drop loop stood at 118ft, the beams were still but the track was still wood. when the son of beast opened fans were split with much still loving the beast over the new son of beast, After a few issues with the ride the coaster was closed for a whole season why they looked into why the ride was sorough and in 2006 decided to change the trains to lighweight Gerstlauer trains the only problem was the trains wouldnt complete the loop so the loop was removed, It was now just the tallest and fastest coaster in the world, in total the ride cost up to $30 million and is known to be one of the biggest flops in theme park history.   

The 2000's

In addition to Son of Beast, the 2000 season saw the debut of the park's first Halloween event, FearFest.  Parts of Rivertown and Hanna-Barbera Land were transformed into Nickelodeon Central in 2001.  Highlighting the new attractions in Nickelodeon was the world's first junior inverted roller coaster, Runaway Reptar (now Flying Ace Aerial Chase). The ride is made by Vekoma was 49ft high and had a top speed of 26mph the coaster went down so well they built the same coaster in carowinds a year later. 

The 2001 season began a current run of 11 consecutive years Kings Island has received the prestigious Golden Ticket Award for Best Kids' Area in the World. The Gold Pass was introduced which give guest a full years pass into the park for one price. A major new attraction opened in 2002 in Rivertown, Tomb Raider: The Ride.   Another world's first was added in 2003 when the park introduced Delirium, Delirium is a Giant Frisbee ride Designed by HUSS Park Attractions, the ride first opened on April 12, 2003, as the largest Frisbee ride of its kind in the world.The ride is able to swing 50 passengers up to 76 miles per hour  reaching a height of 137 feet above ground.

The Beast celebrated its 25th Anniversary season in 2004. The Beast has accumulated the following statistics since it opened in 1979

- Each of the trains has traveled a total of more than 898,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of 35 times around the world

- More than 52 million rides have been taken by park visitors, the third-most in park history.

- 1980 was the record year for the most number of rides. There were 2,150,353!

- July 17, 1981 was the record day, with 20,885 riders.

- The record hour was 1,680 on June 15, 1980 (Normal capacity is 1,000).

In 2004, The Beast was given the Coaster Landmark Award by the American Coaster Enthusiasts club, an award designed to recognize coasters of historical significance. 

A refurbished and expanded waterpark also opened that season, Boomerang Bay.  The Italian Job: Stunt Track roller coaster (now Backlot Stunt Coaster) debuted in 2005.  On June 30, 2006, Kings Island and the four other Paramount Parks were sold to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company for $1.25 billion.  The park celebrated its 35th anniversary and introduced Halloween Haunt in 2007.   In 2009, the park unveiled the tallest and fastest roller coaster to ever strike Kings Island, The Bolliger & Mabillard $22million 230ft 80mph Diamondback. In Construction swan lake was cleared and drained of water and filled with concrete, the last piece was added in Jan 2009 and testing begin in Feb 2009 and the ride was ready and handed over to kings island in April 2009, Kings island would setup a first rider auction The winners of the auction would be given a commemorative first rider ticket, a special gift from the park, and an admission ticket. All money raised from the auction would go to A Kid Again,The first rider auction raised $102,000. The first 256 seats were auctioned off. The average bid was $398 per seat  

The world's best kids' area received a fresh new look with a timeless classic in 2010 with Planet Snoopy. 

2010+

The next decade of world-class thrills, fun and family entertainment opened with a bang in 2011 with the addition of WindSeeker manufactured by Mondial, a 301-foot-tall tower swing ride, and the world's largest animatronic dinosaur park, Dinosaurs Alive 3D was also introduced to the Action Theater presented in Dolby 3D.​

2012: Soak City was announced in September , as the new name for Boomerang Bay. The Australian theme was dropped. When all the updates had finish there was a total of 30 water slides and additions included a second larger wave pool along with sand-volleyball courts and a completely revamped lazy river 1,000 lounge chairs new family changing rooms, more secluded shade-covered areas and cabanas that feature televisions and fans, including a party cabana and a number of premium cabanas.

2013 news started of a new ride, The ride would occupy the area where the son of beast once stood. Son of beast closed in 2009 after many problems and was taken down in 2012 where the land was empty for a year, so what would this new ride be?In 2014 Banshee the longest inverted roller coaster in the world opened the 167ft coaster hits a top speed of 68mph with 7 inversions costing $24 million. This is the second Bolliger & Mabillard coaster at the park and boy did it deliver, this took kings island coaster count to 14,

The 15th coaster came in 2017 Mystic Timbers, a wooden coaster manufactured by Great Coasters International (GCI).On the night of the announcement, 1,000 park guests waited two hours in advance to attend the evening event inside the park. It was revealed that the new attraction would be a roller coaster named Mystic Timber this would be the 4th wooden coaster at the park overall and Kings Island would reclaim the title of having the longest collection of wooden roller coaster track in the world at 18,804 feet, The only thing that was kept a secret was the final element with is enclosed in a shed, So the ride was heavily marketed on WHATS IN THE SHED. The GCI coaster won the Goldern ticket awards in 2017 for best new ride,

WinterFest Will Return November 2018  it will make its return after a twelve-year hiatus 

Imagine an old-fashioned winter…rosy-cheeked skaters gliding under twinkling lights, the magic of dazzling holiday shows and carolers in traditional costumes, shops filled with ornaments, trinkets and toys, the aroma of freshly-baked treats and the spirit of everyone’s favorite season captured in an atmosphere of warmth and nostalgia – a place where memories of holidays past are present; a place where memories of holidays now are waiting to be made. Ring in the holidays with the return of WinterFest at Kings Island on select nights in November and December. It’s an unforgettable experience with the park transformed into enchanting winter wonderlands featuring ice skating on the Royal Fountain, the Eiffel Tower transformed into a magical Christmas tree, rides including Mystic Timbers, millions of lights and holiday characters spreading merriment, like Jack Frost and Sugar Plum Fairy.

Kings Island History

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