Kings Island is a amusement park located northeast of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio. It is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. The park first opened in 1972 by the Taft Broadcasting Company in an effort to move and expand Coney Island, a popular resort destination along the banks of the Ohio River that was prone to frequent flooding. After more than $275 million in capital investments, the park features over 80 rides, shows and attractions including 14 and a water park.
Throughout its history, Kings Island has appeared in popular sitcoms and has been highly publicized for its record-breaking attractions and events. One of the park's most well-known attractions, The Racer, is often credited with reviving worldwide interest in the roller coaster industry during the 1970s. Other attractions such as The Beast and Banshee set new world records including some that are still held. The park has also suffered through times of negative publicity particularly regarding the early demise of roller coasters The Bat and Son of Beast.
Kings Island is divided into several themed sections. The seasonal amusement park is open from April through Labor Day and reopens for a short time on weekends beginning in September for Halloween-themed events. In 2013, Kings Island was the second-most visited seasonal amusement park in the United States behind Cedar Point with an estimated 3.2 million visitors. It was third overall for seasonal attendance in North America which was led by Canada's Wonderland. Kings Island has won Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for having the "Best Kids' Area" in the world for thirteen consecutive years (2001–2013).
Leading the way was Gary Wachs, son of Coney Island president Ralph Wachs, who with friends and family owned a majority of stock. He decided it was time to relocate the park to stay competitive. After years of research and traveling abroad, he presented ideas for a new theme park to the company's board of directors. Some board members opposed relocating, including significant stockholder Charles Sawyer. It wasn't taken seriously until 1968, when actor Fess Parker announced plans to build a theme park in Northern Kentucky – well within Coney Island's primary market that extended as far south as Louisville. The announcement highlighted the need for change and gave Wachs' proposal credibility within the organization.
Gary met with the president of Taft Broadcasting Company, a business interested in promoting its recently acquired Hanna-Barbera division, to discuss a possible merger. After receiving support, Fess Parker's efforts to secure financing fell apart along with his plans to build a competing theme park. In July 1969, Taft Broadcasting Company purchased Coney Island for $6.5 million and soon after purchased in Warren County, Ohio, for $3.2 million. It still owns of that purchase. The site is located between I-71 and the Little Miami River in what was then a part of Deerfield Township.
Less than two years after breaking ground, Kings Island opened its gates to the public on April 29, 1972. It was the first of several preview events. The grand opening came the following month on May 27, 1972.
At the heart of the amusement park, visitors are greeted by International Street which lies just beyond the main entrance. The area's main attractions include the Royal Fountain, a capable of shooting of water into the air each minute, and the signature Eiffel Tower, a 1/3 scale replica of the original which offers a view of the entire park to its guests. Also located here is Grand Carousel, Kings Island Theater and a variety of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Arguably, the most crowd-pleasing attraction featured at the park in its early days was The Racer, a wooden roller coaster consisting of two trains that race each other side-by-side on identical tracks. Designed by legendary designer John C. Allen, 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.Racer ACE Coaster.jpg Other roller coasters present on opening day in 1972 were the Bavarian Beetle, a small steel coaster brought over from Coney Island, and a new junior wooden coaster in the Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera originally named Scooby-Doo.
Kings Island was nationally promoted in two well-known sitcoms on ABC. Each filmed an episode on location at the park: The Partridge Family in 1972 and The Brady Bunch the following year in 1973. The Brady Bunch was produced by Paramount Studios, a large Taft shareholder. In later years, Kings Island changed ownership several times. Taft sold its theme park division in 1984 for $167.5 million, to Kings Entertainment Company (KECO), a company formed by senior executives and general managers of Taft Attractions Group. Three parks—Kings Island, Kings Dominion and Carowinds—were involved in the sale. Taft invested in KECO to retain one-third interest. Three years later in 1987, Kings Island was sold individually to American Financial Corporation, led by Carl Lindner. The deal included a contract with KECO to continue managing park operations. KECO purchased Great America in 1989.
In 1997, a year after leaving Deerfield Township, the city of Mason annexed most of Kings Island. A temporary measure allowed for some land to remain in Deerfield in an attempt to appease park officials and reduce the impact on the township. The rest would be annexed in 1999. On June 14, 2005, Viacom announced intentions to split into two companies (Viacom and CBS Corporation) with CBS inheriting Paramount Parks. Seven months later, on January 26, 2006, CBS announced that the theme parks were for sale.
In late 2009, the Mason City Council decided to put a measure on its 2010 ballot that would mandate a 3-percent ticket tax and a 5-percent parking tax at both Kings Island and The Beach waterpark. Council member Tony Bradburn argued that it was necessary for the city to help pay for infrastructure improvements, as well as cover police and fire expenses. This proposed tax hike was the center of debate for several months. Kings Island actively encouraged the public to write, email and call Mason City Council representatives to express opposition. On February 8, 2010, the Mason City Council voted 5–1 against the measure.
Early in its tenure after purchasing Kings Island, Paramount unveiled Top Gun, a suspended roller coaster built by Arrow Dynamics that opened in 1993 next to the habitat attraction. Titled after a film of the same name, it was the first ride to be added to the park with a Paramount theme. For the following season in 1994, Paramount rethemed the entire area as Adventure Village and removed both the monorail ride and animal habitat. In 1999, a two-year expansion initiative began with the area's renaming to Action Zone and the addition of two new attractions – and Face/Off. When it debuted, Action Zone resembled a movie stunt set featuring a water tower as the centerpiece. The water tower was originally part of a skit with stunts and special effects that imitated a live movie set with a director and stunt performers. The performance depicted a stunt crew on a tower coming under heavy gunfire and escaping on a zip line, with the final performer falling as the tower was exploding.
In the second year of the area's two-year expansion, Kings Island unveiled Son of Beast, the tallest and fastest of its kind and the first modern-day wooden roller coaster to feature a vertical loop. Due to a number of structural issues and two accidents, the ride closed for good in 2009 and was eventually demolished in 2012. Delirium, once the largest Giant Frisbee ride in the world, opened in 2003 and Banshee, the world's longest inverted roller coaster, opened in 2014 at the former location of Son of Beast.
|Banshee||2014||Bolliger & Mabillard||Inverted Coaster||An inverted roller coaster with seven inversions located in the former location of Thunder Alley and Son of Beast. It is the longest of its kind in the world.||5|
|The Bat||1993||Arrow Dynamics||Suspended||A suspended roller coaster in which free-swinging cars are suspended below the track. Formerly known as Top Gun (1993–2007); Flight Deck (2007-2013)||5|
|Congo Falls||1988||Intamin||Shoot-the-Chute||A Shoot-the-Chute water ride with a 34' drop. The ride opened as Amazon Falls (1988–1999) and was later renamed Congo Falls after the Paramount movie Congo.||4|
|Delirium||2003||HUSS||Giant Frisbee||A Giant Frisbee ride that swings riders at an angle of 120° creating a maximum arc of 240°, lifting riders into the air. Riders reach speeds up to .||5|
|1999||Intamin||Gyro Drop||A rotating drop tower ride which at is the tallest of its kind in the world (although sister park Kings Dominion has one with a longer drop that does not rotate). Formerly known as Drop Zone: Stunt Tower (1999–2007).||4|
|Invertigo||1999||Vekoma||Invertigo||An inverted Boomerang roller coaster. Formerly known as FACE/OFF (1999–2007).||5|
|Xtreme Skyflyer||1995||SKY FUN 1 INC.||Dual Swing||Pay-per-ride Double Skycoaster with a dive of .||5|
|Action Theater||1994||A 3-D theater. It is used in conjunction with Dinosaurs Alive! Formerly known as The Paramount Action F/X Theater (1998–2008) and Days Of Thunder (1994–1997).|
|Backlot Stunt Coaster||2005||Premier Rides||LIM Terrain Following Coaster||A launched roller coaster based on a chase sequence in the 2003 film The Italian Job. Riders launch into a parking garage, dodge police cars, and are attacked by a helicopter which ignites fire all around riders before hitting a second launch section, sending riders into darkness. Formerly known as The Italian Job: Stunt Track (2005–2007).||5|
|Preston & Barbieri||Majestic Manufacturing (Azzurra)||Special 2-seater from Italy with working headlights, taillights, rear-view mirrors and hazard flashers. Operated at Coney Island (1924–1971). Remodeled 1986.||4|
|Dinosaurs Alive!||2011||Dinosaurs Unearthed||Dinosaurs Alive!||This pay-per-entry attraction is the world's largest animatronic dinosaur park, stretching along a path featuring more than 60 life-sized dinosaurs. Four have interactive consoles that help show guests how scientists believe the animal moved. The attraction features a replica of an excavation site as well as a paleontological dig site for children.|
|Monster||1972||Everly Aircraft Co.||Everly Monster||Traditional Octopus ride that spins in three different circles at the same time. It quickly raises and lowers riders as their cars spin. Operated at Coney Island (1969–1971).||3|
|Scrambler||1972||Eli Bridge Company||Scrambler – Traditional Deluxe||Traditional amusement park Twist ride. 3 arms spin riders giving them the sensation of almost hitting the wall. Operated at Coney Island (1969–1971).||3|
|Shake, Rattle and Roll||1975||HUSS||Troika||A classic spinning ride. Formerly known as Troika||3|
|The Racer||1972||Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters||Wooden racing roller coaster.||The trains on one track were changed to ride backward in 1982, but in 2008, the original behavior was restored.||4|
|Vortex||1987||Arrow Dynamics||Mega Looper||A steel custom looping roller coaster that opened as the world record holder for most inversions, with six, but was superseded the following year by Six Flags Great America's Shockwave.||5|
|WindSeeker||2011||Mondial||Wind Seeker||A flat ride featuring two-person swings that slowly rotate and ascends the tower until reaching the top where speeds increase up to . After several delays, it opened June 21.||4|
|Zephyr||1986||Zierer||Wave Swinger||A suspended swing ride that rotates with a wave motion lifting riders up to in the air.||3|
|Firehawk||2007||Vekoma||Flying Dutchman||A (1018 m) flying roller coaster. Firehawk is located directly beside Flight of Fear. The ride carries the same theme as it did as "X-Flight," a government flight prototype looking for test subjects codenamed Firehawk. This ride was Kings Island's 14th coaster. Operated at Geauga Lake as X-Flight (2001–2006).||5|
|Flight of Fear||1996||Premier Rides||LIM Catapult Coaster||A launched roller coaster prototype. Over-the-shoulder harnesses were removed and replaced with lap bars in 2001. Identical to the same-named coaster that opened at Kings Dominion later that year. Formerly known as Outer Limits: Flight of Fear (1996–2000).||5|
|Boo Blasters on Boo Hill||1992||Sally Corporation, D. H. Morgan Manufacturing||Ghost Blasters||A family dark ride experience where riders shoot laser guns at ghosts and ghouls. The building formerly housed Enchanted Voyage (1972–1983) and Smurf's Enchanted Voyage (1984–1991). The former boat ride was transformed into an Omnimover dark ride in 1992 and was named Phantom Theater (1992–2002). In 2003, the ride was re-themed by Sally Corporation and renamed Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Castle (2003–2009). During Hanna-Barbera's 2010 exit, the ride underwent minor changes and became known as Boo Blasters on Boo Hill.||1|
|Eiffel Tower||1972||Intamin||Paris Tower||An approximately one-third scale replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at and 450 tons. The tower was initially , but the structure's top antenna was eventually removed. Kings Dominion has a near-exact replica.||2|
|Grand Carousel||1972||Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters||Carousel #79||The classic Carousel was built in 1926 and is painted with more than 20,000 sheets of 23-karat (96%) gold, 1,000 sheets of sterling silver and 48 hand-carved wooden horses. It features the Wurlitzer Organ #157. Operated at Coney Island (1926–1971).||1|
|Adventure Express||1991||Arrow Dynamics|
|A mine train roller coaster.||5|
(Fixed Foundation Slingshot)
|Pay-per-ride reverse bungee attraction that catapults riders in the air up to in a steel cage that flips multiple times before returning slowly to the platform.||5|
|Swinging pirate ship ride.||3|
Planet Snoopy contains many rides intended for smaller children, including four roller coasters, a skater coaster and a log flume ride. Amusement Today has awarded Kings Island with the Golden Ticket Award for Best Kids' Area in the World for the past fourteen years, 2001–2014. Kings Island's Planet Snoopy was also the largest in the Cedar Fair chain, until 2013 when Kings Dominion opened their expanded Planet Snoopy.
|Character Carousel||1982||Chance Rides|
|Children's carousel. Formerly known as Hanna Barbera Carousel (1982–2005) and Nick-O-Round (2006–2009).||1|
|Charlie Brown's Wind Up||1992||Zamperla||Chair swing ride for children. Formerly known as Pixie and Dixie's Swingset (1992–2005) and Backyardigan's Swing-Along (2006–2009).||1|
|Flying Ace Aerial Chase||2001||Vekoma|
(Suspended family coaster)
|Steel roller coaster for all ages. Formerly known as Rugrats Runaway Reptar (2001–2009). Its top speed is and lasts for roughly 1 minute and 30 seconds.||4|
|Joe Cool's Dodgem School||1976||Jurgen Scmidt, Rivervaze, NJ||Children's bumper cars. Formerly known as Flintstone's Boulder Bumpers (1976–2005) and Jimmy Neutron's Atom Smasher (2006–2009).||2|
|Kite Eating Tree||2006||Zamperla|
|A mini-drop ride that lifts riders into the air that bounces up and down as the ride eventually lowers to the ground. Formerly known as Plankton’s Plunge (2006–2009).||3|
|Linus' Beetle Bugs||1972||William F. Mangels|
|Classic whip ride. Operated at Coney Island (1967–1971). Formerly known as Screecher, Funky Phantom, Alley Cat 500 (1972-2005) and Swiper's Sweepers (2006–2009).||1|
|Formerly known as Danny Phantom's Phantom Flyers (2006–2007) and Phantom Flyers (2006–2009).||3|
|PEANUTS 500||1979||Venture Ride Manufacturer Inc.||Drivable car ride. Formerly known as Mr. Jinks Jalopies (1979–??), Kiddie Turnpike, Fender Bender 500 (??–2005) and Nick Jr. Drivers (2006–2009).||1|
|PEANUTS Off-Road Rally||1972||Hampton Amusement Corporation||Miniature carousel car ride. Operated at Coney Island (1969–1971). Formerly known as Pee Wee Raceway, Motor Mouse and Go Diego Go!.||1|
|Race For Your Life Charlie Brown||1972||Arrow Development/Hopkins Rides||Themed Log Flume ride modeled after the 1977 Peanuts movie. Operated at Coney Island (1968–1971). Closed during the 2000 season, it reopened under a new name and Nickelodeon theme in 2001. Formerly known as Kings Mills Log Flume (1972–1999) and The Wild Thornberrys River Adventure (2001–2009).||4|
|Sally's Sea Plane||1998||Zamperla|
|Formerly known as Atom Ant's Airways (1998–2005) and Timmy's Airtours (2006–2009).||2|
|Snoopy vs. Red Baron||1992||Zamperla|
|Themed after the comic strip featuring Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron. Formerly known as Dick Dastardly's Biplanes (1992–2005) and Blue's Skidoo (2006–2009).||2|
|Snoopy's Junction||1982||Mack Rides||Guided rail train cars. Formerly known as Quick Draw's Railway (1982–2005) and La Adventura de Azul (2006–2009).||1|
|Snoopy's Space Buggies||2015||Zamperla|
|A circular flat ride on which vehicles attached to a central console bounce up and down. Built by Zamperla.|
|Surfboard themed ride that spins as it glides over a ramp. Formerly known as Avatar: The Last Airbender (2006–2009).||4|
|The Great Pumpkin Coaster||1992||E&F Miler Industries||A junior steel roller coaster that takes riders up a small hill through a series of dips and then circles back around to complete the circuit for a second time. The ride lasts for roughly 52 seconds. The queue area used to be the loading area for the Enchanted Voyage ride. Formerly known as Scooby Zoom (1992–1997), Top Cat's Taxi Jam (1998–2005) and Little Bill's Giggle Coaster (2006–2009).||2|
|Woodstock Express||1972||Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters||A family-targeted wooden roller coaster. The ride lasts for roughly 1 minute and 30 seconds. Formerly known as Scooby Doo (1972–1979), Beastie (1980–2005) and Fairly Odd Coaster (2006–2009).||4|
|Woodstock Gliders||2015||Larson International|
|A flying eagles ride with eight carriages that each have a paddle, enabling guests to change the movement of their carriage.|
|Woodstock's Whirlybirds||1998||Caripro Amusement Technology||Helicopter-themed sky tram. Formerly known as Yogi's Sky Tours (1998–2005) and Lazytown Sportacopters (2006–2009).||1|
|Diamondback||2009||Bolliger & Mabillard|
|A steel roller coaster that is tall and long with a top speed of . Kings Island's first hypercoaster, Diamondback spans of terrain and features a unique splashdown water effect ending.||5|
|Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad||1972||Crown Metal Products Company Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad official website|
( narrow gauge 4-4-0 Steam Train)
|A steam locomotive ride that travels in a loop that provides transportation between the main park and Soak City. Before the water park and its station were built, the train ride was a narrated excursion, traversing open fields and wooded areas with multiple props themed to the old west, small buildings and a fort. The trains are scale replicas of the famous 1800s locomotive known as The General. The two trains are named "Kenny Van Meter" (Blue Train, Engine 12) and "Lew Brown" (Green Train, Engine 19), formerly "Tecumseh" and "Simon Kenton" respectively. The Rivertown station is also known as "Losantiville Station".||1|
|The Beast||1979||Kings Island||A wooden roller coaster constructed and designed internally by the Kings Island's Engineering & Construction department which consistently remains a top roller coaster among many industry experts and enthusiasts. When it first opened, it held virtually every major record for roller coasters (tallest, fastest and longest). As of 2014, it still holds the record as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world according to Guinness World Records. The ride takes advantage of the hilly terrain and has two separate chain lifts throughout the course.||5|
|White Water Canyon||1985||Intamin|
|River rafting ride that takes riders on a winding course through the densely wooded terrain in Kings Island's Rivertown. Riders are placed in circular inner-tube rafts that seat up to six. Whirlpools, hidden geysers and wave makers randomly soak riders along the route. It is one of the longest rides in the park at 5 minutes and 20 seconds.||4|
|Action Theater||1994||Coney Mall||Dinosaurs Alive! 3D|
|Festhaus||1982||Oktoberfest||The Boyz Are Back (2014–Present), Rock & Roll Never Forgets (2013–Present)|
|International Showplace||1972||International Street||Flashback: Totally 80's (2014–Present)|
|International Street Bandstand||1972||International Street||Playlist Live! (2013–Present) Peanuts Party in the Plaza (2011–Present)||Formerly known as Royal Fountain Bandstand|
|Kings Island Theater||1976||International Street||Cirque Imagine (2014–Present)||Formerly known as American Heritage Music Hall and Paramount Theater. Renovated in 2004 with new seating and digital projection.|
|PEANUTS Playhouse||2006||Planet Snoopy||Charlie Brown's Hoedown (2014)||Formerly known as Nickelodeon Theater (2006–2008), Putz HQ (2009)|
|Timberwolf Amphitheatre||1982||Action Zone||Formerly known as Stadium of the Stars (1982–??)|
|Carnevil (formerly Circus of Horrors 3D)||Indoor||2001||Planet Snoopy|
|Cemetery Drive||Outdoor||2014||International Street|
|Club Blood||Indoor||2006||Action Zone|
|Backwoods Bayou||Outdoor||2013||International Street|
|Board to Death(formerly Death Row, The Asylum, Maze of Madness, Mysteria)||Indoor||2013||Coney Maul/X-Base|
|Delta Delta Die (formerly R.L. Stine's Fear Street Nights, Massacre Manor)||Indoor||2013||Coney Maul|
|Kill Mart||Indoor||2014||Coney Maul|
|Madame Fatale's Cavern of Terror||Indoor||2012||Rivertown|
|Nightmare Alley||Outdoor||2014||International Street|
|Tombstone Terror-Tory (formerly Headless Hollow)||Outdoor||2005||Rivertown|
|Urgent Scare||Indoor||2008||Coney Maul|
|Wolf Pack||Indoor||2010||Action Zone|
|Blood Drums||Action Zone||A percussion, music, sparks and lights show.|
|Hot Blooded||International Showplace||A rock n' roll show.|
On January 11, 2012, the amusement park and cemetery were featured on season 8, episode 1 of Ghost Hunters entitled Roller Ghoster. The show investigated claims of haunted occurrences inside the park and around the cemetery, particularly of a ghost reportedly known as "Missouri Jane." Warren County Genealogical Society records document a grave for a Missouri Jane Galeenor, who died in 1846 at age five.