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Kings Island History

Please Note: This timeline of Kings Island History is not 100% completed as we find out new information often. If you find any history out about Kings Island, please let us know if you don’t see it below! Thanks!

1964

  • Coney Island, a popular amusement park on the banks of the Ohio River suffered from a major flood that left the park under 14 feet of water.

1968

  • The owners of Coney Island, the Wachs family, began to explore options of relocating the park. The need arose when a park being built across the river in Kentucky was announced.

1969

  • The Wachs family in July, sold Coney Island to the Taft Broadcasting Company for $6.5 million.
  • Taft Broadcasting Company bought 1,600 acres for $3.2 million in Warren County, Ohio for the purpose of building one of the finest amusement/theme parks in the country, Kings Island!

1970

  • On June 15, the Taft Broadcasting Company broke ground to being the construction of Kings Island, with Charles V. Maescher & Co. Construction firm to work on the project.
  • At the end of 1970, the Eiffel Tower, Royal Fountains and Racer roller coaster were doing well while under construction.
  • The park was named Kings Island after the town of Kings Mills, in which the park was built and after it’s famous roots of Coney Island.
  • Only 150 of the 1,600 acres were utilized at this time.

1971

  • The Eiffel Tower, Royal Fountains and Racer Roller coaster were completed by the fall.
  • The rides from Coney Island had been transported and installed by Thanksgiving including, Dodgem, Scrambler, Monster, Rotor, Log Flume, Sky Ride, Tumblebug and Flying Scooters.

1972

  • Kings Island opened to the public on April 29, 1972 after two years of construction.
  • The Racer and the Enchanted Voyage (a dark ride through Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon land) became the flagship rides.
  • Enchanted Voyage was the most expensive attraction at the park with the price tag of $2 million!
  • The rides at the park were highly popular including the Wild Mouse, the Scooby-Doo roller coaster, the Spider and the Kings Island & Miami Valley Rail Road.

1973

  • April 18 of this year the park announced that it had completed a $6 million expansion project that included three new rides, The Flying Dutchmen, the Bayern Kurve and a 2nd log flume. The expansion also included a new games arcade, a 1/2 mile nature trail, a sit down restaurant specializing in chicken dishes and sourdough bread.
  • An episode of The Partridge Family aired an episode that was shot entirely at the park in 1972 called, “I Left My Heart in Cincinnati.” This brought the park into the national spotlight.
  • This year, the Brade Bunch cast shot an episode at the park in August.

 

1974

  • A fifth themed area was added this year, the 100 acre Lion County Safari (that was later renamed to Wild Animal Habitat).
  • The Lion County Safari developers decided during construction to add a monorail ride to view the habitats.
  • Karl Wallenda, 69 years old, broke a record doing a high wire walk at Kings Island.

1975

  • Evel Knievel jumped over 14 Greyhound buses on his motorcycle in the parking lot of Kings Island in October 25th. This set a new world record.
  • Zodiac was added to the park.
  • A double Ferris Wheel was added to the park.
  • The world’s largest floral hanging basket weight approximately eight tons was added to the landscaping of the park.

1976

  • Kings Island’s air theatre collapsed following a heavy snow storm, imposing construction on a new theatre.
  • The American Heritage Music Hall was built at the cost of $1.8 million. The AHMH was renamed later to Kings Island Theater.
  • A fun fact about the air theatre, before each live show, someone gave a speech that “In case of sudden loss of air pressure, everyone should lie down on the floor and blow up at the ceiling!”
  • On July 4th, the park held a bicentennial celebration that got Time Magazine’s attention.
  • Racer became the one and only ride to have more than 3 million riders in one season, with a total of 3,681,338 riders.

1977

  • The park added a major new attraction, the Screamin’ Demon. It was the first steel looping coaster in the United States that ran forward and backwards.
  • The outdoor International Showplace Theater was constructed with a 1,700 seat capacity. The Theatre was dedicated by Dick Van Dyke.
  • The Fascination game building in Coney Mall was new this year.
  • The park also introduced it’s now famous thick-cut fry location in Rivertown with the new food spot of Rivertown Potato Works.

1978

  • The park added the new Tower Gardens area.
  • A new electronic shooting gallery was new for the season.
  • The wildlife preserve became home to 15 black-footed penguins from Africa.
  • Jonathan Winters became the park commercial spokesperson.

1979

  • The “Biggest, Baddest, Longest, Fastest roller coaster in the world,” The Beast opened after three years of planning, designing and construction by park personnel.

1980

  • The Beast saw some work with a re-banking of parts of the track, the 540-degree helix-turn was enclosed and two of the main tunnels were joined.
  • The Beast souvenir shop opened near the ride.
  • A wine and cheese shop opened in the Oktoberfest area.

1981

  • A totally new concept steel roller coaster at the price of $3.8 million was brought to Kings Island. The Bat was it’s name and it was a prototype suspended roller coaster featuring free swinging cars that “flew” over 50 miles per hour while hanging under the track.
  • Jugglers and magicians were added to unexpectedly entertain the guests throughout the park this year.

1982

  • Viking Fury swinging ship debuted this year.
  • Hanna-Barbera Land was expanded with a $2.1 million renovation project.
  • The Racer had one of it’s trains turned around to travel in the backwards direction, while the other side remained traveling forward.
  • The 10,000 seat TimberWolf Amphitheater was added this year to bring top name concert acts to the area, with Air Supply holding the inaugural concert on July 9th.
  • Kings Island became the first amusement/theme park in the country to open for winter holidays. Winterfest exceeded park officials expectations with over 271,000 visitors during the six-week operation.
  • The new $2.5 million German Festhaus opened during Winterfest.

1983

  • The new German Festhaus featured live entertainment and international food selections.
  • The entire Oktoberfest themed area was refurbished.

1984

  • The park unveiled King Cobra, another United States first, a stand-up steel looping roller coaster.
  • The Enchanted Voyage ride was re-themed to feature new adventures of the Smurfs. The Smurfs could also be found at the front gate greeting visitors.
  • Although popular with guests, the Bat was dismantled and removed due to continual mechanical difficulties.

1985

  • White Water Canyon, a $4 million rapid river ride, was added to the park this year. It was designed just for Kings Island by Intamin, Inc.
  • Later in the season, coin-operated “geyser” machines were added to allow spectators to soak riders as well.

1986

  • The Coney Mall section of the park, built in remembrance of Coney Island, was expanded with several additions.
  • Skylab, a 90 foot high wheel was added to Coney Mall.
  • The Zephyr swing ride was added to Coney Mall.
  • The Dodgem bumper cars located in Coney Mall were refurbished.
  • The Cinema 180 Theatre was added to the end of Coney Mall, where the 60 by 30 foot high screen was designed to make viewers feel as though they were in on the action.

1987

Vortex, a steel roller coaster that turns riders upside down 6 times (more than any other ride in the world) opened.

  • The first ice skating show, “Hot Ice,” at Kings Island was presented in the German Festhaus.
  • Park attendance grew to over 3 million for the first time.

1988

  • With the success of White Water Canyon, the park installed Amazon Falls.
  • A new 3-D movie, “Sea Dream” was added to the park’s entertainment package.

1989

  • A new 12-acre themed area of water attractions, WaterWorks opened at Kings Island. WaterWorks was a $4.2 million addition.
  • The Beast celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary.
  • Attendance once again was over 3 million visitors.
  • A two-day ticket was introduced.

1990

  • Flight Commander, a flight simiulator ride where riders were able to control their capsule by going into climbs, dives and barrel rolls opened.
  • The American Heritage Music Hall presented a new live show called “It’s Magic.”

1991

  • Adventure Express was added to the park this year featuring an adventure complete with special lighting, sound and mechanical effects.
  • Lazer Maze was added this year.
  • Olympic figure skating medalist, Debi Thomas performed for guests on the International Street ice rink during Winterfest.
  • Cast members from “Beverly Hills 90210″ and the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” made special appearance at the park this season.

1992

  • Kings Island celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary.
  • Phantom Theatre, a new haunted ride debuted in the location of the former Enchanted Voyage ride.
  • The Enchanted Theatre for children opened this year.
  • Scooby Zoom coaster opened in Hanna-Barbera Land.
  • An exciting anniversary parade was also celebrated in the park.
  • In August, Paramount Communications, Inc. purchased Kings Island and Kings Entertainment Company to form Paramount Parks.

1993

  • Top Gun (now Flight Deck), the fun-filled suspended roller coaster opened near Lion County Safari.
  • Columbia Palace in Rivertown becomes Wings Diner.
  • Busytown Grill replaced Quickdraw’s Cafe.
  • The German Bier Gardens is re-named Oktoberfest Gardens.
  • The Lion County Safari and monorail is removed at the end of the season.

1994

  • Days of Thunder (later named to  Thunder Alley), an exciting NASCAR racing simulator opened in a theater between Racer’s turnaround.
  • The Wild Animal Habitat becomes Adventure Village.
  • Preston T. Tucker’s Roadside Cafe opened in Coney Mall.
  • Busytown Grill opened in Hanna-Barbera Land.

1995

  • Nickelodeon’s Splat City is added to the park this year with tons of Green Slime.
  • The Skycoaster opened in Adventure Village.

1996

  • The world’s first Linear Induction Motor (LIM) launch roller coaster opened under the name of Outer Limits: Flight of Fear in Coney Mall. Outer Limits: Flight of Fear sends riders over 3,000 feet of track in complete darkness.
  • The XS Raceway (later renamed to the late Thunder Alley) go-kart attraction opened in Adventure Village.

1997

  • Kings Island celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary Season.
  • WaterWorks increased it’s size to 15 acres with the addition of Surfside Bay, a wave pool that was dubbed to be the only place to surf in the Midwest. A child’s water play area was also added named Buccaneer Island.

1998

  • Hanna-Barbera Land saw a big refurbishment with the addition to Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster, Yogi’s Sky Tours, Atom Ant’s Airways.
  • The Wipeout Beach surfing area was added to WaterWorks.
  • Days of Thunder was renamed to Paramount Action FX Theater and featured a new film, James Bond 007: A License to Thrill.

1999

  • Adventure Village turned into the new Paramount Action Zone with the addition of the new Face/Off inverted looping roller coaster and the Drop Zone Stunt Tower as a part of a two-year capital expansion program.
  • Construction began on a major new attraction.
  • On July 8th, the park announced the record-breaking roller coaster, Son of Beast. The ride was the world’s tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster.

2000

  • Son of Beast is introduced as the world’s tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster after a massive two-year $40 million capital expansion program.
  • FearFest debuted as the first Halloween event in the park’s history.

2001

  • Areas of Rivertown and Hanna-Barbera Land were re-themed into Nickelodeon Central.
  • New attractions to Nickelodeon Central were the Rugrats Runaway Reptar (the world’s first inverted roller coaster for kids) and the Wild Thornberry’s River Adventure (a re-theme of the Log Flume).
  • The Outer Limits: Flight of Fear is renamed Flight of Fear.
  • The 7th Portal became the new attraction in the Action FX Theater.
  • This was the final season for the roller coaster, King Cobra.
  • Gold Season passes are introduced.

2002

  • Kings Island celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary season.
  • Tomb Raider: The Ride, a heavily-themed immersive dark ride adventure opened after a collaborative effort between Paramount Studios and Kings Island.
  • Construction began in July for a new dark ride experience for 2003.

2003

  • The park introduced three new attractions with something for each member of the family in the new attractions. Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Castle (a new dark ride), Delirium (the world’s first HUSS Giant Frisbee) and Spongebob Squarepants 3-D (in the Action FX Theater).
  • The fountain on International Street was rebuilt.
  • In September high winds destroyed the park’s marquee sign located off of Kings Island Drive.

2004

  • The Beast celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary season with an anniversary video playing in the Beast’s queue line.
  • WaterWorks was renamed to Crocodile Dundee’s Boomerang Bay Waterpark (later renamed to Boomerang Bay Waterpark).
  • The Paramount Theater (now Kings Island Theater) was renovated and featured a new live show, “The Magic of the Movies.”
  • The Nickelodeon Parade debuted in July.

2005

  • The Italian Job: Stunt Track opened as a new and fully themed action stunt car experience in Coney Mall.
    Happy Days Diner replaced Preston T. Tucker’s Roadside Cafe.
    Chick-Fil-A, Graeter’s Ice Cream and Starbucks opened in the park.
    Winterfest returned in November for the first time in more than a decade, however this was the only season it returned.

2006

  • Nickelodeon Central underwent a makeover to become Nickelodeon Universe.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, Phantom Flyers and Plankton’s Plunge were added along with two new themed sections to Nickelodeon Universe.
  • June 30th, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company purchased Kings Island and other Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation for $1.25 Billion.

2007

  • Kings Island celebrated it’s 35th Anniversary season.
  • Firehawk, Ohio’s only flying coaster was introduced.
  • An ice show was brought back to the Paramount Theatre.
  • FearFest was upgraded to Halloween Haunt and became more immersive.
  • Dead Awakening debuted in the International Showplace Theatre for Halloween Haunt.

2008

  • Kings Island announced new names for several rides and attractions. Drop Zone was renamed to Drop Tower; Top Gun to Flight Deck; Italian Job: Stunt Track to Backlot Stunt Coaster; Face/Off to Invertigo; Tomb Raider: The Ride to The Crypt; Days of Thunder to Thunder Alley; Paramount Theatre to Kings Island Theater; FX Theatre to Action Theatre; and Bubba Gump Shrimp Shack to Outer Hanks.
  • Daredevil Robbie Knievel jumped his motorcycle over 24 Coke Zero trucks in the parking lot and set a new world record.
  • Rick Wallenda set a new record with a 2,000 foot skywalk from the Eiffel Tower, over the Fountain to the Front Gate and back.
  • The Kings Island Hall of Fame was created to honor park associates who made a difference and extraordinary contributions during their years of service at the park.
  • Howl-O-Fest, a family-friendly Halloween event was added to the fall lineup.
  • Mysterious Construction was noted in Rivertown and Swan Lake was drained.

2009

  • The park introduced Diamondback, the tallest, fastest and meanest roller coaster to ever strike Kings Island. Diamondback was constructed for $22 million. The steel roller coaster stands 230 feet at it’s highest point.
  • The park set a new amusement/theme park record for the most money raised for a first riders auction when over $107,000 was raised for the organization, A Kid Again.
  • The Beast celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary season.
  • Nik Wallenda completed a new world record with a 262-foot high sky walk over the fountains on International Street.
  • Gary Wachs and Rich Walburg were inducted into the Kings Island Hall of Fame.
  • Hot Blooded, a live stage show highlighted the new attractions for Halloween Haunt.

2010

  • Kings Island’s award-winning kids area received yet again a new fresh look with a timeless classic. Planet Snoopy debuted with more than 18 themed PEANUTS rides and attractions, including a stage show and character meet-and-greets.
  • Boo Blasters on Boo Hill, an interactive-family dark ride opened on International Street.
  • New live shows were added including: Sign, Sealed, Delivered! in the International Showplace Theater, Way Too Much TV in the Festhaus and Snoopy Rocks on Ice in the Kings Island theater.
  • Kings Island raised a total of $185,000 for Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati affiliate through a new campaign: Kings Island for the Cure.
  • Lewis Johnson and Rob Pottorf were inducted into the Kings Island Hall of Fame.

2011

  • Coney Mall received a refurbishment and two new major attractions. WindSeeker, a $5 million 301-foot tall tower swing ride was added between Vortex and one of the Racer turnarounds. Dinosaurs Alive! was added to become the world’s largest animatronic dinosaur park that features more than 60 life-sized dinosaurs on a 12.5 acre Jurassic forest like plot of land next to Firehawk and Racer.
  • The park raised $219,000 for Susan G. Komen with Kings Island for the Cure campaign.
  • A family-oriented Halloween event was introduced for the fall, Trick-or-Treat with the Dinosaurs.

2012

  • Kings Island celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary season.
  • Soak City Waterpark replaced Boomerang Bay with a $10 million expansion. The expansion featured more than 50 water activities, including 30 water slides, tropical lagoons, rushing rivers and surfable waves. The lazy river was turned into Splash River an action river that leaves it’s guests soaked. A new 650,000 gallon wave pool, Tidal Wave Bay was added.
  • Four new live shows were added this year: “Yesterday Once More: The 70’s,” “British Invasion,” “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars” and “Ed Alonzo’s Psycho Circus of Magic & Mayhem.

2013

  • TBD

2014

  • TBD

2015

  • TBD