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Park Tribute

Euphoric Feeling

The crowds continued to come in enormous numbers. Having 25,000 up to 40,000 visitors every day the rest of our first season was not unusual. It was a euphoric feeling to say the least. Every day was spectacular. People were amazed at the park. In our region, they had never seen anything like Kings Island. It was huge, entertaining, exciting and fun. We offered new attractions such as the Racer Roller Coaster (the first wooden coaster to be built since 1947). The Racer launched the renaissance of the wooden rollercoaster. Since 1972, over 1,000 coasters have been built, and I believe this resurgence was due to the enormous success of the Racer. Not only was it a new wooden roller coaster, it was a double racing coaster! The weight of the passengers in each train determined the winner of the race. There really were so many “firsts” associated with Kings Island’s opening year. It is difficult to list them all.

Oh and, yes, on the final day of the season when we closed, our attendance count was 2,012,000! We were the first regional theme park to break the two million attendance barrier in an opening year. So, you can probably guess what we did. We had another speaker phone conversation with the Six Flags team. They asked what our final attendance was …2,012,000 we told them. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. It was fantastic! Those times were memories I will always cherish.

Dennis Speigel is president of International Theme Park Services, a full-service management/consulting firm. As well as Kings Island, he has served in senior positions at Cincinnati’s original Coney Island, Kings Dominion (Richmond, Valencia) and the leisure division of Taft Broadcasting. A past president of IAAPA, last winter he was presented with an IAAPA Service Award in recognition of his dedication to the association and the industry. Reach him via

King Island as it is today

Still going strong

During its existence, Kings Island has had five owners, Taft Broadcasting, Kings Entertainment, American Financial, Paramount Parks and Cedar Fair, which has been at the helm since 2006.

As the park celebrates its 40th anniversary season in 2012, attractions like the Racer rollercoaster and Grand Carousel are still going strong. Yet when Kings Island opened there were just over 60 attractions for the public’s entertainment. Now, after four

decades of capital investment representing in excess of $250 million, there are more than 100 for guests to enjoy, including a waterpark. In 1972, five themed areas were highlighted. Today there are seven. The employment opportunities have changed dramatically as well. Where it once took 1,300 employees to operate the park on any given day during the inaugural season, approximately 4,000 are needed to keep the 364-acre facility in operation today.

The changes have not been limited to the park itself. The surrounding area, once farmland, now thrives with commercial and retail businesses, as well as increasing population of homes. During the past 40 years, a day out to Kings Island has become an annual tradition for many families across the Midwest United States, with 120 million visits recorded since 1972. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, Cedar Fair is expanding and rebranding King Island’s waterpark as Soak City, as well as adding three new live shows. Remember When: The 70's! is a song and dance revue featuring songs from the decade Kings Island was born, British Invasion features the music of The Beatles, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Queen and many other, while for kids and families there's is Charlie Brown's All-Stars. MAY 2012 37

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