Paramount's Kings Island (PKI) is a top rated amusement park located near Cincinnati, Ohio in King Mills, Ohio. Opened on April 29, 1972 with three roller coasters at the time: Scooby Doo (renamed to Beastie) and Racer, both wooden, and Bavarian Beetle, steel. Originally the park opened with five themed areas: Coney Island, Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera, Rivertown, Oktoberfest, and International Street. Few people recollect memories from this earliest openings of a legendary park but one common memory was marching bands on International Street when they hosted a daily parade.
Jeff Gramke, chief engineer for the park, listed highlights from the park's history during its 30 year anniversary: Evel Knievel, the Partridge Family, the Brady Bunch, Dick Van Dyke, the roller coaster Bat, and designing the world record Beast. Gramke mused, "The Beast is the biggest (highlight) for me, to be involved in what is still one of the best coasters. Al Collins was the primary designer and was my boss at the time; we spent two years designing it."
Ticket prices at PKI have greatly changed over the years. At the opening in 1972 the fee was $6 (children under 3 free). 1980 saw a price hike to $10.50. 1986 began a tiered price schedule with a $14.95 general admission price and $7.45 for children ages 3-6. From there it stayed tiered as follows:
- 1991: $21.95 and $10.95
- 1996: $28.95 and $15.95
- 1998: $32.95 and $18.95
- 2002: $41.99 and $24.99
Rides and attractions
were also updated over the years…
- Scooby Doo became Beastie
- Salt Water Circus's live dolphin show became WaterWorks theme area
- Kafe Kilimanjaro became Stunt Crew Grill
- The Swiss Sky Ride has become Xtreme Skyflyer
- The indoor ride Enchanted Voyage has become Phantom Theater
- Used to watch the Firestone International Air Show but now you take a Flight Team Aerial Helicopter Tour
- The daily parade has become a nightly fireworks spectacle
Over the years PKI has achieved many memorable milestones:
- 1972: Preview weekends began in the spring with the grand opening on May 27.
- 1973: "The Brady Bunch" and "Partridge Family" each shot episodes at the park.
- 1974: Lion Country Safari (renamed to Wild Animal Habitat) was added as the sixth themed area.
- 1975: Daredevil stuntman Evel Knievel set a new world's record by jumping over 14 Greyhound buses.
- 1976: The American Heritage Music Hall (later renamed to Paramount Theater) was constructed.
- 1977: The Screamin' Demon opened becoming the first steel looping coaster in the United States that ran both forward and backward.
- 1979: The Beast opened capturing the title of the world's longest and fastest wooden coaster (and still retaining the former).
- 1981: The Bat, a prototype suspended steel roller coaster, launched. Due to technical difficulties, it was removed in 1984.
- 1982: Kings Island celebrated its 10th anniversary by featuring the debut of TimberWolf Amphitheater, FestHaus and first Winterfest, a holiday-season festival that lasted until 1992, and running the Racer backwards.
- 1984: The park opened the first stand-up looping roller coaster in the U.S., King Cobra, removed in 2002.
- 1987: Another coaster record was set with the opening of Vortex, a multielement coaster setting a world record for most inversions on a roller coaster: six.
- 1993: The first coaster added under Paramount's ownership was opened: Top Gun, a suspended coaster.
- 1996: The Outer Limits: Flight of Fear opened turning many heads being both an indoor "dark" coaster and a LIM launched ride.
- 1999: Face/Off (steel reverse shuttle coaster) and Drop Zone were introduced to anchor the park's new theme area: Action Zone.
- 2000: Son of Beast, the world's first looping wooden coaster, opened once again swiping a world record for the historic park.
Roller Coaster History of Paramount's Kings Island (PKI)
- Roller Coaster - Category - Opening (and closing)
- Adventure Express - Steel Mine Ride - April 13th, 1992
- Beast - Wooden - April 14th, 1979
- Beastie - Family Wooden - 1972
- Face/Off - Steel Shuttle - 1996
- Flight of Fear - Steel LIM launched indoor - 1996
- Racer - Twin Wooden - 1972
- Rugrats Runaway Reptar - Family Inverted Steel - 2001
- Scooby's Ghoster Coaster - Family Suspended Steel - 1998
- Son of Beast - Wooden Looping - May 26th, 2000
- Top Cat's Taxi Jam - Family Steel - 1992
- Top Gun - Suspended Steel - April 9th, 1993
- Vortex - Multielement Steel - April 11th, 1987
- Bat - Prototype Suspended Steel - Operated from 1981 until 1983
- Bavarian Beetle - Steel - Operated from 1972 until 1979
- Demon - Launched Loop Steel - Operated from 1977 until 1987
- King Cobra - Stand-up Steel - Operated from 1984 until 2001
Personally I really enjoy this park for one main fact: variety. If I am in the mood for world-class coasters, they have them. Feel like spending a day with family, they have coasters and attractions to cater. Feel like food and shopping in the afternoon (never!), they have plenty. Fancy a show (never!), they have many. A great park with wonderful variety in attractions and even roller coaster types.
Resources include: roller coaster database, PKI's 30th anniversary report, rec.roller-coasters, and many days spent running all the way from the gates to the scream inducing Beast.