Kings Island’s Opening Day is finally here. Check out these highlights from this morning.
Posts Tagged ‘amusement park’
Kings Island is hoping to hit a homerun with its new Reds Hall of Game Grille opening this season.
The Reds-themed restaurant — located in the former Rivertown Junction buffet restaurant — features Hall of Fame memorabilia, framed jerseys and photos and other bits of Reds history, dating back to the 1880s, while video highlights from World Series, playoffs and other games play on TVs through the restaurant.
On the menu: burgers, wings, Montgomery Inn pulled pork, baby back ribs, Saratoga chips, wraps, salads, desserts, draft beer and wine. Full restaurant? No worries. Leave a cell phone number and you’ll be sent a text when your table is ready.
- Photos & Video: Inside KI’s Reds Hall of Fame Grille
“One of the things our guests have been asking for for a number of years is a full-service, sit-down restaurant,” said Don Helbig, park spokesman. ”No matter where you sit, you’re going to see something different.”
Community reporter Rachel Richardson, Butler/Warren Editor Bill Cieslewicz, photographer Tony Jones, freelance photographer Tony Tribble and entertainment reporter Shauna Steigerwald got a first taste of the grille.
Click through to see what we sampled:
A major winter storm that dumped heavy snow across the region overnight didn’t stop work crews at Kings Island as the Mason theme park gears up for its 41st season.
Crews spent Wednesday morning shoveling and removing snow from rides to continue off-season maintenance work.
A crew of about 50 mechanics, carpenters and welders work year round to conduct testing and maintenance of the park’s 46 rides. The bulk of the work takes place in the park’s off-season months of November through late April.
“I think a lot of people think that you just swing the gates shut when the park closes and swing them open when it’s time to open. It’s completely different than that. This is our busiest time of the year. We’re working right up to park opening,” said Tom Dillingham, the park’s manager of rides and mechanical maintenance.
Kings Island opens for the 2013 season on April 27.
In 1971, Ed McHale faced what could only be described as a logistical nightmare.
As a manager at Coney Island, McHale was tasked with overseeing the transportation of more than a dozen rides from the shuttered Anderson Township park to the site of what would become Kings Island in Mason.
Construction was underway to open up a new park in Warren County to replace historic Coney Island, which had been besieged by major flooding and had limited space for parking and expansion.
McHale and his team had 45 days to move the rides in order to meet Kings Island’s opening date in the spring of 1972. They got it done in 30 days.
“There was a lot of pressure, but we did it and we were in surprisingly good shape to get it in operation by opening day,” he recalls. “We were blessed with good winter; if it had been a bad winter or bad fall, I don’t know what we would have done. We got lucky.”
But luck had little to do with it, according to park officials, who say McHale was instrumental in the planning, development and oversight of Kings Island in its fledgling days.
Last fall, the park inducted McHale, who served as the park’s operations manager in 1972 and general manager from 1973-1976, as the newest member in its 2012 Hall of Fame.
The exclusive club of 10 honorees includes such luminaries as park visionary and founder Gary Wachs, former park entertainer Carmen Elektra and ESPN and NBC sports reporter Lewis Johnson, a former rides supervisor.
“He really set the tone for providing that ‘best day of the year’ experience for park guests,” said KI spokesman Don Helbig of McHale. “That’s been in place for 40 years and all goes back to the group Ed was a part of.”
Kings Island capped off a successful year that saw the park’s rides and attractions give a combined 25,371,572 rides during the park’s 40th anniversary season, the park reported.
Five attractions gave more than 1 million rides: Diamondback (1,812,311), The Racer (1,372,948), The Beast (1,130,830), Vortex (1,120,052) and the K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad (1,046,644).
The K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad surpassed its 50 million mark in rides given this year. It’s the second-most in park history to The Racer at 97,825, 493.
More than 1.25 billion rides — 1,254,044,426 to be exact — have been given since the park opened in 1972. The Enchanted Voyage (47,380,374) and Kenton County Keelboat Canal (40,069,518) top the list of retired rides.
The Vortex is expected to give its 40 millionth ride in 2013, Dodgem its 30 millionth and Flight Deck is 20 millionth.
One of the Midwest’s largest Halloween attractions returns to Kings Island this month with even more frights and monsters.
The Mason theme park’s no-holds-barred Halloween Haunt opens on weekend nights from Sept. 21 through Oct. 27.
More than 500 “scare actors” are set to haunt the park in 12 frightful attractions.
The park has added a second live show, “Graveyard Shift,” to its popular live show lineup which includes “Hot Blooded.”
Returning attractions include CarnEvil, Club Blood, CornStalkers, Cut Throat Cove, Holiday Horror, Massacre Manor, Mysteria, Slaughter House, Tombstone Terror-Tory, Urgent Scare and Wolf Pack.
Dozens of KI’s most popular rides will also be open, including many of its hair-raising roller coasters and Windseeker thrill ride, along with other less heart attack-inducing rides such as the Zephyr, Scrambler, Monster, Dodgem and The Crypt.
Halloween Haunt hours are 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturdays, except for Sept. 22, when the park opens at 7 p.m.
The park’s other rides and attractions open at 11 a.m. on Saturdays only and close at 5 p.m. to prepare for Halloween Haunt. Beware: Halloween Haunt is not recommended for young children.
Discount tickets are $25.99 on Friday nights and $31.99 on Saturdays when purchased in advance at www.visitkingsisland.com/haunt. Regular ticket prices are $38.99 on Fridays and $54.99 on Saturdays. College students can purchase tickets on Fridays at the gate for $25.99 upon presenting a valid college ID.
Admission to Halloween Haunt is included for 2012 Gold and Platinum season passholders. Those who purchase a 2013 Gold or Platinum season pass can use their one free visit to Halloween Haunt.
Kings Island is at 6300 Kings Island Drive in Mason and can be reached at 513-754-5700 or at www.visitkingsisland.com.
Paul McKibben reports:
Dennis Speigel makes a living by keeping thrill-seekers happy. Speigel is president and owner of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Walnut Hills-based amusement park consulting business.
The firm has worked on amusement parks all over the world, including the Philippines, China, Mexico and the United States. The company has 15 employees.
Speigel, 66, started in the business at age 13 when he was a ticket taker at Coney Island. He was the assistant park manager of Kings Island when it opened in 1972 and helped planned the Mason attraction.
Forty years ago, what were your expectations for Kings Island?
ANSWER: We knew that we had built a phenomenal facility that was well located. We knew it had the capability to draw from six markets (Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Lexington, Louisville and Indianapolis). And that’s why the park’s located there – because there were highways feeding that. The thing that probably surprises me the most is I never thought the company would be owned by five different owners. I thought it’d still be operated by Taft (Broadcasting) or one of its subsidiaries. What we built was one of the world’s most successful theme parks, and it still is today.
How fortunate is Cincinnati to have an amusement park like Kings Island?
A: Through the 40 years, it’s drawn hundreds of millions of people. What it’s done for the area is just phenomenal. It’s been a huge impact. Probably most interesting is the number of young people who have trained and been educated in business at Kings Island.
What qualities should a good theme park have?
A: You have to have a good utility feed in the area. You need to have good access. You have to have a network of highways that feed it. You have to have good visibility. You want to be seen. You need a good rolling piece of land that has character to it. When we bought the property for Kings Island, it was a farm.
Q: If you were to design your own ride, what would it be?
A: I still ride all the rides, the roller coasters for sure. I just don’t like to go upside down anymore. I get vertigo so I kind of watch that. One of the rides that we worked on and we did design early on was the looping coaster. That was basically designed on a cocktail napkin at (the former) Chester’s Road House, which used to be a restaurant above Montgomery Inn, where Joseph Chevrolet is today.
Q: Is there an amusement park ride anywhere in the world you won’t go on?
A: I tell you the one I’ve never been on is the Disney submarine ride. I’m claustrophobic. I tried to get in that one time. They were closing the hatch, and I said “let me out of here’’ and I got out just because of claustrophobia. But I’ve ridden the Tower of Terror and Space Mountain and all the wooden roller coasters you can think of, more than you’d ever want to ride.
Visitors both local and from afar cool off at Kings Island’s new Soak City water park. The Mason amusement park debuted its recently expanded and renovated water park this season for its 40th anniversary season. Soak City is included as part of park admission. The park is open daily through Aug. 26. The Enquirer’s Leigh Taylor captured these shots of park-goers cooling off and splashing around.
The Mason amusement park will have fireworks each night at 10 p.m. during the promotion.
The 19.72 starlight admission ticket can be purchased at any front gate admissions window or online at www.visitkingsisland.com. After the promotion is over, the starlight ticket will be available for $25.99.
The 364-acre park is open daily through Aug. 26.
Kings Island is celebrating veterans this Fourth of July with special military discounts.
Active and retired military personnel can enjoy free admission to the Mason amusement park July 3-5 and have the chance to purchase up to six discounted tickets for family members at $29.99 each when they show their military ID or DD form 214 at ticket windows.
This includes admission to KI’s new Soak City water park. The $10 million water park expansion doubles its size to 33 acres and features new amenities and attractions, including a new second wave pool, sand volleyball courts, three times more chairs and open grass for lounging.
The offer is part of KI’s Tribute to the Armed Forces program, which offers discounts to military personnel over the Memorial Day and July 4 holidays.
The park, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary season, is open daily through Aug. 26. For more information, call 800-288-0808 or go to www.visitkingsisland.com.