It may not have the instant name recognition of places like Disneyland, Busch Gardens, or even its Ohio neighbor Cedar Point, but the Kings Island amusement park in Mason, OH, north of Cincinnati, has been thrilling Midwesterners since 1972. One of the things you probably didn't know about Kings Island is that it's the largest amusement park in the Midwest, boasting 15 roller coasters and more than 100 attractions. But as this list of fun facts about Kings Island proves, the park's influence goes beyond amusements. It's an indelible fixture in Ohio's history.
Fans of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family might remember episodes of the classic sitcoms that took place there. Records broken by Kings Island over the years are impressive. The park's roller coaster, The Beast, for example, was at one time the largest, fastest, and tallest wooden coaster in the world.
Kings Island was named after Coney Island, a theme park just east of Cincinnati that closed in 1971; several of Coney Island's rides were moved to Kings Island.
In the 1960s, the people behind the Cincinnati amusement park known as Coney Island were looking to relocate the park to an area less prone to flooding. As part of their efforts to secure funding, they joined forces with Taft Broadcasting, which had just acquired the animation studio Hanna-Barbera.
Once Coney Island and Taft struck a deal, the media company felt the newer, expanded amusement park would be the perfect location to prominently feature and promote Hanna-Barbera's many properties. Kings Island was once a who's who of Hanna-Barbera cartoons - with rides and amusements based on characters such as the Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, and Yogi Bear - but various changes of ownership over the years have seen Nickelodeon- and Peanuts-themed rides and attractions for kids, as well as rides based on Paramount films.
Although Hanna-Barbera cartoons were the centerpiece of many park attractions, the animation studio's famous characters stole the show on the Enchanted Voyage ride. Enchanted Voyage, one of Kings Island's original rides, featured more than 100 Hanna-Barbera characters past and present, mostly in the form of animatronics.
Much like Disney's It's a Small World, Enchanted Voyage took guests on a boat ride featuring various themed rooms, singing animatronic characters, and music that would get stuck in your head for days. Sample lyrics included:
Bristle Hound is not a stranger,
he saves Lambsy when in danger.
Yogi Bear outsmarts the ranger
all in my TV.
Those happy friends who live in my TV!
The ride cost $2 million to create and was a staple of the park until 1984, when it became Smurf's Enchanted Voyage.
To boost the exposure of Kings Island after its 1972 opening, episodes of two beloved TV shows were filmed there. The 1973 episode of The Partridge Family titled "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati" found three members of the famous clan battling for the attentions of a Kings Island publicist, played by Mary Ann Mobley. That same year, The Brady Bunch came to Kings Island in the episode "The Cincinnati Kids," wherein Jan mistakenly switches a poster for Mike's blueprints of an amusement park.
The production company for both The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch was a stakeholder in Taft Communications, the company that owned Kings Island.
Some members of The Brady Bunch reunited at Kings Island in 2013 for a public appearance to mark the 40th anniversary of "The Cincinnati Kids" episode. Barry Williams, Christopher Knight, and Susan Olsen shared their memories of filming at the park (and enjoying the rides).
The mini-reunion at Kings Island sold out all 844 seats in the park's theater, where the audience watched clips from the show and listened to the actors' commentary on filming the episode.