Long Live the King
Under new ownership and with added
attractions, Kings Island Amusement
Park, celebrating its 35th
year, promises to create even more
Maynard P. Barton
Photos by: Jonathan Willis
The roller coaster car slowly creaks toward the sky.
As it reaches the top of a hill,
time stands still for one anxious
The view from 110 feet above the ground is enough to
give many people vertigo.
But when Charles Infosino stares
down into the belly of The Beast at
Kings Island Amusement Park in Mason,
he’s on top of the world.
The car teeters at the peak of
its stomach-churning grade, before
hurling him and 35 other riders back to
earth in a four-minute whirlwind through
thick woods, steep ravines and
“I love The Beast,” says Infosino, a 35-year-old
“I love the speed, the wind, the
smell of the wood. It’s a great ride.”
He should know.
The Fort Thomas, Kentucky,
resident is such a fan of the park, he
wrote a book about it:
The Unofficial Guidebook to Paramount’s
And lest you doubt his expertise,
consider this: Infosino has come to
Kings Island 15 times a year – every
year – since the summer of 2000, when he
made his fateful first visit for his
wife’s company picnic. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” he says.
And he’s not alone.
These 364 acres dotted with more
than 100 rides and attractions northeast
of Cincinnati have entertained
enthusiasts like Infosino and families
looking for a day of leisure for the
past 35 years. Kings Island is so beloved, it’s even remained competitive
with Ohio’s more well-known amusement
juggernaut, Cedar Point: Both parks
receive roughly 3 million visitors per
Now, in a twist to that rivalry and a new chapter in
Kings Island’s history, the park has
been acquired by Cedar Fair
Entertainment Company – which owns Cedar
The plan is to add more exciting
rides and enhance visitor-friendly
touches, such as offering five new shows
free with admission.
For diehards like Infosino, a New York native who
first found his amusement park thrills
at New Jersey’s Six Flags Great
Adventure, Kings Island is already
“The atmosphere and the rides, especially roller
coasters like The Beast,” he says, “keep
me coming back.”
and Modern Appeal
Kings Island was clearly the
rookie on Ohio’s veteran team of
amusement parks when it debuted in 1972:
Cedar Point, the second-oldest park in
the United States, opened in 1870;
Geauga Lake in Aurora is nearly as old,
opening in 1888.
Kings Island combines state-of –the-art
rides with its nostalgic Coney Mall
section, which has an old-fashioned air
that includes a midway, carnival games,
the Happy Days Diner and an arcade, as
well as more than a dozen rides.
“My favorite area of Kings Island
is still Coney Mall, “ says Infosino.
He notes that in addition to its
vintage feel, Coney Mall also boasts
plenty for visitors in search of more
modern, fast paced fare. Among the rides
located there are The Racer, which
kicked off a wooden coaster Renaissance
when it opened with the park; Vortex,
the first coaster to include six
inversions; and Italian Job-Stunt Track,
a family ride that emulates driving a
Mini Cooper in an action flick.
When the park was sold by
original owner Taft Broadcasting to
Paramount in 1992, it received a
facelift that resulted in many of its
features being tied to movie themes.
Now, under Cedar Fair’s
ownership, visitors can expect to see
fewer visible associations with
Paramount – even if the movie studio’s
name is attached to many rides for
another year or two due to existing
“Cedar Fair is dedicated to a
nicer looking park.
You can already see the
difference,” says Ryan Suhr of Kings
Island central, an independent Internet
Bur amusement parks lure and
build devotees by providing the latest
in attractions and offering a range of
options for the whole family.
To that end, two of Kings
Island’s additions this season cater to
everyone from coaster aficionados eager
for an adrenaline rush, to parents
seeking relaxing quality time for their
Firehawk, the only flying roller
coaster in Ohio, is the newest scream
machine in the park’s lineup of 14
Riders get to play military test
pilot for a day as they board at a
45-degree angle with their backs to the
front of the coaster; before take-off,
they’re lowered onto their backs, and
stay that way as they ascend a 115-foot
When they reach Firehawk's peak,
riders are flipped 180 degrees and face
the pavement as the coaster winds
through five inversions at better than
50 miles per hour.
Meanwhile, those in need of a
slower-paced, but no less entertaining
day can bask in a variety of new shows
and longtime favorites, including the
nostalgic musical “Twistin’ to the 60s,”
and “Endless Summer on Ice”: a skillful
display of skaters twirling on ice with
a backdrop of popular tunes, singing and
dancing in a 400-seat venue.
Thrills for Young and Old
It’s no wonder Craig Ross, Kings
Island’s vice president of Marketing,
proudly call International Street “one
of the better entrances for an amusement
park in the United States.”
From the landscaped pond with six
fountains separating a boulevard of
restaurants and shops, to the one-third
scale replica of the Eiffel Tower with a
300-foot elevator ride to the top for
commanding views of Mason, International
Street offers visitors a thoroughfare
filled with fun and a taste of France –
not to mention a great start to the
Two shows make their debut this
season at International Street’s
bandstand: Hot Island Rhythms features a
live band playing feel-good, summertime
tunes, and Meet the Nicktoons lets the
kids get up close and personal with some
of their favorite television characters.
Directly off International Street
at Nickelodeon Universe, children
happily ping-pong between rides; this
area is home to more kiddie roller
coasters than anywhere else in the
That lineup includes the first
inverted coaster for kids (cars that
hang below the track), and the log flume
ride Wild Thornberry’s River Adventure.
Guests in search of a thorough
soaking can beat the heat by taking the
Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad to
Boomerang Bay, a 15-acre outdoor water
park with more than 50 water-related
attractions and the Great Barrier Reef,
a 36,000 square-foot wave pool.
Meanwhile, for those folks who
don’t want to get wet no matter what the
temperature, the whimsical and
Western-themed Rivertown offers
Of course, they’ll have to clear
a path for the herd of zealots streaming
to this part of the park.
There’s a reason why Infosino
declares Rivertown “a special area”:
Here lies The Beast.
There are certainly other rides
to satisfy thrill seekers in the park,
but The Beat, built in 1979 and
featuring a 100-foot incline, reigns as
the granddaddy of knee-buckling rides.
It is still known as the world’s
longest roller coaster.
Legendary thrills, a lineup of
great shows and a new owner’s commitment
to giving families lifelong memories.
Says Infosino, “The real spirit
of Kings Island is coming back.”
WHERE TO STAY
no shortage of places to stay near Kings
Island, including a number of chain
Here are two accommodations that
offer a more unique experience:
Great Wolf Lodge
This indoor waterpark is located on
Kings Island’s grounds and features 401
all-suite guest rooms, the
79,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, a
full-service spa and several
2501 GreatWolf Dr.
A century-old renovated house that
offers upscale lodging just five minutes
from the amusement park, including
deluxe suites with fireplaces and
Features include an outdoor pool
and free breakfast buffet in the
historic Kirkwood House.
4027 US Route 42. Mason, OH 45040,