By Henrylito D. Tacio
WHEN I told my aunt that I would be coming back to the United States, she was elated. “That’s good to know,” she said. “I would like to bring you to Paramount’s Kings Island.”
“That’s great,” I responded. After all, I have been hearing about it through my American boss, Steve Musen: “It’s one of the best amusement parks in the United States.” He was right! If you crave extreme thrills, raging water adventures, flying through the air, or just an enjoyable day with your family, this is the place to visit.
The park is loosely based around a combination of an “Oktoberfest” theme, “Action Zone” theme, “Rivertown” theme, “International Street” theme (where most shops and restaurants are located), “Coney Mall” theme, “Nickelodeon” theme, and the “Boomerang Bay” them, the all mixed in with various other themes from Paramount’s movies. Can you imagine it now?
Paramount‘s Kings Island opened its gates for the first time on April 29, 1972 in what was then Deerfield Township. One of the first events to draw publicity to the park was the filming of an episode of “The Brady Bunch” at the park in 1973. Since then, it attracts more than 3 million guests annually.
The centerpiece of the park is the so-called Eiffel Tower, located just across the International Street fountain from the main entrance gate. The tower – a one-third replica of the original in Paris, France – provides a bird’s eye view of the entire park.
Now are you ready for extreme thrills? Then, check out some of the world-class roller coasters, including Son of Beast. At 218 feet tall, it’s the world’s tallest wooden roller coaster. It lashes out at speeds up to 78 miles per hour, making it the world’s fastest wooden roller coaster.
The original Beast, however, isn’t as exciting as the copycat. There are no flips or corkscrews. It isn’t particularly fast, either. What “The Beast” has that other roller coasters haven’t got is length (7,419 feet). The ride lasts a good two minutes and it’s shaky, rough, and full of great dips and climbs.
The Racer, however, is its first star attraction. It consists of twin wooden roller coasters that race each other side-by-side through much of the ride’s footprint. Racings to speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, it’s a great experience both forward and backward – literally!
Another attraction is the Drop Zone Stunt Tower, the world’s tallest gyro drop.
Towering an incredible 315 feet tall, it raises a ring of 40 people to the top. Without warning, they plunge 264 feet at 67 miles per hour in a pure free fall before hitting a magnetic braking system to gently sit them back on solid ground.
Then, there’s The Vortex. Here, riders scream though six terrifying inversions at speeds over 55 miles per hour through 3,800 feet of the most twisted track ever built on this intense steel coaster ride.
Starting in 1993, new thrilling coasters were added based from successful Paramount films and television shows. The first one was Top Gun, the film that made Tom Cruise an international star. Flying through the tree tops, Top Gun offers a short but very fast paced, exciting ride all the way through.
Another not to be missed is Tomb Raider. The ride starts slowly, rising up ominously past some great architecture, stopping in front of a goddess of fire and ice who does some flashy spells. Then, it all goes black and things really kick off! The ride performs some incredible spins and flips and because of the darkness of the chamber it’s impossible to tell what position you’re in! Suddenly, disoriented, you’re thrust headfirst at a wall of ice with skeletons and gleaming crystals in it. Then you suddenly flip out again and begin lowering into a lava pit before pulling off yet more cool spins and flips before coming to a slightly premature halt.
Still another: The Flight of Fear, the world’s first linear induction coaster. Carrying a space theme with it, it uses a series of linear induction motors to propel the train from 0-54 miles per hour in just 4 seconds. Riders are launched into a twisted maze of tight curves, spirals, and 4 inversions – all in the dark!
Today, Kings Island has 12 roller coasters and many huge flat rides. Don’t ask me which coasters and rides I thrusted myself into.
Children aren’t left out at Paramount’s Kings Island. In the past, there was “Hanna Barbera Land, where characters like Fred and Barney, Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear would provide entertainment. This has been replaced by the Nickelodeon Universe.
Opened early in 2006, it has 18 rides and attractions. Children can join Dora the Explorer and Boots on a storybook adventure on Azul, the train. Or, they could enter through a pineapple under the sea to SpongeBob SquarePant’s underwater world at Bikini Bottom. Or, they could fly with Danny Phantom as they spin through the air like a superhero.
Crocodile Dundee’s Boomerang Bay is the newest themed area. An exciting new world of exotic exploration that encompasses more than 50 water activities, including 30 water slides, tropical lagoons, rushing rivers, surfable waves (yes, you read it right!), and three family activity areas. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in a private cabana, floating down Crocodile Run, or taking a thrilling plunge down the Awesome Aussie Twister, this Australian oasis has it all.
By the way, as you walk from here to there, you will definitely get thirsty. Just a reminder: all soft drinks and bottled waters are predictably overpriced but are at least large.
There are also live entertainments. If you’ve ever wanted to be on stage, then this is your chance. Stop by the Bandstand, pick out your favorite song, and compete to be Paramount’s King Island Star.
Music and attitude inspired by the rockin’ Paramount movie come to life at the Paramount Theatre. This live rock concert will have you stomp your feet and jam in the aisle.
Feeling hungry? Look no further. Here are some: Bubba Gump Shrimp Shack (offers crispy beer-battered shrimp and fish sandwiches), Festhaus (salads, burgers, chicken tenders, and pizza desserts), Chick-fil-A (chicken sandwiches, tenders, and fries), Happy Days Diner (famous 50s style burgers, fries and shakes, made to order), Subway (enjoy the favorite sub sandwich and eat fresh), It’s Fried (funnel cakes, snacks and ice cream cones), Paradise Island (frozen fruit smoothies), and Krusty Crab Snack Shack.
If you plan to bring something back, there are all the usual souvenir shops. To name a few: Airbrush (airbrushed apparel, headwear and novelty items), Wood Works (custom wood signs and personalized products), Animation Station (kids store featuring Nickelodeon and Scooby-Doo toys, apparel and gifts), Emporium (souvenirs, apparel, and fashion merchandise), Thrills are Paramount (souvenirs and apparel), Italian Job Souvenirs (souvenirs and jewelry), and Mick’s Seaside Supplies (swimwear, towels and souvenirs).
How do you get tickets to Paramount’s Kings Island? Tickets are available at the gate. Single day admission is US$44.99. Entrance fee for Children (ages 3-6) and senior citizens (60 years and older) is US$29.99. Discount tickets can usually be purchased at local supermarkets and banks.
How do you get there? Paramount’s Kings Island is located on Interstate 71, about 20 miles northeast of Cincinnati, Ohio.
I can’t wait for my next visit! — ###