Kings Island to host 50th anniversary celebration ceremony on Friday

The Eiffel Tower replica at Kings Island in Mason is seen in this file photo. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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The Eiffel Tower replica at Kings Island in Mason is seen in this file photo. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

MASON — Kings Island amusement park is planning to celebrate turning 50 with an event Friday morning.

At 9 a.m. there will be a re-dedication ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the park opening its gates to patrons on April 29, 1972.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted will be a guest speaker on Friday. Also speaking and in attendance is the Kings Island Vice President and General Manager Mike Koontz, Cedar Fair Entertainment CEO Richard Zimmerman, Kings Island Founder Gary Wachs and President of International Theme Park Services Dennis Spiegel.

Mason’s mayor, Barbara Spaeth, will also be there.

Officially cutting the ribbon at the event are sisters Taryn Harrison, Tamara Hitson and Heather Hitson, who are part of the first family that entered Kings Island on April 29, 1972. Former Kings Island performer and current actor Alton Fitzgerald White will sing the National Anthem. White is best known for playing King Mufasa in “Disney’s The Lion King” on Broadway.

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The park says it expects thousands of guests to visit on Friday and participate in the celebration.

“Since we first opened in 1972, our guests have known Kings Island as a place where unforgettable memories are made. Everyone has a story or memory about a trip to Kings Island, and this season is about sharing those memories and making new ones,” park officials said in a release.

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Earlier this week, the amusement park announced its 2022 Concert Series, offering the most summer concerts at Timberwolf Amphitheatre since 1995.

For the first time, Kings Island will not require concertgoers to also purchase admission to the amusement park. Concert tickets will be available to the general public and will include free parking after 5 p.m. and an exclusive entrance to Timberwolf before each show begins.

“Since Timberwolf opened in 1982, some of the most popular performers of our time have taken its stage,” said Mike Koontz, Kings Island vice president and general manager, in a release. “We are excited to bring that tradition back to Kings Island this summer.”

HISTORY OF KINGS ISLAND

A ground-breaking ceremony for Kings Island was conducted on June 15, 1970, two weeks before the first Major League Baseball game was played at Riverfront Stadium. The public voted to name the park “Kings Island” as a way to recognize the area of Kings Mills and its predecessor Coney Island.

The amusement park opened April 29, 1972 and the grand opening event was May 27, 1972.

Kings Island reopened for its 50th anniversary season on April 16, 2022. The park’s “Golden Celebration” events will begin May 28.

More than 2 million people visited Kings Island in its first season, which was double Coney Island’s attendance in 1971, its final year.

Kings Island cost $31 million to build. Remember this was in 1969. Admission was $6. Today it starts at $45.

Besides the 364-acre amusement park, Kings Island features a 33-acre water park.

In the last 50 years, the park has been owned by Taft Broadcasting, Kings Entertainment Co., American Financial Corp., Paramount Communications, and Cedar Fair, the current owners. Cedar Fair purchased Kings Island in 2006 for a reported $1.24 billion.

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