Even though I grew up in the south, I am familiar with the Kings Island theme park in Ohio. I had neighbors with relatives in Cincinnati. I also have family in Indiana (home to many Kings Island visitors) so I have been to the park a couple of times.
In the summer of 1988, I got to visit Kings Island on a rainy day. We had a great time! I bought a gigantic park map in one of the gift shops. Somehow it survived the storm.
The park has changed dramatically since my 1988 visit. Like so many theme parks, Kings Island used to have a Safari ride (a monorail through the Wild Animal Habitat).
You don't have to go to France to see the Eiffel Tower. You can drive to Cincinnati to see it. Well, a smaller version of it.
The famous tower has been the icon of Kings Island since the park opened in 1972.
The park also had Hanna-Barbera Land, home to Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons and some characters you may not have heard of, like The Banana Splits.
I still remember that our car was parked at Astro, Row 4 (Astro is the family dog on Hanna Barbera's animated TV series, The Jetsons).
Judging from the souvenirs that were available at the time, Scooby Doo seemed to be the most popular Hanna Barbera character at Kings Island. Hanna Barbera even tried to copy themselves to top him.
Clue Club was one of many Hanna Barbera-created Scooby Doo clones in the 1970s.
In addition to the rides, Kings Island had a few shows. I'm guessing the mime could be found by the Eiffel Tower.
Were the dolphins relocated during the winter? I can't imagine them liking Ohio in December.
In addition to the awesome 80s performances, visitors could meet the Smurfs.
I regret not seeing Hanna Barbera's Hollywood, which was a marionette show of some kind.
I bought a small Scooby Doo plush at the Hanna Barbera Fun Shop.
Of all the Hanna Barbera character merchandise I could have picked up at Kings Island in 1988 (they had Grape Ape stuff!) I wound up concentrating on the one Hanna Barbera character that lasted the longest at Kings Island.
I also made sure to get a Scooby Doo plastic drink container souvenir at Kings Island. I can't remember what the beverage was.
They also had Fred Flintstone for sale.
I had bought this Scrappy Doo button before I finally found a Scooby Doo one before I left the park for the day.
For the 2002 live action Warner Brothers Scooby Doo movie, Scrappy was the unmasked villain. I thought that was pretty clever and funny.
These buttons cost 89 cents back then.
I'm pretty sure they had buttons with The Flintstones and Yogi Bear, too.
While in Hanna Barbera Land, I made sure to ride the Smurf's Enchanted Voyage Ride. In front of this boat ride, you could find a Scooby Doo statue. I decided to make myself and my two cousins cartoon ghosts for this story. I'm the green ghost in this picture.
When Kings Island first opened, this boat ride was called Enchanted Voyage, and featured all sorts of Hanna Barbera characters. The attraction was changed to a Smurf ride in 1982. For the 1992 season, the old ride was demolished and a new (dry) omnimover dark ride called Phantom Theater debuted here. In 2003, the attraction became an interactive ghost-blaster ride called Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle. For 2010, the Scooby Doo characters were dropped and the ride became Boo Blasters on Boo Hill.
For more of my Smurfs ride visit, check out It's a Smurfy World After All: Smurf's Enchanted Voyage Ride.
I also enjoyed the Ferris Wheel in the Oktoberfest section.
I think I found that Scooby Doo plastic drink container near this ride. I do remember that the beverage in the Scooby container was not beer.
I enjoyed Shake, Rattle and Roll, even in the rain.
I love roller coasters now, but I was too chicken to ride the Vortex back then.
Since it was raining already, it was a good time to ride White Water Canyon.
These orange ponchos were everywhere that day! We did not get one.
The newest ride at Kings Island was Amazon Falls, located near the Wild Animal Habitat.
This ride is a bit different from the similar Splashwater Falls attraction I grew up with at Six Flags Over Georgia.
Yes, Kings Island had penguins!
I bet these guys did not mind Ohio's winters.
Are we in the DreamWorks movie Madagascar? Nope, we are still at Kings Island.
This lemur has a tiny baby.
Don't be frightened child, they're only humans!
I'm guessing these animals had to be relocated in the cold winter months. Where did they go?
The snow leopards probably would have been alright.
A limited number of animals were on display for everyone. To see the rest of them, you could take an up-charge monorail ride through the Safari. Luckily, we got to do this! This was our last ride of the day.
Are we in Africa? No, we are in Ohio, without a doubt!
I really enjoyed this ride. I think it was air conditioned. And we got away from the rain.
This was a great shot!
The monorails got pretty close to many of the animals.
I remember being able to see a rhino from the queue line of the Racer roller coaster.
Did Hanna Barbera ever have a Rhino character? They should have.
The Wild Animal Habitat was rather large.
This land was later used to expand the park's collection of roller coasters.
Let's sing: "Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play."
"Then tear it down, and build a Top Gun roller coaster there."
In 1992, Kings Island, Great America, Carowinds, and Kings Dominion theme parks were bought by Paramount.
Paramount and Kings Island actually had a past. Kings Island was featured in a 1973 episode of Paramount's TV show, "The Brady Bunch." Jan caused an uproar when she switched Mike Brady's architectural theme park expansion plans for a Yogi Bear poster. Oh, Jan! Marcia would never have done something like that.
The Paramount switch meant some big changes for Kings Island and its sister parks. The biggest threat for Hanna Barbera was the arrival of Nickelodeon characters.
Hanna Barbera Land got some Nickelodeon subdivisions, and the entire park started seeing rides with movie themes.
I can remember hearing the slogan, "You're gonna be smilin' at Paramount's Kings Island!"
I thought the new name was a bit awkward. I'm glad we didn't see something like "Warner Brothers Presents Six Flags Over Georgia" in response.
By my visit in 1995, Hanna Barbera characters were tough to find at Paramount's Kings Island.
I did find this pin featuring A Pup Named Scooby Doo.
Mixed in with many of the existing Hanna Barbera Land components were Nickelodeon elements like a Green Slime fountain.
By 1995, it was clear that the Hanna Barbera characters were living on borrowed time at Kings Island.
A Pup Named Scooby Doo was a fun new twist on the characters.
This series parodied the Scooby Doo formula.
The Nickelodeon brand eventually took over Hanna Barbera Land, leaving only the Scooby Doo dark ride as a reminder of the past.
When Cedar Fair bought the Paramount Parks in 2006, everything changed.
In 2010, another cartoon canine emerged as the Top Dog of the theme park world. True to the expression "Dog Eat Dog," Snoopy took down Scooby Doo and the Nickelodeon characters and claimed the former Hanna Barbera Land at Kings Island as Planet Snoopy. The former King Mills Log Flume is now called Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (based on the 1977 Peanuts film).
Snoopy first became a theme park mascot in 1983 at Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California (where he hosts his own land, Camp Snoopy). In 1992, Knott's opened a Camp Snoopy theme park in the Mall of America in Minnesota, which was ironically replaced by Nickelodeon Universe in 2008.
In 1997, the Cedar Fair theme park chain (owners of the popular Cedar Point theme park in Sandusky, Ohio) bought Knott's Berry Farm and inherited Snoopy as a mascot for their parks.
With Cedar Fair's purchase of the Paramount Parks, all of the Nickelodeon/Hanna Barbera sections were re-themed to the Peanuts characters.
Snoopy may now be in more theme parks than any other cartoon character.
The Peanuts gang can also be found at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, where they have their own section called Snoopy's Playland.
Snoopy even has a past with Walt Disney World in Florida! The MetLife-sponsored Wonders of Life Pavilion at Epcot featured the Peanuts characters in its 1989 opening promotional materials.
Inspired by the Kings Island story, I bring you (in time for Halloween) my idea for Snoopy Doo And The Great Pumpkin. Schroeder is now dating The Little Red Haired Girl. The Pumpkin Patch that Linus, Snoopy and the rest of the kids visit is being terrorized by The Great Pumpkin. Luckily, Marcie is around to help solve the mystery.
Charlie Brown and Lucy put their differences aside to form an alliance and split up the romance between Schroeder and the Little Red Haired Girl. As a bonus, Lucy got to terrorize her brother, and Charlie Brown got to scare his defiant dog. Charlie Brown and Lucy would have gotten way with it, if it had not been for those meddling kids and Snoopy-Dooby Doo!