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Riding History to the Limits - The Story of Kings Island Amusement Park

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As early as 1964, the design and concept of a groundbreaking amusement park was growing in the mind of an ambitious young man by the name of Gary Wachs. Until this time, modern amusement parks were leaving roller coasters and other thrill rides out of the mix. Mr. Wachs knew that bringing back the thrill to amusement parks was a path that would be as profitable as it was popular in the future of entertainment. After a five-year struggle, Gary's dream became reality when Kings Island opened to the public in 1972.


The story of Kings Island combines archival film footage, photographs taken by Rick Norton and also by park patrons, and there's also video shot recently in the park. Interviews include: Gary Wachs, Dennis Speigel, Charles Mechem, Jack Rouse, Don Helbig, Carmen Electra, Walter and Nancy Duff, Barry Williams, and Michael Lookingland. Hosted by Nate Byrum.


The Concept

This first segment shows how Kings Island grew from a glimmer in the eye of Gary Wachs to the multi-million dollar park it is today. Gary discusses how he brought the rollercoaster back to parks and how Disney played a roll in the birth of this park. Kings Island has set a precedent in the American amusement park industry.


Breaking Ground

In this segment of Riding History to the Limits, Gary Wachs and Dennis Speigel discuss the overall design of the park and the purchase of a cornfield in rural Warren County. They also talk about the design of different areas of the park, and the routing of traffic to and from the park from the newly-formed Interstate-71.


International Appeal

Topics explored in this segment: the new ''pay one price'' admission system, and the inspiration behind the buildings on International Street. Jack Rouse discusses the live shows; KI employees Walter and Nancy Duff talk about how they met at KI, and Don Helbig tells us about the many celebrities who have worked at Kings Island.


Opening Day 1972

In this segment of Riding History to the Limits Gary Wachs and Dennis Speigel discuss the chaos of opening day in 1972, the financial projections for the first season, and the mid-season rush of park patrons.


Coney Mall

Topics explored include Coney Mall, the newly-developed reproduction of Coney Island built at Kings Island and the design and construction of The Racer roller coaster. Dennis Spiegel and Gary Wachs discuss other rides at Coney Mall, and Dennis and Don Helbig talk about the Brady Bunch episode filmed at Kings Island in 1973


Hanna Barbera or -- Name That 'toon!

In this segment: a look back at the most popular and expensive ride at Kings Island. Gary Wachs and Dennis Speigel tell how working closely with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera made this part of the park a unique attraction in this region. Other rides in Hanna Barbera land are discussed, and Don Helbig talks about the transition to Nickelodeon Universe.



what spawned the idea of this historic section of the park. Gary Wachs and Dennis Speigel speak about the original rides in Rivertown. While Walter and Nancy Duff, along with Dennis Speigel, speak of the creature that grew out of the woods in 1979.


Two Beers, Please

In this segment of the historic documentary on Kings Island, Riding History to the Limits, Dennis Speigel and Gary Wachs speak of the festivities in the almost extinct Oktoberfest section of the park, while Walter and Nancy Duff reminisce about the rides of Oktoberfest.


Wild and Untamed

In the last segment of Riding History to the Limits we discuss the wild Animal Safari, Timberwolf, and the first launch coaster - the Screamin' Demon. Don Helbig talks about other attractions that have come to the park since the opening in 1972 like Winterfest, the water park, and Halloween Haunt. Gary Wachs reflects back on his creation.

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