Leave Kings Island Alone: Let them build more roller coasters, stay open later, longer and give them lots of money!

For most of the recent December I spent it on vacation in one form or another, primarily going to Disney World and visiting all four of the parks that they have enjoying them immensely. During that span also I spent at least two visits to Kings Island to enjoy their Winterfest which I had said compared very well to the Disney Park experiences. I continue to be impressed with the way Cedar Fair Amusements has managed Kings Island since buying it over a decade ago now. For all the well-deserved hype that the Disney Parks get for their high quality experiences, the amusement parks in Ohio are some of the best in the world, between Cedar Point and Kings Island and those of us who live in the area of those places should consider ourselves very lucky. I do, I spend much of the spring, summer and fall—especially on Friday evenings at Kings Island meeting my wife after a hard day of work to relieve stress, which I do by riding roller coasters. Part of the reason I went to Disney World in December was due to the cold temperatures shutting down most of the rides at Kings Island, and riding roller coasters is part of the way I manage stress throughout the year.

Of course, I am ecstatic for the opportunity to ride the new giga coaster Orion at Kings Island in just a few short months. I watch the progress of its construction eagerly, once a day if possible, just for the prospect of seeing some new bit of news. I can’t wait to ride it and once it opens, it likely will join Diamondback and Mystic Timbers as my wife and my new Friday night ritual through the summer months to meet at Kings Island, have food under the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the fountain mist after a long hard day then ride those rides before going home and going to bed. Roller coasters and their extremes for me are like a shower that washes away the stress and anxiety that rolls off human interaction under intense conditions, and they are very therapeutic. Roller coasters are for the human imagination a huge middle finger to the impositions of existence which otherwise try to carve you into a blocky loser of anxiety due to the nature of reality. And utilizing the creativity of human thought to rebel against that tendency in the form of a roller coaster is really a tremendous psychological statement for the human race and I simply could never get enough of them, especially when they are built with the fabulous engineering that is going into Orion.

Yet recently neighbors in and around the Kings Island Amusement Park complex have been complaining about the noise of these coasters. During Winterfest the park has been running Mystic Timbers which was great fun. And during October the park stayed open until 1 AM during the Haunt weekends running all the roller coasters. It was great to ride the Diamondback at 12:30 AM on a Friday night in October with my kids and to enjoy doing those kinds of things at the small hours of the morning, yet neighbors who built their homes near the park have been complaining about the noise and are seeking to crack down on the Mason ordinance against those types of creative exploits, which I find reprehensible. I really don’t care how long someone has lived in the Kings Mills area. For what Kings Island does for Mason, Kings Mills and Cincinnati in general, I would expect the people of the area to appreciate it and to get on board with what Kings Island needs to do to be one of the best parks in the world.

I noticed it this time more than others, the Disney Parks are so wonderful because they are built on property that is so far removed from the outside world. You don’t see massive housing complexes near any of them for miles around and that is how they are able to produce such a wonderful customer experience. People need amusement parks. Maybe not to the degree that I use them to manage stress, but people in general absorb the pressures of reality to a point where they are toxic and generally complain about everything. That is part of the reason that such places were invented, to fill a market need. When a customer parks their car at an amusement park, they are husks of what they started out in the day as usually and they are looking for happiness. The people complaining about the noise of Kings Island late at night are people who will complain about their food at a fast food restaurant, or about the traffic on a highway, or even the color of a car they bought. They complain about their families, they complain about movies that are out at the multiplex, and they complain when a quarterback doesn’t do what they want in the NFL playoffs. They complain about everything all the time. That is why they need amusement parks, to throw off their worries and to enjoy a little bit of life. And staying open until 1 AM in October is part of the fun. People will complain, but its up to wiser heads to understand the nature of their antics. They need more fun in their lives, not less, and their precious sleep isn’t more valuable than the screams and cheers of a captive audience fresh off a roller coaster eating a funnel cake at 1 AM on a crisp autumn night under a well-lit moon. The experience that Kings Island offers to the community is far more valuable than some mundane sleep schedule or routine life within the four walls of a house. For most of its life, Kings Island was alone at that Kings Mills exit. Now there are lots of homes, they don’t have a right to complain now, because they moved there to be near Kings Island, and to reap the benefits. Now is not the time to turn against it.

For all the reasons mention, and a whole lot more, I want Kings Island to have the ability to make so much money that they can continue to give us great roller coasters like Orion well into the future. I would love again to have at Kings Island record breakers that last for decades with the unused land they have at the park, and they shouldn’t have to worry about a bunch of complaining neighbors. And to afford that, Kings Island needs more of the kinds of advantages that Disney has, where they can operate through as much of the year as possible instead of just during the summer, and for as much of the clock as possible, such as to 1 AM. People complain about Disney too, they are too crowded, they are too hot, they are too expensive, they are too much like a corporate empire, the complaints go on and on and on. But those complaints are not valuable customer feedback, they are really just people who need to shut up and go ride a roller coaster and to enjoy a funnel cake. People need to do a lot less complaining and let themselves enjoy the great things that Kings Island is offering consumers. Because those things are a lot more valuable than some sleep at 1 AM for some routine, drab life. Roller coasters are good for happiness, and the world needs a lot more of it, far longer in the day, more times a year and Kings Island needs to give us a lot more happiness. Not less.

Rich Hoffman

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