Thu, May 24, 2018 09:10 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-07-30 communities
This n' That
Not just for kids
Tony Fyffe
Who said amusement parks are just for kids? If anything, they are geared more toward their parents and other adults who have to shell out big bucks for a day of fun.

I spent part of my vacation last week at Kings Island, and it turned out to be an expensive day. Although I got into the park free on a press pass, food and souvenirs were outrageous. For example, I had two pieces of pizza and a Coke for lunch, and it cost me over $8! I was going to have a hamburger, but that alone had a $5.25 price tag, so I thought it would be more economical to opt for the two pieces of pizza. I didn't have the nerve or stomach to see how much a WHOLE pizza cost.

I wasn't the only person who was upset about the prices. As I was lining up to ride one of the rides, a father and his young son walked passed me and the dad said, "Well, they ripped us off again," after his kid didn't meet the height requirement for the particular attraction.

But in all fairness to Kings Island, nothing is cheap on vacation, no matter where you go, and Kings Island is considered one of the best amusement parks in the country. If you want to have a fun and relaxing time, you have to pay the price.

One of the souvenirs I bought was The Unofficial Guidebook to Paramount's Kings Island, which includes a history of the park. I remember when it used to be called Coney Island, but what I didn't know was that it got its current name from its location, Kings Island Drive. I thought the area was named after the park, but actually it was the opposite. Also, despite popular belief, it is not located in Cincinnati, Ohio, but in Mason, Ohio, which is near the home of the famous Reds.

The park is also a major contributor to its area. According to the book, Kings Island pays about 70 percent of the $1.35 million in property taxes that finance the Kings Local School District. It attracts more than 3 million visitors a year and earns more than $100 million in sales annually.

One interesting fact I didn't know is that Kings Island expanded to its current size because actor Fess Parker had planned to build an amusement park in Northern Kentucky in 1968. In order to compete, Kings Island, then called Coney Island, had to be bigger and better. Parker's plans fell through, and Kings Island became one of the biggest tourist attractions in the nation.

I had been to Kings Island a few times before last week, but the first time I actually rode rides was on a visit last year. I was always afraid I would get sick, like I did the last time I was at Camden Park as a kid. But my fears vanished after I successfully made it through the first ride. I had a great time after that.

This year, on a rafting ride called White Water Canyon, we shared a boat with a three-year-old boy and his parents. The boy was extremely apprehensive about the ride. His mom said he didn't like to get wet. Knowing how wet I got on the ride last year, the kid wasn't going to be a happy rider. I was right. As soon as he got his first taste of water, he started screaming and crying and clinging to his mother. He didn't stop until the ride was over.

I didn't blame him, though. I wanted to cry, too, when that cold water drenched my body. Water is cold, even in 90-degree weather.

Like I said, amusement parks aren't just for kids. They're also for us big kids who can manage to hold our tears in at least until the ride is over.

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