May 22, 2006

Off To Kings Dominion

The Scooby-Doo.

The Rebel Yell.

The Grizzly.

The Berserker.

Diamond Falls.

White Water Canyon.

Hanna-Barbera Land.

Anyone who has ever been to Kings' Dominion prior to Paramount's takeover of those theme parks would know those names with fondness. I remember every summer the whole family would take a trip to Kings Dominion. They've done this ever since the park opened in 1975. I remember when I was a little kid going in Yogi's Cave. The big guy was standing right in front of it near a pic-a-nick basket and a fishing pole in his hand. It was awesome. The place was huge with that silly song playing throughout, "This here cave belongs to Yogi . . . "

Needless to say, to me and my family, this was better than Disney World.

But, as the years went on, as they always do, things change and families grow apart. We didn't go to Kings Dominion as much as we did the park closer to home, Busch Gardens. The last time the whole family went to Kings Dominion was the summer of 1998. It was the first time that all of us, not to mention some newcomers to the family, went to the park as a family. Needless to say, it was a totally different place than I had remembered it, but the park still smelled the same. Fresh paint, hot asphalt, and wet wood. The Effiel Tower still stood there, 1/3 the size of the original, but tall nonetheless. A lot of the Hanna-Barbera stuff was gone in favor of this Nickelodeon theme section, though I remembered seeing the Scooby-Doo roller-coaster still in place. There was a Wayne's World section and all these Paramount themed areas. They had even built in a waterpark inside (and dang if I didn't bring a bathing suit). In all, a fun time was had by all, even if it did feel like Paramount commercial time everywhere we turned.

Sadly, it would be the last time all of us would be together. My grandmother passed the following January. And we all, as a family, never went there again.

I found out today that Kings Dominion and all of the Paramount Parks was purchased for $1.24 billion by Cedar Fair, the owners of Knott's Berry Farm, Cedar Point, Geauga Lake, Dorney Park, and Valleyfair. You know, for a theme park that has always been seen as #2 in the state, Kings Dominion's in pretty good company now. I hope they'll manage to become less like a commercial park and back to the park of my youth (but with modern, better rides, of course).


Enoch Allen said...

Seems to me like the property was bought at a bargain. I'll be awaiting the Wall Street Journal piece on the purchase. :)

Duke said...

I went to Kings Dominion once, back when I was a kid. It was OK, though it was the first time I ever went on a scrambler.

I liked the old Wild/Adventure World back near D.C., but they changed to Six Flags and became crappy.

Emperor Fred said...

Wow. You may as well have been describing Canada's Wonderland! It had the same Yogi Bear cave, Smurfland, and Hanna-Barbera characters galore.

Then it was taken over by Paramount, with Nickelodeon and movie-related stuff everywhere, though you could still find the Scooby-Doo Ghoster Coaster and a few holdovers from the old days.

Now that it's owned by the Knott's Berry Farm people, I guess we'll be seeing less SpongeBob and more Snoopy. But I'll bet Scooby will still be there!

Anonymous said...

When Kings Dominion first opened in 1975 it was a true "theme park" with lots of animated goodies throughout the park to entertain adults & kids alike. In the first season, they had 11 (eleven) live shows. In 2008, there are 4 (four) live shows scheduled. It all adds up to cost-cutting measures, but sadly they are converting a magical theme park into a run-of-the-mill "amusement" park - which are nothing exciting, just a bunch of rides and fried junk foods. K-D isn't THAT bad... but I sincerely hope Cedar Fair brings some of the MAGIC back to that place!!!