MASON, Ohio -- When its founders broke ground on June 15, 1970, Kings Island didn’t have a name.
It was just an idea, conceived in 1964 when Coney Island, a popular amusement park on the banks of the Ohio River, suffered from a major flood that submerged it in more than 14 feet of water.
But that idea would soon blossom into something bigger, setting a gold standard and influencing theme parks across the country.
“It was a real exciting time in my life and it was a real exciting time in Cincinnati,” said Dennis Speigel, assistant general manager of Kings Island when it opened its gates on April 29, 1972.
Since then, the park has grown tremendously -- changing the face of the industry and even making a dent in pop culture.
To change time in each image, just click and hold the white circular “slider” tool at the center of the photo. Then move the slider left and right to see “before” and “after.”
1972-2014: Invertigo, Drop Tower, The Bat and Banshee
Originally opened at Kings Island in April 1999, Invertigo (the blue coaster in the far left) was called Face/Off. It didn't get its current name until 2008. The multicolored tower is Drop Tower, which opened at the park in 1999. It drops 246 feet and hits 67 mph. The Bat (the orange coaster) was formerly called Flight Deck and Top Gun. It is a suspended roller coaster built in 1993. The purple coaster on the right is Banshee, Kings Island's newest ride. It opened April 18, 2014.
1972 opening day parade
Kings Island opened on April 29, 1972, with hot air balloons, festivities and a parade.
WCPO Insiders can explore six more interactive photos of Kings Island, including the Brady Bunch's return, the park's original map, the 1972 opening day parade and more. Insiders can also read how an edgy off-season experiment led to the creation of the backward coaster. And how a 10-year-old George Clooney called in a favor.