DOSWELL, Va.—In 1971, it was a dream. A family amusement park north of
Richmond and south of Washington, D.C., designed with great rides,
entertainment, shows and attractions with plenty of room to expand. It was
new and exciting with something for everyone!
On May 3, 1975, less than two years after the initial groundbreaking, the
dream became reality when Kings Dominion
opened to the public. That day, approximately 20,000 guests enjoyed the
park. More than 1.5 million would follow during Kings Dominion’s
Visitors that first year enjoyed five magical lands—International
Island, The Happy
Land of Hanna-Barbera and
Lion Country Safari,
which opened as a preview to Kings Dominion in 1974.
Families raced down 12 hills on the twin-racing roller coaster Rebel Yell,
took a spin on the Carousel with its 66 original, hand-carved wooden
horses, viewed the musical review “Give My Regards To Broadway” in the Mason
Dixon Music Hall and observed the park atop a 332-foot replica Eiffel
More than 60 million visitors and 30 years later, Paramount’s Kings Dominion
has emerged as an industry leader in theme park entertainment with
first-of-a-kind rides, shows and special events. Here are some of the
highlights from the park’s remarkable 30-year history:
Family Leisure Centers, a joint venture between Top Value Enterprises and
Taft Broadcasting Company, both of Cincinnati, Ohio, opened the
Kings Dominion theme park.
The park offered acres of rides, including the Rebel Yell roller
coaster, Bumper Cars, and Scooby-Doo’s Ghoster Coaster; a
European-style village full of shops and restaurants on
International Street; a thrilling air show;
singing mushrooms; and bluegrass music. There was something for everyone to
enjoy at Kings Dominion.
Bengal Tigers arrived at the animal preserve.
The park sent visitors spinning around Candy Apple Grove in the new
Apple Turnover ride.
The King Kobra roller coaster opened, featuring a 75-foot drop.
The Kings Quarters hotel also opened this
The Kings Dominion Campground had its first
season, increasing the number of two-day ticketholders to the park.
Kings Dominion guests experienced the 17-story Lost World mountain that
contained three separate rides – Journey To Atlantis, The Mine
Train and Timeshaft.
The Family Leisure Center’s joint venture was dissolved and Kings
Dominion became a wholly owned subsidiary of Taft Broadcasting Company.
The Haunted River replaced the Atlantis ride in the Lost World.
The 180-degree theater opened, allowing visitors to cruise through the
Baja desert and see a volcano up close!
Kings Dominion unveiled the Grizzly, a wooden coaster with an
87-foot initial drop.
Also new in 1982 was The Showplace (now the
Kingswood Amphitheatre), a 7,500-seat, outdoor
Senior executives with Taft Broadcasting purchased the theme park
division of Taft and formed Kings Entertainment Company (KECO) with Kings
Dominion, Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C., Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio and
Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto, Ontario.
White Water Canyon opened presenting guests with a twisting,
watery course and spouting geysers assuring that “You will get wet!”
Smurf Mountain replaced the Mine Train in the Lost World.
The park also added the Berserker, a giant Viking ship that takes
riders through a series of 360-degree loops.
Diamond Falls was added to the park’s list of water rides.
Also added was a new children’s play area, Scooby’s
With standing room only, Shockwave was introduced as the first
stand-up roller coaster on the East Coast.
During the 1986 season, Kings Dominion passed the two million attendance
mark for the first time in the park’s history.
KECO reorganized so that the company owned and managed Kings Dominion,
Carowinds, and the entertainment and design division, Kings Productions.
KECO also managed Kings Island, Canada’s Wonderland and Great America in
Santa Clara, Calif.
Racing Rivers, featuring three different types of water slides,
was introduced. The slides, Torpedo, Splashdown and Riptide, all ended with
a dry landing.
Guests enjoyed the new Avalanche, a bobsled-style family coaster
with twisting curves, deep valleys and steep hills.
Guests determined their own flight pattern on Kings Dominion’s Sky
Pilot. This flight trainer ride enabled the guest to choose a smooth
flight or spin 360-degrees.
Hanna-Barbera® Land got a new look with the
addition of five new children’s rides, more Hanna-Barbera characters, live
shows and games for children.
Kings Dominion introduced the Anaconda, a one-of-a-kind giant
steel roller coaster that twisted and turned for a total of six complete
loops! Anaconda is the first looping coaster in the world to feature an
Kings Dominion introduced a whole new theme area:
Hurricane Reef water park. Hurricane Reef
covered more than six acres and featured 15 body slides, speed slides, tube
slides, kids’ slides and more.
New owner Paramount Communications, Inc., placed its special stamp on the
park as stock car racing came to Paramount’s Kings Dominion with the opening
of the DAYS OF THUNDER® racing simulator. Guests experienced
never-ending action as seen from behind the wheel of a racecar.
The magic of the movies came alive at Paramount’s Kings Dominion with the
introduction of the WAYNE’S WORLD™ theme area,
home to the park’s fourth wooden roller coaster, the Hurler™.
The park became part of Viacom International Inc., when Viacom purchased
Paramount Communications. Sister companies now included MTV, Nickelodeon,
Paramount Pictures, Paramount Television and Blockbuster, opening up a new
world of themed entertainment possibilities.
Green Slime invaded the park when
exploded onto the scene bringing a new brand of messy fun.
The Showplace reopened as the Kingswood Amphitheatre.
The world’s first linear induction, launch-style coaster, The Outer
Limits™: Flight of Fear™ made its debut at Paramount’s Kings Dominion.
This unique roller coaster sends riders over almost 3,000 feet of track in
The park also introduced Xtreme SkyFlyer™, a unique free-fall
attraction that combines the thrills of hang gliding and sky diving.
Hanna-Barbera Land was transformed into KidZville™,
a town built just for kids with one-of-a-kind rides, activities, shows and
Coaster—a child’s first coaster—opened in
The park’s second linear induction, launch-style coaster and the world’s
fastest suspended roller coaster,
made their home at Paramount’s Kings Dominion, and the
motion simulator theater became the Paramount Action FX
Theater, and premiered an all-new action adventure film,
James Bond 007Ô:
A License to Thrill.
Hurricane Reef Water Park expanded and became
WaterWorks featuring 19-acres of water fun for the whole family.
Paramount’s Kings Dominion celebrated its 25th Anniversary!
Central opened bringing the RugratsÔ,
The Wild ThornberrysÔ
and other Nickelodeon characters to life.
In WaterWorks, Pipeline Peak featured four thrilling new enclosed
water slides, including Night Slider, the world’s tallest enclosed dark tube
Paramount's Kings Dominion introduced
the world’s first compressed-air launch coaster and
a 3-D ride simulator adventure for the digital generation!
an exciting fast-track roller coaster filled with unexpected twists, tight
hairpin turns and a thrilling 50-foot drop becomes the parks 12th coaster.
Also, the debut of
on The Grove.
Paramount’s Kings Dominion debuts the tallest drop tower attraction in North
America. At 305 feet, the
thrills riders with a drop that reaches speeds of 72 mph, or 106 feet
Also, the debut of SpongeBob SquarePants™ 3-D, based on the #1-rated
Nickelodeon television series.
Paramount’s Kings Dominion debuts the Mid-Atlantic’s first interactive
family ride, Scooby-Doo!™ & The Haunted Mansion. Based on the beloved
Hanna-Barbera character and hit movie star Scooby-Doo, park guests join
Hollywood’s favorite animated canine and the Mystery, Inc. gang on the case
to explain the mysterious activity of a green ghost haunting a Victorian
Another Hollywood big-screen spectacular comes to life at Paramount’s
Kings Dominion with the addition of TOMB RAIDER: The Ride™, a
new multi-sensory adventure attraction. Combining high thrills with a unique
environmental theme and special effects, TOMB RAIDER: The Ride
is an adventure worthy of Lady Croft herself!