Friday, April 22, 2011

King's Island Kookiness?

Kings Island is located in Mason, Ohio, about 24 miles NE of Cincinnati.  Up until 1997, the park was a part of the Deerfield Township, which was annexed in that year into Mason.

The park broke ground on June 15, 1970, and officially opened to the public on April 29, 1972.  It was named for the Kings Powder Company, which created the town of Kings Mill for its employees.  The park sits on property formerly owned by the company.

Kings Island covers over 700 acres of land, and was built to replace the defunct Coney Island Amusement Park, located 10 miles east of Cincinnati.  Coney Island was shut down due to frequent flooding, and several of the rides and attractions were moved to the Kings Island location.

Deaths at the Park 
There are tons of rumors of deaths and accidents being covered up, but there are several verifiable deaths relating to accidents and natural causes at the park.

1. An employee of the Lion Country Safari Ride was killed in either 1975 or 1976.  Jack, or Johnny by some accounts, was a 20 year old employee who had asked the previous year to be transferred from grounds crew to ranger for the ride.  Rangers rode around the attraction in armored cars with tranquilizers.  Jack made the mistake of leaving his vehicle without his tranquilizer gun in order to use the restroom. 

Reports indicate that Jack was suffering from diarrhea, and was attacked with his pants down.  That rumor is false.  However, Jack did exit the vehicle to  make a pit stop, and was thus attacked.  The Safari ride operated from 1974 to 1993, and the location is now home to the Son of Beast coaster and a storage/junk yard.

2. A little girl allegedly drowned prior to the park's opening in a lake located on the property. The lake is now supposedly used as a reserve for the White Water Canyon attraction.

3. In May of 1983, the park hosted a Grad night for local high schools.  A boy by the name of Johnny, was apparently inebriated and climbing around restricted areas of the Eiffel Tower.  By  different reports, Johnny was either hit by the counterweight of one of the elevators, or was decapitated and mutilated by cable wires...or a combination of the two.

4. June 9, 1991 is a day known in park history as Black Sunday.  The day started off in good spirits, as the park hosted one of its last public Gay Pride events at the park.  However, things would not stay so carefree.  A man by the name of Tim Brenning was with friends in Oktoberfest, near the Viking attraction.  Since it was a hot day, he playfully dipped his hand into the pond to splash his friends.  Due to a short in the electrical and light component, Tim was shocked, and fell into the water.  His friend, William "Eddie" Haithcoat went in after him, but was also shocked.  A security guard nearby got reports that someone had been "shocked" in the area, but misheard it as someone being "shot."  Thus, he jumped in to pull the men out, and was also shocked.  Another guest, probably after someone had gotten the information to cut the electricity, reached in and pulled the men out and CPR was started.  Unfortunately, both the security guard and William died, and Tim suffered severe nerve damage in his arm.

The park was overrun with helicopters and emergency personnel, which seemed to have distracted a reportedly highly intoxicated woman who was riding the Flight Commander ride.  Candy Taylor had been belligerent  with ride operators, but was allowed to ride alone in the two-person pod anyway.  From eyewitness reports, it seems as if the woman, who was also quite small, was wriggling around in the harness, trying to wave at her friends below and point out the helicopters, when she managed to wriggle between the restraints and fell out.  Subsequently, the ride was shut down, and modifications were made so that it would be impossible to slide over into the other seat and out of one's harness.

5. A thirty-four year old woman suffered a heart attack while riding the Top Gun ride in 2003.  She died in the hospital the next day.

Ghosts at the Park
1. Not  many people are aware of the fact that there is a cemetery on Kings Island property.  The cemetery is located between the campground and the parking area, and has graves dating back to the 1840s. 

Allegedly, a little blond girl wearing a blue dress is said to be buried there, and who haunts the park.  She is under 4 feet tall, and is estimated to be about 5-8 years old.  She is most often seen along the tram route, and in the WaterWorks area.

2. Tower Johnny: Tower Johnny is the ghost of the teen who passed away on the Eiffel Tower on Grad Night  in 1983.  Tower Johnny is often seen at the tower, and is blamed for many of the electrical malfunctions for that attraction, and many others in the park.  In fact, tripped sensors with no apparent cause are dubbed "Johnnies."  Johnny isn't limited to just the tower, though.  He is seen throughout the park as a young, bloodied looking man.  He is rumored to be seen at the Beast, either on the tracks, in the tunnel, or in the woods.  A legend states that the bloody cables that were instrumental in Johnny's death were stored/hidden in the woods behind the Beast.  Actually, there were cables stored there, but the rusty cables actually were parts from the ride itself.

3.  Some people say that the Beast has its own ghost...and its not Johnny.  Glowing red eyes are routinely reported by riders during the part of the ride through the woods.  There is also supposedly a photo taken by a ride cam that shows the ghost, but no one can produce a copy, or has personally seen it.

4. Similar to Tower Johnny is Racer Boy.  Racer boy is supposedly a young boy, often seen wearing all white, who frequents the area around the Racer.  The Racer is a coaster that has two of its four trains originally coming from the Coney Island park's Shooting Star.  Many years ago, a young teen boy sitting in the back of that coaster was noticed as missing when the ride pulled in.  A search ended with his body being found in the bottom of a dip in the track.  Whether or not this is the same boy or not, we do know that Racer Boy is only seen during the dark, most often right as the park is closing.  Visitors report him along the sides of the tracks, and in the tunnels, and like Tower Johnny, there is supposedly a picture of him out there.  What is interesting is that while the Racer is one of the oldest rides in the park, Racer Boy reports didn't start coming in until the early 1990s.

5. The White Water Canyon rafting ride also has its own ghost.  Countless employees have encountered the sounds of a child's giggle and the pelting of rocks against their observational towers after the last visitors have exited the ride.  The poltergeist is dubbed "Woody" and is most often experienced at Observational Tower 2, which is deep in the woods, and is only accessible by a small footpath.  Occasionally Tower Johnny is blamed for the activity, but other times activity is blamed on the little girl who drowned in the nearby lake.

King's Island History Pages, from King's Island Central

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  1. I used to go here all the time as a kid. I had no idea it had so many ghosts.

  2. I knew Jack who worked at the Safari. He died in 1976. Really nice guy.

  3. I was working at KI on Black Sunday. It was such a sad and strange day that I will never forget. One of my employees called me and said a woman just flew out of a ride. I immediately went over there and a group of 50 ppl were looking up in the sky at nothing. It was the oddest thing I had ever seen.

    1. I can't imagine; it must have been surreal. Thank you for sharing your memories of that tragic day and thank you for visiting the blog.