And a lot of this was the result of changing trends over the decades that don’t necessarily appeal today.
Kings Island (and several other regional/seasonal parks across the nation) was truly envisioned as a “Disney of the Midwest.” Not in the sense of totally themed attractions, but in the sense of being a destination. The park was a draw, but the idea was that there’d be a whole “resort” with options and activities that would attract whole families (and their money) for extended periods of time. At the same time, you could also grab up local passholders who’d routinely visit and spend money.
The Kings Island golf courses were once renown and a step above simply due to availability. They were constructed at a time well before golf was a more “casual” sport and well before so many suburban neighborhoods (across the nation) were constructed around new golf courses. Over time, Kings Island’s golf center went from having limited competition to courses all over the region. Golf was no longer just the sport of the wealthy and those who had a Country Club membership/those who would travel to play at courses like KI’s, golf was soon found all across the suburbs and even in public parks.
Then there’s the resort, which when originally built, was quite a few steps above standard lodging. KI’s also had no nearby competition. If you wanted to stay at a hotel near the park, it was by far the most convenient. Kings Mills and the Mason/Fields Ertel exit had close to nothing when the park opened, but soon piled up with a range of quality in hotel options as that industry changed too. Very quickly, the KI resort went from being renown luxury lodging to “pretty good” to “just ok” to “yeah, I just need a cheap bed for the night” to demolished.
In terms of the campground, it’s been stated earlier in this thread just how popular camping was for a time. It seems to still be a popular pastime with enthusiasts, but the types of camping pursued has shifted. KI’s campground wasn’t just an attempt to capitalize on the craze of the 70’s, but to also offer a cheaper option for lodging when there wasn’t many alternatives nearby (except for their expensive resort). Around the time our campground was killed off and GWL built, Carowinds opened up a revamped and improved campground. If I recall correctly, that model was never really replicated in the chain by either Paramount or Cedar Fair. Nowadays, camping seems to just be a nice option to have at a park, but not something holding you back from attracting more guests.
Overall, KI’s mission has changed too in an ever evolving world of entertainment options where you can choose to spend your disposable income. This has occurred at other parks built around the same time. The idea of “regional Disney’s” and massive “resort complexes” seemed to fade after the 70s. Soon parks began targeting local populations and regional visitors more strongly, realizing that the regular money comes from regular customers who spend within the park. Paramount Parks attempted highly themed attractions (usually executing them quite poorly), but the emphasis was always on the region rather than nationwide travelers. Under Cedar Fair, we’ve seen similar things. They know their core audience lies within the regions surrounding each parks (save for some wiggle room for exception at the larger properties such as KI, CP, KBF, and CW).
This doesn’t always pay off, though. During the 2008 recession, CF banked on the thinking that most people would choose to stay home from vacations and frequent their regional parks more. Instead, people seemed to save up for that big vacation and take it at the expense of in park spending, season passes, and visits to their local/regional park.
Sorry for the diatribe. Just bummed I can’t visit the “College Football Hall of Fame” anymore (because of course, that was once part of KI’s “resort” too).
Edit: just to add, the KI Resort property was supposedly going to get townhomes/apartments built on it via Towne Properties, but that seems to have stalled.