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1971 Kings Island Preview Map


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A week ago Cincinnati's Coney Island held a memorabilia sale and sold off a lot of the former amusement park's old pictures, artwork, ride vehicles, signage, etc. There wasn't too much posted about the sale ahead of time, but I recognized an old Kings Island map in one of the pictures shared on their Facebook about a week before the sale. After a little consideration, I booked a flight up to Cincinnati for a long weekend to visit family and hopefully score that map. And after an early Saturday morning (and a lot of stressing about getting to the sale early enough and finding the map before someone else got to it), I found myself the new owner of this cool vintage piece.

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It's a little faded and worn, but it's also nearly five decades old. I believe that it would've been displayed in the preview center for Kings Island at the old park (hence why it was being sold at the Coney Island memorabilia sale and didn't end up at the new park). The map was created by Ron Riegler, who would later serve as the chief art director for Kings Productions. It was one of several park maps created ahead of the new park's opening to show future visitors what Kings Island would look like. Whereas other maps had a lot of differences compared to what was ultimately built, this one seems to have been one of the final iterations and matches up with the as-built Kings Island really well. There's a few minor discrepancies between the artwork and what was actually built... I assume some were just artistic liberties, whereas others may have been actual adjustments.

I think one of the most fun parts of Kings Island history is sharing it with others, so I took some pictures of the map's details to share here... with a sprinkling of commentary (especially with regards to what was painted and what was actually built).

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Description of the five themed areas and Ron's signature... note number five is the "Happy Kingdom of Hanna-Barbera", whereas the real section was known as the Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera. It also refers to the "Happy Kingdom Ride", which I assume would ultimately become Enchanted Voyage.

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The entrance plaza is one of the biggest changes between concept art and real life. The tram circle in the drawing is skewed to the side, whereas the real life variation was directly in front of the park entrance. There was also a line of flags here that I don't believe ever existed in real life, plus the International Restaurant appears to be included (in reality it didn't open until 1973).

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The concept of International Street here appears very similar to what was built, pardon a few small things. There is a floral clock and date in front of the tower, whereas the real life floral clock was behind it to the right (before being relocated to directly behind the tower in 1977) and the floral date wasn't added until 1973 to the left. Note that there's also flags on top of the carousel, which I don't believe were ever a thing.

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Oktoberfest and Coney Island. I'm not sure what's depicted between Sky Ride and Rotor (bottom left of the "2"), but I don't believe anything was ever built there. The Racer station and lift hill also show some flags that were never a real thing.

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Top of the map, with Racer, the antique car rides, and Rivertown.

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I think that Rivertown ended up being the most accurate to what was actually built. I can't pinpoint any changes.

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The railroad and picnic grove. It looks like a series of teepees at the railroad's turn-around... there were teepees in the real ride, but I think that specific location was home to the Fort McHale show scene.

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And finally, the Happy Kingdom of Hanna-Barbera... pretty close to the as-built, sans the big canvas tent structure over the center and the huge compass atop Enchanted Voyage's building (though the real one wasn't added till mid-1972).

The map is a cool piece and I'm sure it made a lot of Coney Island visitors excited for the new park opening in 1972. It's cool to compare it to what was built, and I'm excited to (hopefully soon) get it hung up to properly display.

If anyone has any additional comments on the history of the map or its contents (or if you think I erred anything), please feel free to share! :)

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Thanks for sharing! I am glad that the map ended up in safe hands. :)

Side note: In the descriptions of the areas they used the term awesome for Racer...I wouldn’t have guessed that the word “awesome” was thrown around back in the early 70’s.... but, on the other hand, they also used “rip-roaring”...when was the last time anyone ever asked you if you wanted to go out and have some rip-roaring fun?! :P

Thanks again for letting us see this piece of history!

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