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Don Helbig


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Don Helbig is no longer with Kings Island. He is heading into a new chapter of pursuing some of his other passions. KICentral wishes him all the best of luck in his career, and we look forward to seeing him on the forums.

Let's use this thread to add stories of Don during his time at Kings Island.

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I really hope this doesn't mean the end to Coasterstock. Don really does a great job putting it together and I really hope Chad can continue to put on the event with the same level of experience that Don did. Also am wondering if the presentation that @IndyGuy4KI gave to Don at Coasterstock was some sort of a hint or indication that he was leaving. I will really miss Don around the park, but I wish him nothing but the best with his future opportunities. 

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6 minutes ago, Hawaiian Coasters 325 said:

 Also am wondering if the presentation that @IndyGuy4KI gave to Don at Coasterstock was some sort of a hint or indication that he was leaving.

No, actually a small group of us were chatting about how much work goes into the event. Someone in the group (that was not me) said why don't we give him a card at the event. So I ordered the card, since I had the files of him on The Racer we used. I ordered one of those big cards so everyone at the event could sign it. 

We had no idea at the time, but it sure makes us happy we did since the reigns have been handed over to Chad for the event. 

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Maybe now we will know how Don really feels about Kings Island related matters. :P Either way I wish him the best in his future endeavors! 
 

 

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Don was very passionate about what he did for the park and its fans. I hope him leaving doesn’t put the park at a disadvantage down the road- there are some people who do such good work that it truly makes a difference when they’re no longer there.

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Don did a great job and really focused on developing people. Look at what's happening with Kings Dominion and Don's protege, Kyle. 

Chad can't communicate his way out of a paper bag.  He just likes to take selfies in front of the work of other people. 

I'm very concerned about the future of our park. I live 2.5 hours away in a key market for KI since inception. As far as buzz talk from media, it's radio silence. There is no hype. Social media feeds were the only avenue.  Other parks have regular guest appearances on local TV.  

If you ain't growing, you're dying.

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What a big loss for the park. If this was decision from the park, what a mistake that is.

I don't have a particular story to share right now, but seeing him around the park was always great. Not a good day for the park.

44 minutes ago, BeeastFarmer said:

Don did a great job and really focused on developing people. 

This. I can't see this happening for a while now with him gone. Again, this is a loss for the park.

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Don Helbig has been a fantastic face for the park. A wealth of knowledge and very helpful with my book even after it was published, helping me to organize book signings and my presentation at Coasterstock 2021. Very sad day for Kings Island, but I wish him the best on any future opportunities.

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Don will be missed at the park.  But hopefully he will still be a familiar face at the park as a guest.  

I hope Coasterstock continues.  I haven`t had a chance to attend it the last several years, due to having small kids.  My son just recently (Monday July 3rd), crossed the 48" threshold and took his first ride on The Beast.  So we may be attending in future years (hopefully?),

Good luck Don in your future endeavors.

Ride on!

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This is the second person I know who's suddenly left KI with little explanation in the past couple of weeks (the other was a ride supervisor whom many of you probably know). KI won't be the same without Don.

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1 minute ago, Shawn Meyer said:

I wonder what happened. I know the article says that he's pursuing something else in life, but that could be a cover up too. I hope Kings Island didn't let him go. 

I don’t think Brad’s words were meant to give you any implication or details. Don’t worry about Don. He’ll land on his feet.

Unfortunately, I feel that Don being gone is sad news but in the end it is you, the park lovers, who will be the ones who will end up missing out. 

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7 minutes ago, Shawn Meyer said:

I wonder what happened. I know the article says that he's pursuing something else in life, but that could be a cover up too. I hope Kings Island didn't let him go. 

I can't imagine any reason why Kings Island or Cedar Fair would let Don go. Then again, I don't think it's really in our place to speculate as to why he left.

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This breaks my heart Don is such a fantastic person, I always loved running into him at the park!!! Such a great person!! Ki lost a legend!!! I wish him the best in whatever he does, he will truly be missed by my family!

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Don was always a good person to encounter at the park and will be missed as a park representative. (Hopefully we will still see him around the park in the future.)

 I like to tell my people where I work ----It sucks to lose good people but go be happy.--- Hopefully Don finds something that makes him as happy as KI did. (with less stress and less chaos.)

                                                             Later,

                                                                   Mark

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Corporate world does weird things sometimes. 

Sometimes you end up becoming a replaceable number to a bean counter in the HQ that doesn't know you from the next person.

Sometimes they put up barriers preventing you from being able to do your job and they let you go when you can't do your job.

Sometimes the corporate BS starts making your job miserable and you quit.

And sometimes it is a combination of above.

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For those thinking that this could of been a park decision, I am 90% confident this is not the case. No singular person is forced to stay in any job position. Even how amazing a job may be, it's still a job at the end of the day. Don is completely in control of his life and how he may choose to live it! I'd rather him be happy and do what he feels called to do than feel obligated to work in a position. I wish him the best for his future endeavors! Life is a limited time, one chapter starts when another ends, life will never be satisfying if a chapter is 80% of the book.
 

Thank you Don for all the work you have done for the park with your years of service, you did a phenomenal job and I'm sure you will continue to be an influential figure for the park for years to come!

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One thing I've learned all too well since moving into a management position at my work: no matter how important somebody is to your future vision, employees are, at the end of the day, people. People with their own life goals and motivations. A successful business can move forward from losing any employee, and I have no doubt that both Don and KI will be just fine going forward.

One of my best employees left because they inherited a bunch of money and didn't need to work anymore. Another left because he simply didn't want to live in the Midwest, so he moved to Boston. No matter how well you treat your employees or how good of a manager you try to be, people have their own lives and motivations which have nothing to do with work and sometimes your company just isn't a fit anymore. It's a bummer, but it's life.

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He was great at his job, and thanks to him for all he did for KI! I’m sure doing any job as long as he has sometimes makes you want to move on to something else, that’s normal. I’m sure he had a lot of good times, this leaves open his spot for someone else, and good luck to whoever gets the job. 

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9 hours ago, Tr0y said:

Maybe now we will know how Don really feels about Kings Island related matters. :P Either way I wish him the best in his future endeavors! 
 

 

I think that Don is professional enough that it's not like him to disclose any negativity or reason for the departure.  I hope that maybe he'll start a new Hockey Franchise and I can be his Organist & DJ during the games.  I'll sure miss him.  

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6 minutes ago, KingsIsland1972 said:

I think that Don is professional enough that it's not like him to disclose any negativity or reason for the departure.  I hope that maybe he'll start a new Hockey Franchise and I can be his Organist & DJ during the games.  I'll sure miss him.  

I don’t see him being negative per se. I meant his comments will be more genuine. I can see him opening the first Buc-ee’s in Ohio, that would be awesome!

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53 minutes ago, Tr0y said:

I don’t see him being negative per se. I meant his comments will be more genuine. I can see him opening the first Buc-ee’s in Ohio, that would be awesome!

Conveniently located in Mason Ohio

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1 hour ago, Taylor.B03 said:

Conveniently located in Mason Ohio

I hear there's plenty of land opposite GWL, fronting I-71 (the former KIRCC site)...  ;)

Property records show a portion was sold to Rivers Crossing Church but the majority remains with Warren County Holdings.  Though, the mailing address on the other large parcel shows the church's address..?  Maybe they'll build the church of Buc-ee's.

image.png

https://www.wcauditor.org/property_search/summary.aspx?account_nbr=944115

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Took me a week or so to find the right words to post.  Here goes...

I had seen Don around the park prior to meeting him.  Specifically. he'd come ride Beast when I was on crew and people would "whisper" about him being "The Racer Guy."

I first officially met Don at the Son of Beast announcement media day waaaay back in spring of 1999.  I was introduced to him, and Jeff Siebert at the exact same time.  I still have the pic in my files.  

After I met him,  I'd often see him at KI - specifically on media days - and I always marveled at his KI knowledge and stories.  He always has had a reserved, quiet demeanor.  But once I got to know him I realized what an really outgoing guy he is.

I was ecstatic to find out that he was hired to oversee Marketing at KI and would carry the torch.  (He was mentored by the great Ruth Voss - and always speaks endearingly of those lessons she taught.)

Don obviously brought with him a vast amount of ability, knowledge and know-how, but also he had the key ingredient - a passion.  Its getting more and more rare these days for a person in an executive level at any theme park to have the profound history, and love, that he has with/for KI.   Don is the epitome of someone that completely understood the effect that a place like KI has on peoples lives.

In 2017, it was Don who single-handedly got behind the idea of what was to become "Kings Island: A Photographic Journey."  He was the project's biggest supporter and cheerleader, and without him it would have never happened.  He made a dream come true, just by saying "Yes." For that I will be forever grateful. 

Although its very sad to know I wont see him in an official capacity at Kings Island, I also marvel at his tenure.  He is to be congratulated on a very long-term, successful run.  In an industry that tends to blow through marketing folks like water, its a testament to his ability and tenacity that he maintained the career at KI for so long.

I am super excited to find out what his next chapter will be.  Helbig 2.0.  But I mostly look forward to taking many more spins around the park with my friend,  "The Racer Guy."

Fly birdie fly - thank you for carrying that torch bud.

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I still remember my first time meeting Don, I think. It would have been back in 2008. I was so interested in the Royal Fountains and I had so many questions about them. I remember my dad going into guest services to see if there was anyone who I could talk to. I’m pretty sure it was Don who came out and talked to me and answered all my questions. I think they may have even wrote out a fact sheet for me, which ended up getting lost, wish I still had it.

After that, I would usually see him walking out and about in the park every time I visited. I started attending Coasterstock in 2017, and have attended every one since then. He always did a phenomenal job with planning and organizing such a great event! He’s truly an icon to Kings Island and the amusement park industry. I know he will be truly missed, and hope for the best for him in whatever he decides to do.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I wish Don all the best. A huge loss for the park.

I still look back fondly on a high school project I had where we had to interview a professional in a field we were interested in. Don, set aside the time to have me come to the park and talk with him. Our conversation on international street while the park was closed and being decorated for Halloween Haunt was an amazing experience. He may not remember, but it has stuck with me. Best of luck to him, a great ambassador for the park!

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