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Inflatable Theater


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It varied by year. Back then, I got one visit a year to Kings Island, and only one. Terp was relatively young, and typically spent all his time riding, shopping, and/or eating. I must confess that although I was in there more than once for a show, I don't remember the show. I recall some type of acrobatic presentation, but only vaguely. I could look it up, but haven't. I'd rather remember what little I do of that than try to remember what I find was in there. I'm funny like that.

I do remember the Cinema 180 far more vividly.

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^Regarding the shot from gorillasdontblog.blogspot.com, that was actually taken one of the days that The Brady Bunch was filming in the park in 1973, hence the buses and equipment scattered around the theater.

Here's some additional shots of the theater:


1972, courtesy cheezonastick.net


From a 1973 souvenir book. The inset is the interior of the theater.


1974, from an old eBay auction. Excellent shot of the whole structure.


1974, from KICentral user standbyme. The building housed "Make Your Own Kind of Music" this year.

The theater was removed after it collapsed under the weight of a heavy snowfall during the (I think) 1975-76 off-season. I could have sworn I've seen a picture of the damage somewhere online, but I've been unable to locate it. Anyone able to help?

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And a couple more pictures for the curious...


Year unknown (but not 1974 - I'd guess it's 1972). From KICentral's own photo gallery.


Year unknown 1972, according to KIC user Elfdog. Shot from the interior. Source unknown.


1975. 1976 or 1977. Sorry for potato quality - it's from an old eBay auction I'm kicking myself that I didn't bid on. Notice the theater turned blue this year.

Side note, regarding eBay auctions for old Kings Island photo sets - I assume the winning bidders are others who are passionate about the park. I'm therefore somewhat surprised that the photos are never scanned and shared on sites like this.

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  • 1 month later...

A friend of mine just gave me a 1977 park newsletter (I'll hopefully have the opportunity to scan and share it soon) and it has created some confusion. I thought I was certain that the original Kings Island Theater, the inflatable one that opened with the park, collapsed under a heavy snow fall in the 1975-76 off-season. American Heritage Music Hall (today's Kings Island Theater) conveniently opened in 1976, so the park was not without a major show venue.

However, this 1977 newsletter includes a fold-out map. The map includes "Follies Marionette Review" as attraction number 75, placed over top what is clearly the inflatable theater. This would suggest that the theater was not actually removed after 1975, but must've been rebuilt and stuck around for at least a couple more years.

Does anyone have any additional information? Or, as discussed earlier in this thread, the photo of the collapsed theater? Any help is appreciated.

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The theater changed colours because an ice/snow storm caused a deflation which then ripped the envelope on a light tower and it had to be replaced.

Thanks for sharing! I never considered that the theater changed colors (from red, here, to blue, here) because of the collapse. That makes a lot of sense though.

A lot of online sources claim the theater collapsed during the 1975-1976 off-season. Do you know if this is accurate? And if 1977 was indeed its final year then?

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It was in the off season but as I recall the winter of '74-'75...it was a mess. We had to get out a bunch of electronic stuff and lower the light towers before they could put up the new skin. I left the park in fall of '76 and never looked back so I am no help on 1977.

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  • 9 months later...

Isn't there a newspaper photo of the theater structure after collapsing in the snow? I know I saw one somewhere online.

^Yeah, I recall seeing that photo too. I'm surprised I didn't save it, and now I can't find it anywhere.


Found it!




Some history on the theater...


The 1,100 seat theater opened with the park and was built by Bird-Air Structures, Inc. from Buffalo, New York. The vinyl structure was 137-feet long, 87-feet wide, and 40-feet high and was supported entirely by air pressure. It played host to "Something New!!", a musical review of Kings Island's themed areas, its inaugural year.


The theater was destroyed after the park experienced a heavy snowstorm on December 1, 1974. The snow accumulated on top of the structure and failed to slide down the edge. Pressure from the snow had lurched the top of the theater down on scaffolding in the rear and on spotlight poles in front, causing huge rips in the fabric. The damage was priced at $250,000. 


As KICentral user Elfdog posted above, lots of electronics had to be retrieved from inside. There was initially a $4,000 organ, two pianos, and a set of drums trapped on the inside, but they were rescued the following day. The lighting board could not be saved.


The theater was rebuilt, only now with a blue color scheme versus the original red. The theater remained in place a few more years before being replaced by Tower Gardens in 1978.

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