Kings Dominion is an amusement park located in Doswell, Virginia, 20 mi north of Richmond. Owned and operated by Cedar Fair, the park opened to the public on May 3, 1975, and features over 60 rides, shows, and attractions including 12 roller coasters and a 20-acre water park. Its name is derived from the name of its sister park, Kings Island, and the nickname for the state of Virginia, "Old Dominion."
Following the success of Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, northeast of Cincinnati, Family Leisure Centers decided to expand into a new region of the country by opening a second park. A 400-acre site was chosen in Doswell, Virginia and construction began on October 1, 1972. The new park was designed with Kings Island in mind as the blueprint using similar themes, rides, and activities. Kings Dominion officially opened on May 3, 1975, offering fifteen attractions. Interesting attractions included a steam train, roller coasters, a Monorail. The park also included a replica of Eiffel Tower (seen above)!
When the park switched to different owners, they added new rides such as the Berserker, Smurf Mountain, Anaconda, and Shockwave. A water slide complex known as Racing Rivers opened in 1987, and Avalanche, which remains the only Mack bobsled roller coaster in the United States, debuted the following year in 1988.
A new 20 acre water park addition called Hurricane Reef opened in 1992. To build the water park, Kings Dominion filled in two-thirds of Lake Charles near the Candy Apple Grove region of the park. Originally it featured the Monsoon Chutes (two pairs of free-fall body slides, at 70 and 50 ft high, respectively), the Torrential Twist (two enclosed body slides which wrapped around each other), the Pipeline (four open body slides), Cyclone (three enclosed body slides, the center of which was a free-fall), Tidal Wave (two open slides, which riders rode on inner tubes), Splash Island (an area for children with five water slides), and a lazy river.
In 1996, Kings Dominion introduced its second launched roller coaster, and first LIM-launched roller coaster, The Outer Limits: Flight of Fear. The Outer Limits has a 56 mph launch, four inversions, and an identical "spaghetti bowl" layout to Flight of Fear at Kings Island. Almost as notable as the launch of The Outer Limits was the fact that the entire ride was in semi-darkness; the riders could not see where they were going. Five years after The Outer Limits opened, the park renamed the ride to Flight of Fear
The park continued to add more attractions and roller coasters throughout the years including the Volcano, Dominator, the Paramount Theatre, Kidzville and many more. In addition, the park began hosting events and themes to generate more excitement from park goers!
International Street is the park's main entry area, featuring a 320 ft fountain pool in the center of the walkway leading up to the 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower at the end of the street. The area is themed to a showcase of various European architectures, featuring shops and restaurants of different cultures.
Along with International Street, Old Virginia is the only original section of Kings Dominion that has kept its same name throughout the park's history. This area has a distinct old-fashioned country theme with colonial-themed props (including a replica of the Liberty Bell), music, and architecture.
Candy Apple Grove was known as Coney Island when the park first opened in 1975. The area is Kings Dominion's largest section in the park, and in its early years, it featured an orchard theme that included three apple-themed rides: Apple Turnover, Bad Apple, and Adam's Apple. The animatronic Singing Mushrooms, popular decades ago, was redeveloped with newer technology and placed back on display. Other features that made a return to the area include a fully restored floral clock near the Carousel, oversized candy apples, and the popular blue ice cream that existed in the park for decades. The westernmost corner of Candy Apple Grove, distinct from the rest of the area, is themed to the 1950s.
Some of the area's more notable rides include WindSeeker, a 301 ft swing ride that opened in 2012, and Delirium, a type of pendulum amusement ride that opened in place of stand-up roller coaster Shockwave in 2016. Candy Apple Grove's newest ride, steel coaster Twisted Timbers, opened in 2018. In addition to rides, the area features an arcade, carnival games, fast-food restaurants, and a gift shop.
Safari Village is Kings Dominion's easternmost and predominantly African-themed section. It was inspired by one of the park's original attractions, the Lion Country Safari. Containing a boat ride and a monorail train through a nature preserve, the safari attraction closed in the 1990s. The area is home to mostly African architecture and landscaping, with many rides and restaurants themed to African stories and geography.
The section originally opened as Nickelodeon Splat City in 1995, and was later renamed Nickelodeon Central in 2000. It was re-themed to the Peanuts for the 2010 season. In 2013, Cedar Fair merged the KidZville section of the park and introduced 12 new and re-themed attractions. Another expansion in 2017 updated the former Nickelodeon Central area of Planet Snoopy with three new attractions and a covered pavilion area.
Soak City, formerly known as WaterWorks, is Kings Dominion's water park. It contains many different water attractions including multiple slides and a lazy river.
Halloween Haunt is an annual Halloween event at Kings Dominion. It debuted in 2001 as FearFest, but was renamed Halloween Haunt in 2007 to match other Cedar Fair parks. In 2017, Kings Dominion's Halloween Haunt was voted the second best theme park Halloween event by USA Today.
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