Thursday, March 11, 2004

Kings Island: Now playing...


New attractions taking movie themes

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Kings Island's new water park will be Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay, named for the movie character. Jerry Pulcine, foreman from Bowman Development of Wisconsin, walks in the typhoon bowl of the new Tazmanian Typhoon water ride.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MICHAEL SNYDER
MASON - Ever dream of being "the king of the world"? Paramount's Kings Island is banking on it.

Park officials will announce today several new attractions and changes that include giving the park's 3 million-plus visitors behind-the-scenes experiences with their parent company's movies, such as Titanic. The new water park, too, is going Hollywood, with the movies' Crocodile Dundee lined up as its spokesman.

It is all part of a new emphasis - PKI calls it "The Best of Hollywood Entertainment. Now Playing." - on the 32-year-old park's ties to the movie industry.

"We're putting you in the movies, behind the movies and around the movies," park spokesman Jeffrey Siebert said. "It makes us different from any of our local competitors or regional competitors."

Leading the new attractions is an interactive theater that shows audience members what it is like to lean over the rail of the Titanic or be in the middle of the storm in Sleepy Hollow.

NEW IN 2004
Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay: The Australian-themed water park resort has more than 50 water activities, including eight new slides. Actor Paul Hogan will be the official face of the multimillion-dollar park's advertising. Boomerang Bay replaces Water Works, which closed last season.

Paramount's Magic of the Movies Live: Actors will share some of the tricks of the trade during the 25-minute interactive production, to be held in the upgraded Paramount Theatre. Audience members who sit in the "movie star zone" will be chosen to remake memorable movie scenes.

The Beast: The world's longest wooden roller coaster is getting sound effects for its 25th anniversary season. Guests will watch a documentary video showing how the coaster was designed and built. No physical aspects of the ride are being changed.

Nickelodeon Celebration Parade: Kings Island's character parade, with 75 performers, floats and banners, will run daily from mid-July through mid-August.

Meet the Nicktoons Live: The television characters, including the park's new Fairly OddParents and Little Bill, will gather in one location daily all season long.

The park is investing more than $1 million renovating the Paramount Theatre with new seating and digital equipment so the 25-minute Paramount's Magic of the Movies Live can debut when the park opens April 9, Siebert said.

Meanwhile the new, multimillion-dollar water park will be called Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay, with the movie trilogy's star, Paul Hogan, lending his voice and image to its promotions.

The park also has added more Nickelodeon characters to its roster.

There's also talk of a Hollywood-themed sign to replace the one that was blown down in a storm, as well as plans for sound effects and a video presentation. "We're giving it a Hollywood makeover," Siebert said, adding that more announcements are expected for this season.

The park, which was purchased by Paramount in 1992, has played off the movies before with coasters like Top Gun and Face/Off and Tomb Raider: The Ride. But this is the first time Kings Island has shaped its brand around Hollywood.

That could give the Tristate's largest tourist attraction a leg up on regional competitors in this $10.3 billion industry that includes 600 amusement parks and attractions nationwide.

When a theme park latches onto the entertainment industry, or vice versa, attendance goes up, according to Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, a Cincinnati-based consulting firm. Industry experts also say promoting an image is one of the vital elements to a park's success.

"Thirty years ago, people were not branding or imaging like they are today. I think if they had, I think the results would have been a lot more significant," Speigel said. "We would have seen a greater blip on the attendance scale. ...

"What they are doing now should have been done at a more intense scale when Paramount bought the park. But it's not too late."

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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