Skip to Main Content

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi

Skip to Next Section

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi

John Keeter

Kings Island Blog Contributor

The city of Cincinnati has, perhaps, the most noteworthy German heritage of any city within the United States. Dating back to the 1700’s the influx of German settlers brought with them talents and abilities that show in the architecture, landmarks and industries that still populate the area to this day. 

It seemed only natural that Kings Island would incorporate the city’s vast German influence into its design. Back in 1966, Cincinnati’s Coney Island had added an authentic beirgarten that proved immensely popular with guests. So when conceptualizing the new park, designers decided to not only recreate it, but to dedicate an entire themed area. 

When Kings Island’s “Oktoberfest” opened with the park in 1972, it featured the Der Alte Deutsche Bier Garten (using the hand-built tables from Coney Island) and included an authentic German sausage haus. There were a handful of Bavarian-themed rides including the north loading station of the park’s Von Roll Swiss Skyride, The Rotor – an interior-rotating attraction originally installed at Coney in 1969 and Der Spinner Keggers – a brand new “drunken barrels” attraction purchased for Kings Island.

In addition, the “Bavarian Beetle” was the original centerpiece of the area and was one of the three original roller coasters at Kings Island (others were the Racer and Scooby Doo). The Beetle was a small metal carnival-style coaster (originally installed at Coney Island in 1970 and called by its manufactured name “Galaxi”) that was located on the plot of land currently occupied by the Festhaus.

Oktoberfest holds the distinction of being the area of the park that received the earliest esthetic changes. In 1973, the area received two new attractions: The Bayern Kurve – a 55 mph Olympic Bobsled themed ride, and the Flying Dutchman (often referred to as the “Flying Shoes”) - a rotating swing type ride that flew guests 10 feet above the ground. Also in 1973, the Bavarian Beetle had its entrance “spiffed up” with a cartoon-esque Swiss-themed façade added. The very next year (1974) Oktoberfest’s midway was altered to allow for an entrance to the (then) new Lion Country Safari. The Rotor was relocated to the back of International Street, and an additional pathway was constructed behind the Beetle to also connect International Street to the Safari area.

But the biggest changes to Octoberfest came in the 1979 through 1983 seasons. First, following an incident where a 91-year old man rode the Bavarian Beetle and claimed injury, the ride was deemed no longer viable to the park and it was removed. Second, in 1980, the Von Roll Skyride was demolished due to the inability to repair and replace parts. The skyride had experienced an embarrassing malfunction the year prior which stranded riders for hours. Although no one was harmed, the harrowing rescue received national media attention. These vacancies prompted the park to make plans to completely overhaul the area in 1982. Kings Island retired the aging Rotor and shipped Bayern Kurve to a sister park in Sidney Australia. They closed an access path behind International Street to ad “Viking Fury”, a 53-foot-long swinging ship by Intamin rides that swung passengers in an 80-foot arc. When it opened on July 18, 1982, it was the largest ride of its type in the world and cost $650,000 to install. 

But most significantly, in November of 1982 (during the park’s very first “Winterfest” event) the brand new Festhaus made its debut. At a cost of $2.5 million, the Festhaus is a 28,000-square foot entertainment and dining facility that seats up to 1,500 guests. It originally featured a 40-foot wide stage (the first show to perform in the Festhaus was “World Cabaret” at Winterfest ’82) and a 330-foot-long hand painted mural of the Swiss Alps. Over 200 hand-crafted tables were built by hand by David Smith of Lebanon, Ohio (who is still building furniture today) and an original stained glass window was installed above the interior entrance. But perhaps the most endearing feature of the Festhaus was its working glockenspiel located above the outside entrance to the facility. It featured five, four foot-tall Bavarian figures that became animated every 15 minutes to the tune of a Bavarian Polka. 

Directly adjacent to the Festhaus, a brand new Ferris Wheel was added to help fill a void left by the losses of nostalgic attractions. It operated until the early 1990’s. In addition, the Der Spinner-Keggers operated until 1989, and the Flying Dutchman lasted until 1991 when it was removed and sold to make way for “Adventure Express".

Speaking of which, in 1991, Kings Island broke with tradition and added “Adventure Express” an Aztec-adventure-themed mine train coaster to Octoberfest. It signaled the first time the park would install an alternatively-themed attraction to a previously established themed area (more about Adventure Express in a later blog…).

In 2002, the Sling Shot attraction was added to the approximate area where the Bayern Kurve once existed. Then in 2003, the original Kings Island Beirgarten and Brat stand – “Oktoberfest Gardens” gave way to a complete re-theme. The exterior food stand was converted to “Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Shack” and the beirgarten was re-themed to Lieutenant Dan’s.  When the Paramount movie theming was removed, it was again renamed “Outer Hanks” and saw the German beirgarten restored (now called the “Budweiser Moerlein Beirgarten”). Finally, after falling into years of disrepair, the Festhaus glockenspiel was inoperable and the decision was made to remove it prior to the 2014 season.

Today, very little remains of the original “Oktoberfest” themed area. Time, and guest dis-interest, has dictated the change. But without a doubt, its former attractions hold many memories for guests from seasons past.

 

Share This

John Keeter

Kings Island Blog Contributor

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

JDRF One Walk at Kings Island gives people the opportunity to help out in such a meaningful cause

Lace up your sneakers and join the thousands of people who will gather at Kings Island June 2 not to ride roller coasters, but to walk and share in JDRF’s mission to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). The event at Kings Island is one of the largest fundraising walks and overall nonprofit fundraising events in the region. Since 1994, more than $12 million has been raised from the walks at Kings Island, including an event-record $700,000 last year.
Read More

Grammy Award winner Zach Williams among featured artists at SpiritSong festival at Kings Island

Zach Williams, who won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for his breakout album “Chain Breaker” at the 60th annual Grammy Awards ceremony held January 28 in New York, will be among the 12 artists featured at the 25th annual SpiritSong festival this summer at Kings Island. Set for June 21-23 at the 364-acre amusement and water park, other artists joining Williams include TobyMac, for KING & COUNTRY, MercyMe, Crowder, Rend Collective, RED and Hollyn.
Read More

Lifeguarding at Kings Island’s Soak City Water Park a fun and exciting summer job

Being a lifeguard is one of the most exciting and important jobs a young person can hold. While these jobs come with a lot of responsibilities, the experience is rewarding and fun. Many consider it the best summer job they ever had. For teens and young adults looking for a summer job where every day is an opportunity to make a difference, promote safety, help others, and have fun, apply for a lifeguard position at Kings Island’s Soak City Water Park.
Read More

'The Partridge Family' Kings Island episode aired 45 years ago

A year before “The Brady Bunch”, another TV family visited Kings Island with 'The Partridge Family” filming episode No. 66 of their popular prime-time ABC show over a five-day span at the park August 7-11, 1972. The episode titled "I Left My Heart in Cincinnati," with former Cincinnati Reds great and National Baseball Hall of Fame member cast Johnny Bench as a waiter, premiered 45 years ago on this date, January 26, 1973, on ABC.
Read More

Diamondback roller coaster trains get new seats

The tallest and fastest roller coaster at Kings Island will have a new look when the 364-acre amusement and water park opens for the 2018 season April 14. New black seats are replacing the original red-colored seats on each of the three trains on Diamondback.
Read More

10 can't-miss thrill rides at Kings Island

If you’re a thrill seeker planning a visit to Kings Island this year, Don Helbig has 10 suggested thrill rides that he doesn't think you should miss. From the world’s longest wooden and steel inverted roller coasters to knocking on the door of the stratosphere as you soar 30 stories above the park, Kings Island is where thrill seekers meet their match.
Read More

Kings Island attractions give 25 million rides in 2017

The rides and attractions at Kings Island combined to give 25 million rides in 2017. Five attractions gave more than 1 million rides: Banshee (1,636,279), Diamondback (1,557,021), Mystic Timbers (1,312,990), The Racer (1,254,127) and The Beast (1,058,500). The K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad just missed giving 1 million rides, finishing the year at 998,907.
Read More

Kings Island to host job fair to fill 5,000 seasonal positions

Attention all job seekers! Kings Island is hiring more associates in 2018 than any previous season. The 364-acre amusement and water park is hosting a job fair Saturday, January 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to fill more than 5,000 seasonal positions.
Read More

Remembering the Enchanted Voyage

One of the main ingredients in the creation of Kings Island was the theming opportunities offered by Hanna-Barbera. Taft Broadcasting (owners of Hanna-Barbera Studios and financial backers of Kings Island) knew they wanted to heavily showcase their characters in the new park. The Cincinnati Coney Island executives knew that successful parks had highly popular indoor dark rides. So, together they decided that Kings Island would have an elaborate dark ride that would feature a Hanna-Barbera cast. In fact, when it premiered with the park in 1972, “The Enchanted Voyage” was Kings Island’s most expensive attraction at $2 million. 
Read More

Kings Island hiring for 5,000 seasonal positions

More than 5,000 jobs are up for grabs at Kings Island. The 364-acre amusement and water park is now accepting applications online for the 2018 season, which opens April 14. A diverse range of job opportunities are available and associates needed in all areas of park operation. Those areas include admissions, call center, cash control, entertainment, finance, food and beverage, fire and safety, guest services, lifeguards, marketing internships, merchandise, rides, security, sweeps and warehouse.
Read More