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

Before another summer slips by, make plans to visit Kings Island

Family fun, thrill rides, an amazing stunt show, live entertainment, great food topped-off with colorful bursts of fireworks at park closing is what guests can expect when they visit Kings Island this weekend.
Read More

One of the Beast days of my life

August 2 is a day Kings Island's area manager, digital marketing Don Helbig will always remember. It’s a special day – the anniversary of his first-ever ride on The Beast roller coaster in 1979.
Read More

Train engineer one of the coolest jobs at Kings Island

Working on one of the two K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad trains is one of the most exciting and coolest jobs at Kings Island. Imagine how thrilling it must be to be in charge of driving the Blue No. 12 or Green No. 19 locomotive and transporting guests to and from Soak City Water Park every day.
Read More

Join the dark side at Kings Island

Kings Island has hundreds of jobs that will make people scream! The park is now looking for demented souls to help terrorize guests for its annual Halloween Haunt. It's the largest Halloween event in the area and begins its scare season September 21 and continues every Friday and Saturday night through October 27.
Read More

Memories are made and meant to be shared at Kings Island

A visit to Kings Island is more than just a day you spend in the park. It’s the stories and the memories that you will share together for the rest of your lives. In 1974, Brandon Driscoll was just about to turn four when he took his first roller coaster ride on Woodstock Express, which was known back then as the Scooby Doo roller coaster. On Friday (July 27), he took his four-year-old son, Ewan, to Kings Island so that his first wooden coaster would be the same as his first wooden coaster.
Read More

Ultimate Stunt Show returns to Kings Island

A stunt show is returning to Kings Island for a limited time run. The Ultimate Stunt Show features edge-of-your-seat thrills, including a Double Motorcycle High Wire over the Royal Fountain on International Street, Wheel of Destiny, High Wire Tight Rope Acrobats and Globe of Fear. The show will be performed three times daily – 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. – July 30 through August 19.
Read More

Meet the rescued animals of Snoopy's Barnyard Friends

Snoopy’s Barnyard Friends has all kinds of creatures to pet, feed and even ride! The barnyard includes one-on-one interactions with horses, alpacas, goats, chickens, cows and more. Read on and get to know some of our friends from Honey Hill Farm, almost all of whom are rescues!
Read More

Christmas in July the time to think WinterFest at Kings Island

While there’s still 59 days left of summer, the holidays will be here before you know it, so it’s time to start thinking about WinterFest at Kings Island. It’s called Christmas in July for a reason, right? In just a few months, Kings Island will be transformed into enchanting winter wonderlands featuring ice skating on the Royal Fountain, the Eiffel Tower turned into a magical Christmas tree, rides, millions of lights, live holiday-themed shows and characters spreading merriment, like Jack Frost and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Read More

5 types of roller coaster riders

Welcome to the Kings Island safari! On this journey we’ll take you through all the fantastic creatures you may encounter as you ride our record-breaking roller coasters like Banshee, The Beast and Mystic Timbers. Read carefully! Keep this guide with you as a reference on your next visit. Remember, No matter which creature you encounter, it can’t ruin the thrilling experience of a Kings Island coaster. Happy riding!
Read More

Mystic Timbers established Kings Island as the wood roller coaster capital of the world

Kings Island and roller coasters are synonymous, particularly wooden roller coasters. The 46-year-old amusement and water park boasts four wooden roller coasters (five if you count each side of the Racer separately). One of them has been a record-holder for 40 seasons!
Read More