After three years of design and construction work, The Beast roller coaster at Kings Island was officially, and quite appropriately, “unchained” in a steady downpour 41 years ago on Friday, April 13, 1979, for hundreds of newspaper, television and radio reporters from around the U.S. and Great Britain. The weather was of little concern, however, to those who showed up to experience the record-breaking 7,359-foot long wooden roller coaster for the first time.
The following 17 individuals climbed aboard the gleaming red, orange and yellow coaster cars for the first official ride:
- Charles S. Meachem, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Taft Broadcasting Company
- Dudley S. Taft, President, Taft Broadcasting Company
- Gary S. Wachs, Executive V.P., Amusement Park Group, Taft Broadcasting Company
- Charles Flatt, V.P. Construction & Engineering, Amusement Park Group, Taft Broadcasting Company
- William C. Price, Vice President & General Manager, Kings Island
- Frank Thompson, Operations Director, Kings Island
- Walt Davis, Director of Park Services, Kings Island
- Charles Dinn, Director of Construction, Maintenance & Engineering, Kings Island
- Bill Reed, Director of Rides, Kings Island
- David Palmer, Director of Marketing, Kings Island
- Dick Fussner, Director of Loss Prevention, Kings Island
- Chris Schaffer, Controller, Kings Island
- Al Collins, Resident Engineer, Kings Island
- Jeff Gramke, Assistant Engineer, Kings Island
- Jimmie Nickell, Assistant Director of Construction, Maintenance & Engineering, Kings Island
- Charles Swing, Maintenance Manager, Kings Island
- Charles Wright, Carpenter Foreman, Kings Island
After that, members of the media and one ecstatic roller coaster enthusiast (Carl Eichelman) then spent the next four and one-half hours taking turns aboard The Beast, many attaching cameras to special mounts on the front cars to try and capture the sights and sounds of the ride.
It was cold, rainy and windy, but, oh, what a wonderful day!
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