Seven little known facts about Kings Island's Rivertown

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Seven little known facts about Kings Island's Rivertown

Chad Showalter |
May 20, 2020

One look from the top of the Eiffel Tower shows Kings Island guests why the southeast corner of the park’s 364 acres is named Rivertown. Positioned next to the shores of the Little Miami River, the area was themed to look like an old river mining town. Gary Wachs, Kings Island’s founder, wanted a historically themed area of the park that also represented Cincinnati’s rich river history. Today Rivertown remains one of the most popular places in the park for guests with three of the most popular coasters: The Beast, Diamondback and Mystic Timbers. So, brush up on your Rivertown knowledge and impress your friends and family during your next visit with these little known facts.

Fact #1: It wasn’t always Rivertown

This original themed areas of Kings Island pays tribute to Cincinnati’s past as a river city. During the planning process, park designers referred to the area as Frontiertown or Frontier Land. 

Fact #2: It was a pivotal plot point in the Brady Bunch episode, “Cincinnati Kids”

Shawnee Landing operated at Kings Island from 1972 to 1976. The canoes are famously known as the attraction where Jan Brady accidentally lost her father's Kings Island plans in the episode of The Brady Bunch filmed at the park in 1973. The scene kicked off the famous mad dash that led to a Brady family relay race through the park and back to the front gates just in time for Mike Brady to present the plans to Kings Island’s management team.

Facts #3: It was once the home of two log flume rides

Log Flume Rides at Kings Island Amusement Park

Another canoe attraction, Kenton’s Canoes, lasted only one season in Rivertown. It was removed to make way for the addition of the Kenton’s Cove Keelboat Canal in 1973 -- an Arrow Hyrdoflume -- which was a much larger flume attraction that helped regulate crowds away from the ever-popular Kings Mill Log Flume (now Race For Your Life Charlie Brown, rethemed to become part of Planet Snoopy).

Fact #4: Dick Van Dyke filmed a Kings DOMINION commercial in Kings Island’s Rivertown

Dick Van Dyke became Kings Island’s celebrity spokesperson in 1977. During this time he also filmed commercials for Kings Dominion, Kings Island’s sister park in Doswell, Virginia. Parts of those commercials were filmed at Kings Island, including this one featuring Van Dyke riding Kings Mills Log Flume.

Fact #5: A Place to Take a Hike!

Kings Island’s 1973 sophomore season included six million dollars invested into park expansion. One of the new attractions was a half mile nature walk located near where The Beast is today where park guests could enjoy nature and wildflowers along the path.

Fact #6: Woody’s Summer Job

Before he started serving Norm his beer in the 1980’s hit NBC show, Cheers, or starring in Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Hunger Games movie trilogy, Woody Harrelson worked in Rivertown’s Handmade Leather Shop. The star grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, just a few miles from the amusement park and worked there as a teenager. Rivertown also featured a candle making shop, shooting gallery and a ‘pan for gold’ attraction.

Fact #7: Rivertown Roulette?

Old attractions at Kings Island Amusement Park

One of the first attractions that original park guests saw when they crossed into Rivertown from the Happy Land of Hanna Barbera was the Wheel of Fortune, manufactured by Chance Rides. It was located adjacent to the Kings Mills Log Flume (now Race for Your Life Charlie Brown). The former Coney Island ride featured a giant wheel which tilted at a steep angle, fluctuating in a wavelike manner, spinning at various speeds. The Wheel of Fortune operated until it was removed in 1985, giving 6.5 million rides.

Bonus Fact! Actress Angelina Jolie Featured In Former Ride

Long before her starring role in Disney’s Malificent, Angelina Jolie was featured in the former Paramount-era ride, Lara Croft, Tombraider: The Ride. The Rivertown ride was located in the building the currently houses the Halloween Haunt maze, Madame Fatale’s Cavern of Terror. It featured a variety of special effects that correlated with the theme of the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Jolie. All references to the film from both the ride and its indoor queue line were removed after the 2007 season. It reopened as The Crypt in 2008 and operated until the end of the 2011 season.

What do you enjoy about Rivertown? Share your opinions in the comments below!