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Monday, March 14, 2016

The Demolition of the Kings Island Resort

About a year after demolition paused, the Kings Island Resort is finally coming down. Highlighted two times previously here on QC/D, this brief follow up captures the complex's final days.

In November of 2014, I published a story about the Kings Island Inn/Resort closing its doors. I took a look at its history from the bold ambitions of a 1970's Midwestern amusement park to famous guests to its decline into poor online reviews and an eventual closure. After that story ran, I had the opportunity to go document the alpine chalet themed property before it was to be torn down for good. Even as we walked through the abandoned corridors, backhoes were busy starting to rip the sprawling complex apart. In those next few days though, demolition stopped. Plans to develop the land into luxury apartments were announced, but for nearly a year the half demolished property sat empty next to I-71 and the amusement park it was originally built with.

The resort as seen on its last day in our November 2014 piece.
The resort's pool seen about two month's after its closure as the initial demolition started. From our 2015 piece.

 

While recently in the area, I noticed they finally started to continue with demolition. I'm not entirely sure on the status of the "luxury apartment" plan mentioned in the early days of 2015, but I haven't heard of that deal being cancelled.

The former pool area.
These cement pads were once the base of several lodge buildings.
While most of the facility had been torn down, the sign by the interstate still remained.

Last known as the Kings Island Resort & Conference Center and previously as the Kings Island Inn, the alpine themed lodge was built and originally owned by the same entities operating Kings Island Amusement Park across the street. In its heyday the place was a marquee attraction of the park, once envisioned as an entire resort complex ala Walt Disney World. It was even featured in episodes of "The Partridge Family" and "The Brady Bunch." After being liquidated and then revived under new ownership, the hotel shared a similar name, but had no official relationship with the park. The facility was unique in its design, theme and amenities. Once only one of a few options for lodging nearby, it had originally been considered a luxurious experience. Over time as competition increased and the facility became incredibly expensive to run, it declined.

I always found the story of this place particularly sad. It was a massive building and born out of a bold idea. In a way, it's a reflection of the amusement industry in this country and how things have changed. With the rise of Disneyland and the arrival of Disney World, regional/seasonal amusement parks vied to somewhat "localize" the experience or become destinations in their own right. The whole fully inclusive resort built around a park idea has really been perfected by Disney, while the regional parks have changed. Across the street, Kings Island is still incredibly successful, but the direction it has taken now differs greatly from the ideas of the early 70s. The KI resort was just another fading memory of a different time.

A full history of its rise and fall can be found in our previous articles from 2014 and 2015:

February 2015: "Last Guests of the Kings Island Resort" - a tour through the abandoned remains of the lodging complex.

November 2014: "The End of Suburban Cincinnati's Alpine Chalets" - the initial closure and a look at the facility's history.

What remains of the Kings Island Resort reflected in the fishing lake, once one of its many amenities.

 

 

4 comments:

  1. Interesting article! It is sad that it had to be torn down. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Seeing this literally made me sad. I had only stayed at the resort once and absolutely loved it. Despite the bad reviews, my experience was stellar.

    I'm not a fan of the Luxury Apartment plan, I'd rather see small shops or an update hotel/resort to fit the needs of those who don't want to stay at GWL.

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  3. I saw it back in November and thought maybe part of the building was getting a reprieve. Guess not :(

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