Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Blast From The Past - Kings Island's PhantomTheater

Before Scooby's Haunted Castle opened at Kings Island in 2003 there were three other dark rides in that same building. Originally built in 1972 and opening with the park, the building first housed the Enchanted Voyage.

The Enchanted Voyage featured the Hanna Barbera charactors, which were then the popular park mascots. After 10 years the park thought the ride needed spiffying up, so is was out with the HB characters and in with those adorable Smurfs. The Smurf's Enchanted Voyage had guests cruising through the seasons Smurf style.

After another "long" decade it was time for the Smurf's to move out and something a bit more creepy to move into the family friendly Hanna Barbera neighborhood.

In celebration of the park's 20th Anniversary a new immersive dark ride experience was created. The boats and canal that moved guests through the ride were replaced by a new system created by, Morgan Manufacturing, consisting of 55 4-seat cars that traveled along a track.

The cars moved through seventeen backstage and onstage scenes of a working abet haunted theater. The animation was done by AVG Inc and the theme design by R & R Animation. As for the "gags" many dark ride favorites from the old days were used, projected talking faces, a blazing fireplace (the old backlit plastic trick) and "Pepper's Ghost."

While the outside of the building wasn't very spooky, it just looked like a closed, rundown theater, with a few broken/ shuttered windows, things changed drastically once guests stepped into the lobby. Our host, The Maestro, is in an overhead loft playing a ghastly tune on his pipe organ. He stops when he hears visitors and spins around to taunt them.

The Maestro has six cohorts that show up in various scenes along the 5 minute journey. There's a magician -The Great Houdelini, an actor- Lionel Burymore, Willard Warbler - a singer, Hilda Bovine - an operatic star whose girth is befitting her name. The Great Garbonzo - a daredevil who is shot out of a cannon and the Mighty Bosco, a strongman who in early in the ride cannot get his dressing room door open.

Phantom Theater, like the other rides before it, had a 10 year run. It closed on July 14th 2002, but its popularity never waned. In 2000 nearly a million guests experience the ride, more than Drop Zone, the park's 1999 addition.

So what did Phantom Theater in? Time...the characters were not made to last forever and after 10 years were showing a lot of wear and tear. It was more cost efficient to replace the ride than to keep repairing it. Hopefully, you can still see some of the PT gang on display during the Haunt, Last year they were located on the stage, at the end of the International Street Fountains, near the Eiffel tour. And, Kings Island even played the original soudtrack.


Unknown said...

I wish they would re-add this attraction! It was the best, and with technology now it could be ever-more popular. Do you have any more great photos like the black and white one of the furnace scene above you could post? Such a great shot!!!! Thanks for posting this!

Scott and Carol said...

Sorry, I don't have any other press photos from the park. Thanks for readin