Kings Dominion - History - Growth Under KECO Management (1983-92)

Growth Under KECO Management (1983-92)

Taft Broadcasting Company sold its theme park division in late 1983 for $167.5 million to Kings Entertainment Company (KECO), a new company formed by senior executives and general managers of Taft's Amusement Park Group. Three parks were involved in the sale — Kings Island, Kings Dominion, and Carowinds — along with a 20-percent stake in Canada's Wonderland. American Financial Group later purchased KECO in 1987 but allowed KECO to continue to manage operations at the amusement parks.

One of the first additions under the new management group was Berserker - a looping starship ride added to International Street in 1984. Also that year, Smurf Mountain replaced the mine ride Land of the Dooz, transforming the Lost World into The Smurfs theme. Kings Dominion unveiled a TOGO stand-up roller coaster in 1986 called Shockwave, the first of three roller coasters to be added under KECO. Shockwave has one loop like the older King Kobra but adds a helix. King Kobra was removed at the end of the season. A water slide complex known as Racing Rivers opened in 1987, and Avalanche, which remains the only Mack bobsled roller coaster in the United States, debuted the following year in 1988. The trains of Avalanche are themed after the United States', France's, Germany's, Canada's and Switzerland's bobsleds, so that riders in different trains can simulate being in a bobsled race in the Winter Olympics.

Kings Dominion continued to expand over the next few seasons starting with Hanna-Barbera Land in 1990 with the addition of more children's flat rides. A new, looping roller coaster from Arrow Dynamics called Anaconda was introduced the following year in 1991 featuring the world's first underwater tunnel which travels under part of Lake Charles. Anaconda was also originally billed as having six loops, but unlike Arrow's six-inversion coaster Drachen Fire that opened at Busch Gardens Williamsburg the following year, the Anaconda actually has only four inversions: a vertical loop, a sidewinder, and two consecutive corkscrews.

A new 20-acre (81,000 m2) water park addition called Hurricane Reef opened in 1992. To build the water park, Kings Dominion filled in two-thirds of Lake Charles near the Candy Apple Grove region of the park. Originally it featured the Monsoon Chutes (two pairs of free-fall body slides, at 70 and 50 feet (15 m) high, respectively), the Torrential Twist (two enclosed body slides which wrapped around each other), the Pipeline (four open body slides), Cyclone (three enclosed body slides, the center of which was a free-fall), Tidal Wave (two open slides, which riders rode on inner tubes, Splash Island (an area for children with five water slides), and a lazy river.

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