In the 1972 photo, Hitson family celebrates the opening of Kings Island.
Photo: Contributed
Photo: Contributed

First family to enter Kings Island returns to park

More than 125 million guests have passed through the turnstiles since Kings Island opened its gates 45 years ago in 1972, according to Public Relations Area Manager Don Helbig.

More: 5 things to know about new Kings Island roller coaster Mystic Timbers

Helbig said the park was happy to welcome Carolyn Bryant-Hitson and her adult children Taryn Harrison, Heather Hitson, Tamara Hitson to celebrate their historic visit and share stories about when their eyes met Kings Island as the first family ever to walk through the turnstiles.

More: Kings Island Opening Day

“It is special to have them come back and share memories about what it was like as young kids to be the first of 125 million guests here,” Helbig said. “They all have very vivid recollections of 1972.”

The family, which lived in Anderson Twp. near Cincinnati at the time, gathered under what is arguably the most iconic structure at Kings Island, the Eiffel Tower — to talk about what the park meant to them.

Harrison, 57, was 12-years-old in 1972 and she remembers walking across the empty vast parking lot encountering park officials.

“I thought we were in trouble when officials asked them to meet us at the gate,” she said. “Then the magic of Kings Island opened up and we were celebrities for a day and we were royalty. Now it is like being the first family forever.”

Members of the first family to enter the gates of Kings Island in 1972 returned for a visit Saturday.

Bryant-Hitson, 80, who was 35 then, said thinking about 1972 makes her “feel young again,” and being the first family is like having a special bond that will last forever with Kings Island.

Heather Hitson, 48, was only three when the historic visit was made and her memories are pretty vague of the special visit, but she said she has some special moments to celebrate at the park.

“My favorite memory is getting to come back on the 20th anniversary,” she said. “It reunited my brother and I. We got to ride the Vortex probably 10 times in a row with no lines. Something I will never forget.”

Tamara Hitson, 58, is the oldest sibling and she was 13 when the family entered the park in 1972.

“I was here two years ago with my little grandson and we went to Planet Snoopy and we were having a blast — that was one of my favorite memories,” she said. “And I can’t forget the time my dear sister wanted me to go on the Racer backwards.”

More: Happy 45th birthday to Kings Island’s The Racer

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