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20 years in the Amusement industry

Part 26: Kings Dominion Declares Martial Law in face of Facebook History Revolt

DOSWELL, 10:25 a.m. EDT Sept. 16, 2018 – Kings Dominion security threatened to reprimand several employees for violating curfew during the first night of a state of emergency declared at the theme park in response to a revolt concerning a wanted return to the “simple days of yore” at the park by employees and a handful of members of a Facebook page.
(Pictured: More of this!)

Park officials instituted martial law in response to unrest that broke out on the social media page during the past three nights after an incident that began Sunday afternoon and continued for three hours by unidentified disgruntled members of the park staff in response to the recent influx of large, expensive, difficult-to-maintain rides. An anonymous letter found in the General Manager’s office appealed to Cedar Fairs to return Kings Dominion rides and attractions to the “glory days” of the 1970s and 1980s.

An unnamed Park VP signed the order enacting the curfew at 8:00 a.m. Thursday.

International Street was virtually empty most of the evening, reported. A guy pushing a lawnmower challenged the curfew, but security was “pretty active, anyway” in enforcing it, park officials said. The guy detained for the curfew violation was held in the Maintenance break room until he finished his lunch.

Officials have not decided how many hours or days the curfew will be enforced. The park web site reported that there has been relatively little activity Sunday night during the parkwide curfew.

Security Officers were forced to swing non-lethal beanbag chairs several times during imagined altercations with the unruly staff. One particularly vociferous youth was hit with the beanbags four times and was taken to a hospital waiting room, where he sat quietly and watched the 1957 public-service educational film “Wear Your Hard Hat and Keep the Head You Have Under it” on the hospital cable channel.

“The time has come for us to enact serious measures to deal with and quell the complaining on Park streets,” the vice president said. “The griping must stop and the griping will stop.”

Conversations are ongoing with Cedar fairs corporate office over whether to bring in backup security, he said. All motorized wheelchairs and scooters obeyed the curfew across KD. Nighttime funnel cake batter production was also slowed.

The disturbance, described as the worst at Kings Dominion since the “Flight of Fear” construction, began Monday night when staff members began reminiscing about the simplicity of rides and attractions that built the park in the early 1970s.

“We hereby demand a return of the following rides,” The anonymous note stated, “including, but not restricted to: Wacky Wheels, the Land of Dooz, Skyride, Thunder Looper, Apple Turnover, Flying Carpets, Galaxie, Vertigo, monorail, Old Dominion Line, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Racing Rivers, Time Shaft, and Haunted River. Also in Kiddie land: Ole ’99, Jr. Turnpike, Dino’s Derby, Ranger’s Hat, Hickory Limbs, Hamptons and Yogi’s Yacht Club.”

Reports of delinquent acts began coming in to Park Security late Friday after a raucous employee meeting, in which Cedar Fairs announced an ambitious expansion project, including a giant, 10,000-ft. long wooden prototype coaster and a billion dollar something or other that “picks people up and flings them all over the damn place.” Angering the staff even more was the announcement that full-time park personnel would have to work weekends all post-season running the rides and scooping Dippin’ Dots.

At least 66 park employees were reprimanded Saturday night and Sunday morning. Windows in the employee cafeteria were smeared by greasy, unwashed heads, park map racks and garbage cans were left in disarray, and the suspect Dippin’ Dots cart may have been overturned, park officials reported.

The worst of the disturbances were reported Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, when the two Maintenance employees tossed brickbats and set fire to the end of a cigarette, even though neither of them smoked. This was in response to widespread but unsubstantiated reports last summer of children physically pulled from small cars, pointed toward an exit gate and told to “have a nice day” by park employees.

Tensions appeared to ease by Saturday afternoon, but shortly before 11 p.m., a Park security officer was reported struck by a perceived insult near the Water Works entrance. The person or persons accused of annoying the guard has not been caught.

In response to the crisis, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Thursday called in his staff to discuss ways the state can rent the park for the day.

“The Governor understands the very strong emotions involved and he joins Cedar Fairs leaders in their appeal to the employees and guests of Kings Dominion for calm and a non-intimidating resolution to the current situation,” a spokesman said. “Speaking of which, he also can’t wait to try out Intimidator.”

Stay tuned to Theme Park Babylon for additional updates.

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