Volcano, The Blast Coaster at Kings Dominion Park
© Copyright Naviquan.com, 2011 All rights reserved
Click above to open interactive map
Kings Dominion is an amusement park located in Doswell, Virginia 20 miles (32 km) north of Richmond and 75 miles (121 km) south of Washington, DC. The was originally built by the Taft Broadcasting Company and the Kroger Company which formed a joint venture for the purposes of creating and operating the park. The construction began in 1993 and after a preview in 1974 was opened to public in spring of 1975 offering fifteen attractions. The original name of the park, Kings Dominion, originated form its sister park, Kings Island (in Mason, Ohio opened in 1972), and the nickname for the state of Virginia, "Old Dominion".
In 1993 - 2006, the park was owned by Paramount Parks, the company that once owned and operated five theme parks in North America. During that period the park was called Paramount's Kings Dominion. In 1994, Viacom had assumed control of the company as part of its acquisition of Paramount Pictures. In 2006, Viacom went through a corporate split - as a result, Paramount Parks was assigned to CBS Corporation, a company created during the split. In 2006 the CBS Corporation decided to sell Paramount Parks as they did not fit the core CBS Corporation business of producing and distributing television content. All five park were bought by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (based in Sandusky, Ohio) for $1.24 billion. By the beginning of 2008 the transition to the new ownership was completed, and Kings Dominion was renamed again to its pre-Paramount era name. Currently (2011), Cedar Fair owns and operates 11 major amusement parks: 10 in the USA and one in Canada.
The current size of Kings Dominion is 400 acres (1.6 sq km). It has 59 rides and attractions, including roller coasters and other rides as well as a 20-acre water park. Kings Dominion has several stages (including its own Theater) and produces various shows. The park has an extensive line of more than 30 restaurants and snack stands providing a broad dining experience. There are 20 stores on the premises of the park selling mostly souvenirs, convenience items, apparel. Kings Dominion employs more than 3,000 seasonal and 150 year-round workers.
Kings Dominion is divided into six sections (or lands), mostly, to help visitors locate attractions in the park and understand quicker the layout of the park. These sections are:
- International Street, the park's main walkway area which guests get into when they enter the park.
- Old Virginia, the area with several popular family rides.
- The Grove, currently Kings Dominion's largest section in the park.
- Planet Snoopy & KidZville, the area where most of kid and family rides are located.
- Congo with the name inspired by one of the park's original attractions, the Lion Country Safari.; today though the name of Congo does not mean a lot since the section contains the park's most technologically advanced and aggressive rides
- WaterWorks, Kings Dominion's water park.
Please visit our photo galleries which can give you a good idea what you can find in the park:
1. Arriving to Kings Dominion
2. Inside Kings Dominion Park
3. Kings Dominion Park - Paradise for Kids
4. Big Guns of Kings Dominion Park
5. Kings Dominion for Everybody
back to top
What Makes It Special
There are plenty of amusement parks in many countries. Many of such parks are located in the United States where there are probably between 50 and 60 of them with annual attendance more than one million visitors. However, amusement parks are different and their concentration in different states is different. For example, Florida and most notably Orlando boasts more theme parks than any other worldwide destination.
If you take all this into account, Kings Dominion occupies a prominent position among its kind for two reasons. First, although it is not the largest one, it is a premier themed amusement park with great variaety of rides and entertainment for all tastes. By some estimate (no official data is available) about two million people visit Kings Dominion each year. Second, in the metropolitan area of Washington DC (or close to it) it is the largest amusement park. It includes 11 rides rated as "aggressive thrill", 17 "high thrill" rides, eight "intermediate thrill" rides, 12 "mild thrill" rides and 11 "low thrill" ones. The new Intimidator 305 Giga coaster opened in 2010 added to the popularity of Kings Dominion (as of 2011, there are only three Giga coasters worldwide: Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan, and Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion).
back to top
Directions To Destination
Kings Dominion is located right off Exit 98 on Interstate 95, 20 miles (32 km) north of Richmond, Virginia and 85 miles (137 km) south of Washington, DC. It means that to visit the park you will have to drive either from DC or Richmond to the park. Traveling from DC by car is straightforward - you take I-95 and follow it until you reach Kings Dominion. The trip takes about 1 hour 40 minutes; however, in reality, it can take much longer because of heavy traffic on the Interstate (especially during weekdays).
For the record, Richmond has an International Airport (IATA: RIC) located about 5 miles (8 km) east of Richmond. Richmond International Airport serves many domestic routes. Air Canada Express has scheduled flights between Toronto and Richmond. If you arrive to Richmond, you can stay in the city amd drive to the park (or take a taxi), the driving distance is 32 miles (55 km), driving time - 40 minutes.
back to top
Best Time To Go
Visiting Kings Dominion is limited to the time of the year when it is open. Usually, the season starts the first weekend of April and continues until the last weekend of October. In June, July and August the park is open every day. In April, May, September and October Kings Dominion is open during weekends. Also, the WaterWorks section of the park opens usually the last weekend of May and continues operating until the the week following the first weekend in September. The park is usually open from 10:30 AM until 10 PM. Howevere, there may be some exceptions in the schedule and opening hours. Because of this, our best recommendation is to check the park calendar available on Kings Dominion Web site
While planing your trip to the park, keep in mind that it is located in a humid subtropical climate where summer time high temperatures reaching frequently 90 °F (32 °C) with peaking some years at 100 °F (38 °C) levels (and even more).
Despite hot summer weather, and possible crowds of visitord, we still recommend to visit the park in June - August. This is due to the fact that during high season the park management tries to keep all equipment operational and most shows/event are scheduled during this period.
back to top
Where To Stay
If you want to minimize significant driving time if you stay in Washington DC, your accomodation options are either several hotels that are located close to the park or hotels in Richmond (especially in its nothern part). We recommend:
- Best Western Kings Quarters (16102 Theme Park Way, Doswell, Virginia, 23047), a two star hotel with rates starting at $90 per room/night (10% tax not included). The hotel is located at walking distance (0.55 miles) from Kings Dominion. There are 248 rooms in the hotel.
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites (107 South Carter Road, VA 23005 Ashland), a three star hotel with rates starting at $100 per room/night breakfast included (10% tax not included). Located off I-95 in Ashland, The Holiday Inn is only 7 miles (a 10-minute drive) from Kings Dominion Amusement Park. There are 115 rooms in the hotel.
An interesting accomodation option is Kings Dominion Camp Wilderness (16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047). It is located on a parcel adjacent to Kings Dominion Amusement Park. There are 279 sites offered at the rate of $37- $43 per 4 persons. You can choose between simple tent sites, group fields or air conditioned cabins. In addition, large and small RV sites are available with 30/50 amp service and water, electric and sewer hookups. There are bathhouses, toilets, laundries and grocery store in the campgrounds.
Research and book hotels in or near Doswell, United States
back to top
Useful Visitor Information and Tips
- Visit the park on a weekday when it is less crowded. If you choose a weekend, consider Sunday - according Kings Dominion management, the park is most crowded on Saturdays.
- Arrive by 10 AM. This will give you a chance to find a place on the parking lot closer to the entrance. By the way, it is not unusual for the park to open a bit earlier (10 - 15 minutes). Arriving earlier will allow you to get the most out of your visit. Anyway, check the schedule published on Kings Dominion Web site.
- Plan you visit and select the rides you want to try in advance. Since chances are high that you will select the popular ones, head to such rides first. Lines usually get longer as the day progresses.
- Buy tickets in advance on-line so that you do not have to wait in line. More important, buying tickets on-line (using Kings Dominion Web site) will make you visit significantly cheaper (15% - 20%). Consider buying "advanced" tickets - they are sold with additional discount.
- Check weather forecast; if chances of precipitation are high, postpone your visit (anyway, it will not be pleasant and the heavier the rain, the more rides are closed).
- Using Kings Dominion Web site familiarize your with the park policies - remember, they are strictly enforced by the park management and security. Height and weight restrictions are among the most important things to consider especially you bring your kids with you.
- Some practical things and restrictions to keep in mind are (1) the dress code required, (2) smoking is restricted to several designated areas, (2) no outside food and drinks, weapons, fireworks, (3) no pets, (4) no sound devices, (5) no loose objects including video, photo cameras on attractions, (6) no thong type swimsuits in WaterWorks.
- All rides are rated according to the aggressiveness of the ride and intensity of the thrill it provides. In some respects such criteria is subjective although higher thrill rides are consistently more popular among most visitors. Among them:
- Volcano, The Blast Coaster (by many accounts one of the world's most exciting suspended coasters)
- Intimidator 305 (one of few Giga coasters in the world)
- Drop Tower (the largest drop ride in North America)
- The Crypt (one of the most elaborately themed rides in the world with special effects and music that amplify the experience)
- Do not ignore the replica of Eiffel Tower - its observation platform at the top provides wonderful views on all parts of the park and beyond it.
back to top