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Kings Island hopes riders scream for more

Melissa Topey • Aug 21, 2013 at 9:41 PM

How times have changed.

With the new coaster Banshee poised to scream its way onto the Kings Island landscape next summer, Cedar Fair has already unleashed a marketing campaign for the ride. 

It will become the amusement park giant's newest coaster, rising where the ride Son of Beast once stood at the Cincinnati park. 

But this is not Cedar Fair's first attempt to christen a new coaster with this name. 

Click HERE for a video of the new ride

In 1995, the amusement park company unveiled the first Banshee, a stand-up coaster constructed for the 1996 season at Cedar Point. In a story on the new ride that year, the Sandusky Register provided the Webster Ninth Collegiate Dictionary definition of a banshee: "A female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die.”

It was a far cry from Cedar Fair's definition at the time, of an “untamed ghostly entity of Irish folklore.” 

“I never knew what a banshee was," said Karen Mork, the Register reporter who co-wrote the story that year. Mork is now a design editor at the Register. "I pulled out my dictionary and read the definition. I thought others would not know, so I included it.”

The day after the story ran, Cedar Fair officials decided they weren't comfortable with the death omen attached to the name Banshee. 

So the park renamed the coaster Mantis. 

Now, 18 years later, Banshee fits the storyline for the new coaster in Cincinnati. 

“The Son of Beast sat there until we dismantled it to make room for this new coaster,” said Don Helbig, a spokesman for Kings Island. “We wanted to put the Son of Beast to rest.”

They killed the coaster with a strategic marketing campaign.

Cedar Fair and Kings Island officials haven't forgotten the controversy. They decided to own the definition this time, with a memorable logo and marketing campaign that included unveiling the new coaster at night for the proper atmosphere, Helbig said.

The video introducing Banshee was created from the point of view of a spirit. It depicts creaking iron gates opening into a graveyard of old rides. The Son of Beast looms in the background as Banshee flies overhead. A shrill wail pierces the night sky. The old wooden coaster crashes down, and Banshee punches up from the ground.

“Guests are no longer talking about Son of Beast and how much they miss it,” Helbig said. "They are talking about how excited they are about Banshee.”

Society has become more acceptable and comfortable with images of death, said one local teacher.

A philosophy of marketing and advertising follows a Freudian psychology that we are preoccupied with thoughts of sex and death, said John Moor, senior lecturer of English and journalism at the BGSU Firelands campus.

“People love coasters because they get a rush from that near-death experience, knowing that — unless something goes terribly wrong — they're going to survive just fine and go on with the rest of their day,” Moor said.

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