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This trip report & review has been transferred from our forum to the front page with Nora’s permission. If you enjoy this post you can find Nora posting on the ParkFans Forum or writing for her Busch Gardens Williamsburg history site, BGWMemories.com
Thanks for the fantastic trip report Nora!
As everyone should know by now, Kings Dominion is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. The park has done a wonderful job announcing this milestone through social media and creating quite the buzz over their celebration. From the return of the singing mushrooms to all the refurbishment and landscaping, Kings Dominion had me all a twitter in anticipation. My worry was if the park would actually deliver on their promises.
So did they? The answer is a resounding YES!
My friends and I drove up to Kings Dominion on opening day and the efficiency of the park was fantastic right from the start. When I go to a amusement park and the lines for entry are lengthy and complicated, it sets my mood off in the worst possible way. The staff at Kings Dominion was courteous and within 30 minutes I had my photo taken, pass in hand, and through the security gates. I was a happy camper already.
Walking in the park, I was instantly greeted by a fanfare of park managers and the antics of the energetic clown band of performers. We felt like VIPs with such an enthusiastic welcome.
After dancing to the sounds of the clown band, we went over to Starlight gifts. The park had put together a beautiful documentation of Kings Dominion’s history. There was signage, a historical timeline, vintage uniforms and memorabilia, and one heck of an amazing selection of merchandise! I went on an immediate shopping spree.
The 40th Celebration merchandise honors the past while celebrating the present. Kings Dominion really understands that recognizing their many generations of fans through their memories will acknowledge their decades of loyalty. I was proud to buy such a loving tribute found in the various shirts, trinkets, and lanyard pins.
Speaking of, I am thrilled the park decided to have a pin trading program! Each lanyard pin plays to the kid in all of us by showcasing the most memorable and historical aspects of the park. You can buy the 40th anniversary starter set that comes with three pins, the lanyard by itself, each individual pin, and several special release pins that have a particular release date or that are only obtained by trading pins with an employee within the park. If you are a super fan, there is a limited edition of 40 complete sets with the blue lanyard and all 10 40th anniversary pins presented in a lovely wooden case. As of today, there are only a handful of the complete sets left; so buy them while you can!
I was lucky enough to meet the Merchandising Department Manager, Derek, who was responsible for the pin program. I was just heading out to hunt down the first employee I saw in order to trade them for the coveted “Singing Mushroom Pin.” Of all the people in the park, it had to be destiny to be the first person to trade pins directly with the person who created the program! He was so enthusiastic about the merchandise, the park, and in meeting us.
However, it is not just Derek who went above and beyond to make us feel special. I’ve been to the park over four times this year and every single employee has given top-notch customer service. Despite the fun rides, the updates to the park, and all the new landscaping, the one thing that really impressed me the most is the folks who work there.
The staff is so appreciative of every guest and every dollar spent. For example, I ordered a salad and noticed the salt bin was empty. I asked the supervisor if there was any salt. Since it was the first day of park operation, the restaurant had not received the salt and pepper packets yet; so she went out to another restaurant and retrieved a salt shaker for me. I was speechless on how helpful she was.
I went into a gift shop and bought a little Gumba and the girl behind the counter was bubbly, happy, and thrilled to talk about Mario Brothers and Kings Dominion. The lady who worked at Border Café was extremely helpful to go over the gluten free menu. One of the workers at Hungry Hippo was so outgoing and kind; I felt I knew her my whole life. Also as we were leaving we walked past a security guard and my friend wished him a good night. His response was a thumbs up, a big smile, and a “you too Buddy.”
Personally, I like to spend my money in a place where I feel my patronage is appreciated. I am quickly finding myself wishing to return more and more to the park, not just for the rides and entertainment, but to see all the friendly people who work there. So basically, everyone at KD is on the same page. Guest satisfaction is #1.
The last thing I wish to discuss is the 40th Birthday that Bash Kings Dominion threw for their fans. It was obvious that the Bash was for the enthusiasts as a generous thank you for our patronage. I imagine that the cost of the ticket barely covered the event as the quality of the food and gifts were of an unexpected luxury.
Not only that, but the event was well organized and efficient in processing the numerous attendees. Waiting in line was even fun. We were able to mingle with other enthusiasts and reminisce about our favorite memories of the park; all while being handed badges, special lanyard pins, and a wrist band for two adult beverages.
The actual event was held in the far back Pavilion (due to the weather). Upon arriving we were greeted in the warmest manner possible. All the department managers were there running the event and ensuring everyone was having a great time. Surprisingly, we all got a historical 40th anniversary program book full of history and photos of Kings Dominion and a fabulous Singing Mushroom poster that featured iconic images of the park!
In addition, there was a live band playing, Snoopy and the Gang was there to interact with the guests, and a photo booth was set up to take video images for a printed flip book. Lastly, they had KD bingo for prizes and special give-aways for those who traveled the longest to come celebrate.
Let us not forget that it was a fully catered event with roast beef, turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and all around awesomeness!
Still, my favorite part was when the Park General Manager, Pat Jones, got up to speak to the crowd. After thanking everyone for coming to the party, she then went into detail about how Kings Dominion is determined to make wonderful memories for years to come. She was humble, honest, and a true leader. I feel that she really loves the park and the direction it is heading and she has a great team working together to make it happen.
I had a wonderful time and I cannot wait to see what is in store this year and next year. Thanks to all the wonderful people at Kings Dominion for their great service, appreciation for their fans, and their overall dedication to make the park better. You guys have done a fabulous job so far! Keep up the great work!
Side Note: Kings Dominion was the third date for me and my now husband of 9 years. Coming back to celebrate the parks anniversary allowed us to recreate those moments once more. The park already holds so many precious memories in my life; I can only imagine what fun lies ahead.