Welcome to Part 2 of our coverage of what is arguably Kings Island’s most missed attraction: Phantom Theater. The story of the attraction loosely was based on “Phantom of the Opera” with original characters. As guests went through the queue, they would encounter posters of the theater stars such as…
The Great Garbonzo…
… and Maestro, the organist. Just beyond the posters lied a small switchback queue where Maestro, in animatronic form, played the organ for guests. Every few minutes he would spin around and address the crowd, warning them that the theater is filled with ghastly sights and sounds. We were advised to enter at our own risk!
Along the walls leading to the load platform were essentially bust molds. When a light was shining through them, the faces would seem to follow you as you walked down the hall. This effect is still used in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion loading area and in Walt Disney World’s library scene.
Another similarity to the Haunted Mansion is the omnimover-style ride system. Instead of loading via a “treadmill,” Morgan Development created a turntable that served as both the load and unload area in order to save space. However, notice how far apart the vehicles are from one another. This gave them an extra few seconds to time some effects for your car, instead everything being on a continuous loop.
Just beyond load, Maestro welcomes us backstage to the theater. Now, those posters we saw in the queue were coming to life.
These posters were printed on scrim, where every few seconds a light would shine behind the frame revealing….
… the phantom versions of the performers in the show! Next we went past the dressing rooms and we would see small glimpses of characters manifesting.
We then ran across a half-bodied usher summoning us to take our seats for the big show….
Around the corner, we find ourselves backstage where a phantom stage manager throws a switch on a lighting board. Seconds later, he’s shining a light on your car with a flashlight in total darkness.
As the cars rounded the corner, guests came across two stage hands. Needless to say, they had been out of practice for a while…
Next guests would enter rehearsal rooms where they would see the talent warming up.
Now it’s show time… an usher shows us the way to the theater… Unforunately, I do not have any pictures of the actual theater. It was a large peppers ghost effect like used in Disney’s Haunted Mansion ballroom scene and was very difficult to get pictures of. It wasn’t as large or as grand in scale, but still very effective.
As guests exited the theater, Maestro was there taunting them, saying they needed to see more. Next, we entered the prop room where there was a statue that had come to life thanks to a projection effect (think similar to Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion, but larger) and a gargoyle that had come to life in the corner.
The final scene was in the boiler room of Phantom Theater. Two guys who were keeping the boiler running decide to turn the heat up for guests riding by and they open the gates as a hot blast of air goes over the car.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. Those of you who are seeing this ride for the first time, I am glad we can show you what once was. It really was a gem of an attraction. Phantom Theater in Kings Island is sorely missed and many thanks go out to Rick Bastrup of R&R Creative Amusement Designs for giving us these exclusive photos.