Angela Henderson-Bentley: Remembering a very Brady visit to Kings Island
This week marks a special occasion in the world of television, as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Brady Bunch’s visit to Kings Island in an episode that aired Nov. 23, 1973.
Here’s the story. Paramount, which produced “The Brady Bunch,” was a major stockholder in Taft Broadcasting, which owned Kings Island. Paramount (which would later own the park) believed a “Brady” episode would help promote the attraction, which was in only its second season. Another Paramount hit show, “The Partridge Family,” had filmed at the park the previous year, but their scenes were confined to the Kings Island Inn. “Brady” would feature the park as a whole.
In the episode, “The Cincinnati Kids,” the whole family travels to Cincinnati so that Mike (Robert Reed) can present his designs for an amusement park. Cindy and Bobby (Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland) eat their way through the place, while Greg (Barry Williams) tries to impress a girl he met at a carnival game. But when Mike’s plans get confused with Jan’s (Eve Plumb) poster, the Bradys must search the entire park to look for the plans. Interestingly, Kings Island is never verbally mentioned, although the name can be seen throughout the park and is listed in the closing credits.
In his book, “Growing Up Brady,” Williams devotes an entire chapter to the Kings Island experience, not because it was so much fun, but because it was so difficult. The cast was forced to deal with fans surrounding their hotel and park customers who were angry that the Brady kids were allowed to skip the lines. But the shoot nearly became dangerous as well, if not for the actions of Reed. Noticing that the camera mounted to the front of The Racer roller coaster was too tall to clear some parts of the ride, he implored the crew to run the coaster through once without anyone riding in it. Sure enough, when the empty coaster came to a stop, the camera had fallen - right where most of the cast would have been sitting.
In 2001, the episode was selected as one of the most popular “Brady” episodes and VH1 aired a special “pop-up video” version, which can be viewed on YouTube. In 2008 and 2013, members of the “Brady” cast returned to the park to celebrate the 35th and 40th anniversaries of the episode. Watching the episode now, it’s obvious just how much smaller Kings Island was in the beginning. But what’s truly amazing is how much of it still remains the same 45 years later.
“The Cincinnati Kids” and all of the other episodes of “The Brady Bunch” are available to stream on Hulu.
Speaking of Cincinnati-related TV milestones, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the classic “Turkeys Away” episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati.” Though it’s considered by many, including me, to be the best Thanksgiving TV episode ever, it actually aired Oct. 30, 1978. But my Thanksgiving holiday is not complete without watching it. You can also find it available to stream on Hulu.
Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.