Usage of Trees at Amusement Parks


This week on Art of Amusement Parks, we are going to look at the usage of trees at amusement parks. The amusement parks of discussion this week will be Canada’s Wonderland, Dorney Park, and Kings Island.

Here is a view of the trees located within Action Zone at Canada's Wonderland in October. The three trees have red leaves and the sky is blue with white fluffy clouds.
Trees located beside Orbiter in Action Zone on a nice warm October day.

While spending a day at the amusement park, you may seek refuge from the heat of the sun under a tree, keeping cool in its shade. There is more to trees than just a source of shade as they are found among the landscape. Interestingly enough, the usage of trees can significantly give an amusement park a certain kind of aspect. This certain aspect cannot be experienced at amusement parks lacking trees.. In the following paragraphs we will discuss those specific aspects that trees produce. Let us first take a look at the “outback” sections that Canada’s Wonderland and Kings Island have to offer.


The Forests of the Parks

As visitors venture towards the back of the parks, they will come across a forest-like section. White Water Canyon at Canada’s Wonderland and Rivertown at Kings Island offer the aspect of seclusion unlike any other sections at the parks. Many thrilling rides and attractions are home to these sections. The signature attraction that operates at both parks is the White Water Canyon river rapids ride. First, we will take a look at the usage of trees in the White Water Canyon section at Canada’s Wonderland.

White Water Canyon at Canada’s Wonderland

The White Water Canyon section at Canada’s Wonderland debuted in 1984. Interestingly enough, a ride of the same name is the star attraction of the section. The White Water Canyon is a river rapids ride manufactured by Intamin of Switzerland. It consists of a long concrete channel and rafts that meander throughout the forest-like section. As passengers ride White Water Canyon, they may feel as if they’re actually traveling along a roaring river. The bush of trees that surrounds White Water Canyon is quite dense, often obstructing the view of the park.

Here is a view of some visitors navigating down White Water Canyon's water channel in a six passenger raft. The water channel is surrounded by green trees.
Here are some visitors navigating down the water channel of White Water Canyon.

The White Water Canyon section at Canada’s Wonderland is also home to another water ride known as Timberwolf Falls. It was manufactured by Hopkins and has been drenching riders since 1989. Timberwolf Falls is also semi-secluded from the rest of the park due to the great amount of trees. Visitors can also feel a sense of isolation as they eat at the Roadside Chicken eatery or walk along the path between Action Zone and White Water Canyon. The trees within White Water Canyon also complement the buildings that have a rustic look and design. You will come to discover that Rivertown at Kings Island has the same sense of seclusion and old time charm.


Rivertown at Kings Island

The Rivertown section at Kings Island has been a somewhat prominent section of the park since opening year in 1972. Rivertown replicates the look of an old logging town. This is evident as the buildings and other theming within the section reflect that of a bygone era. The Rivertown section offers seclusion by many trees that have been there for years. The Rivertown section has been home to the KI and Miami Valley Railroad since opening day.

Here is a view of the KI and Miami Valley Railroad's green steam locomotive pulling into the Rivertown Station at Kings Island. The station is densely surrounded by green trees and foliage.
The KI and Miami Valley Railroad green locomotive pulling into the Rivertown station at Kings Island.

The KI and Miami Valley Railroad is miniature railroad that features two steam locomotives. It has been taking passengers throughout the forested area of Rivertown now for 45 years. Along the forested track, visitors can view the remnants of a western village. They can also view Fort Coney, that was built long before the park existed. Originally, the KI and Miami Valley Railroad traveled a loop only making one stop in the Rivertown section. Since the introduction of the Soak City water park in 1989, the train has been making stops to pick up and drop off passengers there as well.

Here is a view from the green train on the KI and Miami Valley Railroad at Kings Island. The train is surrounded by many trees and foliage which is green.
An on-ride view looking into the forest of Rivertown at Kings Island.


Increasing Popularity of Rivertown

Interestingly enough, it was not until 1979 that Rivertown had become a very popular section of the park, due to one particular attraction. In April of 1979, The Beast was introduced. It sends riders into terror as they travel along the 7,359 feet of wooden track throughout the forested Rivertown section. The Beast was regarded as the World’s longest wooden coaster when it opened, and still claims this title to this day.

While riding The Beast, one may come to forget that they are at Kings Island due to the forested nature of the back section of the park. Passengers may only notice the rest of the park once they crest the second lift hill before plummeting into the double helix prior to returning to the station. Six years after the introduction of The Beast, White Water Canyon debuted in 1985. The White Water Canyon is a river rapids ride very similar to the one found at Canada’s Wonderland. Many trees surround the ride, giving passengers a sense of seclusion.

Here is John Brooks standing in front of The Beast's sign at Kings Island. The ground is laid with brown cobblestone brick with a wooden mesh fence behind.
Here I am in front of The Beast at Kings Island after taking a thrilling ride on it.

The Rest of Rivertown

As we continue our way through Rivertown, there is an original log flume ride that has been splashing riders prior to Kings Island’s grand opening in 1972. The Race for Your Life Charlie Brown log flume sits on the edge of Rivertown. It had previously operated at Coney Island in Cincinnati prior to opening at Kings Island. The Race for Your Life Charlie Brown log flume features a water channel that sits above the ground as the log-shaped boats roam along, eventually leading to a splashdown finale.  Trees also densely surround the log flume, just like the rest of the rides and attractions in Rivertown, giving it a secluded feel.

It is important to note before we move on that Rivertown was previously home to the Kenton Cove rowing boats and the Kenton Cove Keelboat Canal log flume. Both of these attractions were heavily surrounded by the landscape of trees as well.


In 2009, another major attraction opened known as Diamondback. The Diamondback is a hyper roller coaster manufactured by Bolliger and Mabillard. It features a 230 foot tall lift hill. After passengers descend down the 230 foot hill, they maneuver through Rivertown at speeds up to 80 mph (128 km/h). Diamondback’s lift hill is one of the only parts of the coaster that sticks out high above the surrounding tree line. Surprisingly, another coaster will be calling Rivertown home this spring. Mystic Timbers is a wooden coaster that situates itself among the trees in Rivertown, thrilling all those who take a ride. Now, let us take a look at an amusement park that is home to a mecca of trees in Pennsylvania.

Here is a view of Diamondback as seen from the KI and Miami Valley Railroad at Kings Island. The Diamondback has red track and brown supports.
A view of Diamondback as seen from the red train on the KI and Miami Valley Railroad at Kings Island.


The Amusement Park of Allentown

Dorney Park is an amusement park operating in Allentown, Pennsylvania that opened in 1884. As visitors arrive to Dorney Park for the day, they will come to notice the limited view of the rides and attractions from afar. The amount of hills in and around the park also affects the view of the rides. Despite the trees affecting the view looking in, you will immediately become immersed by the beauty of the trees once you enter the park.

Here is a view of the roller coasters at Dorney Park standing tall above the surrounding trees.
The roller coasters of Dorney Park peeking out above the trees on this nice summer’s day.
Here is a view of Dominator at Dorney Park standing tall above the trees. Dominator is a tall white tower ride that shoots passengers safely into the air.
Dominator at Dorney Park standing tall above the surrounding trees. Steel Force is in the background. Demon Drop is the aqua blue tower next to Dominator.










The only truly themed section of the park is the children’s section, Planet Snoopy. The rest of the park, including Wild Water Kingdom, the park’s water park is quite generic but, also quite unique in its own way. The uniqueness at Dorney Park is created by the amount of trees spread throughout the park. The tree placement at Dorney Park creates a somewhat relaxing but thrilling atmosphere all at the same time.

The Feeling of Yesteryear

In a World of modern technology, Dorney Park is able to retain the old amusement park feel of yesteryear. This is mostly in part by the great amount of trees which gives the park an antiquated and somewhat isolated impression for visitors. Not only do the trees add beauty to the park but, they also complement the rides that operate at Dorney Park. The Monster, Tilt-A-Whirl, and the Ferris Wheel are perfect examples of this. The trees really make these classic rides stand out and create for quite a thrilling experience.


Visitors can truly feel as if they’ve stepped back in time as they walk down the path nearby Thunderhawk, the park’s wooden roller coaster. Thunderhawk opened in 1924 making it one of the oldest operating roller coasters in the World. Trees line the path that interacts with Thunderhawk as strings of lights run along Thunderhawk’s track, making it highly attractive a night. The combination of trees and lights makes way for the ultimate vintage amusement park atmosphere.

Here is a view of one of Thunderhawk's trains climbing the lift hill in the evening. The Thunderhawk is a wooden roller coaster that is painted white.
One of Thunderhawk’s trains climbing up the lift hill on a beautiful evening in June.

Water Rides and Trees

As we venture throughout the rest of Dorney Park, you will come to notice the abundance of trees that are nearby two of the three water rides. The trees mostly hide Thunder Creek Mountain and Thunder Canyon, which are the park’s log flume and river rapids. The usage of the trees alongside these water rides creates the illusion of actually flowing down a raging river. Finally, the trees also serve as a purpose of shade for passengers riding the water rides on a hot summer’s day.

Here is a view of a yellow coloured raft on Thunder Canyon navigating the large waterfalls at Dorney Park.
A view of Thunder Canyon from the Cedar Creek Cannonball train at Dorney Park as a raft navigates the water falls and rapids.
Here is a view of the Thunder Creek Mountain log flume station platform. It is densely surrounded by green trees.
The station platform for the Thunder Creek Mountain log flume at Dorney Park.







In conclusion, the usage of trees at amusement parks plays a huge role in regards to landscaping. Trees more than just serve as a source of shade. They beautify the landscape and give amusement parks an amazing atmosphere that varies at each amusement park. I hope you enjoyed this week’s topic of the usage of trees at amusement parks! Be sure to come back next week as we’ll be looking at the landscaping throughout the seasons at amusement parks! Until next week, be sure to check out the beautiful Fall foliage of Kings Island back in November of 2002 thanks Paul Drabek via Negative G.