By Andy Guinigundo
Mason, Ohio – It was 41 years ago this spring that the amusement park near Cincinnati, Ohio opened. Kings Island premiered on April 29, 1972. About a year later, at perhaps the height of its popularity, “The Brady Bunch” sitcom filmed an episode at the park. More than 60 hours were spent filming the 25-minute episode. Robert Reed, aka Mike Brady, was quoted as saying, “The story line was a very loose excuse to film here.” Even after all these years, the show has loyal fans. That was never more apparent than a recent May Sunday as three Brady ‘kids’ found their way back to Cincinnati and Kings Island.
The day started before the park opened to the public. More than 40 radio contest winners had to opportunity for a one-on-one meet and greet with the three former Brady stars that included Barry Williams (Greg), Christopher Knight (Peter) and Susan Olsen (Cindy). Afterward, all boarded the red Racer roller coaster for a ride. Susan opted for a single ride while the others completed two circuits. In fact, during interviews later, it was revealed that Susan (and Robert Reed) never rode the Racer during the taping of the show due to a fear of heights.
After recreating the riding of The Racer, the three were interviewed by media. All four major local network affiliates had sent representatives as did The Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper as well as more specialty outlets like ourselves.
Here are some of the highlights of the interview:
How often to you get together and what is it like to see each other again?
Christopher Knight: You know, it’s like family; it really is. I saw Barry and Susan just two months ago. Sometimes, it’s longer than that before we see each other. But, when we get back together, it’s almost like no time has passed.
Susan Olsen: Yes, it is like no time has passed. We assume our original roles, not our character roles, but our roles amongst each other.
Now that the park is three times bigger, how long do you think it would take you to get the plans from one end of the park to the other? [Referring to the Kings Island episode where Mike’s architectural plans were lost then found and have to be run by pairs of Bradys from one end of the park to the other end.]
Chris: We’re bigger; we’re faster!
Barry Williams: We’ve got the whole relay thing worked out. On the show, we ran two people at a time. Now we’d just run one at a time. I’d say, 52 seconds!
Barry, was ‘Marge’ working the football throw game this morning? [Referring to Greg’s love interest in the episode.]
Barry: I hope so. I hope so because I am looking for her! I understand they’ve made the football throw hole 33 percent smaller so it’s really going to test my arm. But, I’m up to the challenge. [laughs] Can you believe we’re still talking about these things?
When you do something like this, do you miss the other ‘siblings’ not being here?
Barry: Yes. I do enjoy when we have the whole dynamic here. In the show [we will present today], we will talk about when they are all doing now and I’ve brought still photos of them that are current. It’s pretty hard to get everyone together.
Chris: Yes, rarely do we ever have everyone in one place.
Barry: Not everyone totally embraces the reminiscing and talk about the show.
After the Q&A, the Brady stars prepared for four shows in the Kings Island Theater. The crowd attending the shows was large and enthusiastic. During the show I attended, Barry Williams asked whether anyone had been present at the taping 40 years prior. Amazingly, several fans responded. Perhaps more amazing were the audience members that clearly were not even 40, 30, or 20 years old and yet they were among the most enthusiastic jumping at a chance to climb on stage with the Bradys to learn the Sunshine Day dance. The crowd was present all day. As I exited the theater, it was well over two hours before the next performance and yet hundreds were already queued up hoping for the best seats.
I found the former Brady stars to be genuine and gracious. They seemed very respectful and humbled by the outpouring. They mentioned that there is a Brady convention planned for next year in New Jersey where they are hoping to get everyone together. I suspect the event will be a success if this event was any indication. Either way, we’ll hope to see Bradys back at Kings Island in 2018 for the 45th anniversary of The Cincinnati Kids episode.
Here’s an edited version of one of their presentation that day:
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year. You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AttractionsOOTL.