by Andrew Rybarczyk
It's no secret that Dick Kinzel is by far my favorite person in the amusement industry. I can remember clearly the first time I met him at the 2009 First Rider Auction of Shoot the Rapids. Since then I've become fascinated with not only his history with Cedar Fair but also with his leadership style and pivotal decisions. When I discovered that there was an official biography written about his life, it was with great enthusiasm I purchased the book.
If you are looking for a quick look into his life, Dick Kinzel: Roller Coaster King of Cedar Point Amusement Park provides the reader with that and more. Everything from his coaster creations, to his career in the industry, through his life after retirement is chronicled. Each focal point is highlighted by a number of quotes and recollections from Dick himself. Too see his perspective on many of the stories I had already known was insightful to say the least.
The book has a number of major themes but the one that comes through the most is Dick's love of Cedar Point and amusement parks. His philosophy is made abundantly clear through these pages: bring the guests in with huge steel thrill rides and do whatever you can to keep them happy from the time they enter the park until the time they leave. It is this belief that I believe has made Cedar Point into the greatest amusement park in the world. The constant innovation and creation of the biggest and best rides on the planet drew me to Cedar Point each season, but it is the customer service that makes me want to go back multiple times each year. The book also delivers some information that hasn't been widely known. First, the revelation that he had planned another Giga coaster for Cedar Point floored me. In numerous conversations with friends and during episodes of Uncut, I always asked "where's Dicks big goodbye to Cedar Point?" Maverick was great when opened in 2007, but I always thought there was to be one more. This revelation at least put my mind to rest on that question if also being a bit disheartening.
The book also chronicles Dick's dark last few years. It was also a surprise of how much a toll a number of situations took on Mr. Kinzel. I understand business is business, but after dedicating his entire life to the park and chain, it seemed that his last few years were a bit much for anyone to bear. At the very least, the park gave him a huge send off in the classic grand dance hall of the Coliseum in the place he had become so connected to.
It was fun to get insight into Dick's personality and life. The author does a fine job of capturing the many facets of his life including his personality, his work ethic and his commitment to God. It was also fun to find out that he had an obsession with finding the perfect trash can, which we all know are quite ubiquitous at Cedar Fair parks. In all, this book solidified my belief that there will never be another CEO of Cedar Fair like Dick Kinzel. His impact on all of our lives is unquestionable and in fact none of us would be reading this article if not for his vision and desire to push the limits of roller coasters. He is also responsible for so many good memories of friends and family that I have. I greatly enjoyed reading about his successes and troubles and I'm sure you will as well.