Lions and Tigers up close... In an amusement park?
In 1967 a group of South African and British entrepreneurs opened up a drive through safari park in South Florida called Lion Country Safari. This site was the first of six Lion Country Safari parks built around the country and included facilities in Irvine, CA (1970-1984), Grand Prairie, TX (1971-1992), Stockbridge, GA, Mason, OH (1974-1993) and of course at Kings Dominion in Richmond, VA.
The Lion Country Safari attraction opened at Kings Dominion in April 1974 as a preview attraction the year prior to Kings Dominion’s official opening. In its first year, the three mile drive through animal preserve included over 100 different types of birds and animals, in addition to a petting zoo for families. Admission to Lion Country Safari was only $3.50 per person at the time. When Kings Dominion opened in 1975, a monorail system, called the Wild Animal Safari Monorail, was built through the attraction to give tours which lasted roughly 20-minutes. Cars were then no longer permitted to drive through the attraction after the monorail opened.
Not only was the Kings Dominion's Lion Country Safari a great attraction for all to enjoy, but zoologists were also hired and undertook a breeding program to increase the number of African species unable to survive in their natural habitat.
Lion Country Safari operated for several decades and closed at the end of the 1993 season, after Paramount Communications, Inc. acquired the park. Today, Intimidator 305TM sits atop the site of Lion Country Safari, which was previously unused for more than a decade.