Cincinnati-area native Chad Showalter is the new director of communications at Kings Island, and The Pulse caught up with Showalter to find out more about his new role.
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Showalter has worked in public relations, communications and marketing for nearly 20 years. Prior to taking on his new role at Kings Island, he served as the senior marketing and communications manager at Newport Aquarium, just across the river from Cincinnati. (Longtime Kings Island publicist Don Helbig, area manager, digital marketing, is still at Kings Island. He spends much of his time focusing on the digital side of marketing.)
He has been a Kings Island season pass holder for nearly 20 years.
Showalter worked for Rivertown Pizza for multiple seasons in high school. He graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a communications degree. During college, he was the supervisor of the human resources team for Rivertown Pizza and managed the group volunteer program.
Today, he spends a lot of time with his wife and two children in Planet Snoopy, and he said that he loves thrill rides, roller coasters and many of King’s Island’s most popular attractions.
Q: When did you start in your position as director of communications at Kings Island?
A: I started on Monday, Oct. 16.
Q: What does your job entail? What are some of your responsibilities?
A: I’m responsible for the internal and external communications for Kings Island. I help tell the story of Kings Island and what’s happening here to the Greater Cincinnati community.
Q: What attracted you to the position? Why did you want to work at Kings Island?
A: The marketing team here at Kings Island has a reputation for being one of the best in the industry. So, when I saw the position posted and the chance to possibly join the team, I felt like it was a once-in-a-career opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I had to at least try to get the position. I have a history with the park. I worked here during high school and college. In high school, I started out at the Rivertown Pizza location. I worked the line and moved up with a couple of promotions, but I did everything from grate cheese to make pizzas, and eventually, when I was in college, I transitioned over to the human resources department, and was the supervisor of the Seasonal Human Resources Team as well as managing the Group Volunteer Program. Coming back to Kings Island now seems like a bit of a homecoming for me to be able to come back and rejoin the team here.
Q: What do you love the best about Kings Island?
A: People have asked what my favorite ride is at Kings Island, and it’s always been The Beast. But, it’s a hard decision now, because with Mystic Timbers this year, in its first year, winning the Golden Ticket Award as the “Best New Ride,” it’s a close second. But, I think I’d still lean toward The Beast. I also love the Flight of Fear. It was my first LIM (Linear Induction Motor) Launched Coaster, so that has a special place on my list, too. As far as the rest of Kings Island, I love the experience of coming to theme parks. I’ve visited theme parks across the world, and nothing creates that same magical feeling that I get when I walk through the front gates here, and see the Royal Fountain going and the Eiffel Tower behind it.
Q: What are some of the strengths you feel like you bring to your role?
A: I love writing and all things communications, but one of the things I’m most excited about here at Kings Island is the opportunity to tell the stories of the people, who are experiencing the park and what’s happening here. I know that every day the park is open, there’s someone visiting here for the first time, and there’s someone here that visited since the first year that Kings Island opened, and I want to make sure that I’m helping to tell those stories to everyone else. I think it’s going to be a challenging position, but I love the challenge. There’s so many great things happening here, and it’s going to be fun to become more involved in that.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
A: I enjoy spending time with my kids, and my wife. I think that is part of what makes me good at what I do at work. My family is very close, and we enjoy spending time with each other, making memories, and what a better place to do that than at Kings Island? I have a 2-year-old and an 11-year-old, so I get to experience everything when I visit Kings Island — from Planet Snoopy and the rides there, all the way up to Diamondback with my wife and 11-year-old.
Q: As far as Winterfest, what are you most looking forward to?
A: I’m looking forward to the experience, overall, because I know it’s going to be unlike anything that the Greater Cincinnati area has ever experienced. Everything from the unique offerings like up to 17 rides that will be open to the unique food and beverages, and the performances, and Ice Skating on the Royal Fountain and the magic of the Eiffel Tower being transformed into a holiday tree. It’s all going to be incredible. I have memories of visiting as a child, and eating at the International Restaurant with my family, and I’m looking forward to being able to do that again as well.
Q: You’ve only been in your position for a short time, but what has the experience been like so far?
A: Every day, I’m learning something new, and the team has a reputation for being incredible, and so far that’s what I’m seeing … . I think that’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my career, I enjoy learning. I’m an avid learner, and Kings Island will be no different. I’ll strive to learn something new every day. So far, in my limited time here, I have.
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