In a determined search to find what occupied the location where Panda Express is now, I enlisted the help of the Wayback machine and did some poking around. On the 2010 park website, there appears to have been a restaurant called Alpine in the space. Here is the only picture I can find of it:
Here's the description: "Welcome to Alpine – Home of the authentic Philadelphia Steak and Cheese and the Grilled Chicken Philly Sandwiches! Also available are hot dogs, grilled Panini sandwiches, quesadillas, grilled chicken wraps, salads and desserts. Grab a meal, an ice cold beer, and sit by the International Street fountain to enjoy a show on the Bandstand!"
Even though the menu is nothing special, it is kind of sad seeing that European detail in the building replaced with generic orange and a chain restaurant. I never have liked the abundance of chain restaurants at the park, especially this one.
That location was known as the Alpine Deli for many years (original 1975 name). The original menu was somewhat similar to the Festhaus at BGW (just not as extensive). There were 2-3 types of wurst sold, deli sandwiches, sides such as potato salad, Kraut, etc. The menu did change over the years as items were dropped or added.
I guess the closest we have now to the old Alpine Deli is the Panino e Dolce location directly opposite from the old Alpine Deli location [Panda Express].
Placing National/Regional food chain locations in all of the Cedar Fair parks appears to be the trend right now. For Kings Dominion, it started out with Subway then Chick-Fil-A. Course, the food expansion took off over the last 3-4 years, with Panda Express, Starbucks, Rita's, Sweet Frog, Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Boardwalk Fries, etc. the slight majority of these places are for dessert/snack types of food. Cedar Fair has added new food chains locations in other parks this year such as Chickie & Petes. A few parks have unique food locations such as Pink's hotdogs at Cedar Point and Montgomery Ribs at Kings Island.
Some of the general trends the park chain is doing is to hire chefs to oversee food operations in each park. I assume Kings Dominion has hired a chef as I don't see the job position open anymore. Course, if they just recently filled the chef job within the the last month or so, I am not sure if we will see much change for this season.
I could see KD's chef put their mark on the food such as the Country Kitchen (side items, meats). Tweek stuff such as the pizza sauce and/or crust. Or simply being more discerning when selecting vendors who provide the burgers, hotdogs, chicken, etc. Maybe even coming up with a menu for a potential new food location.
Other parks, who had chefs on board before the parks opened for the season, have food trucks! They are used for marketing purposes outside of the parks as well as inside the parks to serve food. I think this allows the chef to show off their skills for some of the food items sold from the truck.
Another trend is to have an indoor food court with live entertainment. A few years ago, Kings Island took their own Festhaus and made it over into a food court with 3-5 food vendors. They had been using the building for live shows as well and still do. Carowinds has a brand new facility called Harmony Hall where there are 4-5 food vendors serving meals. There is a stage at one end for live entertainment where their country music show is performing for the rest of this season. You can sit in the AC, eat and/or watch the show.
Should be interesting over the next few years to see how the food service evolves at Kings Dominion and the rest of the park chain.