Date: Sunday October 21, 2012
Weather: Sunny with a high in the low 60’s
Crowds: Low to moderate
Closed Rides: Congo Falls and White Water Canyon
Partly Demolished Rides: Son of Beast
* If you read this at URC, this one is the same. Also note that according to Theme Park Review's webmaster Robb Alvey, those of us who do not work in the amusement industry have no idea what we are talking about (his term for people that post at URC was "f-ing morons" if I recall). So if you enjoy reading TR's written by incompetent folks such as myself, feel free to read on.
With amusement park season just about over for those of us in the Northeast states, I decided to get one last use out of my Cedar Fair season pa** and made the 4+ hour trek south to Kings Island. With the weather being cool and the fall colors in full bloom, it made for a terrific day at one of America’s most popular theme parks.
I arrived at Kings Island around 10:20 am, parked a few rows away from the main gate and headed in. The International Street entryway still ranks very highly on my list of best park entrances (as does Canada’s Wonderland and Kings Dominion). The fountain and Eiffel Tower create a very nice atmosphere that sets the stage for the rest of your day at the park. I flashed my Platinum Pa** at the early entry point near the entrance to Planet Snoopy and decided to start my day on a kid’s ride.
That kid’s ride would be Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. Now, I like Kings Island quite a bit. It has always been a park that I have enjoyed visiting. But this ride stinks. I wasn’t a big fan when it was a Scooby Doo dark ride, but this new generic theme is even worse. Cardboard cutouts abound, the guns in my car didn’t seem to work (I know I can do way better than 120 points), and I didn’t get any sense of excitement in trying to get the props to trigger as they weren’t very elaborate. I’m not a huge proponent of Kennywood’s Ghostwood Estate, but that ride is WAY better than this. It pains me to see such a lame ride occupy the building that once housed such awesomeness as Smurf’s Enchanted Voyage and Phantom Theater. I know this is a kid’s ride though and the kids definitely seemed to be enjoying it, so I will stop my complaining.
Next stop, Diamondback. When I rode Diamondback in its inaugural season of 2009, I wasn’t overly impressed. Three years later, I have a new #3 steel coaster. I don’t know if it is just my personal preferences changing or what, but Diamondback was absolutely awesome this year. The first drop was great, the floating airtime on the second and third hills seemed like it lasted forever, and while the return leg after the mid-course brake wasn’t quite as intense as the first half, it’s still one heck of a ride. Diamondback was definitely my highlight of the day as I rode two more times, once near the front and once near the back. I thought towards the front offered more sustained air on the outbound trip while the back seemed to have more airtime on the return leg. Flying through the 50 degree air and watching the fall colors fly past made for a memorable experience. If I had to rank the B&M hypers that I’ve been on, I’d have to say that Leviathan is #1, Diamondback #2, Apollo’s Chariot #3, Behemoth #4, and Raging Bull #5. I’m still in awe over how great my rides on Diamondback were.
With the park now open to the GP, I wandered through Rivertown to ride an old favorite, the legendary Beast. The Beast was my first ever #1 roller coaster back when I was a kid and to this day still ranks as one of my favorite wood coasters, even if it isn’t quite as intense as it used to be. Beast was running relatively well on my visit. The climb up the first lift seemed to take an eternity as the lift was running in extra slow-motion and then stopped the train for about 20 seconds near the top before we eventually began our descent. The Beast’s first drop is so severely braked that you don’t really get going until the train reaches the tunnel. I know I’m exaggerating a bit there, but you do feel the brake down about halfway down the first drop. Once the train speeds through the first tunnel, it begins to gain a serious amount of speed before slowing down again in the “shed” straightaway portion. After briefly slowing, the train REALLY starts to haul through more stretches of track deep in the Kings Island woods before finally flying about halfway up the second chain lift. The ride’s finale has always been a favorite of mine as the train tears through a tunneled double helix. Laterals here are crazy and I actually thought that this portion seemed much smoother than my last ride in 2009. While I have become a Ravine Flyer II fanboy in recent years, Beast will always have a place as one of my top woodies. What other wooden coaster goes for nearly 4 minutes through a densely-wooded setting? A real cla**ic in my opinion.
I walked past Backlot Stunt Coaster, debating if I should ride or not. It took all of 1 second to decide to keep on walking towards Flight Of Fear. Flight of Fear was a walk-on and what an incredible ride I had. I must be getting old because once the train returned to the unloading area, I had no idea what the heck just happened. I had to sit down afterwards because my head was spinning. The launch was quick and forceful. It was pretty dark in the “drum” area as the train twisted, turned and looped through the course, and while the mid-course brake was on quite hard, it didn’t take long for the ride to pick up speed once again en route to the awesome corkscrew element. This final inversion always feels like you will be pitched from the train! Flight Of Fear is a very underrated ride and has become a must-ride on any visit to Kings Island.
I backtracked to Vortex next to ride another coaster that I once ranked as my #1 ride. Vortex was also a walk-on and this Arrow multi-looper is still running pretty well for its age. I have always liked Vortex’s first drop. It seems much steeper than the 55 degrees that it actually is. The double loop section is pretty smooth and then the train comes to a near stop on the mid-course brake, which results in a VERY slow trip through the highly-elevated double corkscrew section. The boomerang turn completes the inversions before whizzing through a 360-degree helix at the end. I didn’t find Vortex to be rough at all and actually thought it was quite good. The orange paint is looking a bit faded, but that’s a minor complaint for an otherwise excellent ride.
I continued my mad dash across the park to beat the lines by walking briskly to the Action Zone area and hopped aboard Drop Tower. I had to wait one cycle, which is roughly about a 3 minute wait or so. There’s something about KI’s Drop Tower that makes it one of my favorites. I think it’s the fact that the ring actually revolves on the way up like the old Gyro Observation Towers. You get a gorgeous view of the entire park and surrounding area, and the view of the fall leaves was breathtaking. As the ring nears top of the tower, it slows a bit, stops at the very top, and then you wait. After what seemed like minutes, the ring drops and it feels like you are falling for about 30 seconds before you finally hit the ground, but in reality, it’s only a 3 second drop. Drop Tower may have a stupid name, but you can’t beat the true adrenaline rush it provides!
While in the Action Zone, I headed over to Flight Deck, one of the few remaining Arrow suspended coasters left, and the second suspended coaster to operate at Kings Island after the Bat was closed in 1984. Walking the 12 miles to the Flight Deck loading platform, I stopped and paid my respects to Son of Beast, whose lift hill and first drop are still standing. I know I was in the minority, but I always liked SoB and was sad to see it being destroyed. In any case, Flight Deck is awesome. It’s a short and sweet ride that flies through the course and has the hanging cars swinging like crazy. I rode this ride’s clone at Canada’s Wonderland back in May and enjoyed it, however I give Flight Deck the edge. It seemed smoother than CW’s Vortex and has an awesome setting way back in the woods of the park. I will never understand why these rides never caught on. They are thrilling and are sort of family-friendly. I will ride this while I can as I’m sure it too will be reaching the “end of its serviceable life” soon…
I ended my coasting with a trip on Adventure Express, which has to be one of the best mine train coasters I have been on. The Indiana Jones-like theme of the ride is well-executed as the train flies through skeleton-infested tunnels and past other neat props. The speed of Adventure Express is pretty nice too as the train navigates through many twists and turns before climbing the infamous enclosed tunnel lined with tiki gods pounding on drums and an evil tiki god at the top of the hill that threatens you with a booming “Now you will PAYYYYY!”. The ride ends after that, which still makes me laugh that they have this awesome build up only to result in the train rolling into the station. Regardless, AE is a wonderful ride that I hope lasts a long time at Kings Island. I give major props to KI for the upkeep of the special effects as well. Cedar Fair has never been one to maintain theming on their rides (Disaster Transport comes to mind), but it seemed like all the effects were in good working order and the sound effects from when the ride debuted were still being used also. Great stuff!
My final ride would be an elevator ride up to the Eiffel Tower observation deck. I REALLY wish more parks had something like this. It’s so nice to be able to take your time and just look at the park from the top without having to rush. I know I keep mentioning the fall colors, but from up here they were absolutely amazing and the park looked stunning. I could have spent a few hours up here just looking down at the park.
I had considered riding Racer, but the lines were starting to grow and the ride wasn’t racing, so I pa**ed. I also can’t bring myself to ride Firehawk since the last time I visited a park and rode a former Geauga Lake ride, I got very angry and it pretty much ruined my visit. So I took a lap or two around the park and shot some very shaky video footage. I SO need a dedicated video camera for 2013. The image stabilization on my point and shoot digital camera is non-existent.
While I didn’t spend a lot of time at the park, the time I did spend there was highly enjoyable and my opinion of KI’s coaster collection has improved immensely, mostly due to Diamondback, but also in part due to Flight of Fear. Those are two amazing coasters that I need to try and get to more often. With big plans rumored for Son of Beast’s spot in 2014, I will definitely have to return.
Video is attached below. If you prone to motion sickness or seizures, you may not want to watch… Thanks for reading.