June 17, 2002
It had been about a decade since my last visit to Kings Dominion. When I was younger, my extended family would go during the summer when we were visiting my grandparents, who lived closer than we did. Some of my brother’s friends were going, so we were supposed to go with them, but he flaked out last minute. I really wanted to go and ride their newest coaster, Hypersonic XLC. At this point in life I was really starting to get into coasters and parks as the internet had introduced me to a whole new community. Eventually I decided I would drive down myself during the week for a day.
So after a weeks delay in my plans I headed south on Monday June 17 for a day at the park. The ride to Doswell, VA was LONG and BORING, but an easy one mostly consisting of interstate. After getting lost in Richmond, turned around, and back on the right track, I found myself on Interstate 95 only a few short miles to PKD. There is a large sign right by the interstate marking Kings Dominion so that you know to get off on the next exit. The park is kind of in the middle of no-where, with a few factories and gas stations near it.
I arrived around 11am, paid to park, and found a close spot near the entrance. After getting my backpack and heading towards the main gate I was happy to see that the whether was very mild, and of course since it was a Monday the crowd was very light. While making my way to the front entrance 3 people around my age stopped me to ask if I had purchased a ticket yet, to which I replied no. They had an extra ticket since a friend dropped out of going and asked if I wanted to buy it for $20, which is half of what I would normally have had to pay to get into the park. Score!
I headed straight for Volcano, an Intamin inverted coaster I had been dying to ride since it was built. This was the longest line that I had to wait in all day at about an hour and since I had planned to stay till closing I knew I could get a front seat ride later, so I chose to sit in the last seat. Normally I take my glasses off on rides (can’t lose those or I won’t be able to see and drive) but one of the ride operators had glasses on too and told me the trick to riding with them on, so I did and I must tell you, it is a completely different experience seeing when you are on a coaster than having to take your glasses off and not seeing anything!
Volcano: The Blast Coaster-Volcano was great! Other than the volcano eruption this ride is totally silent when you are in line, with the exception of the screaming riders. While you are actually on the ride, its still barely audible going around the track, and a very smooth ride. The first LIM launch is incredible! I was expecting a launch out of the station, but noticed that the trains left the station rather slow. It was only when I got into the boarding area that I noticed where the launch was, and trust me, its intense! After blasting you out of a small tunnel, you’re then flung around a massive turn and into another tunnel at the base of the volcano where you get another shot of LIMs, and into the inversion out the top of the volcano. The entire ride is great, if just a bit short.
After my first blast of the day I decide to ride another coaster that I had always wanted to ride, Flight of Fear. Having ridden Joker’s Jinx at Six Flags America the year before, I already knew I’d like this ride. I’d ridden Joker with the over the shoulder restraints, but Flight of Fear had already gotten the new lap bar restraints and, unlike Joker, this one is inside.
Flight of Fear-The theming on this ride is cool. About 75% of the line is indoors in a dark, air-conditioned room with a large UFO as the centerpiece. I only waited about 20 minutes for this ride, and since the line was already short I again opted to skip the front since I knew I could come back for seconds. I sat in the second seat and I wish all looping rides had this kind of restraint, though better in the back of the ride. The ride launches you at around 60mph into a cobra roll then into what is known as the spaghetti bowl track layout. It is already disorienting on a ride like Joker’s Jinx that is outdoors, but in the dark its even more so.
While in line for Flight of Fear the guy in front of me said that Anaconda was a walk-on so thats where I headed next. This is your standard Arrow looper, and since it was early in the day and there was a very small line I knew once again that the front could wait till later, so I chose the back of the train instead.
Anaconda-The first drop into the lake is great, and the inversions are the smoothest I’d ever felt on an Arrow up to that point, but the ride still messed with my stomach, and I hadn’t eaten yet. Its kind of short and I wish there were no midcourse brake, but Anaconda is a decent old school Arrow looper.
I took a break from riding, went and got some food at Subway, and decide to head over to Hypersonic to see it up close. While walking through the park I have to admit, though the theming is somewhat inconsistent, the park has a beautiful landscape and lost of water features, flowers, and trees to hide the coasters. After eating I headed for the Hurler (maybe not the best idea?), a clone of the one at Paramount’s Carowinds which I’d ridden before. I knew I’d probably only ride it once, and even though there wasn’t a line I wanted to go to the back since I’ve rode in the front before at Carowinds. The queue was almost completely identical, but all of the TV screens showing clips of Wayne’s World had been removed.
Hurler-The first drop is good but the rest of the ride is rough, especially in the back seat. There are some nice bunny hops with airtime. Not much different that the Carowinds version, and there was no need for me to ride it again on this visit.
Next I headed for one of the other wooden coasters in the park, Grizzly. This coaster is cool because it is situated in the woods and is hard to spot from the park since it is surrounded by trees. The line for Grizzly was kind of long, and since I had a headache from the Hurler I settled for the middle.
Grizzly-A good out and back coaster, next time I’ll definitely find my way to the front seat, but alas it didn’t happen on this visit. There is some great air time, and the tunnels are fun as well. The layout is intense, and the trees add alot to the overall ride experience.
After Grizzly I chose to walk around the park some more, picking up some Dip-N-Dots ice cream to cool down before heading to the Eiffel Tower in the center of the park. From the top I got some pics of the park and coasters. Eventually I made my way down to the Paramount Action FX Theater where Stan Lee’s The 7th Portal and Meteor Attack were playing. I decided to try both. Fun, but not fantastic. These are only good for a rest when you are in an amusement park, though I don’t like the ones at Paramount Parks as much since they have two people seating. Stan Lee’s 7th Portal was interesting, especially since it was in 3D, but Meteor Attack was just average. I headed over to Shockwave, the park’s standup coaster. Though the airtime on it is great, the restraints are painful so the ride is not as enjoyable as it could be. This was another walk on.
Shockwave-The loop was pretty intense with this kind of train. The helix has some great lateral forces, and the bunny hops and turn around provide some airtime, but the brakes are painful. Shockwave is a classic, and fun, but not worth more than 1 ride per visit.
It wasn’t very hot out, but I love water rides so I headed over to the log flume next. It was fun and going through the woods made for an interesting trip down the faux river. I wanted to ride the White Water Canyon rapids ride, but was confused about a sign in line about wearing shorts so I got out of line. The only other water ride in the park was Diamond Falls which wasn’t open. I love wooden coasters so I made Rebel Yell my next stop on the coaster circuit after I changed into dryer clothes. I was only able to ride the front facing side on this visit, though I prefer the backwards facing side.
Rebel Yell-The ride is a lot of fun, with a great first drop and several bunny hops before and after the turn around. Normally I ride both sides, but I was afraid the backwards facing side would worsen my headache.
After getting off of Rebel Yell it was back to Flight of Fear, which I rode in the front this time, since the line was way short and then back over to Anaconda, which again I took advantage of there being no line for the front seat. The park’s new attraction for 2002 was Ricochet located in the back of The Grove. For a wild mouse family style coaster, this one has quite a good first drop up to the traditional Wild Mouse area, and some good thrills for family.
Ricochet-A different version than some of the other parks, the ride starts with a large first drop that pops up into the regular wild mouse layout. The first drop has great airtime. Wild Mice always scare me, especially if I sit on the outside.
The only major coaster I had rode at the park prior to this trip was Avalanche during it’s debut year with my mom. I hopped into the front of this one for a ride, and it still has the same excitement rating that it did then. Nice, but not too intense.
After Avalanche, I headed to Kidsville and Nickelodeon Central to find the only other two rides I remember from my last visit to the park, Scooby Doo’s Ghoster Coaster which I took a spin on. For a junior wooden coaster, it packs some great air time. Then it was on to find Yogi’s Cave, a little funhouse type ride that I had gone through with my parents when I was a kid. I had a hard time finding it and figured it had been destroyed for expansion in the 12+ years it had been since I had been to the park. Imagine my surprise when heading back to Volcano for another ride, I found it! The name and theme had been changed to Treasure Cave. I went through for old times sake.
I took one more ride on Flight of Fear, this time in the back. I must say, without the OTS restraints, the back is THE best place to ride. Going into the Cobra Roll my upper torso went forward and around for the rest of the ride (I wasn’t holding on) for some great airtime.
I ate dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Shack then went to Volcano for one last ride, this time in the front. I waited about 30 minutes this time, but the front is definitely great for the feeling you get during the first LIM launch.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to ride Hypersonic XLC because it didn’t open until a couple of days later for the season that year. After I had conquered all but two of the parks coasters I went back to the top of the Eiffel Tower for some nite shots of the park, though they didn’t turn out. I’d had a great day, but it was time to go home. The ride home was longer than I’d expected. I had to stop for a nap on the way back, but eventually I made it home safe and sound.