My original goal for the summer of 2004 was to visit at least one theme park every month from May through October. But because of car trouble and an overall lack of funding I had to skip the Beast Buzz event in June, and my planned trip in July to Cedar Point was pushed back to August in order to spend that day with friends that would be visiting the area that same week. I also ended up skipping a visit to Dollywood in late July. Because of so many setbacks, I was determined to get to Kings Island in August. I hadn’t been to the park since my 8th grade field trip in 1994, so it had been just over a decade since my first and only trip to the park. Since I ended up having a 4 day stretch off of work I decided to use that to my advantage.
I had thought of going to Coney Island Park in Cincinnati the evening before, but after a grueling drive to OH all I wanted to do was set up my tent and sleep after I arrived. Driving by the park right before it closed, I was able to watch the fireworks, get a look at Son of Beast, and watch Drop Zone cycle a few times. I had discussed meeting up with Danny from CoasterBuzz and, though we were going to meet that evening, I had to get some sleep. So I checked in at the Kings Island Campground, got my lot, set up my tent, and went to sleep after my 6 plus hour trip to Kings Mills, OH.
The next morning I couldn’t sleep past 6 AM. I went to the bathhouse and took a shower, popped some ginger pills and aspirin for the pain and nausea that I didn’t want to have later, and since I was up I figured I’d go over to the McDonalds around the corner and have breakfast. After that I went back to my tent to lie down & make a few phone calls before I walked over to the park. I could have waited for the shuttles to start running but I figured I could use a morning walk to get me going.
Getting in was easy. The security lady that checked my bag was friendly. There were a few people gathered around the park plaza waiting for the ropes to drop. I got in to the park a little after 9:00 AM and went over to the entrance to the Paramount Action Zone where I waited for almost an hour watching Drop Zone, Delirium, and Face/Off test. By 10:00 AM the crowd had grown. I had been told by Danny to head to Face/Off first then Drop Zone, but I went around the long way and decided to skip Face/Off for now and head straight to Drop Zone.
Drop Zone-I had the first ride on Drop Zone for the morning. No wait, and it dispatched in just a matter of about a minute. This was to be the tallest drop tower I’d ever ridden. Going up the tower is always the worst. I was hoping for a rotating gondola but it just wasn’t meant to be that day. It seems to take forever to get to the top of this thing. And just when you start thinking “When is it gonna drop?” you fall over 200’ to the bottom.
I noticed that the entrance to Son of Beast was close so I got in line to ride. In line I had a short chat with some people talking about Drop Zone. Son of Beast was polarizing in the coaster community, but I was determined to form my own opinion. Once in the station I made my way over to queue for the front seat as there were only a few people in line. After about a couple minutes the 2 people that I had talked to about Drop Zone were behind me in line and we continued our conversation and the ride op near us joined conversation as well. But just as I was only 1 train away from getting on, they had some problems. Apparently someone had thrown up on the train and didn’t tell anyone. They sprayed off the train and sent it out empty. When the empty train came back around they were trying to decide if they were going to let people ride on it yet. The op asked me if I was by myself, and then went to ask the lead ride op if I could just ride in the train alone. I was all for that, but they just decided to let everyone on after wiping the seats out.
Son of Beast-I love wooden coasters. I don’t even mind rough ones, but there was a lot of talk about how bad this coaster was. I wanted for the longest time to come and form my own opinion, so today was that day. There were 2 trains running and aside from the vomit incident, pretty fast dispatches. From the first drop out of the station to the top of the lift hill, everything was fine. I was enjoying myself, and anticipating the 200+ foot drop that was coming. I wasn’t disappointed with the drop either. It was long, tall, fast, and fun. But after that came the part that everyone complains about. Son of Beast was definitely rough. Bone/teeth jarring in some places as well.The first helix was rough.Then there was the midcourse and the loop, which was smooth and blissful in the midst of an uber rough woody. The friendly ride op had told me that I’d still be able to see King Kobra from the mid course, a coaster that used to be at the park, over in a field and sure enough, I did. The rest of the coaster was rough as well. There weren’t any pops of airtime either as the ride dropped into an oversized helix before an oversized MCBR preceding the loop that led to another helix and then some mild hills before popping up into the final brakes. I didn’t hate it but I was not impressed.
After riding Son of Beast I headed towards the back of the park to finally get my long overdue ride on a classic that I had to miss the first time. It’s the one, the only, the original, daddy Beast. It was fairly easy to find The Beast as there were Beast tracks painted on the pavement heading to the ride. On the way back I saw Tomb Raider before getting in line for The Beast after getting a bit hung up with where the entrance was. I got into the station and noticed that the back of the train was a walk-on.
The Beast-The Beast is a legend. On my first visit to Kings Island in ’94 I wasn’t able to ride The Beast because it had rained and the ride was closed, so this was one of the main reasons for my eventual return. First off, the lift hill is fairly slow. But once you are over that first hill the speed is the theme of this coaster. No, it’s not an airtime machine. No, it doesn’t have the largest hills. But The Beast is about speed while twisting and turning thru the forest. It was fast and fun. Any ride that is that long is worth it. I loved the tunnel around the helix, though I thought I was going to lose my glasses, and the drops into the underground tunnels are awesome. A total out of control experience.
Next up I figured that since I was near the entrance for Tomb Raider I might as well get it out of the way as I was curious, but I’m not a huge flat ride fan. After putting my stuff in a locker I got in line. The queue is wonderfully themed. That, and its air conditioned made the wait comfortable. We get into the first room with the announcer. I took a pic of the door and statues, and in a short while we went into the pre-show room. The pre-show was really good, and again the themeing is spectacular. But we hadn’t gotten to the ride yet…
Tomb Raider The Ride-The only problem with Tomb Raider was that I took my glasses off to ride. I may have been able to keep them on, but I didn’t want to chance it. The ice and lava are both really cool, especially when you can feel the hot and cold. I was very happy with Tomb Raider, and could have actually ridden longer. It runs a program that is perfect for the effects.
Since I had gotten used to the air conditioning on Tomb Raider I decided to head over to the air conditioning on Flight of Fear next. I had ridden the one at Kings Dominion and loved it so I was anxious to see how the two compared. It wasn’t that far so I left my back pack in the locker and headed to Coney Mall.
Flight of Fear-I got in line for the front. The video had been changed since I rode the other one and there were a few set pieces that had been removed, but it didn’t take away from the experience. I got in the front seat by myself, and away we go. The ride does seem a little faster than the other Flight of Fear. But there was something missing that I couldn’t quite figure out until I was headed home a day later. Though the lights were on, the music was off. I had heard that this coaster often leaves the mid-course break off, but it was not to be today, even though it still didn’t catch hard. Its fast paced, with a great launch. I missed the music but the ride itself was great.
I went to get my back pack from the lockers around Tomb Raider and to see what the Kids Sections were like. I also figured that I’d go and meet Danny, tell him that I was going to go to a show at 2:00 pm and that we could meet after that. The Nick Central and Hanna-Barbera Land sections of the park are worth the awards they get. It was the most crowded I’ve ever seen a kids section of any park. I wish parks were like that when I was that age.
I then went over to meet Danny. We talked about how busy it was over there and how, though they already have 4, the park needs another family/kiddy coaster. I told him I’d be watching the Magic of the Movies Show, and that we could meet right after that since he got off work around 2:30pm.
After that, I was going in search of Subway but passed by Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, which I had to ride. The line moved very quickly, and since I had ridden this as the Phantom Theater, I was excited to see how they compared.
Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle-Very nicely themed. The queue was air conditioned, and the line moved very fast. When it was my turn, I got a car to myself. I decide to do the ride Jon Woo style with 2 guns, and my combined score was 960. Not my best, but still “Like Wowie”.
I walked over to see if Son of Beast had a short line so that I could try it from the back but since the line had grown I decided to take flight on Top Gun before I ate. I hadn’t been impressed with Top Gun the first time I rode it the year after its debut, but I was willing to give it another shot. The line wasn’t very long. It was weird not going thru the entire themed section of the queue that we went thru the first time, which was still there.
Top Gun-I waited for the front since the line was only about a 3 train wait. I got in with another guy that was a single rider, and we departed the lift hill. This is still the only suspended coaster I’d ever been on. People say how wonderful it is, but I couldn’t remember it being so great. I remember feeling disappointed 10 years ago. But wow how opinions change. I decided to give it a much a higher rating now that I’d got a second go. I still like swinging on the break run best.
It was now around 1:20 pm and I had gotten quite a bit accomplished during the morning. I found Subway, and though it was the second longest line I waited in all day the food was regular Subway fare. After eating I headed to the Paramount Theater to see Paramount Magic of the Movies Live.
This was a great show. Much better than the standard shows I’m used to at parks. Before it started, however, I was sitting in the front row when one of the guys that does the show came and asked if I wanted to be IN the show. I agreed, and he took me to the reserved section for those in the show. My job was to be the Thunder sound effect for Sleepy Hollow, and I even got a costume.
I headed back over to Beastie to see if Danny had gotten off yet, but he wasn’t there. I wanted to try for a quick spin on Scooby Doo’s Ghoster Coaster, but the line was long. I talked to Danny on the phone, and we agreed to meet up with each other and ride Delirium. Again, I wasn’t a flat ride fan, and wasn’t looking forward to all this swinging and spinning but Danny kept telling me it wasn’t that bad, so we got in line. We waited for 2 cycles and then it was our turn.
Delirium-Oh. My. Goodness. Another winner of a flat ride. It looks a lot more nauseating that it really is. You catch some really good air, and even going upside down wasn’t that bad. I’m glad that I didn’t opt out of this one.
After Delirium we headed over to see what the line for Face/Off was like. It wasn’t short, but Danny said that it would be the shortest I’d probably see it all day so that was what we did next.
Face/Off-I had done Two Face before, so this wasn’t a new experience for me. I liked Two Face, so I didn’t want to pass this one up. We stood in line and talked coasters for a while and when it was time we got in the middle facing backwards. Going up the first spike was quick and the release was great. I enjoyed the Cobra Roll and loop. Going up the back spike facing the ground is rather unnerving. We released and then I experienced something I had only ever heard about, my first black out on a coaster. I hadn’t figured I ever wouldd, but during the loop I completely blacked out till we were half way up the cobra roll. This was something I’ll never forget. Intense and extremely cool!
Next, Danny had told me that he would show me how to ride Son of Beast without it being as painful. We went for the second to last seat this time…
A non-wheel seat is definitely better. We didn’t have to wait very long for our seat, and I have to say that it wasn’t nearly as rough as the first ride earlier that morning. After we got off of Sonny we passed by Adventure Express. This was another coaster I wasn’t impressed with at first. I think the problem is the anti-climatic ending, but I was willing to give it another go with Danny so we got in line.
Adventure Express-There wasn’t a wait, and we sat near the back. The theming is still fun, but they no longer do the mist that I enjoyed the first time around. This seemed faster than I remember. It has a fun little layout, and really makes use of the plants and trees. The on ride theming is very nice. I liked it better than the first time, and at least this time I knew what to expect for the ending.
Next was time for a ride on The Racer. This is a different layout that both Carowinds and Kings Dominion’s racing woodies. We sat near the middle as I had done the front on the backwards side on my last visit.
Racer-Racer was not having a good day. It was rough, and there wasn’t much in the way of air during the out and back course. It was running both trains on both sides, but didn’t seem to actually be racing. Oh well, maybe next time it will be as good as I remembered it.
I got a little queasy on Racer and Danny had a headache from both Racer and Face/Off so we sat down in Festhaus for a while in the air conditioned, dark room. We talked music, rides, and more. We sat there for quite a while, but then it was time for the Nickelodeon Celebration Parade. I wanted to see it and Danny said it was really good. We stood right in front of the Eiffel Tower for the parade. I took pix of Rugrats and Sponge Bob. It was nice for a family but could have been about 10 minutes longer. Next up was a ride on Vortex, the other coaster I missed on my last visit. I was kind of not looking forward to all the inversions, but I wasn’t going to skip it this time.
Vortex-It had an insane first drop and some very well done inversions. The batwing near the midway was really cool, and the placement of the on ride photo was cool as well. It looked like it would be a lot rougher, but the ride was good. I’m glad I rode it when I did because it went down for a while later.
It was now time to try again to ride some kiddy coasters. We did get onto Beastie near the back without a problem.
Beastie-I remember it being fun the first time I rode it. It could produce a few more pops of air like the Scoobys but it is still a fun Jr. Woody worth giving a shot.
Wild Thornberry’s wasn’t up and running at the moment so we went to Runaway Reptar’s short line. I had done Carowinds version, so this wasn’t such a new experience for me.
Rugrats Runaway Reptar-The restraints are a bit more comfy than the one at Carowinds. The ride itself isn’t as rough as I was led to believe. I got my credit, we sat near the back of a full train, and it was all good fun. Next please.
It was now time for Danny to head out. He was going to the movies at 7:00 and it was getting close to that time. We said our goodbyes, I took his picture, and he headed out while I headed to the train. I wanted to go to Boomerang Bay but that didn’t happen. I read that the water park closed at 8:00pm, but apparently that is only on the weekends. As I was arriving by train they were closing that part of the park. There were a few things I wanted to do, bummer.
Since it was so hot I headed to White Water Canyon. The line looked deceptively short so I got in line. I had to walk what seemed like a mile to find the end of the line, with my feet and shins hurting all the while. Then I found the end and it was still about 20 minutes from the platform.
White Water Canyon-This is a very wet rapids ride. I always enjoy them, and this was no exception. I don’t know that I’ve ever ridden one with a rotating platform, which was cool. We had a full boat and though the waterfall wasn’t on, the ride cooled me down and was still lots of fun.
The sun was starting to set so I went back to check on a re-ride for Tomb Raider. I got in line but the line was longer than I wanted to wait, so I headed to La Rosa’s for a quick bite, and then to The Beast for a nite ride. I waited for the front of the train, and I’m glad I did. It was dark by the time I got on. This is much better when you can’t see where you are or where you’re going. The pitch black tunnels are awesome. Now I know why people talk so highly about The Beast at nite.
The time was dwindling so I decided to head back to the Action Zone. I wanted to try Son of Beast at nite. I got a mid-train seat with no wait, but it was a wheel seat so it was rough. I ended up sitting next to a young blonde girl for the ride. On the return trip the fire works started going off and since there wasn’t anybody in line for our seats (it was the second to last train of the nite) we stayed on to watch the fire works from the coaster. This was the worst seat. Very bone jarring/teeth chattering.
It was now time to go back to the camp site. I had to wait a long time for the shuttle, but I was in no shape to walk. I probably could have done a quick drop on Drop Zone, and wish I had, but oh well. It was a fun day and I only had 2 real regrets. I didn’t get to do my Boomerang Bay stuff, and I totally forgot to get any blue ice cream. I kind of wish I would have done Racer Backwards, but at least I’ve done it before. I ended the day tired, and in pain back at the campground.