It is no secret that I am a huge proponent of PKI. I know without a doubt that it is the most well rounded park I have visited. As I have said many times before, I feel very lucky to have had such terrific experiences at such a place and wish the same for anyone and their home park.
The PKI Media Event, as others can attest was great fun. The introductions of Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle (which I will now refer to as SDATHC) as well as Delirium, only solidified what I had already perceived in my mind. I knew this was going to be a great year for PKI because of the unique and different types of attractions they were adding. The buzz was already good before anyone even took a ride on either attraction during the event. Why, just looking at the exterior of SDATHC or Delirium was enough to wet the appetites of everyone there. A media event is good, because typically you can sense the general reactions that the public will have to the attractions by the reactions of the press and reporters. Every year, PKI does a bang-up job with their media events and this year’s event was no exception. There were plenty of “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” among the guests. I feel privileged at having been a part of the unveiling, regardless of having to wear the Delirium underwear ;-) Truth be told, I actually obtained the invite to media day by winning a game at the ACE No-Coaster event in January. I did the “underwear” gig simply for kicks, and oddly enough enjoyed it.
Sneak Preview night was, in a word, chaotic. Obviously the press and hype had worked, as the park was shoulder-to-shoulder people. While the reaction to the new attractions was incredibly positive, I (and many others) spent the evening simply walking around and taking in the park’s sites and sounds. It was way too busy to actually ride or enjoy much. Traffic to the park was backed up for miles on the interstate and ride waits were huge. If I recall properly, the first Pass Preview Night I attended at PKI was in 1993 when Top Gun was new. I remember that back then, the Season Pass purchasing and processing lines were enormous, but ride waits were not that bad. Compare that to this year’s event where ride waits were enormous and as far as I could tell, Pass sales lines were minimal. Although I guess having a lot of people in the park could be considered a success, I am not so sure that the overall impression of departing attendees was positive. Perhaps the over saturation of freebie tickets was the primary cause. I hope that if that trend of giving away tons of Preview night tickets continues, PKI considers breaking it into two separate events…. a Season Pass Preview night and a give-away night… or better yet a full day of operation to help even out the attendance. You see, the amount of people there wasn’t exorbitant by PKI standards; it’s just that a large volume of people such as that is usually spread throughout a full day of operation… not crammed into 5 hours.
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was basically a dream come true. It will go down in the history books as one of the best days I have ever had at PKI. The weather was beautiful, PKI operations were fantastic, the park was immaculate, crowds were light and the general attitude was great. Everything (well… not everything) was a walk-on and except for single train operation on SOB, every ride was in full operation. How many other parks would keep every train on every coaster, and remain at full staff on their rides on such a lightly attended day? Kudos to PKI!!!! I had sensed that it would be a lightly attended day because when I attended on Easter Sunday in 2000, lines were non-existent during the first half of the day. Also knowing that rain was in the forecast, late Saturday night I made a last minute decision to attend. Originally I had intended to go for the walk-back, ride a few rides, leave, and then return later to meet up with friends. However the minute I walked into the park and saw how empty it was, I knew I was there for the duration. I stayed from opening to close, something I RARELY do at PKI. And thankfully the storms held off until just prior to closing, at which point I had stopped riding.
Now for some general thoughts on the park and it’s attractions over those three visits:
- The Royal Fountains on International Street look phenomenal. Especially noteworthy is the fact that PKI made a smart move by standing the logo plaque up and creating a paved cut-out in front of it so guests can have their pictures taken as close to it (and the fountains) as possible. Smart move! The fountains are now so strong that the water jets are overshooting the pool walls, thus water is spraying beyond the fountain boundaries. So I expect some tweaking is in the works.
- The Eiffel Tower has yellow caution tape hanging from the 50-foot deck level. On a small scale, it looks like it was tp’d. I am curious as to why it is there to begin with. It also has a huge American flag hanging from the upper observation decks, which I applaud, although I am not ready to see it re-named the Freedom Tower quite yet. ;-)
- The new Chinese Eatery called “Mandarin” located on International Street may have a bad location (I fear people will forget it is there just like they have every other eatery that has ever been located there) but the owners are smart… free samples are being given out on International Street to drum up business.
- The Emporium last year began offering hand carved miniature signature carousel horses. I was ecstatic to find that this season, PKI Carousel signature horse III was being offered. Of course, it is priced at a costly $250.00, but was a dream come true for me. I am proud to say that one of those works of art now resides with me. PKI has more of them for sale if you are interested. ;-)
- PKI now has it’s own “Unofficial Guide Book” for sale in the park. It is a reasonable $10.99 handbook written by a fellow PKI fan. You can pick one up at most any souvenir shop in the park, typically found at the cash register. It easily fits in your back pocket, and can aid in your park decisions. Way to go Charles!
- Beast was running much better than last year, due in large part to a major re-working of the 2nd turn on the ride. (The turn immediately following the 1st drop.) Although the days of an out-of control ride on Beast are far behind us, I still acknowledge the incredible contribution this ride made to the coaster world. There has been some mention of a change to the logo on the front of the Beast’s trains. The trains retain the same 3-D logo that they have had in the past with a simple addition, an oval sticker behind them that says “Paramount’s Kings Island.” There is nothing upsetting or even that different about them, just that they have an added sticker. The reasoning is, Paramount Parks as a whole is striving to make sure that all rides and attractions, such as the faces of coaster trains, relay the park’s name. That way any advertising or pictures bear representation of the park itself. Smart move.
- Drop Zone now has an extended queue. Thank goodness! Gone are all those temporary queue railings (with the feet that everyone trips over) and in their place is a much more organized railing system. Perhaps PKI knows that this attraction will have a line for a long time to come. But Drop Zone is also a bit worse for the wear. The paint is chalking badly, and the seats are quite dirty looking to the yellow wearing off. I am sure the park is aware, but it is definitely showing it’s age. Having the fresh and vibrant Delirium directly across from it only calls more attention to it.
- Adventure Express was running well with most every effect in place. That is to say except for the spears that jut in-and-out of the 2nd tunnel. I have read posts where people were griping about all the trees that had been removed from it. Actually, the foliage, although trimmed, was there… it just hasn’t filled in yet with this year’s leaves. It will.
- Top Gun has 4 new fiberglass cars on the train that was damaged last year. The 1st four shells of the 2nd train are identical, but obviously brand new. You can tell because they have not one scratch on them and are immaculate. The rest of the ride could use a good power washing.
- International Showplace is being renovated and re-painted for an upcoming show. The entire stage area is completely sealed off with tarps.
- Flight of Fear was nearly pitch black. The highest portions of the spaghetti bowl track were not illuminated at all.
- Racer backwards was running very well. I still think it is the best wooden coaster in the park.
- Vortex was it’s usual self, still the best airtime in the park, still the worst jaw beater in the park.
- Thornberries and Rugrats Runaway Reptar are holding up VERY well. I still love the job they did with these two attractions. Although a bit of a clunky banger, I do think Reptar is a fantastic little ride for kids.
- The façade at the entrance to Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster is fading quickly… and now when compared to the Haunted Castle across the way in HB; it really seems “cheap.” By the way, why isn’t Fred or Daphne on that mural? Get this; it had the longest wait of any ride I saw yesterday. The line was not even extended into the queue and I still waited nearly 20 minutes while a friend rode.
- Face Off was, well, Face/Off. A walk-on on Sunday, so I took my obligatory ride for the season. Ever since a bad ride on a version at a different park, Invertigos intimidate me. Why? Well, last year I hurt my back very badly on Two-Face at SFA. Like a dummy I tried to hold my hands up while sitting in the front/back seat. I pulled a muscle/strained my back (I have a bad back anyway) and I was in agony the whole day. I also gray out on the loop when I ride an Invertigo, another sign of old age I am sure.
- I rode the Sling Shot again (which now has nice signage) and had a blast. It takes a lot to rattle me on a ride these days, and this one always gets me when I am lying on my back waiting to get shot. Talk about butterflies!
- It is official that Octoberfest Gardens is now being remodeled into Bubba Gump's Shrimp Shack. Back in January I was first told about this, and managed to even see the renderings… but back then the name was still undecided… and was tentatively called “Forrest Gump’s.” It is looking terrific, much better than those even indicated. And thank goodness that PKI is putting in another restaurant. I typically suffer through a meal at Wings when I am there, and really have begun to hate it. It will be nice to have another option.
- Son Of Beast. Let me preface this by saying that I appreciate all of the hard work that the wooden coaster maintenance guys do on this and the other woodies at PKI. But Sunday, SOB delivered the worst ride I have ever had on it. Actually I will be hard pressed to ride again anytime soon until the structure loosens or the flooring of the car changes.
- I was anxious to ride Tomb Raider The Ride again because I had missed it in the off- season. I have said before, and I will say it again: I am a fan of this ride. I like it and I think it really fills a unique niche at PKI. I love that no-one really knows what they are getting into until they are on it, and I LOVE the campiness of it. In my opinion this ride rates high on my list of odd pleasures… a list that includes the likes of “Flash Gordon” the 80’s movie, British Comedies, etc etc etc. I get a hysterical kick out of the moving eyes on the Shiva Statue in the ride room, although I have yet to figure out what it says when it turns evil. Actually I wish more people “got it.” You see TR:TR tries to take itself so seriously, and that is what makes it hysterical. The whole experience is just a hoot. As others have mentioned, the rumored ride program extension did not occur, but perhaps will at a later time. It definitely could stand to be a bit more thrilling, although it does produce some really good screams and yelps from riders. The theming, I’m afraid, is already showing signs of poor upkeep. Half the flame sconces were not working, neither was one of the real gas flames on the cave entrance. The laser show in holding room #1 no longer works properly and does not line up with the triangle on the large round door that slides open. This ruins the effect of “unlocking the tomb.” The large ruby is missing from the elaborate Tomb Raider symbol just inside the cave entrance. Stolen or fallen off, I am not sure. Finally, the water effects were on full blast, which I love! I got it right in the face really good, and IMO this helps “make” the ride. Now, I appreciate Ride Ops probably more than most folks, but I have to say that the crew working TR:TR yesterday was really poor. The first time I rode, it took over 10 minutes to load and check restraints. It was taking so long that people were starting to demand to get off; of course the crew paid no mind to the requests. So overall, TR:TR, as fun as it is to me, got a really poor mark this year. Boooooo!
- I’ll be honest; I have never watched the Spongebob Squarepants television show. So I know little to nothing about the characters. But I took a ride on the new Spongebob Squarepants 3-D simulator to see what all the fuss was about. The movie premise was cute, but I found it to be terribly lacking as an overall experience. I know they are still tweaking it, but I found the 3-D visuals less than thrilling. But worse, the sound was horrible. The music and sound effects were extremely loud, while Spongebob’s voice was terribly soft. It was so soft that riders were actually shushing each other to try and hear what he was saying. Now, upon exiting, the Guest Relations/Marketing Department had folks surveying rider’s reactions. I was surveyed randomly and unfortunately had little good to say. I hope they can get the kinks worked out. It has potential to be a great attraction. I would have loved it if it utilized some real bubble, wind or spray effects. That would be pretty easy to do and would take the experience to the next level. A popular cartoon character is not enough to sustain a ride, it has to be fun…. which leads me to: SDATHC.
- Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle is a smash. Riders love it. I love it. Although the “realism” that I liked so much in Phantom Theatre was sacrificed for mostly painted wooden flats, the ride does exactly what it set out to do… deliver a fun and exciting new experience. Guests are anxious to re-ride, and I heard way too many comments like “Let’s ride again” to name. Now, on Sunday there were some effects that were down (for instance the mummy was not jumping out at the cars as they passed by) but on a ride that has thousands of moving parts, that is to be expected. The highlight of the ride for me is the scene that utilizes actual sculpted figures. Unique to PKI’s version, this scene has Shaggy being chased by a Werewolf, and Scooby (provided your laser hits the Scooby Snack box) popping up out of a planter. My top score has been over 2,000, but only because the conveyance system temporarily stopped while I was on board. My average score is around 1,200. I find that my finger gets very tired of squeezing the trigger by the end of the ride, so I can’t imagine what little kids are going through. IMO, the hardest targets to hit are in the Great Hall and require incredible aim. In that scene, the Scooby Snack box that causes Shaggy and Scooby to drop from the chimney, as well as the targets that open curtains to reveal the Vampire and another ghoul are virtually impossible to hit. However, I really like the ride because it is absolutely true to the cartoon. It tells a story, and a villain is revealed at the end. I do hope PKI brightens up the queue room…. Walking into total darkness from bright sunlight leads to absolute blindness. The corridor to the loading platform is so dark that guests were literally feeling for walls while their children freaked. Finally, in the queue room, I think the pop-up Shaggy and Scooby figures are placed poorly and some guests do not even realize they are there. Perhaps they can be moved to a more visually appropriate place. Worst yet, guests have already begun to destroy the ride. As you enter the castle, pieces of the Victorian wallpaper has been torn off in large strips. I sense a painted black wall coming soon…. Sigh.
- Delirium is the best ride at PKI. It’s rather funny because over two years ago I attended SFGADV and SFNE where I rode both Houdini and the Frisbee. I LOVED those attractions and remember commenting to anyone that would listen that I wanted PKI to get rides such as that. Well, lo and behold, last year produced TR:TR, what I consider a big step beyond Houdini, and this year produced Delirium, what I consider a huge step beyond the standard Frisbee. Delirium has an amazing shock value. It is situated incredibly at the entrance to Action Zone, it’s colors literally scream “look at me” and it’s dramatic 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock swing results in gasps and gawks from any person within eye-shot. I cannot even begin to describe the positive comments the ride gets. It has been extremely dependable upon opening, and although the alignment of the arm to the complicated floor system delays the unload process; the ride is among the most reliable new installations PKI has seen in years. Originally, PKI had been promised a top speed of 70 MPH. However Delirium clocks in at 76 MPH!!! Its visuals are stunning, especially when observing all of the King’s Island property underneath your legs while inverted. It is such a hit that I GUARANTEE you that you will see more of these at other parks soon….. Hmmmmmm. Delirium rocks, and IMO is among the best installations the park has ever made. Having said that, there does need to be some concern among Roller-Coaster enthusiasts when a park spends a few million on a flat ride and garners great success, yet in the past spent countless millions on complicated and frustrating coasters that remain a low draw. I think that says something about the future of the industry, and tells us where PKI, as well as other parks will be headed in the future. The 2nd Golden Age of the coaster has come and gone folks.
Truth be told, I wasn’t THAT excited about parks this year. And although my visits to various parks will be much more limited this year, PKI really delivered. I was a bit shocked, never having expected to enjoy Delirium as much as I have. So far I have logged over 20 rides on it, and plan on getting many more.
Finally, I once again have to give props to the outstanding Managerial and Marketing Teams at PKI. It is a true testament to those in charge when a park has such a positive impression on someone. A good friend who works at PKI recently said to me “My goal in life is to have my tombstone read “He made a lot of people happy” and that is why I do this.” Well, the good folks at PKI made me very happy and I am very grateful. To those folks that works so hard at PKI: no matter what changes may occur, no matter where the industry may lead you, no matter what title you may obtain or which park you are at, always remember the thousands of people that you positively affect in this industry. Always remember how much enjoyment, and friendship you have brought into my life, as well as countless others. You turn us all into kids again, and show us that life IS as simple as a ride on a carousel.
*** This post was edited by Shaggy 4/21/2003 5:11:11 PM ***
I would also like to add a few other comments about the park on my visit this year. The ride ops ARE STILL THE BEST at any park I have ever been to, including MK an IOA.
The coasters are still running great, especially Vortex which continues to give a great ride, the update of FoF having its on ride photo booth working again and the darkness in the ride, an the Racer in their 32nd year still running brand new.
Also to note the Sprite Remix can be found in the park which is delicious IMHO i might add.
Once again I owuld like to give thanks to Shaggy for giving us all another great TR and for always keeping me updated on my favorite amusement park.
GO GO PKI!!
RCT2 Wizard: TheBeastMaster
I visited PKI for the first time last summer and was not at all impressed. However, I was there Saturday (4/19) and had one of my nicest days at a park yet. The weather was perfect, the crowds were light, and I was accompanied by my 9-year-old little sis. Though she's just past the 48" magic height, she's terrified of "adult" coasters, so we spent most of the day riding the flats and junior coasters. I did talk her into Top Gun (officially her favorite coaster ever) and Racer forwards. She was *thisclose* to doing Vortex, but chickened out at the last minute. The ride ops at Vortex were so sweet and even promised her if she threw up (her fear) that she could kick one op in the leg. Hehehe. Two ops were still laughing and chatting with her when I got back into the station.
The ops were really exceptional all day. Everyone was generally polite and many went well beyond that.
I guess it was my company that helped me to re-discover PKI. On my last visit, we'd focused only on the big coasters (anticipointing) and completely neglected the rest of the park...even forgetting about FoF! Saturday, I rode almost all the flats...something I rarely do in a "big" park...including my first Fliers? or Flyers? (I can snap a little bit...ohmygod). And Delirium IS as incredible as everyone says it is. Woah!
With all the great reports about Delirium (a showstopper indeed!), I'm interested in hearing what people think about the new Huss Jump 2 (Sledge Hammer) at PCW. I could definitely see PKI looking at this as a future attraction. I'm still hoping for some type of major steel coaster (non-looping) in the next couple years, but they know what's best for the park. I'm still impressed with the recent string of non-coaster attractions like Thornberries/Tomb Raider/Delirium/Scooby, which PKI showcases and markets in epic proportions and I definitely wouldn't mind them continuing that sweet streak!
Dawn and Cameron, I'm glad you had nice trips as well and I need to get my hands on a Sprite Remix very soon! Make sure you tell me when you're coming down for a "big kids" trip Dm and I'd be delighted to meet up. ;)
Edit: Its always nice to hear from you, Shaggy, especially with TRs. Tell me next time you are heading up to the park, maybe I can catch ya on TR!
SOB crew in 2002
TRTR crew in 2003
.....Yeah, I think that smoke is supposed to be there.....
*** This post was edited by SOB_TOM 4/21/2003 8:49:59 PM ***
You turn us all into kids again, and show us that life IS as simple as a ride on a carousel
That is so true.
Lets go its on!
Visit History of PKI!
I was there Easter Sunday. That was probably the BEST PKI visit I have ever had. It was perfect......better than opening weekend. :-)
Feel The Adrenaline....
*** This post was edited by coasterqueenTRN 4/22/2003 6:09:43 AM ***
But I do understand that BeastBuzz is the day after Coastermania, therefore sadly I will not be able to attend the event because of a 3-day trip prior to coastermania. I think any of us having the great park known as PKI as our homepark, we should all meet up. Just a thought really. Once again Shaggy, great TR!!
RCT2 Wizard: TheBeastMaster
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