A Child's (and parents') First at Kings Dominion 8/28/10

Sunday, August 29, 2010 10:29 PM

We arrived bright and early for our adventure to the first park I'd ever been to as a kid, Kings Dominion. In his first year, my son has now been to five amusement parks and had some personal firsts, such as his first ride ever at Hersheypark, first waterpark and now first ever ride.

Before I get to the adventure my wife and I had, it was my son who had the best ride of the day when he rode a ride by himself for the first time ever. He really enjoyed it, rode it twice, rang the bell as much as he could and enjoyed another great day at a park. The ride is called Jeep Tours and was originally themed to that of Yogi Bear. I'm pretty sure I rode the same ride almost 30 years ago!

So, now that his adventure is down, the Mrs. and I were joined by her mother. The first ride...Intimidator 305 and it did not disappoint. My personal rule is if you're riding a coaster for the first time, you have to ride the front seat. My wife and I did just that by hopping into the front seat line, however Kings Dominion has changed since the last time we were there. They've taken the person out of the entrance to the queue line to answer questions, and they blocked off the front-seat line with a pair of trash cans. We, however, ducked the bars and got in the line. No apparent reason as to why they did this, maybe too many people trying to ride the front seat, but that's a fire and safety hazard in Virginia and there was nobody there willing to answer our question as to why they were there.

Once in line, we noticed a fellow coaster enthusiast from Florida, but be darned, I never got his name (yet ran into him several times throughout the day). He and I talked, my wife listened and we got ready for the ride. He was getting nervous as it came his time in the front row. My wife too was nervous to really talk but joined in the conversation with some good points on rides she's ridden.

Now, we get to the ride! The anticipation was great, and it lived up to everything we'd heard and expected. The lift hill at somewhere between 25 and 35 mph (depending on the ride, it differed throughout the day) got us up to 305 feet in a hurry. We were both surprised at how quickly the cable lift was and when we hit the top, she started screaming. Once we could feel the release from the cable, I started to scream. Hitting 90 and taking that right turn into the lift hill, you did start to gray out a little but it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. Once we hit that first air hill, we both realized something, we were getting air time in all directions and in a good way. The race-car style restraints kept us comfortable and allowed us to lean into the turns without slamming our heads against hard rubber.

The only possible problem we could see on the ride was the quick transitions, but previous advice from others who'd ridden it about riding defensively made the right more fun. You kind of felt like you were in a race car. After the first ride with my wife, I got to double-up thanks to Parent Swap and her mom joined me in the front row. It was the only time I doubled up all day as I let them share doubling up because I got the big one! My mother-in-law declared toward the end of her first ride of the day, "This ride has nothing on Griffon". The smoothness of the ride was the talk after we all rode. It was amazing how smooth this ride was for how fast it was going.

After riding Intimidator 305, we headed to the Backlot Stunt Coaster because that was the only coaster I hadn't ridden the last time we went. My mother-in-law didn't ride it either so she doubled up on the ride. I didn't quite get the theming of the ride but know that it was based on a movie. The mid-ride brakes had a nice little area where you could hear gunshots and see a helicopter, but nothing really coming out. The effects here were very blah and made it seem pointless. Right after the effects, we dipped into the dark side of the ride and I enjoyed that more than I thought I would. There were a couple of head choppers with the lights on the ride that made me duck.

Following our ride on Backlot, we headed over to Flight of Fear (or whatever they're calling it there now) and rode that. I noted the sign near the end of the queue that indicated the ride might roll back and told my wife along with a couple of people around us that it's a possibility that it'll happen. If it does, you get a second launch. I'd really like to experience that one day! The spaghetti bowl ride in the dark keeps you guessing which side is up and which is down. Again, we rode in front and I made darn sure my wife had her head back up against the headrest on launch or she'd really feel it later. She did as instructed and the ride was great. The themeing in the queue line was strange. It's cool walking up to the UFO, but there is NOTHING to explain what the ride is about. The TV's are off and there's only one speaker that says every five minutes, "Attention base personnel, be prepared for an emergency message in five, four, three."

My wife rode twice on this one, as we like launches (though did not do Volcano because of how extremely long the lines were) and then we were on to find some other rides.

We stopped at Anaconda and boy does the ride need a paint job, but there's a small problem. Most of the ride is over water, and the Virginia environmental department makes it difficult to have toxic substances over areas like the lake. It'd be hard to get this done, but someone please find a way to get it painted.

I don't remember Anaconda being so rough, but it was. My wife tricked her mom into thinking they'd get wet on the first drop through the water tunnel, much to the joy of my wife. Both enjoyed it and I rode with my mother-in-law again as she told me the getting wet story on the lift hill. I like the inversions, but man is the ride rough.

After going over to The Crypt which my wife loves but I can't ride or I'd lose it thanks to a concussion a few years ago, we decided to forgo the bobsleds and head toward the waterpark so we could ride Tornado and play in the water with the little one.

My wife and her mom went on Shockwave to give my mother-in-law a new ride, but knowing how rough TOGO's can be, I didn't go over. Instead, I enjoyed some daddy time with the baby in the pizza parlor. I then missed my wife on the Drop Tower, something she'd swore she'd never ride...but did with her mom! She looked a little green after the ride, which was funny to me. I was disappointed in that I didn't get to see her do it, nor be on the ride with her.

After lunch, on to the water park as the lovely wife and I rode Tornado with a single rider. An amazing water ride and once we hit the drop into the funnel, my butt never touched the raft. I would have fallen out if I hadn't had a good hold on the raft. My rear finally hit the tube at the base as we went under the waterfall. We wanted to ride again but instead headed into the park to find the kiddie area and our little one with grandma. As we got out there, we noticed the kiddie area was closed and all we got was, "something went wrong so we had to close". We don't know what that something was but we were disappointed we couldn't take the baby into the water.

After leaving the waterpark, we continued down the midway (I miss the skyride that went through this area and really wish I'd had the chance to ride Hypersonic XLC when it was there). We went on the carousel with the baby, he rode a horse that went up-and-down, unlike at Hersheypark when he had to ride a stationary horse. My wife tried to ride with him, but the ride operator said she couldn't.

The wife and I then did the Rebel Yell. Only one side running again and it's a shame. Half the fun of that ride is the race with the other side. We rode a blue train which had the original Rebel Yell logo on it. I'm not sure if this was one of the original trains that came back or not, but it was a fun ride. My wife learned something she never knew before on this ride...woodies cars come off the tracks! Though not much, she could tell. I rode the whole thing with my arms up. It's strange to not see the flag at the top of the chain lift that said, "Keep Hands and Feet Inside Car At All Times". We did note a sign at the end of the ride that said, "Don't Stand Up". We laughed at that. Great ride for a classic coaster!

Following Rebel Yell, the ladies hit the El Dorado after the baby and grandma rode the Ferris Wheel. I took the baby over to Planet Snoopy to find we could ride together and then kept going into Kidzville. It was there we found Jeep Tours and the swings that he could ride and he did them all without fuss. Normally when the baby rode a ride with one of us, he'd duck into us for comfort. But when he was by himself, he was in his own world! We cried and got video of rides!

It was getting dark and the baby tired so it was time for a few more rides for us big folk. We went to the Dominator (or as I call it, the recycler because it was brought in from another park) and enjoyed the pace. It too had a little bit of a rough ride too it but a good ride all around. Being flipped upside down over and over in many different ways is fun. Following Dominator, we attempted Volcano but made the decision to end the night with a night ride on Intimidator 305.

The night right was good, but since we were "after the ride closed" 15 minutes before the park closed, I couldn't ride with my wife who was going to double-up on the ride because they don't allow re-rides. I rode alone in the front row. I could understand if someone in line wanted to ride, but they didn't.

I picked up a souvenir tractor-trailer that's in my sports room, while my mother in law got a glass and some shot glasses for her husband and son respectively. I wasn't an Earnhardt fan, but I did have to respect the man who has his name on a great ride.

We drove home that night and finished off a really exhausting day at the park. The baby and his mama slept in the back, thankfully my mother-in-law was able to stay awake and help keep me going on the ride home. We only live about 1:45 from Kings Dominion so it's my home park.

Getting my fifth park in a year set a new personal best (previous was Kinneywood, Cedar Point, Riverside Park and Wild World...the latter two now knows as Six Flags New England and Six Flags America) and riding some really exceptional rides.

This year we did Six Flags America (as part of a Capitals season-ticket holder event that I was paid to DJ), Hersheypark (as part of a weekend that I was announcing games at Giant Center), Water Country USA, Busch Gardens (I miss Big Bad Wolf) and now Kings Dominion.

We're planning on possibly doing a Dorney Park trip next year and possibly teaming that with Kenneywood. When we do Cedar Point, it'll be when the baby is older (and any subsequent children) and we'll spend a couple of days up there.

My New Top-10 Roller Coasters of All Time That I've Ridden:
1. Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)
2. The Griffon (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
3. Rebel Yell (Kings Dominion)
4. Coney Island Cyclone (Coney Island)
5. Farenheit (Hersheypark)
6. Storm Chaser (Hersheypark)
7. Kumba (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)
8. Big Bad Wolf (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
9. Loch Ness Monster (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
10. Thunderbolt (Kenneywood)

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Sunday, August 29, 2010 11:55 PM

Storm Runner*

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Monday, August 30, 2010 11:58 AM

Thanks, I was watching something on TV about storm chasing when I typed that.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010 11:31 AM

Your lift hill speed claims got me curious so I did some research using YouTube videos and it looks like Intimidator 305 only averages about 16 mph on the lift hill; I know it feels a lot faster, though.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010 8:18 PM

Nice TR. Just out of curiosity, what event were you announcing for at the Giant Center?

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Saturday, March 5, 2011 1:24 PM

I was announcing a Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference All-Star Weekend series of games at Giant Center. I do a lot of hockey announcing and through my contacts wind up going to Hershey once a spring to do their game. It's fun, and pairing it with the park is great too.

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