An Awful Day at Kings Island - 4/27/13

Associated parks:
Kings Island, Mason, Ohio, USA

I went to Kings Island yesterday. I normally avoid opening day and go on Sunday instead, but I happened to notice on the website that Sunday is a park buyout. I had also attempted to renew my season pass (renew your pass in seconds!) and a half hour later I was still unsure it had worked. I'm an iPad user and get thrown to mobile sites a lot. Anyway, around 5pm I was done with my housework and decided to make the 85 mile trip to the park to see if I had a platinum pass in my hand and, of course, catch a few rides. I don't get a lot of KI nighttime, so I was willing to stay til ten if necessary.

The first cause for concern was the fact that as I drove south the sky got greyer and greyer. It had been such a beautiful day in Columbus with rain predicted not until tomorrow. The second was when I was driving down Kings Island Dr. and saw cars parked clear to the corners of both ends of the parking lot. Crap.

When I handed my pass to the woman at the toll booth I was nervous that it wouldn't work, but it did. I should have taken the cue right there that my pass was ok and left the park to return another day when it was less busy. Instead, I ignored good sense and reason and drove the parking lot for 15 minutes looking for a space that wasn't in row BamBam 99, then walked a mile to the gate.

My first mission was to go up the Eiffel Tower and check the construction area from above, as I had heard already that there was activity. The line for the tower was long, only one floor was open, and I waited thru 4 rides before I was finally on my way to the top. When I got there I noticed a few things- it was cold, the rain had started to sprinkle, and there was a gigantic bald spot on the earth where Son o Beast used to be. There were also footers, but in the spot where Days of Thunder go carts used to be. I'm no footer expert, so I can't say who's they are. They're round and have rebar sticking out the top. Footers alone can be foolers, it's sometimes hard to predict a path by just looking at them. These, so far, are kind of few and far between, they almost look like that of a wild mouse. There might be some excavating on the other side of the road where SOB was, but not much that I can see. The old station is still there, though, and the ramps seem to be left too. I think it was used as a haunt, but I'm wondering if the new ride will reuse and recycle the old station set-up. We've seen it before...

So I was finally satisfied that I had seen every bit of the crowded park below that I wanted to see, and I could verify from above that there was a huge line for every ride. No thanks. When I started back over to the elevator I noticed the same people were standing there as about 10 minutes ago. I tracked down the ride op, who looked to be on loan from the train, and he verified the ride was down. "WHAT? You mean we're stuck up here? Wait, I don't care about these people, I'M stuck up here?" ... "Yes sir, we're experiencing technical difficulties and the ride will resume as soon as possible. We don't know how long it'll be. We're sorry for any inconvenience". Ok, it's one thing to hear that line from a queue on the ground and another thing to hear it when you're 317 feet in the air. I know that figure because a woman who seemed like she could panic any second asked the ride op just how high up we were stuck. He told her.

After about a half hour, what seemed like an eternity in hell, the supervisors showed up and decided it was ok for us to take the stairs down one level where they had a functioning elevator ready to take us back down. As I passed one of the young ladies I said "remember back in the day when these stairs were open and you could go back and forth between floors?" She just wrinkled her brow at me. Of course she didn't, she wasn't even born yet. I was in escape elevator number 2, and on the way down I wondered what we might receive for our inconvenience. When the doors opened up we were greeted by every suit in the place, each extending his or her sincerest apologies. No exit pass. No Coca Cola Freestyle pass. Just "thank you, sir, for your patience". Ok, I was very very glad to be back down anyway.

Next I went to the rear of the park for some pizza. I've eaten LaRosa's pizza since Kings Island opened, and can someone tell me why it's a local favorite? It's ok for park pizza, actually great for park pizza, but for pizza from the pizzeria? Not so much. Maybe Cincinnatians only know chili. Lately pizza at KI comes in two sizes: whole pie or 2 slices with 2 breadsticks which runs close to 9 bucks. Gone are the days where you can get just one slice. So, the pizza was ok, more than I wanted though.

Vortex was down. Windseeker was too. I spotted the yellow evac platform behind the large wooden gate blocking the path that was formerly an exit for the motion movie. I strolled down the Coney Mall, actually it was a brisk walk as it was raining harder, and a lot of the lights on the rides had come on. (not Windseekers) I went into the arcade by Zephyr and played 3 games of Skeeball. I gave my tickets to two astonished little boys, who had amassed 60 points so far. Mom said thanks.

All the way down to Action Zone (do they still call it that?) and a peek at those footers thru the gate on the construction wall. Just as I expected, no clue as to what they might be.

I went thru Festhaus and noticed Yuengling beer has taken over. The stage was set up for some kind of rock oldies show, and there was basketball showing on the tvs.

Then I decided to go ahead, break down, and get in line for Diamondback. The queue was full to about 3/4 of the first, upper section. It was exactly 830. I jumped on my phone so I could look like everyone else in line. I checked out CoasterBuzz and played a game. At about 856 the fast moving line stopped and I noticed empty trains leaving the station. Down. There was a light rain. I bailed.

I walked over to Boo Blasters and there was a ride op standing in front. Down. Jeezy.

So, to the gate I went, with only one (really, really long) visit to Awful Tower under my belt for the season. It's ok, there will be plenty of sunny weekdays ahead where I can take advantage of a much less busy park. Next week I'll be at SDC for 3 days, wish me better luck there please! I suppose there's worse places to end one's coaster drought, right?

This is my first trip report ever.

Last edited by RCMAC,
LostKause's avatar

Great first trip report ever!

Why are parks closing rides for light drizzle these days? "Back in my day" rides only closed if there were lightning strikes within a few miles.

I love skeeball, but I never want any of the crappy prizes that are offered, so I always give my tickets to the nearest cool little kid I see.

As for the footers, I read somewhere that the station for the new ride will probably be in the old go cart location. If that is the case, then Top Gun-errr I mean Air Platform's days might be numbered because people may stop taking the long walk to get to it or forget about it.

Opening day at Kings Island is always pretty busy. I stay away if I can help it.

So I guess the Windseeker rides are still closed. I wonder when they will reopen? I still haven't been on it yet.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I read a lot of negativty about opening day on Facebook yesterday. Lots of crazy waits and slow service being talked about.

sirloindude's avatar

I think the WindSeekers are open. Mike Gallagher said that it was open at KD when he went recently.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

Thank you, LK. I know my report is negative, but I'm not a hater. I've been faithfully attending the park since 1972, my first visit was when my friend John and I snuck into dry run day, a week before the park officially opened. We were high school seniors and were driving home from a Miami University college visit. We were so happy that we got to ride the awesome new Racer, it was the best ride we'd ever taken, and we got on it before anyone else.
I don't believe I've ever missed a season since then. Like I said, there's plenty of slow days ahead for me and honestly, I don't know what I was thinking by going in the first place.
The rides weren't closed for a drizzle, I believe it was due to technical difficulties. They ran off and on thru the day, rain or not. It just seemed like my luck was to get there and find em down. Boo Blasters? I struck out everywhere.
As far as Windseeker goes, I saw they had the big blue door off the center pole and laying on the cement, so there was no sign of it opening and there was no activity there whatsoever. I didn't get back there after dark to see if they were playing the lights even though it was down. It's what they usually do, though. Did I read somewhere that KI's version is the only one that hasn't suffered from stuck-carriage syndrome?

rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

I read a lot of negativty about opening day on Facebook yesterday. Lots of crazy waits and slow service being talked about.

You've still got weekdays... ;~P

Early-season weekends are no longer on the "unexpectedly few guests" list.

Did you at least get a couple rides on the Beast?

Rick_UK's avatar

Being from the UK, the closing rides in the rain thing is completely lost on me. We'd never ride anything if that rule was implemented here! Bonkers.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Go to KI on any weekend or holiday and you'll find out why it's called "King's Lineland". <G>

Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!

Tyler Boes said:
Did you at least get a couple rides on the Beast?

Who, me? No, I did not. Just one extra long Eiffel Tower experience and some pizza as stated in my trip report. The line for The Beast was thru the queues and down the walk to the main drag so I passed.

delan's avatar

Rick_UK said:

Being from the UK, the closing rides in the rain thing is completely lost on me. We'd never ride anything if that rule was implemented here! Bonkers.

Same thing with Germany I reckon. I went to Hiede Park during torrential downpour and Colossus and Desert Race were still operating. Ouch!!!

I too, love playing Skee-Ball and seeing the looks of delight on the little ones' faces when the strange bald man gives them or Mom/Dad his hard-earned tickets.

I was reading where LaRosa's has been doing a promotion with the Reds, wherein ticket holders to any game in which the home team's pitchers strike out 11 or more batters get a free 4(!!) topping pizza with their stub. Apparently, it's been happening way more than they anticipated this season. Well, I guess when you have Aroldis Chapman...

The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

I don't remember what the official count was over this last 10 game homestand, but I know there were at least four times where the Reds got to 11 strikeouts. I went to two of those games and got it both times. The cheers are louder for the pizza than when they win the game!

I talked to a few people who went to KI on Saturday and the reports echoed this one. I guess they allowed the 5k participants in during early entry and the Diamondback line was 45 minutes before the general public was let in at 10. Diamondback, FOF, and Firehawk lines were reported at 90 minutes or more most of the day. I'm really glad I decided to head out of town to go to some other parks instead.

A few seasons ago on my last evening at Seaside Heights I whiled away the hours in the Casino watching the carousel and playing games. I had quite a few tokens, but not enough to buy anything nice. I noticed a young family with a couple of boys who were beside themselves having hit the 1000 credit spot on the big wheel game. (the one that looks like the wheel on Price is Right) I went to the parents and asked if the boys could make use of a few more. The look on those little guy's faces was priceless, the riches just kept coming.

I stayed and visited with the couple for a long time, and she's the one who finally asked what the hell I was doing there on a friday night instead of up to Jenkinson's. I was maybe fifteen minutes away the whole time and had no idea. So I left them and went there and had a great couple of hours. Loved that funhouse.

As much as I complained about crappy Seaside Heights and Casino Pier I'm so glad now that I had the chance to go.

I was there last Saturday. A hellish day and they shortened early entry time to measly 30 minutes. My son and I got lucky by running like crazy to Diamondback and got on within the first 10 minutes. The line piled on behind us. And this was just the season pass holders. The guards made us show the passes so I doubt they let the 5k run event people in early.

Lucikly, we scored entrance the next day for Cincinnati Insurance Co. private entrance after a customer service snafu on Saturday for us -- and that made ALL the difference for us -- given the fact that we drove from Indianapolis. Much lighter crowds on Sunday.

I wonder if the crowds were much worse on Saturday due to the fact that the park was closed to public on Sunday?

And what does it cost to do a park buyout? I am curious.

I've been reading opening day trip reports for the last several years at KI, and they've been overwhelmingly negative. I don't understand how they seem to be caught off guard year after year. There were several reports that the food stands only had 1 window open, and they had 30+ minute waits; that's unacceptable. The widespread ride down time sounds exactly like last year...far beyond what one should expect for opening day.

Fortunately, those May weekdays can be so dead at KI. I tried a May Sunday per recommendation last year, and it was a big mistake. Packed. My first trip will definitely be a May weekday this year.

RCMAC said:

I went thru Festhaus and noticed Yuengling beer has taken over.

It was that way last year too. I remember arriving one Friday evening, with a pretty bad storm rolling in literally right behind me. I entered the park and immediately headed for Festhaus to enjoy a beer while the storm passed.

After two absolutely awful opening days in a row (2009-2010) I swore off opening weekend and always go the second weekend of operations now. I've never seen a park so badly off their game as what KI was those two years. We never made it all the way through a single queue without whatever ride we were waiting for breaking down at least once, and operations were the slowest I'd seen anywhere.

The experience on the second weekend is 100% better from what I've experienced the last couple years. Plus I can usually arrive in time to get a couple rides in on that Friday night, and no buyout on Sunday means I can get a few more hours in that morning if I want to, so that's a bonus.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Bakeman31092's avatar

I went for Cedar Point's opening day back in '06 and the crowds were surprisingly light. I don't know if this was a general trend "back in the day" that has now changed, but my last few opening day trips to CP and KI have been pretty rough.

I can understand how operations may not go smoothly at first. New employees, first day at work, rides are just waking up, etc.

As for LaRosa's, I've never had it inside the park, but I've been to the one a few miles outside the park, and I find it to be quite awesome.

birdhombre's avatar

As far as crowds, Cedar Point used to open a week earlier, so opening day didn't coincide with Music in the Parks. I think 2007 is when they started the later date, and ever since then I haven't made opening day a priority because, well, it's not fun to wait an hour for rides after you've been waiting all winter too. If we do go opening weekend, we just play it by ear to see what has a short line. It's still nice just to walk around the park with friends and get a hot-dog-on-a-stick, but if the place is swarming with high school kids I'm not going to be there all day.

The park will be swarming with me, yes.

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