KD/BGW 6/5-6/6 2018.... Part One.

Sunday, June 10, 2018 8:34 PM

Since I was fortunate to retire early and since most of my friends are still working folks, my amusement park companions are few and far between. No worries, though. I’ve always liked driving, I’m comfortable with myself for company, and I’m not shy to take up with strangers when the situation arises. Besides, even though it’s not ideal, I can identify several advantages to going solo at a park.
This season I felt the need to re-visit two of my favorite parks, Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens- mainly because it’s been about five years since I was there last and I could see three new rides between the two that I could add, with Twisted Timbers sitting at the top of that short list. I chose last week as I had heard that both parks had been rather devoid of customers lately, and the weather outlook was good. So I packed a bag Sunday night and after my haircut Monday morning took off for fun.

Well, after a day’s drive, that is. Google Maps says it’s 7.5 from Columbus to Richmond, but I knew I’d be stopping. The older I get the harder it is for me to handle those long hauls and I’m the guy who can easily turn 7.5 estimated time into 10+ real time. But I had no schedule and no place to be at any particular time. And the drive is beautiful. The mountain scenery in southern West Virginia through western Virginia is absolutely spectacular. It’s long but I made it as relaxing as I possibly could.

I arrived at the Country Inn and Suites across from KD sometime after dark. I was exhausted so I walked to the Burger King and actually got a decent sandwich. After that and a little decompressing I hit the sack in anticipation of a big day tomorrow.

KD opens at 10:30 and has no passholder early ride time. I snagged the free hotel breakfast and that’s where I met Mike from Germany who I referenced in another thread. We talked a long time until I realized it was almost 10:30 and I wasn’t ready to go. (I hate to miss a minute of a park I don’t visit often) Mike assured me he practically had the park to himself on Monday, so I wasn’t all that concerned.

Kings Dominion:

He was right. I drove across the street round 11:00, and realized I was one of a handful of vehicles. Security was a slight delay- I’ll never know why kids these days insist on traveling with a backpack as if they were about to hit the Appalachian Trail or something. So after enduring that minor bit of hell, in I went.
As we know, KD is the fraternal twin sister to my own Kings Island. Through the years I’ve enjoyed comparing the two- each park has something they do better than the other. Kings Island’s layout might be a little bit better, but KD is an overall prettier park. And this time I especially noticed the amount of beautiful tall trees that have been allowed to grow throughout the grounds. International Street might be a little shorter, but it sure is pretty. So as I marveled at the beauty, I was heading to the back of the park straight to Twisted Timbers for my first ride of the day and my first new credit.

I rode Hurler both when it was brand new and long after it had gone to S. I was very happy for everyone there when it was announced that RMC was stepping in as they’re the manufacturer that I’m following closest these days. I’ve never met a ride of theirs I haven’t liked or looooved and I had high hopes. I wasn’t disappointed. The wait for the ride was non-existent, in fact they were running two trains half empty most of the time. I sat down in my usual test seat, the front row of the last car of the train. I loved it.
The ride ops noticed my Steel Vengeance tee and asked me what I thought. They’re a good crew and really hustle. The guy on the mic kept them moving and praised them for a good job when they made interval, which even with full trains was often. They like to refer to their ride as “SV’s little brother” and that wouldn’t be far from the truth. I’d actually put TT in the same category as Storm Chaser. Both rides have the same impossible, thrilling first drop and the rest of the ride is bronco buster style fun. TT’s queue is cute as hell, occupies the infield (brilliant use of otherwise wasted space) and expands on the farm theme even further and better than KI’s Mystic Timbers does. There are near-destroyed farm implements, vehicles, and rows of trees, orchard style. One would guess that they’re apple trees, right? But I didn’t see any blooms or fruit developing. But the best part of the queue that day was that nobody had to use it. The ride was walk-on all day long.
I’ll leave Twisted Timbers with a few thoughts and a revelation. As you know, I regard RMC creations as the cream of the crop with Steel Vengeance sitting for me at least, at the top. There’s been a lot of discussion about rideability and re-rideability, however, and since TT is my seventh RMC ride I totally get it. I personally don’t experience a lot of pain, (I’m fat, so maybe in the bread basket), but I do find the rides to be exhausting. And that’s not a bad thing... But the revelation came when I stood in the infield and watched TT go around. It’s a small ride. The hills, for the most part, are short and quick. In the back seat I noticed the front of the train starting into the next hill or element before we in the rear had a chance to finish the last one. I likened it to someone sending a full length coaster train around a Music Express track at 60 mph. And this is what makes RMC rides of this type perfect for some and torture for others. The airtime is insanity to the point of being unreal, but it’s a smooth and thrilling moment. Fine elements of note include the cutback and the perfectly banked turn around the station. I could ride a ride with nothing but those two elements all day long, and both are included on Steel Vengeance as well. I loved this ride.

As for the rest of the park, I spent the day walking around by myself and sampled all the rides at a leisurely pace. Racer 75 received a lot of love recently, with plenty of retracking. (Does that ride not have the world’s longest walk for an entrance and exit though?) Apple Zapple was the same but with a new name and a cute paint job. I hadn’t visited the park since the Candy Apple mall re-do and it was really well done.
I-305 has never been a favorite of mine (sorry, folks) and this time I felt the same about it. Anaconda was torture, Grizzly was bumpy and is showing it’s age, but it also seemed so grown up and grown in. I tried to imagine how riders must’ve felt on Coney Island’s Wildcat- it really evoked an old-timey feeling in me for the first time ever. Avalanche is one of my favorites and I took advantage of an empty station for multiple re-rides. Sadly, Volcano has been on perma-down status for some reason. Dominator was the same as always, and for some reason I preferred it at Geauga. Flight of Fear was a pass. Stunt Track seemed faster and a bit more fun that the ride at KI.
I also rode quite a few flats. Berserker, Flying Eagles (an original Bisch-Rocco- yay!) a really fast Scrambler, Dodgem, Americana Wheel (hello again, Geauga!) and I don’t know what else. Crypt was operating, but I see it as a torture machine, so no. It seemed to run a fun and fast program, though. Of note was Delirium, a swinging, spinning pendulum ride, that sits where Shockwave was. But it’s smaller than what we find at other CF parks and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Is it a Zamperla? Dunno, but I really liked it.
I had lunch at Outer Hanks and my fish was good. I think next season I’m gonna drop the CF meal deal and stick with drinks only. While it’s nice not to have to pay for food I rarely get two meals at a park. An end of season cost/benefit analysis might be in order.
I closed out my day at Twisted Timbers for multiple, no-wait-time rides with a couple of coke and smoke breaks thrown in there for needed rest periods. I think the park closed at 7 or 8 that night and I left tired, but happy and satisfied with my day at what has to be one of CF’s most beautiful parks.

This got long and I apologize. I’ll pick up with the Busch part of the trip sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

Last edited by RCMAC, Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:01 PM
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Sunday, June 10, 2018 9:00 PM

Great trip report! We are re-visiting Kings Dominion again as a family in July, and of course couldn't help but notice the status of Volcano. On our trip last year at the same time, it was in the midst of a seriously long stretch of downtime (weeks), although we did luck out with it opening temporarily on one of our 3 days at the park.

Based on what you said, I can't wait to give TT a try and take in the scenery. Steel Vengeance is the only RMC I have ever ridden, so it will be nice to try another.

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Monday, June 11, 2018 1:11 PM

RCMAC said:

Sadly, Volcano has been on perma-down status for some reason.

It's an Intamin.

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Monday, June 11, 2018 1:21 PM

Well, there’s that.
It looked so forlorn sitting there. And it’s a shame for me because with the park being fairly empty it would’ve been the perfect opportunity to grab a few laps for once. That ride is front-heavy with a great start, a high flying middle, and a crappy ending. In the past I’ve been known to pass due to a long, hidden wait and slow load. So that day I had a long face.

Oh well.

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Monday, June 11, 2018 2:29 PM

Great TR, it's nice to hear an "outsider's" POV of the place, especially since I haven't been there since before the Candy Apple Grove re-theme.

International Street might be a little shorter, but it sure is pretty.

This got me curious. I just did a side-by-side comparison on Google Maps and both look just about identical in length. In fact, I just used the measurement tool (right-click and select "Measure distance") and from gate to fountain-facing base of the tower is almost exactly 600 feet on both.

Ugh. My dorkdom is in full force today.

Last edited by Vater, Monday, June 11, 2018 6:33 PM
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Monday, June 11, 2018 2:55 PM

Cool report. I went to Kings Dominion in April to review Twisted Timbers and it was far better than I had anticipated - although I had to wait until almost 8pm to get on it, as it had been down for most of the day. http://www.coastercritic.com/2018/04/review-twisted-timbers/ A lot of people aren't crazy about I-305; it's one of my favorites but on this trip I found I couldn't easily marathon it, probably a function of advanced age. After 6 rides I'd had it b/c the restraints were getting uncomfortable. Sure, they're soft but with all those changes in elevation of the track they were slapping me on the shoulders. Anaconda is one I went out of my way to avoid. When I rode it some years ago it was such a headbanger that I decided never again. Fortunately, Volcano was operating so I got in a few laps on it. It was a little rougher than I remembered but still a good ride; I like the way the 2nd launch comes totally out of the blue. So it's an Intamin. So are El Toro, Superman at SFNE, Storm Runner and a bunch of others that are near and dear to my heart. As to the length of the line to enter and exit Racer 75, I think that Superman at Great Adventure might have that one beaten.

What, you didn't eat at the Mac Bowl? They named it after you. That's where I had dinner and it really hit the spot.

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Monday, June 11, 2018 4:13 PM

What? There’s a MacDaddy Bowl? I could’ve eaten for free! (“Just swipe your season meal plan, sir, thank you...”)
I’m not sure where that is, maybe I saw it, I don’t remember. But a lot of the food places weren’t open which was ok due to low attendance anyway.

I don’t know what it is about 305. It’s like a bad cross between Millennium Force and Maverick, but still. Something isn’t fun or comfortable about it for me. And those over the shoulder things make me mad. On that ride I don’t see a reason.

But I though of you, Bobbie, and said “I’ll try this one again just for her and let her know. Maybe she’s found something I haven’t.” But no. And to be fair, that coaster sits high on many lists... just not mine.

Last edited by RCMAC, Monday, June 11, 2018 4:14 PM
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