Kings Dominion - Intimidator 305 - April 1, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 1:43 AM

I flew out of Seattle on Wednesday afternoon, and was pleased that security was a non-issue. I really dislike flying out of the S terminal, because it's always crowded, as are the underground shuttles. It's funny how the airport mostly reminds me of interviewing at MSFT. It'll take some getting used to as "my" airport, and the origin instead of the destination.

My stop in ATL wasn't horrible, though you still spend so much time taxiing there because of its size. At least you don't have to wait in line on the runway as you do at ORD. RIC is a nice little airport, and I just barely made it at quarter to midnight to pick up my car. Seems Travelocity managed to make my pick-up time 8 a.m., so they weren't even expecting me.

I stayed in the Country Inn across from the park, which seemed nice enough. Being on Pacific time, and newborn time on top of that, I was skeptical I'd get much sleeping done. I was right. At 2 a.m., a freight train passed by that literally shook everything. The pen on the night stand was moving. That's the first -1. I got up at 5, getting maybe two hours of sleep, and planned to meet Ken (ridemcoaster) to go in early. Wasn't expecting to ride or anything, but thought it'd be neat to take some "night" photos. As I contemplated just waiting for the regular start time of the event, I noticed something on the floor near the bathroom. That something started scurrying toward me. It was a giant cock roach. We're talking small rodent size. Gross. I'm still trying to get my money back, because that's unacceptable.

In any case, my Simon-induced sleep deprivation made it pretty easy for me to be awake, and I really had no issue, even if it was 3 a.m. Pacific time. We met up with John, the PR guy and his new intern (her first day), and we met up with some folks from the DC Fox affiliate back at the ride. Some ride mechanics appeared to be testing electrical restraint stuff on one of the trains. I got some nice photos of the lift at night, some of which are on CoasterBuzz.

We spent some time shooting the **** with the TV folks, and Ken and I were going to do a live hit with them after sunrise. Had lots of really good conversation with the photog about gear, and how the attitudes were slowly changing about what constitutes "real" equipment. It was also quite validating to hear about how much his station had bought into using P2-based gear. I can't believe I've had a P2 camera now for four years, and a part of me wishes that I could have brought it with me.

We also spent some quality time talking to the Ernhardt kids who were there. Good people. There are few things I could care less about than NASCAR, but they were still interesting to talk to.

Our first ride was actually televised. Ken got to ride with the anchor in the front, the Ernhardts in the second row, and just then Tony and his friends showed and we filled the second car. It was pretty cool later to see our first ride captured by helicopter. I've done a lot of live stuff over the years, but that was definitely a first.

The first thing you'll notice is how fast the lift is, which instantly made me confident about their ability to move people. It's even faster when they only run one train. There are so many things mechanically that have evolved about the ride system since they built Millennium Force, and the handful of other rides using the cable lift. For all the crap I give Intamin, it does at least appear that they're learning.

The first drop feels exactly like MF. It was virtually indistinguishable. After that, it's like you're riding a much taller Maverick. The first turn pulls serious G's the entire way around, and unless you do the defensive pilot muscle squeezing, you will get tunnel vision. It's so strange how your field of vision just keeps getting narrower until you hit the release point up the next hill. The airtime there is ejector air, and surprisingly brief.

The next part of the ride is a series of quick turns and direction changes, again, much like Maverick only with a much longer train. Turns 4 and 5 are very abrupt, and I worried about the head banging potential. And yes, for my height at least, there is some head action if you don't ride it defensively, especially toward the front. This is really the only part of the ride that I think holds it back, and it just seems so unnecessary. It could be the greatest steel coaster in the world if it weren't for this.

After those turns, you climb another tall hill, which has some magnetic trimming on it that enthusiasts are already bitching about. I don't think it detracts that much from the ride. This hill and the one after it again create strong pops of brief airtime, followed by a right then left turn into the final brakes. There's another crazy pop of air as you hit those brakes, mostly in the front.

By the time we rolled back into the station, Tony and I pretty much agreed that this was the love child of Maverick and Millennium Force, and that indeed means all of the awesomeness it implies (assuming you love those two rides). Total slam dunk, and it puts Kings Dominion into the big leagues in a way that I think it should have been years ago.

People are anxious to ask me if I think it's better than Millennium Force, and I have to say not quite. It's SO close though. If you have to ride defensively on a steel coaster, I dunno, it just takes me back to the Arrow days. If you pull those damn shoulder bars off, which don't act as active restraints anyway, this is the best coaster in the world, no contest. But for as much as I like to point that out, I also don't want to appear that I'm dogging the ride at all. I mean, close second still means better than most everything else out there. It really is that good. It's just frustrating because it could be the best evar, not second place. Of course, some people don't think that highly of Millennium Force, but any ride where you don't have enough fingers and toes to count the seconds of airtime sits pretty high on my list. I happen to like lots of B&M's that other people find "boring," so to each his own.

They had the Eiffel Tower open as well for some hot photo action. It's so weird to go up there and not see Kings Island! The park really looks fantastic, much more than it did during my last visit nine years ago. Cedar Fair has done a fantastic job giving it the polish and fit it needed. Dominator looks just beautiful there, and locals say it has been running much smoother than it ever did at Geauga Lake. I have to say, that if their operations match the feel for the park, it has absolutely "arrived," and the DC and Richmond areas are better for it. It's really lovely.

At the end of the day, it was totally worth the trip, and I look forward to a day where I can bring Diana along (who was later there in the 70's or something), and perhaps even Simon some day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 1:51 AM

Almost forgot... me at 6 a.m. (photo credit: ridemcoaster)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 8:35 AM

Great TR Jeff. The media event sounds like a neat experience, and it was really cool to see you and Ken on the news. I meant to ask you, what was your impression of Holly Morris? Never met her, but I occasionally catch the fluff stories she does as an on-location reporter in the mornings, and she's so bubbly and animated, and...dare I say annoying. Yet, I've seen her fill in as an anchor, and she's the ultimate professional, and really good. Hard to believe it's the same person.

I'm pretty much in agreement with you on Intimidator, except that I have absolutely no problem overlooking the unnecessary shoulder restraints. They didn't negatively impact my rides at all, except for one bump (the entrance to turn 5, I think), which surprisingly didn't hurt. I obviously prefer Millennium Force's restraints, but think the KD's is the better coaster all around (and MF was my #1).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 11:51 AM

She was all-pro, much better than some of the small-market schmucks I've met or worked with (think Toledo ;)). Very sociable too. Ask Ken if she has a tattoo.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 12:32 PM

Vater said:
I meant to ask you, what was your impression of Holly Morris?

But wouldn't you want to see Kimberly Suiters on this as well? ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 3:44 PM

Nice to hear from some people that I can actually put a little faith in! I am very skeptical of reviews that I have heard from other sites/people. Since it's only April most of these reviews are coming either from people in VA who are obviously going to be bias, or from coaster enthusiast like Rob who i also greatly question.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 5:00 PM

So, wait. Am I one of the people you can put faith in, or am I one of the obviously biased ones? :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 5:50 PM

Amazing TR, Jeff. You don't do enough of these.

That's one nasty sounding hotel. I'll make sure that I keep away!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 6:00 PM

If you prefer MF then your not bias; if you perfer I-305 then your definitly bias.That's how I tell :)

I was talking in general terms really. I've been told that bias is what about you makes you have your opinion. So everyone is bias; you can't really help it. I just feel that many of the other opinions that i've heard from other places are coming probably from young people who are tired of hearing CP this OH CP that! They are glad that they finally have a super coaster in their backyard, and they are more than happy to stick it in the faces of "CP fanboys" that they have the better coaster. Go on KDfansite or something and you will see what i mean. Some of the people on their i question if they have even been on both rides or not!

Last edited by Eric Hossfield, Tuesday, April 6, 2010 6:03 PM
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 9:22 PM

People like what they like. For years, enthusiasts have misused the word "bias" because they don't know what it means. Sure, I have some bias toward Millennium Force because I watched it "grow up" and have hundreds of photos of it (shot on film!). But then again, I don't live anywhere near it any more, so at this point I'm excited to get on any ride.

I hate to even bring up the restraint issue, because it makes it sound as if the ride sucks, and it most certainly does not. I generally don't rank rides, but I think it's OK to compare any two that I've been on. I still gotta give MF the slight edge because I find it easier to ride. Your mileage blah blah blah.

Thursday, April 8, 2010 12:32 AM

The ride is much much better than Millenium Force, its up there as one of the most intense coasters i've been on (right behind X2 at magic mountain) and its number 2 for me in the steel hyper coaster category. Sorry Bizarro at SFNE is still undoubtably the best coaster in the world for that because it is the most "complete" coaster in the world. But this is close

Thursday, April 8, 2010 8:08 PM

Your hotel sounds as "wonderful" as the hotel we had for our honeymoon. It was the Econolodge in Allentown, Pa. DISGUSTING!! Not only did a train wake us up at 3am, we looked out the window and saw the tracks were like 25' from the window! Dead cockroaches on the window ledge. It was almost as bad as the Travelodge in Sandusky.

I respect your opinion on this ride. It certainly sounds like hubby and I may have to make the drive and check it out. I've been wanting to get on Dominator since it's move....
note to self: avoid Country Inn across from park

Lifetime Raptor flights: 2175 :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010 8:52 PM

Jo, we were pleasantly surprised by the Best Western Kings Quarters. It sits next to the parking lot and has a steep discount for CF season pass holders. While it was not the Ritz, it was clean and comfortable. We paid $49 for Friday night and $69 for Saturday night.

Friday, April 9, 2010 1:27 AM

You went to an Econolodge on your honeymoon? Really?

Friday, April 9, 2010 2:26 AM

Country Inn? Best Western? Econolodge?

Who the hell are you people!? ;)

Friday, April 9, 2010 12:16 PM

Well Gonch, I normally go for Holiday Inn Express but this trip we wanted to get to the park before the parking lot opened. The BW is on-site so we just walked over before the crowds got there.

Friday, April 9, 2010 7:32 PM

I can't afford $100 a night hotels. I almost always stay at a Motel 6. They are usually really clean and quiet, and worth the price. I'm just going to sleep and shower there anyways, and it couldn't be any worse than the crap Cedar point housing that i stayed in for three seasons. :)

I just booked a hotel for my Dollywood trip in a few weeks. I decided to take a chance and stay at something different than a Motel 6. I read all the online reviews for hotels in that area, and I decided to stay at Econolodge in Pigeon Forge. It was like the number two or three highest rated hotel in the town, and it was only $45 on Thusday and $79 the following Friday. It looks really nice too.

I just can't part with one or two hundred dollars a night, for a bed and shower. If it's clean and quiet, I'm happy.

I once booked at a hotel in Elkins WV for a concert. Upon arriving, we noticed that something was slightly strange about the place, and it wasn't until we got inside our room that we figured out that it was converted from a hospital. Our hotel room was a remolded patient room. Thinking about how many people were sick and even died in that room, we left immediately, and decided to drive home instead. We never did get our money back, although I tried really hard to.

Friday, April 9, 2010 8:19 PM

LostKause said:
I can't afford $100 a night hotels. I almost always stay at a Motel 6. They are usually really clean and quiet, and worth the price. I'm just going to sleep and shower there anyways, and it couldn't be any worse than the crap Cedar point housing that i stayed in for three seasons. :)

I just booked a hotel for my Dollywood trip in a few weeks. I decided to take a chance and stay at something different than a Motel 6. I read all the online reviews for hotels in that area, and I decided to stay at Econolodge in Pigeon Forge. It was like the number two or three highest rated hotel in the town, and it was only $45 on Thusday and $79 the following Friday. It looks really nice too.

I'm with you...I just need the 3 B's...Bed, Bath, and Bowl!

I'm always a Motel 6 guy if I can find one within 20 miles of the parks I visit. I've been pretty successful in finding them. In 2008, I stayed at one near Dollywood, about 10 minutes away.

I'm heading down to VA/KD on the 16th, but found out this week that the Motel 6 in Ashland where I usually stay is no longer operating as a Motel 6. It was no longer on the chain's site, despite being there as recently as a month ago! I called the motel and a woman said it was still a Motel 6, and didn't know why it wasn't on the site. But I sent an e-mail to the corporate website and they confirmed it was no longer affiliated with the chain. I'm not making a reservation, but I'll probably end up staying there anyway. There's also a Super 8 at the same location as a fallback plan. Someone, in another thread on this site, mentioned a deep discount at Kings Quarters for CF Season Passholders. I'm wondering if that might be worth the extra $30 or so it'd cost me. Does anyone know if KD has any early entry for Kings Quarters guests?

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Friday, April 9, 2010 8:33 PM
Saturday, April 10, 2010 9:08 AM

Jeff said:
You went to an Econolodge on your honeymoon? Really?

Man that does sound bad, doesnt it? We actually stayed at Hotel Breakers for 2 nights when we got married, that was our "real" honeymoon. The Allentown trip was for CoasterMadness at Dorney which was a couple weeks after we got married, but we called it our honeymoon.

Since we've stayed at nice Econolodges in the past (the ones in Sandusky plus a couple in Florida) we would have no reason to believe this one would be any different. We were DEAD wrong!!

We're cheap but not THAT cheap! ;)

Lifetime Raptor flights: 2175 :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010 3:14 PM

Mike, KD does not do an ERT like KI or CP. What they do is a 10 minute head start over the GP. They have a gate on the far side of the Eiffel Tower where you have to show your KD VIP or CF PP to get into.

I know that everyone wants to go to I305 first, but I would highly suggest hitting Volcano first as it is a much slower loading ride and gets long lines all day long. I305 on the other hand seems to be able to handle the load better.


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