Kings Dominion, Doswell, Virginia, USA
After an excellent morning and early afternoon at a very empty and very nice Six Flags America, my friend Jaya and I talked about missing I-305 and how awesome it would be to ride 20 coasters in one day, so we decided that there was still plenty of time for a second trip to (sort of) nearby Kings Dominion. Off we went, and after encountering one or two spots of slow moving traffic, we arrived at the entrance.
I was optimistic at first that KD might not be crowded because there was absolutely no line to get into the parking lot, but unfortunately, the lots were close to full, including all the overflow lots. I have not yet purchased my Plat Pass, but Jaya had hers, so she tried to use her pass to get free parking. Her pass would not scan for parking, but the girl at the gate did not retry to scan the pass slowly or even retry at all. She charged us the full 20 dollars for preferred parking and told us that Jaya would not be able to get into the park unless she went to Guest Services and tried to get her pass working there. This girl was seriously surly, but we didn't push it. I know from past experiences that sometimes (for whatever reason) the passes don't work and a stop at Guest Services is necessary.
Since I don't have my pass yet, I went to purchase a ticket at the gate. They told me that admission was 65 bucks! Then the very nice girl at the ticket counter told me if I waited for three minutes, the admission would drop to 40 dollars. It is nice that they do Twilight admission at 4 and not at 5 or 6 like some parks, and since I hadn't seen that the admission was so much cheaper before I tried to buy the ticket, it was cool that the girl at the window said something.
Guest Services was apparently very nice to Jaya, her pass worked fine for admission, and they reimbursed her the FULL cost of the parking, not just for general parking. I don't know if the girl at the parking gate just scanned the pass too quickly or if those scanners don't work for pass holders from other parks or what, but it was great customer service that KD not only fixed the problem but also reimbursed us for our trouble. They really didn't have to give us the full cost of the parking back, and that was above and beyond. It's just five dollars, but it still impresses me. Or maybe they just messed up and accidentally gave 20 bucks back instead of 15. *laugh*
The FastLane and FastLane Plus prices have gone up significantly at Kings Dominion. While I understand WHY they have gone up, I seriously don't like it. Great Adventure's Flashpass Gold for two people are about $130. For two people at KD? $170. Plus, there are a few rides that they don't put on FastLane, AND you can't pick the front seat for FastLane I-305 rides (even though you pay an upcharge to even put I-305 ON your FastLane pass), so you're paying more money and not getting quite the deal you get at Six Flags. Kind of a bummer, but not enough that I would say it's a BAD deal (Hershey's STL card being a great example of a very overpriced, underwhelming deal).
On to the rides:
Dominator: 1 ride, back seat, 9/10: The first time I rode this, I didn't really care for it. I got airtime in weird spots and was very disoriented and kind of sick halfway through it. However, in my subsequent trips, this has firmly cemented itself as my favorite floorless and highly ranked in my coaster rankings as well. So much fun! We wanted to ride again, but we were "on a mission from God", so only one ride on this marvel.
Woodstock Express: 1 ride, back seat, 6.5/10: Actually, if this was a longer ride, I'd probably rank it even higher. This ride has a shockingly impressive first drop (I couldn't believe I got airtime on it), a perfect amount of airtime on all the drops to follow, and no roughness at all. Why can't they make the bigger woodies like this? It's seriously fun. Even Jaya, who was "riding in protest" at such a "baby ride" was impressed, and she stated that she was pleased such a family coaster is available for people. We really liked it, although it was difficult to fit the both of us in one car.
Volcano: 1 ride, back seat, 7/10: The launches for this are much better from the back, especially the front one. You can't see exactly where in the first tunnel you are to kind of figure out when the launch will happen, and it just shocks the heck out of you. Still wish this ride did something other than just barrel rolling, but it was more fun than I've ever had on it before.
Avalanche: 1 ride, 5/10: I've learned to NOT hold on to the restraints so they don't squeeze the life out of me, which made the ride much more pleasant. I appreciate that this type of coaster is still out there, and I like it a lot, but there's not a lot going on there.
Hurler: 1 ride, 4/10: I knew I had to ride this again to make the 20 coasters thing, although I DID swear never (ever) again the first (and only) time I rode it. I think it has had some work done, as it was super fun as long as we weren't going around turns. There's no airtime, and the curves are so shaky and rough. I hate this ride because of the curves. I still wish they'd knock it down.
Grizzly: 1 ride, 5/10: I don't remember Grizzly being quite so rough and pothole-y. However, I still was laughing, even though it was painful to ride. Plus, we were smoking through the course, and I seriously don't remember a tunnel, so I yelled out "WHAT THE F***?!" when we hit the tunnel at blistering speeds, making Jaya start laughing so hard she couldn't speak.
Rebel Yell: 1 ride, second to back seat, red train, 8.5/10: They were actually running AND racing both sides of Rebel Yell, much to my delight. Red train decimated the blue, which was great, and while I ALWAYS love this ride, it was exceptionally good yesterday. Totally awesome. Smooth, aggressive, and filled with airtime.
Ricochet: 1 ride: I don't rate Wild Mice, even altered a bit like this one. Just seems silly.
Backlot Stunt Coaster: 1 ride, back seat, 6.5/10: I still really miss the helicopter, especially since it's still there and all the other effects like the fire and gunshot noises are still there. Seems dumb to not fix it so it goes with the rest of the effects. I enjoy this ride. Yes, it's short and can be a little rough on the first helix, but it's so much harmless fun.
Shockwave: 1 ride, few rows back from the front, 3.5/10: Much quicker loading on this than the last time I rode it. The first drop and first loop and airtime hill are a blast. After that, I tried to actually relax my legs and lift them up a little to avoid the "shockwaves" to my knees and hips from all that roughness. I know this ride has hardcore fans, but I don't get it.
Anaconda: 1 ride, second to front seat, 2/10: This only gets points for being a roller coaster and having pretty scenery and an underground tunnel. We were actually yelling "Oh my god, I'm going to get a brain hemorrhage" and "Are my ears bleeding? Can you see if they have blood coming out of them?". And we weren't joking at all. This was the most painful, least enjoyable experience of my coasting career, and it is seriously a trip ruiner. We almost didn't get to ride the last two coasters because Jaya was dizzy and dry heaving afterwards. This thing needs to go join GASM in the great coaster heaven in the sky.
Flight of Fear: 1 ride, back seat, 8/10: I still think this one goes faster than Joker's Jinx even though I know it is basically the same ride. Much more fun, and although we didn't ride again because we weren't feeling well, it remains in our top 3 at the park by a long shot.
Intimidator 305: 2 rides, 1 back seat, 1 middle, 9/10: This was running as good as last trip, but we had SUCH a blast on our first lap. There was a girl in front of us who had sworn up and down that she was going to ride I305 because she had promised she would. She was shaking and pale and just saying "I'm so nervous, I'm so nervous, I'm so nervous". She actually DID get on the ride, but the whole way up the hill, she was screaming at the top of her lungs, and throughout the whole ride, she turned into a Tourette's sufferer. The things that came out of her mouth were hilarious. After the ride, she was still cursing up and down and swearing NEVER AGAIN. I know it's not appropriate for someone to be cursing and yelling like that around kids and stuff, but it was just so funny because she was so quiet and sweet before the ride.
After the second lap on I-305, we were absolutely DONE. I never realized how much riding coasters can take out of you until I rode a mixed bag of extremely forceful and extremely BAD coasters. Still...2 parks, 20 coasters, one day? Three new credits? I was a happy (but extremely sleep deprived and exhausted) camper. Kings Dominion is still a nice park to me, Six Flags America has completely changed my perception on it, and I'm glad I got such a fun trip this year. It's not looking great for a lot of outings, so this one was definitely one for the books. Thanks for reading!
"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band
How the hell could you forget about Grizzly's tunnel? The airtime pop just before you exit the tunnel is a "WOW" moment for me!
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
Two reasons: I hadn't ridden Grizzly in about 5 years, and when I DID ride it, that's approximately when the chest got a little out of control. Everything was more properly restrained this time around, so I was not getting smacked in the face or worrying about flashing everyone.
I seriously don't remember a LOT about Grizzly. I know I rode it before, and I know I had fun on it, but I feel like it got changed and I just can't picture it.
"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band
Grizzly is the one of the best wooden coasters in the chain...I've had a couple mini-ERT sessions on the orange train in the back at night....glorious.
edit: Only two rides in row, mind you, then I always walk around to the entrance to make sure I'm OK to ride some more...
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