Kings Dominion, Doswell, Virginia, USA
I may have said in past trip reports, but while my wife does not share my passion for the amusement industry to the same extent that I do, she’s incredibly supportive of the hobby. We did a Holiday World/Kings Island double feature last year for her first real “regional” park trip, and this year we decided that we’d stick to Cedar Fair and I’d take her to three of my favorites in the chain over the course of the year: Kings Dominion, Cedar Point, and Carowinds. The latter two will come later this year, but we went with some of my family in Maryland to Kings Dominion on the 16th.
As the 16th was the day before Father’s Day (happy Father’s Day to the dads on here, by the way!), I was expecting Saturday-level crowds compounded by a little boost of crowds for the holiday. Most of our group eschewed the water park opportunity, and it sounds like it was bouncing over there, but the dry side had crowds more reminiscent of past weekday visits than anything resembling what I would have expected on a weekend. We only had two waits of any sort of real length, and neither one was bad.
Having processed our passes in short order (the staff wasn’t pumping people through), we started our day by heading over to Twisted Timbers. The ride did not open with the park, as evidenced by us entering the park about an hour past opening and the ride only really testing once we got there, but a brief wait outside the ride entrance was rewarded with a lap only the second or third train of the day. We opted for the back for our ride, wanting to get the full effect of that first drop.
Friends, RMC are masters of the design craft. Twisted Timbers was everything I hoped it would be, although I was a bit unprepared for how relentless the airtime was on it. There wasn’t a single missed oppportunity along the layout, and every hill packed in as much air as it possibly could. I admired the way that instead of being quite as twist-heavy as it possibly could have, it really stuck to the airtime side of things and used other elements, some of which had their own air, as little interludes between hill sequences. Even the inversions, which at least on initial viewings of ride videos seem to be more showy than necessary, actually were welcome in the layout and not at all unpleasant. This ride is quite possibly the best in the park and textbook example of how RMC takes rides from zeroes to heroes. Even my wife, someone who is not a fan of inversions, enjoyed the ride greatly. It would wind up being her favorite for the day. She has to pace herself, though, so she sat out with some of my other family who don’t ride such things while the rest of us went around for a second lap in the front.
Friends, front row is where it’s at on this ride, but I was alone in that opinion. Try both out and see for yourself.
A few of us rode WindSeeker next, and I still enjoy them as much as I ever have. They’re typically a must-ride for me. My wife sat that one out as well.
Given our hour of arrival and an early morning, we opted for lunch at Chick-fil-A right afterward, and despite an enormous line, they really kept things moving at a respectable pace.
Avalanche followed in an effort to avoid jumping right into one of the monsters and upsetting our stomachs so soon after dining. Opinions were mixed, but a few of us such as myself really appreciated the ride for what it was (it’s usually a must-ride for me), and I found it to be a bit more intense than I remembered. It’s different and still not overly brutal, and it’s just a nice hidden gem in the park’s collection.
Most of the family rode the nearby Scrambler next, but my wife and I, as well as another member of our group, sat that one out as we wanted to avoid the spinning at that time, but it was a nice chance for the less thrill-inclined to get a ride in after waiting for us on the rest.
Intimidator 305 was our next destination, and I figured it would be the moment of truth. Diamondback was the largest roller coaster my wife had ever ridden or seen by a considerable margin, and I was interested to see how she would react when she saw a gigacoaster in person for the first time. I remember seeing Millennium Force for the first time, and there’s really nothing that can prepare you for the impact lift hills of that size make on you. I think that Intimidator 305 is especially interesting in that regard because it sits a bit downhill in the back of the park, so it can be a bit tricky to really appreciate its size until you’re right in its plaza. Her eyes went wide and she immediately started second-guessing everything, but she was a trooper. Our wait lasted only a few trains, which I still find to be astounding.
Going up the lift hill, I could really tell she was nervous in a way I’d never seen on a ride. She wound up not enjoying the ride that much as the sustained speed throughout its low-level layout was pretty much past her limit. She loved the drop, though, but once we hit the brakes, she told me to give her my phone once off the ride so she could call my parents and explain that her love for me could never be doubted because there’s no way she would ever put herself through something like that otherwise. Many laughs were had.
As for me, I went back with a few others for a second lap because I find the ride to be absolutely spectacular. I like how different it is from most megacoasters, weaving back and forth through a [relatively] compact plot of land and maintaining that speed. It’s still an all-time favorite of mine.
Our group split in two at this point, with some going to the waterpark and the rest of us staying on the dry side. Those of us who stayed on the dry side still went for some aquatic entertainment and rode the log flume, a style of ride I still enjoy immensely. It was probably the longest wait of our day. We then went and saw the new Cirque show, which was really quite impressive. How people have the nerves to do those stunts, I’ll never know.
After this, we went into the final stretch of coastering that would conclude our day. We started with Grizzly in the back car. The ride was pretty rough, but not to the point where it was really unpleasant. I still very much love the ride, and I hope to see it get the same love that our next ride got, Racer ‘75.
What Racer ‘75 lost in name quality, it gained in ride quality. Back was the racing aspect, but more importantly, there was a ton of new track. The ride was substantially smoother than I ever remember experiencing, and it elevated my opinion of the ride by a considerable leap. We sat in the middle of the car to avoid any potential wheel seat issues (my past experiences on this ride were spotty at best, so I took no chances), but my concerns were unnecessary. Even in the middle of the train, I felt like the ride was absolutely stellar and every bit the vintage legend it should be. My wife enjoyed this one a bit as well.
Our group had reconvened right after Grizzly, but we did another split with most of the group going to the flyers and my wife, my uncle, and I heading to Anaconda. I advised my wife that she’d want to skip Anaconda, but she wanted to stick with me, so she kept our stuff while my uncle and I scored an unexpected front-row lap on the Arrow beast. Call me weird, but I still enjoy those Arrow megaloopers. They’re a throwback to when the limits of looping rides were pushed to statistical levels that likely seemed unprecedented, and despite their track layout flaws, I think there’s still something to them that makes them impressive in their own right.
Our final ride was one of my perennial favorites: Dominator. I loved it at Geauga Lake and I love that it found a new home at a park that, well, sorely needed it. Riding it after Anaconda made for an interesting contrast between the vintage and modern design techniques, and the contrast was even more jarring considering that Dominator is far and away my favorite floorless coaster. It’s probably the only one that fully blended inversions with transitional maneuvers, making the layout a flowing “story” as opposed to just a sequence of elements. It’s truly outstanding in any seat, and our one lap near the back gave us the chance to experience some of those great airtime moments. My wife didn’t enjoy it very much, but as I’ve mentioned before, she’s not one for inversions and she was pretty much shot by the time we’d made it to Dominator.
The day was absolutely spectacular, and what made it really special was the fact that my wife enjoyed it as well. She enjoyed the similarities to Kings Island, and she had high praise for Twisted Timbers, the ride that was pretty much everyone’s favorite ride of the day and an amazing conversion of a dud to a superstar. The park as a whole is one of my all-time favorites, and I left with a fondness for it beyond my already high opinion of the place.
Oh, and Volcano was still closed. ;)
Nice TR. Good to see that you and your wife have a sense of humor and always good to hear that someone likes I-305 as much as I do. I forgot all about Grizzly on my recent visit b/c I was more concerned about whether Twisted Timbers would open, as that was the whole point of making the trip. (It was down when I got to the park early afternoon and remained that way until close to sunset.) Agreed that Twisted Timbers is a superstar. Fortunately, Volcano was open when I visited. As to Anaconda, I found that to be such a headbanger when I rode it years ago that I have no inclination to ever ride it again. Interesting comparison with Kings Island. I find Kings Dominion to be the prettier park and the dining options there are better, at least for a vegetarian. (I was clueless as to where to eat at Kings island; ended up getting a dish of noodles and onions topped with cold rice at Panda Express.)
I'll be visiting Kings Dominion for the first time, probably towards the end of July. I really hope Volcano's issues are straightened out by then, but it doesn't look like there's a shortage of things to do there if not. Anaconda is actually one that I've been looking forward to- I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Arrow Megaloopers.Last edited by Walk-Off HBP, Monday, June 18, 2018 9:39 PM
What’s Volcano’s deal, anyway?
They had issues with the one in Hawaii, so probably just closed as a precaution.
Volcano tourism is dead.
I did not realize the one in Hawaii was an Intamin. That explains a lot.
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