King's Dominion 6/3/08 Technical problems aside, a fun day/the ride that doesn't fit

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:57 PM
Two weeks ago, I was approached by one of my trip mates from a Midwest trip I took last year asking if I wanted to go King’s Dominion, just the two of us. I thought that it would be interesting since we got on fairly well.

I printed out my three-day ahead ticket for $39.95, not knowing that my stomach would not be in good shape by Monday evening. Tuesday came around and I was hoping that the stomach virus, or whatever it was, would go away, but it didn’t. I took two of the pink tablets in the morning, and hoped for the best.

My favorite part of this trip would be that I wasn’t the one driving (for once!). Instead, we’d take Jon’s new Altima. We made it down to King's Dominion in pretty good time arriving around 11 a.m. or so. Not driving also allowed me to get pictures of the new sign and the new parking tollbooth sign complete with LED readout.

Pulling into the parking lot, you can’t help but to notice Dominator, as it’s changed the landscape of the park fairly drastically. It’s impressive looking, but I’ll tell you how both Jon and I felt about its place in the park later.

Jon and I have both brought swim gear, but we decide for now just to hit the rides. First up, we hit Dominator, which had a fairly short line. We didn’t wait for the front this time, as it was a little bit busy, and they were only running two trains. We instead rode towards the back.

It was good, but call me jaded, it just didn’t blow me away. Was it that I had ridden it practically a year ago in Ohio? Was it that the landscaping under the ride was half-finished? I couldn’t yet place my finger on it.

We checked out the merchandise afterwards in the photo booth/merchandise shed and some of t-shirts were pretty cool, except for one—a modern looking shirt that had some skulls at the bottom of it. Who approved that design?

We walked down the pathway to the amphitheater and headed to a non-existent line for Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Mansion. Jon clobbered me, but I still scored 880, which is okay, I guess.

We hit Volcano the Blast Coaster next, but first I had to take some pictures of changes to Tomb Raider Firefall, including its new name The Crypt, which according to the definition from Encarta World English Dictionary means n an underground room or vault, often below a church, used as a burial chamber or chapel, or for storing religious artifacts.

Someone please explain to me how an outdoors ride applies to any of the above, and why again, there’s another skull used in place of the former eye that spouts out water?

We were going to ride Avalanche, but it was raining a little bit so they temporarily closed it down. We instead went and rode Backlot Stunt Coaster instead. Well, it was nice to see the same car bodies still in use after we had heard last year that would not be the case. Why one train though when they could’ve been pumping through more people?

One thing that disappointed me was the lack of a soundtrack, which they had working last year. Jon suggested that maybe it was due to licensing, and I said that I don’t remember there being anything specific that was tied into the Italian Job. The upward helix was great, which I have not experienced in warm weather since BeastBuzz 06’.

We got to the second launch, and not to my surprise, the helicopter effect wasn’t working. The fire effect was though. It’s so sad that what people predicted about the formerly named Italian Job coasters—that the effects would stop being maintained-- came true—and all too soon.

Volcano was next in line, and it still rocks my world to this day, and Jon is a huge fan of it as well. We didn’t have to wait all that long either. I think WaterWorks was taking the pressure off the rest of the park, much in the same way that Wild Water Kingdom does at Dorney.

Getting off of Volcano, I noticed Avalanche running, so it was round number two of trying to ride. But first, Jon posed with the new sign for this year WARNING During the fall season, this attraction contains bees and wasps at elevated areas. Those allergic to these insects should not ride

You can find the same sign at Ricochet. The question I ask is why they would put any patrons in that position, allergic or not. I haven't stung since I was a little kid, and that was by a yellow jacket. How would I know how I would react to such an event?

Another sign announced that it doesn’t open until 12 p.m. I don’t understand why?

As soon as we got into the station I noticed that there was only one train running again. Ugh. This is not the ride to have one train on. I didn’t even see the other train.

Another thing that bugged me was that I could hear the midcourse brake kicking in from the station. My favorite Avalanche ride of all time happened when there was one train and no midcourse. Jon gets on a train before me in Germany (the cars have different country names and themes).

I followed up in the next cycle behind him in United States. We got to the midcourse, and I kid you not, came to a dead stop. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but after the brake released, there was plenty of speed to get through the rest of the course like normal.

With my stomach still not up to the summersaults of The Crypt, we instead got on Anaconda. Again, this is a coaster I sometimes sit out when I’m not in an Arrow mood. But, Jon wanted to ride, and I didn’t sit it out. It actually wasn’t too bad today, but I can see its days are numbered. Then again, I’ve the said the same thing about Shockwave for years.

Back in The Grove, we headed towards another newly named ride—Drop Tower. One thing that didn’t register with me right away was that Jon followed me into the queue. Jon has some problems with heights. So, I’m fairly shocked that he doesn’t sit it out or avoid it like Power Tower last year. Way to go Jon.

A manager guy was helping out on the ride and he was the guy who got to ask everyone to hold up their hands to check for objects that could be dropped. So I said to Jon “Wait a minute, we haven’t even eaten yet.” Cue the rimshot and thank you for your applause.

Walking through The Grove we headed towards Grizzly, got up to the station, and we were told that it wasn’t open yet and this was early afternoon. From the walkup of Grizzly, you could see that not all of Hypersonic XLC has been disassembled yet. The station still remains.

Heading back through the arcade, Jon declares that it’s getting worse by the year. He’s the gamer out of the two of us, so he would know.

Normally, I’m really good at remembering the exact order of rides ridden, but I’m not going to do so well in this trip report. So, I’ll just report the best I can. We started talking about food, but we weren’t there just yet. We rode Shockwave, which is the first time I’ve been on it in a while. It wasn’t so bad, and with head forward, and with hands down, I didn’t suffer any injuries.

I hadn’t been on the Hurler in several years, but today I figured I’d try it out again. It was surprisingly good, and delivered quite a bit of airtime, until I got stapled somewhere along the way. It would have been a re-ride later on, but things got in the way.

One thing that I didn’t understand is why they left the hearse out from Halloween Haunt. What is it with the death theme today? I can’t imagine that the huge shed they built in the turnaround of the Hurler is being used for Club Blood year-round, so why not move the hearse until Halloween rolls around again?

We boarded Ricochet and it was quite an interesting experience. We made the drop and the first block, but as soon as we got to block number two, the ride had a setup. It was kind of interesting to see three cars all stuck in different blocks at the top of the ride. I don’t know if anyone was stuck beneath us.

After ten-fifteen minutes, finally the ride got reset. I’ll have to admit that it was slightly unnerving to see an empty car come off the lift, down the drop, as it was heading for the block above us at great speed. So it came to a stop, and finally everybody got on his or her way.

They were only running the right side of Rebel Yell today, or the forward side before this year. I was slightly leery of RY, as it can be hit or miss. Going up the lift we were about halfway up when all the sudden we drifted backwards and kerchunk! Trust me, I was praising the invention of anti-rollbacks. This time, we had about a five-minute wait before the chain was restarted.

The out leg was pretty good, but as I predicted would happen somewhere along the course, I got stapled—just not where I expected. It happened after the turnaround at the bottom of the drop.

We did get our Grizzly ride, and nothing offensive happened, which is always a positive thing.

We got a pepperoni pizza pie and drinks at Victoria’s pizza in The Grove and we were there for a while—not because of any bad food service—but because the pizza was quite greasy, and I just wanted to relax for a little bit. The total for the pizza and drinks came to $32.60. Ouch. Jon got a bigger size drink, but still…

After finishing, we decided to hit a few flats, and surprisingly, I agreed to test the waters, so to speak. First up was Triple Spin—King's Dominion’s Troika. It was a nice relaxing ride that still has some force to it. It’s definitely past due for some new paint though.

I suggested Space Surfer (Chance Aviator) as our next option, and again I was worried about the height issue for Jon. He said he could handle it, and did fine. I always find this to be relaxing, rather than anything extreme. For that we'll need The Crypt.

Before entering the queue, Jon catches another funny restriction on the safety guide sign that shouldn’t be necessary, or even a thought that should ever cross into anyone’s mind; under the Must be 54” to ride it says Maximum 1 Guest Per Seat.

Okay, so was the idiot to ride with another person in their lap? As it is, with the harness with the double-locking mechanism, I think the person in the front would be suffocated.

It was awesome as always, and all the fire effects were working, as well as, the water fountains, and water bombs. It’s always humorous to see someone put their stuff down on the loading platform only to see it get soaking wet by the end of the ride, defeating the purpose of putting it there in the first place!

Because Flight of Fear was closed, there was only one credit left to get for the day, and that was Scooby-Doo’s Ghoster Coaster. In the past, this has sometimes been my favorite woodie in the park. Well not today. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed a little rough.

Since we were right here, we decided to ride Dominator again, whose line had dwindled. But first, it looks like you can get to there from Rugrat’s Toonpike, and that would not be the case. We had to backtrack a little bit along with some other folks to get to the entrance.

This time, we decided to wait for the front row, since there were only a few people in front of us. It was definitely a better ride than earlier in the morning—probably because it had warmed up—but something was still wrong. Going back through the photo booth/merchandise shed again, Jon spots a t-shirt that pits Volcano versus Dominator using facts and figures.

It got to be around 7 p.m., and we wanted to ride Backlot Stunt Coaster again, but it was currently closed. A maintenance guy was moving a train though onto the track and it tested fine. But, while waiting there was a little bit of rain coming down—nothing too extreme though. The ride op says that we’re to get out of the train, and wait behind our gate. We were informed that we could wait but there was no estimate of time until it would work again. Jon and I moved up into the front row with one other person in front of us, and the rest of the people cleared out.

We then got the message that due to the weather; Backlot Stunt Coaster would be shutting down. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous since the rain was so light. One of the ride ops suggested trying one of the woodies instead. We sat down underneath a tree and realized that the park had gone into shutdown mode.

We eventually gave up and rolled on towards the exit, but then the rains started to get heavier and heavy thunderstorms broke out as well. We waited it out under the overhang of the Alpine Deli (right near the Eiffel Tower) for a while, and then moved up to the gift stores to wait it out even further as heavy rains became a torrential downpour.

Somewhere in that time-period I realized that there was no one waiting in front of the brand-spanking new King's Dominion logo that everyone likes to pose in front of with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I went out and quickly took four shots. Well, back at the Starlight Souvenirs shop, it’s getting later, and the rain is getting even heavier with more thunder and lighting to add to the misery.

We left the exit, and joined a whole bunch of high-school kids waiting under the overhang of the entry turnstiles and we were told to move down to the left so everyone could wait. After a while Jon and I realized that if things died down even a little bit, we’d have to go, and it did briefly. On the way out, I got pictures of the red chaser lights on Dominator’s lift, which I think is a cool touch.

So Jon and I talked about Dominator, and we came to the conclusion that it doesn’t fit in the park, so to speak. Maybe I’ll change my mind when some more landscaping is done, but right now, it really feels like a parking lot coaster. And without the atmosphere of Geauga Lake, the coaster becomes very sterile looking.

To conclude, we had a fun day for the most part. The ride operators were friendly and food service was fine. On the negative tip, there were a few too many problems happening, and too many coasters running one train. We also never made it to WaterWorks and I can’t confirm whether or not Whitewater Canyon ever opened or not. I’m thinking that it probably didn’t due to lack of staff.

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