Kings Dominion 9/25-26: I-305, what could've been...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:49 AM

I know I'm late to the game on this, but I just returned from my first trip to Kings Dominion, so I thought I'd chime in with my Intimidator thoughts. I won't recap my entire trip beat for beat; I'll just share a few highlights.

The first thing my wife and I hit was Dominator, and it continues to be one of my favorite B&M's. I had ridden it back in 2005 when it called Geauga Lake home, but I forgot how awesome it really was. I really liked the location at KD and the way the courtyard and entrance were nestled right in the middle of the ride.

My wife and I absolutely loved Volcano. Great double launch, great inversion out of the top of the mountain, and the heartlines were bliss. Yeah it's a little short, but it packs a good punch for its layout.

Next up was Intimidator 305. We had just waited about 45 minutes for Volcano, so I was shocked to see that I-305 was a near walk-on! I had read all about the blacking out and the first drop trim brake, but I didn't really have time to anticipate it because we essentially hopped right on. The restraints were nice and cozy and I immediately thought that they would be a great fit for Maverick. I was highly amused by the "Gentlemen...start your engines!" audio because it was followed by an engine starting sound that was very weak and low-key. It sounded more like a weed whacker motor, and it was laughable compared to TTD's pre-launch audio effects.

Anyway, my excitement as we began to crest the lift hill was quickly quelled as the trims took hold. What a letdown. It honestly felt like the brakes didn't let go until we were more than halfway down the hill. My disappointment was met by an intense blackout that really caught me off guard. Yes, I knew about it beforehand, but I didn't think it would happen with the neutered first drop. I just started to regain my vision as we crested the first camelback, so I didn't really notice anything about the airtime. The rest of the ride was fantastic: super smooth with nice bunny hops and tight turns all over the place.

After the ride, we talked about the first turn blackout, and I mentioned the "butt-clenching" method that had been suggested numerous times on a certain website, so we tried that the next night, and sure enough it worked! I didn't actually clench my butt, per se, but rather I just made my whole body tense. No blackout, no gray-out, no tunnel vision, no nothing.

Overall, I thought the ride was great, but the first drop was so disappointing that I couldn't get over what a shame it was, because the coaster has so much more potential. Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of it, but if the first drop on a ride that huge isn't exciting, then something's wrong.

As for the rest of the park: nothing earth-shattering to report. It has a good collection of coasters, staff was average, cleanliness was not an issue, didn't touch any of the food, and the Halloween attractions were predictably mediocre.

We had a great time, but for future trips we'll definitely get more out of the region, seeing as how it's not too far from DC. 12 hours from Indianapolis is a pretty tough drive for a 2-day trip!

Last edited by Bakeman31092, Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:51 AM
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 3:32 PM

Bakeman31092 said:
Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of it, but if the first drop on a ride that huge isn't exciting, then something's wrong.

I'm with you. I haven't ridden it since opening day, so I can't tell you whether or not the trim makes that much of a difference, but judging from your description (and several others I've heard), it seems like it does.

Unfortunately, the something that's wrong is that the polyurethane wheels wear out too quickly because of the ride's speed. We can speculate that the trims were added to lower the top speed in order to alleviate greyouts in the first turn and headbanging during the rest of the ride, but the greyouts still occur and the restraints have more or less resolved the headbanging issue. My question is, do the trims cut down the cost of maintenance that much?

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:28 PM

I guess the other question is, do the trims affect the ride experience that much (for the vast majority of riders)?

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:38 PM

It's a moot point, the coaster sucks either way. :)

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:41 PM

Unfortunately, the something that's wrong is that the polyurethane wheels wear out too quickly because of the ride's speed.

Do you know for sure it's a wheel-wear issue? That seems like a pretty drastic alteration to a brand new attraction. If KD signed up for something they can't handle, then that's their fault and they have no excuse. If the wheels are wearing out faster than they should be, then I would think that they'd be covered under warranty.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 5:16 PM

Nope, don't know for sure. But I'd imagine that if it wasn't trimmed for the wheel issue (I've heard several mentions of the polyurethane heating up faster than expected), then it was for some other maintenance-related issue, because one of the two rider comfort issues was resolved with the restraints, and the other is present with or without the trims. I suppose you could call it speculation, assumption, whatever...but it makes sense to me.

Edit: Gonch is a curmudgeon. :)

Last edited by Vater, Tuesday, September 28, 2010 5:17 PM
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 5:26 PM

Gonch dares to speak the truth.

The ride goes really fast and then it goes back and forth. The end.

More on topic:

I would suspect the wheels heating up is an issue being as they get hosed down in the station every cycle (I assume they still have the little squirty setup that hits the wheels with water while the train loads). I figured it was an attempt to cool them off.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 6:43 PM

Hey Bakeman,

Would you have happened to be wearing a Knoebels long sleeve shirt on Sunday?

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 7:13 PM

My recollection of the May 1 event was that they shut down the ride for *something* related to the wheels. That last lap was absolutely brutal due to serious BOUNCING along the track, and the mechanics were out looking under the train for about 10 minutes or so before announcing "event's over, you can all go home now".

If it wasn't the wheels deteriorating from the heat, I've got no *other* guesses...of course, that was at full-speed operation.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010 8:21 PM

I'm curious, though, if the removal of the trims could in any way be justified by the inclusion of the water jets. After all, from what I've heard the pacing through the second portion of the ride is just as fast, if not faster, than it was pre-trims. Are a few only-slightly tamer maneuvers at the very beginning of the ride that effective at lessening the wear on the wheels?

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010 1:09 AM

^ That second portion that you are referring to is only about the last 20% of the ride. And yes it is about the same speed now as before.

It will be very interesting to see what happens this offseason. I for one hope that they don't change the layout at all, but unfortunately that's what I think they probably will do for atleast the first high g-force turn.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010 12:05 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
The ride goes really fast and then it goes back and forth. The end.

You just described all non-looping coasters. ;) Well, I guess some go up and down too.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010 12:15 PM

Most decent non-loopers go up and down. And loopers go round and round.

But not too many coasters just go back and forth.

I think there's a reason for that. :)

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Thursday, September 30, 2010 1:19 AM

What about to and fro? Or hither and thither and yon?

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Thursday, September 30, 2010 4:30 PM

Could the forces on the wheels be that much greater than MF? Or is MF's first hill into that over banked curve enough to keep its wheels cool enough? I always looked at that first drop into the banked curve as a potential issue, but never imagined it would be because of hot wheels!

Even though I haven't been on it yet, I know that first drop will be a letdown.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010 5:16 PM

To me, the trackage that really does the damage to the wheels is those "quick flips" from side to side...that's where the wheels are really being smashed into the track. Simply "rolling along" like MForce doesn't seem to incur the same set of problems, and that's really the difference between the MForce layout and I-305.

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Friday, October 1, 2010 11:30 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Most decent non-loopers go up and down. And loopers go round and round.

But not too many coasters just go back and forth.

I think there's a reason for that. :)

Dude, what the hell does that mean? Have you even seen the damned thing? Back and forth? In the strictest terms, they all go back and forth, no?

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Friday, October 1, 2010 11:36 PM

Heh. :)

Yes, I've seen it. And no, they all don't really go back and forth.

Like I said...

Most decent non-loopers go up and down. And loopers go round and round.

But not too many coasters just go back and forth.

I think there's a reason for that.

You're entitled to enjoy going back and forth. Seems like many people do.

I call it the most overrated coaster of the past few years. (If it had squeaked in as an '09 addition, I could've said decade)

I made a really nice video of it though and think I did a good job of making it look cool if that helps.

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Friday, October 1, 2010 11:41 PM

Gonch..you didn't answer the question, though...what do you mean by 'back and forth'? Is this your way of saying 'out and back'? I don't care it people like it or not (the whole trim argument, though, is just old now. It is the same great ride either way) but I'm really not getting your 'back and forth' comment. That implies some kind of pendulum action...
:)

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Friday, October 1, 2010 11:52 PM

geogray said:
Gonch..you didn't answer the question, though...what do you mean by 'back and forth'? Is this your way of saying 'out and back'? I don't care it people like it or not (the whole trim argument, though, is just old now. It is the same great ride either way) but I'm really not getting your 'back and forth' comment. That implies some kind of pendulum action...
:)

I mean, look at it. With the exception of that first big hill, it just kinda goes back and forth.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, October 1, 2010 11:53 PM
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