Kings Island, Mason, Ohio, USA
Last Sunday I made my first visit to Kings Island since 2007. Kings Island has always held a special place in my heart since it was my family's home-park back in the early 1990's when I was a kid, so it's nice having the chance to come back. With tickets available on-line in advance for only $35 per person it was a great value, as well. It was a fairly chilly day and the park was open from 11AM to 7PM, we arrived at the front gate just a little after opening to a mostly empty parking lot. I was hoping the chilly weather would keep the crowds away so this was a good sign. Because it was my wife, our one year old daughter, and myself we made our first stop the Guest Services/Height Check station just inside the park to pick-up a "child/parent swap" pass. This pass allowed one of us to stay with the little one while the other waited in line and went on a ride, then we switched places (with the second rider going straight up the exit and skipping the line). While most rides we visited were walk-ons or fairly short lines and we didn't bother using the pass, for a couple longer lines it definitely saved time. After taking an obligatory family selfie with the Eiffel Tower, we made our way to Rivertown.
Last time I visited Kings Island Firehawk was the newest addition to the park, so the primary goal for the day was get rides on the three newest credits at the park - Mystic Timbers, Diamondback, and Banshee. Mystic Timbers and Diamondback are located right next to one another so we headed that way first. Mystic Timbers had a fairly short line (a few trains, maybe 10-15 minutes) so we made that the first ride of the day, I was assigned a seat towards the back of the train. This was a really fun ride. It was extremely smooth and had several moments of solid airtime. It is also a very scenic coaster, with most of the layout taking you out into the woods and over a river. That said, it is a little on the short side, when the train hit the brakes I simultaneously thought "Wow that was fun!" and "It's over already?" I enjoyed the little bit of theming Mystic Timbers utilizes, especially when traveling up the lift when the train slows and audio plays over the speakers warning riders about the shed. The infamous shed itself was fine, I appreciated the effort in theming at least.
After Mystic Timbers we made our way to Diamondback which was a walk-on except for the front row. I hopped on the back row knowing that was where the airtime would be. What an awesome coaster, tons of airtime down every single drop and a really well-paced layout from beginning to end. It was great feeling like we were flying up and over the woods at the back of the park. The splash-down drop finale was a great conclusion. All in all Diamondback exceeded my expectations. I generally heard mixed reviews that indicated it was not among the best B&M hypers, but I would definitely rank it higher than Intimidator at Carowinds and Apollo's Chariot at BGW, personally.
Following Diamondback we went on the Beast. I wanted to hold out for a night ride but knowing the park closed at 7PM, just before the sun would be set enough for it to be dark, we went ahead with a late-morning ride. I went for a random seat towards the back of the train that had no wait. This was a much more wild ride than I remembered it being. Despite the chilly weather and it being early in the day the train was flying. The double-helix finale was definitely the highlight, no matter how many times I have been on this ride the tunnel seems impossibly small, and it feels like the train wants to rip itself from the tracks as it tears through the tunnel. It's the perfect amount of intensity and feeling of peril. The Beast was a bit rough around the edges, but definitely much more fun and exciting than I remembered.
Following Beast we made our way towards the front of the park and Action Zone, we made a pit stop at the Carousel for a ride the whole family could enjoy. Afterwards we stopped for lunch at a place called Hank's Burrito Shack. For theme park fare it was fine. Definitely expensive for what you get of course; but if there's anything I've learned this year after visiting Cedar Point a couple days and now Kings Island, it is that Cedar Fair parks do not do food particularly well generally, so it was par for the course.
After lunch we were right next to Adventure Express and went there next. This has always been a favorite of mine, it is a great family-friendly ride and easily among the best Arrow mine train coasters.
Following Adventure Express we made our way to Banshee. There was a fairly short line, around 10-15 minutes, and I asked to wait an extra couple trains for a ride in the front row to bring it closer to 20 minutes total. This was easily the smoothest roller coaster I have ever been on. Riding in the front row it felt as if I was just soaring through the massive inversions. The final in-line twist inversion is taken at a slow speed that provides some fun hang time. All in all it was a very fun ride, but lacks intensity and any forces. If the "forceless" B&M descriptor applies to any roller coaster I have been on, this is it. While I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to riding it again in the future, I would definitely take older B&M invert's like Montu, Raptor, Afterburn, or Alpengeist over it any day.
The Bat was next on the to-do list. We found zero line here except one train for the front row. I forgot just just how fun this ride is, definitely the best Arrow suspended coaster I've been on (the others being BBW and Iron Dragon) this ride is just fast, fun and utilizes its surroundings for a short but very fun layout.
Next we made our way to Invertigo which was also a walk-on, I went on the front-row which travels backwards first. As far as Vekoma coasters go I enjoy this model quite a bit. They are smooth enough, forceful, and disorienting going in reverse through the inversions.
I went for a ride on the Drop Tower next, which takes the cake for least creative name but is a great drop tower. The views from the top are just fantastic and the drop seems to go on forever.
We made our way back towards the Coney Mall section of the park next. I appreciate this section of the park as it is one area that has remained relatively unchanged over the years and still resembles the Kings Island I remember from being a little kid. I went for a ride on Racer with no wait for the back car, I appreciated the fact they had both sides running and they were racing. This ended up being my favorite wooden coaster of the day between the airtime and the beautiful views of the midway below and the rest of the park. It was just a great, fun ride.
Now it was time to pay our respects to the soon to be departing Firehawk. As I mentioned earlier Firehawk was the newest ride at the park the last time I visited, so it felt a little odd that it was closing permanently following this visit. I personally think the Vekoma flyers are awesome rides so I am sad to see one go. The flip into a flying position immediately following the lift hill is one of the craziest, and most nerve-wracking moments of any roller coaster I have ever been. Following that it is just non-stop intensity and disorienting elements. I give Kings Island a lot of credit for their operation of this ride. They had two trains and both sides of the station running, and they were filling every train completely which resulted in a fairly short line. It was estimated as 30 minutes however I only waited one train because I was a single rider and got bumped up in line to fill an empty seat right away.
Next was Flight of Fear right next door. This was another longer line, roughly half an hour. I rode in the very back row and was a little surprised by how bumpy this ride was, definitely had more of a rattle than I remembered. It made me question how anyone ever survived when it had over the shoulder harnesses. Still a fun ride through the dark all in all.
After Flight of Fear we went to Vortex. Vortex is definitely among my favorite Arrow looping coasters. I find it runs just a tad smoother than the other do (or did, for those that are no longer with us) and has a fairly original layout. I rode in the back row and had a good time; the first drop is thrilling and the hang time going through the corkscrews and the batwing at the end is fun. It probably helps that I'm tall enough for my head to go up and over the shoulder restraints, but it wasn't overly rough at all.
Last but not least, we went to Backlot Stunt Coaster which had no line. I forgot what a fun little ride this is, and was pleasantly surprised that all the special effects were still working (the helicopter, bullets ricocheting, and the big explosion). The launch is surprisingly intense, as is the helix beginning. The remainder of the ride has a ton of fun twists, turns and drops.
At this point it was 6PM so we used the final hour to go for a couple re-rides on Diamondback and Mystic Timbers which were both walk-ons before leaving at 7PM when the park closed.
All in all it was a very fun day at Kings Island!
You must be logged in to post