King's Island - 5/28/07 - Firehawk!

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TR: Kings Island - 5/28/07

Trip Report: Kings Island
Mason, OH
May 28, 2007

"Firehawk Debut Weekend"

Welcome to Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of the summer season for most seasonal attractions in America. Kings Island decided to mark the occasion by opening their new pre-owned coaster "Firehawk". I chose Monday as the day I would go up and check it out, and owing to partying a bit too much the day before, I didn't arrive at the park until shortly before noon.

As I arrived at the park, I noted it was lightly raining. Reports indicated that Cedar Fair had just instituted a policy curtailing coaster operations in the rain, as a preventative measure until the Magnum investigation is completed. I approached the park and noted the flag was at half mast as it should be for Memorial Day, then I noted the season pass processing line was quite long. Signs have been posted that indicate that if all you need do is exchange a temporary pass for the real pass, to go on inside the park and do that at the Return Visit booth. Digital clocks have been added to the tops of the ride safety signs, unfortunately the time on them made no sense at all. I had no trouble getting through the metal detector, and the attendant merely had me hold my phone and keys out in front of me rather than using a red dish.

I got to the main gate and the line was out of the main gate builidn flowing back into the metal detection area, but the line was moving steady, and then I eagle eyed and vultured a turnstile being opened and jumped into the newly created line and was in the park in a dash. One thing about being a single when you enter the park during a busy time, the Keyhole Photo people are too busy getting photos of the more lucrative family groups to worry about you. I enter International Street, note the new ride measurement station by the Return Visit OFfer Booth, and head down the left side of International Street towards the tower at a good rate of speed.

I got near Tower, and decided to veer off to do a little research. It had been reported the band organ for the Carousel had been removed. While it is true the park has stopped to using a CD player this year, at least the cabinet of the band organ, and the instruments that were on display on the exterior of the machine are still there. I can't speak to if the guts of the organ are still there. So at least it looks right, even if it doesn't quite sound genuine.

I headed down the center of the park near Italian Job. I noted it was still raining, but wait I see an Italian Job train zip by loaded with riders, then I see a Vortex train go down the first drop. Maybe the no coasters in the rain report is a mere exageration. I enter Coney Mall, and pause to look at the new X-Base sign that has been installed near the ring toss game to point people back to Flight of Fear and Firehawk (Vekoma flying coaster). I start down that path and note a loaded Racer train going by. I lok at the arch, the sign has been changed to read something like "X-Base Tactical, Experimental and Stratospheric Testing" The two sides of the arch have signs to suggest where an overflowing Flight of Fear queue and Firehawk queue should be. Speaking of the Firehawk queue , it is back to the gift trailer next to Zephyr. I join the Firehawk line, and note the ride isn't open at the current time. I figure this might be my best shot at it all day. Every now and then small groups give up and leave, but strangely enough every now and then the line makes great advances.

Firehawk is more imposing than I thought it would be, clearly visible on both sides of Ft. Kinzel. At the end of this area where the helicopter ride concession once was and where a big service gate used to be, they have added Firehawk. The station for the ride appears to be almost right on the midway. A military looking sign marks the end of the path. To the right of the station is the on ride photo booth and the exit ramp, to the left of the station is the queue maze starting with an official looking checkpoint. The vending machines in this area have been replaced by a staffed snack stand. I also note that part of Flight of Fear's queue has been removed to add a locker rental area. Every now and then the line still manages to advance, and things really got exciting when we saw first a couple test trains, then loaded trains make their way around Firehawk's track.

It seems the park is trying a whole new tactic on ride queuing for Firehawk. The line you first get in is stopped by the Firehawk sign by a group of green shirts. If my color guide is correct, green = guest relations types. Since the line extends quite a ways with no fencing or other control barrier, I also noted no less than four security officers maintaining order with this part of the queue. Every now and then a small group would be counted off the front of the line and taken over near locker rental. They give a spiel that starts out like a welcome to FIrehawk spiel , but the real purpose is to stress the no loose articles policy on the ride, and that the etimated wait from this point is 2-2.5 hours. This includes purses and backpacks. Fanny packs, and belt clip style camera holsters are permitted however. They give you time to lock up your loose articles, though I noted a lot of trusting souls leaving their stuff lay out in the open around the Firehawk plaza. Once everybody has secured there belongings, they have everybody fall into a single file line, then march you to the checkpoint at the queue entrance. Are they taking the military theme a bit too far? You then enter what looks to be an empty queue maze, just a few people up near the station. This is of course an evil trick, as you round a corner and find a big 10 lane switchback area loaded to the gills.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that the last 4 lanes are slightly shorter than the first 6. A greeter is stationed at the end of this section of queue maze, and is holding the queue back here and only sending a trainload or so at a time from the queue maze up to the station. Remember that scene in Rollercoaster where it looked like they were sending one trainload from the midway up to the Revolution at a time, well this is similar.

The line backed up a little bit past the queue maze, but after the next group was admitted I found myself about 3/4 of the way through lane 1 of the maze, another trainload and I was in lane 2, another train, and I just barely made it into lane 3. I look at my watch, only half an hour down, and I am a third of the way through the maze. Then the ride has some downtime which takes about half an hour or so. Some people bail the line, however those people all happened to be behind me in line. It also starts to get hot now that the rain has stopped, not to be seen again for the rest of the day. It is now I notice that only a very little of the actual queue maze area is shaded by those dinky Cedar Point style shades. It seems like ages, but about 2 hours total since we were marched into the queue maze I am finally getting up near the greeter station. It takes a special person to patiently wait two plus hours. A season pass is nice because I feel I can blow a whole day on one ride if I want. Something strange comes over you though, if you are of the right mind, where sure it may be 2-4 hours but it doesn't seem that long, the time in fact seems to fly by. I will comment that although I won't say there were any shenanigans going on, it seemed the closer I got to the greeter station, the farther the line moved with each advance.

At long last I was admitted by the greeter, and it actually seemed weird to be able to walk the final section of queue at something nearing a normal walking pace. Firehawk is unique in that it has a double loading station, complete with two load and two unload areas, both sides of the station feed the same track. The grouper sits about midway through the 10th and final lane of the switchback, and although short this lane is twice as wide as it feeds to paths to the station. A potentially confusing part is the left lane goes to the right station, and the right lane goes to the left station. Today, only the right lane is open which is a mostly level direct path to the left station. The left lane goes down a flight of stairs, crosses under the right lane and the track, then comes back up stairs to enter the station. I got to the station entrance just as a seat assigner was asking for a single rider. Is it my lucky day or what Soon I am being escorted to a 'window' seat in row 5. Only the red train was running today, and disptaches were sporadic, they could be as close as every 5 mintutes, or they could be 10-15 minutes apart.

It seemed like a Cedar Point crew running the ride, as the mic man was all into getting the crowd pumped up, something that used to happen at the park in the pre-Paramount days, but nowadays the crowd just isn't into getting pumped up. He didn't even get much reaction when he announced that today every rider would receive a free commemorative t-shirt, leading him to say "I guess people like to PAY for t-shirts now" (T-shirt offer is now expired, it was only the first four operating days). I note the seat queues are entirely too short, they might accommodate three people if they squeeze in, may I remind you each row seats four.

So the train arrives and we board the train. There is a floor to help you load, and this will be some sort of footrest during the ride. It is diamond plate, and it is strongly discouraged to ride barefoot. I sit down and prepare to strap in, Firehawk has a rather complex restraint system. I would call it a safety vest (harness) rather than a shoulder harness. In ride terms shoulder harness seems to infer a rigid steel bar that comes down over your shoulders and crosses over your chest. This is more like shoulder straps that are encased in a real bulky rubber skin. Before you sit down, you would be wise to push both halves of the vest to the sides of the seat, making sure not to twist them, and the buckle ends face out. Sit down, then put one arm through each shoulder loop. The vest is permanently attached to the seat both above your shoulders and at the hip on both sides, the vest straps have some adjustability and play in them. So put one arm though each loop, and the tension on the vest will cause it to sit flat on your chest pretty much the way it should go. All you need to is fasten the buckle joining the two halves of the vest together. Once you buckle the vest, you can forget about reaching the lapbar, a ride attendant will take care of that for you. For those worried the minimum allowable setting is two clicks on the lapbar, so I am glad I can get 3 easy without the attendant putting any real effort into it. At one click the front edge of the lap bar bolster will be even with the ends of the armrests, it needs to go one click beyond that. If you look at the lap bar you can see the locking pegs on each side of the lapbar, and you can see the ratchets on each side of the armrest. The peg is about in the center of the bolster. Lowering the lapbar also lowers an ankle bar that traps your legs and makes sure they wont be flailing around. Locking the lapbar must also activate something on the vest, as I have tried pulling the yellow loop handles on the vest to tighten while waiting for the ride attendant to come around and nothing seems to happen, yet once they have that bar locked, they can seem to pull at will and take any slack out of the vest. Don't worry the buckle on the vest also locks, so they have you strapped to the back of the seat , with bars locked accross your waist and ankles. You aren't going anywhere, even though the ride is very good at convincing you that this restraint system just might not be enough.

Okay, one change made when the ride moved was to replace the computerized motors in the cars with pistons in the station that raise and lower the seats. At this point the pistons lower into the floor and the seats tip all the way back, in fact I think you may be angled such that your head is the lowest part of your body. You are then carted off like so much cargo out onto the track. A quick turn and you are going up the lift. The feeling as you go up the lift is a cross between sitting and lying on your back, but one thing is for sure the vest has you pinned down so you won't be looking around. More often than not the people who place these rides in parks manage to make it so you have limited head mobility on the lift and you eyes pointed directly into the sun. This installation is no exception. You can either close your eyes on the way up, or turn your head to the side.

At the top of the lift, especially on your first ever ride, prepare for one of the finest acrobatic manuevers in multi-element history: The Lie-to-Fly. Its a simple element, the track twists 180* so that instead of lying down on top of the track you flip over and are suddenly lying down on your stomach, your full weight being held by just the restraints, and a wide open view in front of you. Your first few times, this gives you a very unsettling feeling at first, then it becomes one of the most interesting positions on a steel coaster. You do a dive head first through the structure, your eyes playing tricks on you. Is that support post far enough away? You soar over the station, then on the second pass, you do a fly-to-lie which flips you back up on your back, before you go down a drop and into the vertical loop. The Vertical-Loop-Headfirst-On-Your-Back is another highlight of this ride, and what a unique feeling it is. After the loop you Lie-To-Fly again, criss cross the structure once more before doing 720* worth of barrel rolls. You exit the rolls in the fly position, fly around in circles through the helix before one final Fly-to-Lie puts you back on your back for the brake run. Yes, it may be secondhand, but I do believe we have a winner here. You are then paraded (while still tied down lying on your back) past the exit ramp and spectators before being taken back into the station. The floor pistons raise the seats back up, everything is supposed to unlock. The lapbar easily swings up out of the way, but a recurring problem with this model coaster still hasn't been solved. That locking vest buckle works too well, it often refuses to unlock at the end of the ride without a little persuasion commonly known as smacking it until it gives in and releases.

You exit to the center of the station and down a stairway, which leads me to believe the lane we thought might be a Speed Lane may be the wheelchair exit lane. Today they had associates at the bottom of the stairs handing out vouchers for free shirts. You turn to the left, go under the brake run, turn right and up the exit ramp. A feeling of victory came over me, as I looked at my on ride photo. I didn't buy it, but I noticed I was one of a very few people who put his arms up in the true superhero riding posture. I then exited the area clutching my free shirt voucher like it was a Wonka golden ticket or something.

From there, I noted the line was a bit shorter than before, only back to the refreshment cart, but I decided to ride something else, another three hours just doesn't sound appetizing. I enter Flight of Fear (Premier enclosed launch coaster) and find the hangar to be almost full. Time to bail out of Flight of Fear, I do pick up a Sour Apple soft frozen delight from the refreshment cart. Unlike most of the chill carts, this stuff is hand dipped in front of your eyes, instead of being pre-packaged. I decide to head somewhere I can get more instant ride gratification.

I head to Vortex (Arrow multi-element). Vortex line is back out of the station building, alongside the midway but only about as far back as the transfer table. As most Vortex regulars know, with three trains on, this isn't much of a wait at all, even though it looks more impressive. One of the great benefits of the old Arrow coasters is exceptional throughput, unlike todays modern gimmick coasters that can't move half as many people. So with the station switchbacks out of use, it wasn't long at all until I was getting into the back seat, lowering the shoulder bar and buckling the new crotch strap. Up the lift, over the airtime laden first drop , and then Vortex continues to show itself off, I mean it has been running particularly well for its 20th birthday season.

Well, hey if I look at my day as a whole and look at average queue time for a ride, my day just got a lot better on the whole, but the average may be longer than I have ever waited for Vortex at this point in the day. Better get some more rides in to get the average down. I pass by "License To Print Money" aka "Three Point Challenge" and see another "Basketball Legend in his own Mind" on the final rack of balls, going for that perfect score of 0. The park must love this game.

I look at Italian Job (Premier launch coaster), and the line is back to and partially filling the queue house, I pass it up for now and head to Beast (In-house terrain wood coaster). The Beast queue is back to where the unmanned greeter station is, but like Vortex, Beast is built to move people, and none of the switchbacks were in use in either of the three queue houses. It might have been a bit longer than I had planned on waiting, but still manageable. When I got up to the part of the queue where you pick your seat, I waited for the dust to settle, and noted the wait for the front seat was only two trains longer than most other seats. I took the upgrade to First Class. While waiting, I overheard one family extolling the virtues of Holiday World to another family. Preach it! There is a better park experience available. Okay, he might have exaggerated when he said Voyage was twice as long as Beast, but maybe thats because Voyage has so much more action than Beast that it seems twice as long. Speaking of Voyage, I am sort of happy I had that stop at Kentucky Kingdom to transition me back from the wonderful PTC trains of Holiday World to the dreadful PTC trains of Kings Island. SFKK prepared me by having headrests, the KI trains add the seat dividers that go all the way up to your armpits, the lapbars that have their locking points set much tighter than the average PTC train, and the hard cushioning. At least KI did one thing right, they just might have the best seatbelt retrofit solution. They used retracting belts, which means they can use belts that are somewhat longer than other parks use, because once buckled, the excess strap slips back into its retractor.

So the ride starts, and well by now most people know the layout and the brake situation. One of the benefits of the front seat is that I received a pretty smooth ride by Beast standards, and it might have been performing better than average because instead of limping onto the second chain lift, it hit that second chain lift with authority and got up to about where the evacuation exit platform is before catching the chain. The helix is still one of the better moments on a Kings Island coaster, and then we hit the final brake run. The park redid the brake run to use both magnetic and regular fin brakes a few years ago. They use the magnetic brakes out on the course as trims and then for the first part of the brake run to shave off train speed until its moving at a slow pace, then the second part of the brake run uses the friction fin brakes that are able to stop the train if needed. I say if needed, because on this ride even though all the fins did hit the train, none were strong enough to actually stop the train because the station itself was clear and ready to receive a train. How often does that happen? Usually you spend some time back on the brake run. They might just be working on this whole ride capacity and meeting interval thing.

So from Beast, I headed through Rivertown. My interest in riding Tomb Raider (Huss Giant Top Spin) is low, so when I saw the line overflowing the cave and back into the outdoor queue maze, I skipped it. I usually like demented flat rides like Top Spins, but the program on Tomb Raider is so weak, and the line moves so slowly, thats its not worth it. I summarily passed the train and the water rides. My interest in water rides has been declining, something about walking around in wet jean shorts.

I headed into Nickelodeon Universe, and noted the line for Reptar (Vekoma Junior Inverted) was about halfway through its queue path, that would be a pass. I headed back to Avatar (the last airbender, whatever that's supposed to mean), (Zamperla Skater "Coaster") and even though Avatar's queue path was just about full, I decided to wait it out. From where I was the line was a 5 cycle wait, so I guess a full queue would be a 6 cycle wait. But, good things come to those who wait. I was sent to an end row (#6), and then I was the only person in that row over 16. By the laws of Avatar, that means I was the only person in the row qualified to sit in the aisle seat nearest the loading dock. It's a rule to cover for a big shortcoming in the rides safety restraint system. You see, the rows only have gates on the far side (more like barriers since they don't open) The side nearest the loading dock has no such gates, which is odd because the ride that this was modeled after, (Zamperla Rocking Tug), does. Add to this the fact that the lap bars, while they give the illusion of being individually adjustable, are all ganged together so there is only one setting for an entire row. The largest rider controls how far down the lap bars come down. Now put a small child in that aisle seat, a nice large rider like myself somewhere else in the row, and that lap bar is not going to come down far enough secure that child. 5 riders in that row have either the grate on the far side or other riders to control their lateral movements, the rider on the aisle with no grate, well, there is a possibility, no matter how slight, of them getting tossed. Think about it, they wouldn't have that rule for only that one ride if the danger did not exist. All that said, I landed up in one of the four best seats on the rides, as far to an outside corner as you can get, the last row means you go in bigger cirlcles at the same RPM as everybody else, which means you actually move faster on a MPH basis, and the end seat allows for a more open feeling. I do really like Avatar, even with its shortened program, I would call it one of my favorite flat rides in the park, except my favorite flat rides in the park usually aren't flat, so we'll use the term iron rides.

From Avatar, I actually skipped Fairly Odd Coaster (John Allen junior wood coaster), the line being just over the bridge starting into the queue house, and Scooby Doo's Haunted Castle with the line spilled out onto the 'drawbridge'. I headed onto International Street, and ducked in the new renovated pizza place. Don't get too excited, yeah they may have made it look more like the lobby of a real LaRosas, but the change really isn't as drastic as you might have thought. The big sign out front advertised hoagies, and while they are available the two kinds on offer are both cold cut subs. I was kind of hoping for a steak hoagy. Pizza is now sold in lots of 2 slices, and I noted the price is made so that after tax, it would come to about $6. I looked at the pizza on offer, and maybe I am spoiled after just having Holiday World pizza, but the pizza here looked dinky in size, and it also looked like it had been sitting out under the heat lamps for way too long. $6 for two slices of puny, lifeless pizza. I'd rather starve. Man, I can remember the days when the pizza was cheaper, the slices were bigger, and the lines were longer, which meant people were buying pizza as fast as they could make it, which meant no heat lamps. You saw your pizza coming out of the kitchen the cheese still in a semi liquid state, get sliced and handed to you fresh.

Well onwards, and into Action Zone. I headed to Delirium (Huss Giant Frisbee) The line was through 1.5 switchbacks which is a reasonable wait. 5 cycles later, I was hopping into seat 36. Last time I rode this, the operator came back around to recheck my bar, so this time I lowered it to where I normally do, then gave it one more click. This seemed to appease everybody, and soon I was off on a swinging, spin ride delight. This is one of the parks finest flat ride additions in many years. It's no wonder parks and carnivals all over are installing versions of this ride concept.

I headed back past the Days of Thunder Nascart track ($6) and Extreme Skyflyer (Skycoaster, list price $15, on special for $10) skipping both up charge attractions, I headed past a disused Son of Beast (RCCA Pile of Crap wood coaster), I think right now the rides strong point is that it is indeed currently disused. Yeah for a SBNO SOB! (Okay, it WAS a RCCA Looping wood coaster, but now its a RCCA wood hypercoaster, IF they get the thing running again. Maybe they will give it a mercy killing)

I headed for Top Gun (Arrow suspended), and as usual, the ride was a walk on. Okay it was a bit busier than usual, but the ride was taking people away from the queue area, at about the same rate as people were arrivng, so it was really perfect in that regard. Top Gun also has the new crotch straps, and other than that still gives a nice solid reliable ride. (Second row from the back for those keeping score) I only wish Top Gun didn't begin and end with a mile long hike, thats not even on flat terrain. I wonder how popular the ride would be with better midway placement.

I headed back to the Action Zone proper and the queue house for Drop Zone (Intamin Gyro Drop) was at least half full, which is too long for a ride I have a very real chance of getting rejected from, and it doesn't even give a good gut wrenching airtime filled drop feeling in my opinion. Summarily skipping Congo Falls (Intamin shoot-the-chutes), I headed to Face/Off (Vekoma Inverted Boomerang), even though I was sure I would be quickly turning around. The crowd must be thinning out as part of the switchbacks in the queue house were open. But now the line was only about halfway through the first one. Which means because the gates are on the far side of the queue house, you have to walk the length of the queue house twice, pointlessly. Unless, of course, you invoke the "I hate gratuitous walking" rule. It still took a bit of time, but soon I was loading into the second row from the back. Face/Off is one intense coaster, and that along with the helix of Italian Job are the two coaster moments at KI intense enough for me to gray-out. I like Face/Off, I just wish the lines for it weren't so long.

From Face/Off, I headed into Oktoberfest, and as I walked past the Slingshot, I noted it was sale priced from a regular $25 down to $15. I also noted a very bored looking crew sitting in the ride capsule waiting for somebody, anybody to buy a ticket. Sorry, I'm not going to be that somebody. My last Slingshot ride (Old Town in Florida) was somewhat underwhelming.

I headed to Adventure Express (Arrow mine train), as you might guess, it was a walk on. I chose the third seat from the back, fastened the new seat belt, and prepared to ride. Adventure Express is another one of the parks solid, reliable, and equally unnoteworthy coasters. They were having setup problems even with no queue to speak of, we got stopped on both the second lift, and then the transfer table/ ready brake. As did the train behind us, from what I heard.

From Adventure Express, I took a look at the new Coke Oasis. Its a row of vending machines with a mister shaped like a giant Coke Bottle in front of it. Disney has the same giant coke bottle mister at its MGM Studios park, but they have it next to a manned refreshment stand. And, unlike a Pepsi Oasis, you have to pay at the Coke Oasis, at Holiday World's Pepsi Oasis, the drinks are FREE.

I head into Coney Mall and head to Racer. (John Allen racing coaster). I first choose the forwards facing side and find a station wait. I choose the front of the back car, and with one group ahead of me, somebody on the incoming blue train could not contain themselves. So there was a little downtime owing to a sick rider. Then what they did after taking care of the immediate problem, they ghosted the blue train, so they could attend to cleaning it up in between cycles while still running the red train with riders. Effectively single train operation, but I like the solution better than no train operation with a longer cleanup delay taken all at once. Racer is a ride that is just begging to show off what it can be. The ride received some nice track work this year, so its running smoother than it has the last few seasons, some floater air is returning to some of the outbound hills. Now if we could lose the trim brakes that kill the return runs, we'd be back in business. I exited the ride, walked around, and opted for the backwards side or recaR as it is affectionately known. I quickly spotted a seat in the second to last row, and this ride confirms what I thought on the forwards side, there is a coaster here that isn't being allowed to live up to its full potential, yet its running better than it did under Paramount rule.

I started to head down Coney, and whats this there is NO line at Monster (Eyerly Monster), oh wait that's because Monster is closed. I cheked my watch and took stock in the situation. Its 6:50, park closes at 8PM. I have 4 coasters left to ride to complete the set (Flight of Fear, Italian Job, Reptar, and Fairly Odd Coaster) We won't count the SBNO SOB, or Little Bill's Giggle Coaster (Miler kiddie oval) , since I am height restricted off of that one. I head back to X-Base where to the parks credit they have NOT cut the Firehawk line, there was still a line up waiting for the safety spiel, and could glance at a certain angle back to see a full queue house still. I opted instead for Flight Of Fear, where the even though the full queue was open, the line was short enough that they could have used the short path, the line was just back to the queue adjustment gate). I should have invoked the "I hate gratuitous walking" rule, but didn't, but then what do I know, as by the time I reached the steps up into the saucer the queue maze was half full again. Note there was some minor (less than 10 minutes) downtime. To go along with Ft. Kinzel, there solution to the preshow video referring to Ft. Cooper was to stop showing the preshow. I sense another Disaster Transport on its way. I mean not just the video was gone but all the show effects were off, and the work lights were on. At least they seemed to leave the station effects alone, and the ride effects are as always. I opted for the back seat, as its queue was no worse than any other, and if I had to walk the plank, it would be the least embarassing. (These lap bars, or more specifically the belts have been known to give me fits) So after a bit of a wait, I get into the back seat, lower the lapbar, and slide the buckle COMPLETELY over the metal tongue, and as usual the belt doesn't fasten. Folks, this isn't a "I'm too big" issue, its a "The buckles are cheap pieces of **** that don't work right" issue. Here is why I am starting to like the back row. They usually start checking bars at the front and work their way to the back, in the front the unhelpful loader instantly thinks its a rider size problem, and lowers the bar another click, the stubborn buckle refuses to go, then embed the lapbar into my gut, and the stubborn buckle refuses to go, then they stomp on the bar, and the stubborn buckle refuses to go then they finally decide to check the buckle itself and bang the buckle up against something, then it locks. Note they don't offer to loosen the lapbar back to a reasonable setting. In the back seat, I lower, the lapbar, attempt to buckle, the belt, the stubborn buckle refuses to go, I have time to beat the living **** out of the buckle against the train side, and then proceed to fasten the belt. Maybe from now on I'll just proceed to beat the living **** out of the buckle before attempting to fasten it. (Can we have the dog clips back??)

The ride itself was pretty good, the first three inversions are over before you have time to realize what just happened, the mid course brake is still on "Bring the train to a total stop" mode, but they have the multi colored show lights on, and the ride gains some speed in the long helix like section, but that corkscrew is just missing something when you aren't barreling through it at top speed. All in all though, still one of the better coasters in the park. Upon exiting, I noted the ride video has not been rolled out yet. Time for another time check: 7:15.

I zip down to Italian Job, well okay I don't zip anywhere anymore, but I walk at a nice clip to Italian Job. I note the line is just past the bridge, but past the adjustable rail. Here is another case of "I hate gratuitous walking". Just about everybody jumps rail here, otherwise you have to walk all the way down the hill to the queue house, go through at least one switchback, then back up the hill. At least tonight they have gotten rid of the grouper, so the line just continued all the way to the station where you could pick your own seat. I noted a totally empty lane for seat 2, and jumped in. Same bars as Flight of Fear without the stupid belt. This means I had no problem lowering the lap bar and closing the car door. Its a family launch coaster, but that helix gets to me everytime, man thats intense. Just how many rides launch right into a triple upwards helix. The middle part of the ride was good, it seems they have turned the siren volume down to a more reasonable level, and I got some airtime coming out of the dip. Down the subway stair drop that has never worked, and into the brake run for the show scene. The water effects seem to have gone. This time the show scene ended and the train just sat there, which means a ride setup. A few moments later the ride resumed with the quick peppy run through the tunnel and the big fake splashdown finale. We returned to the station, and sat on the back brake, yep another setup. Maybe they aren't getting the hang of it. I exited Italian Job, and another time check 7:36. That leasts 24 minutes to get the last two coasters, and a long haul through Rivertown.

I make the long haul through Rivertown, the apparently empty Tomb Raider queue (well if it had a queue wasn't visible from the outside) failed to tempt me. I dashed through Rivertown, and right onto a walk on Reptar. Talk about being height restricted off, I am nearing the max height for this thing. Reptar is a cure little inverted coaster, and it actually does give an interesting little ride. Again, there is a reason why Vekoma sold a slew of these things.

Okay, one more coaster to go, it pains me but I walk past a walk on Avatar to wind up at a walk on Fairly Odd Coaster. I think I creeped the parent and child who were waiting for my seat next. The little girl asked "How long have you been riding this coaster?" to which I responded "Since 1975" totally honest answer, but I think I got the "And what are you doing in kiddieland alone?" look by the parental unit.

Fairly Odd Coaster is well cared for, gives a nice smooth ride, but in park tradition, they have installed a trim brake on the high turnaround over the station, making sure the trace amounts of airtime the ride had on the third pass through the structure are nuetralized. But hey, I hear victory bells, I just completed the full set of Kings Island coasters. This after arriving at the park late, on an early close, and spending at least three hours dealing with Firehawk. I even managed to squeeze in a couple flat rides. Not quite as good as the day I managed to fit in every adult ride in the park except for the Carousel, but I'll take it.

For my victory lap, I decided that I'd go into Scooby Doo's Haunted Castle since the queue was still open. I found the ride to be a walk on. I sat in the middle of the bench in a car alone, and was dismayed when the center gun on my Mini Mystery Machine failed the Point Blank Range test. I grabbed the left gun (Fright Light, whatever anti-violence ephuseium you wish to use) and started nailing targets one after the other. The grand hall where peppers ghost used to be still presents a challenge but other than that, I was drilling them.

The ride came to an end and I took my 2,000+ score with pride, I think I'll have another. The park decided I wouldn't as I exited the ride building just as the clock struck 8:00 and the ride closed. I took a whirlwind tour though the gift shops. The gift shops are starting to take on that "seen one, you've seen em all" appearance. I managed to stroll through all the International Street gift shops and leave without making a purchase.

I grabbed Wonka's Golden Ticket (aka my free Firehawk T-shirt voucher) and proceeded to exit the park and head to the Group Sales windows where the voucher said I could pick up the shirt anytime after 6PM, but on the same day. I exited the park, headed out through the security checkpoint, to see a line stretched nearly all the way across the font gate plaza doing a wonderful job at totally screwing up the smooth park exit as even though that didn't have shirt vouchers had to excuse themselves through this line of people. What's worse is that the line was not moving at all. Free shirt vouchers could easily be obtained from those that did not have the time or patience to deal with it. Oh, and only one window open. How hard can this be, the park advertised 2,500 shirts per day, they didn't start passing them out till 6pm. Seems to me that around 5pm they should have had all 2,500 shirts delivered to the front gate area, then have a crew of people standing there, one collects your voucher the next hands you a shirt. Ballparks and arenas do this all the time with fast efficiency. Nope, they only had one lane open, then they didn't bring enough shirts up to the front gate, so this hold up is to, and I quote the GR person who walked the line to explain it "We ran out of shirts, we are having more shirts delivered from the warehouse, please be patient". Some time later, well after the line has lost its patience, they finally wheel out four boxes of shirts, now to be fair I don't know how many shirts are in four boxes. They did open more lanes, which might have hurt more than it helped at this point, becuase as soon as the other lanes opened, the line turned into a mob rushing the other windows. Oh it soon resolved itself, and I used my mob line tactics I learned in Italy where 'mob queuing' is commonplace, I found myself near a window when the dust settled. (From my trip to Italy, we had a tour guide in Rome tell us that there are cinemas in Rome that screen movies in English. She quipped you can easily identify which ones those are, because they will be the only movie theaters with orderly queues out front)

From there, we made it to Culvers for some food and frozen custard. Ahh wonderful chain, I wish they had one closer to me, then again maybe the 17 mile drive is helping me so I don't get too much homemade root beer, cheese curds, and frozen custard.

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville
My Blog ->

Reading this report gets me a little depressed. I doubt I'll be able to get all the coasters in in one day when I go.
Good trip report, although inless Firehawk is somehow entirely different than it was at Geagua Lake, I would hardly call it "A winner"

The Millenium Force ride Ops: Squishing you where it counts since 2000. Track Record: 89 coasters

Coasterville Dave said:

I pass by "License To Print Money" aka "Three Point Challenge" and see another "Basketball Legend in his own Mind" on the final rack of balls, going for that perfect score of 0. The park must love this game.

LOL, so true. When I was there in May, the three-point challenge drew tons of spectators, most of whom were taunting the shooters. One guy I saw must have blown 50 bucks until finally winning the small prize, a crappy Dallas Mavericks ball. It was a great move by Kings Island to put this in.

Great TR, btw.

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