Kings Island - July 9, 2006

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Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
July 9, 2006
Kings Mills, Ohio

This weekend was not turning out to be a winner for me. For reasons that shall remain undisclosed I needed a day of pure and simple escapism. Find an amusing destination where I could forget about life for awhile, in a safe environment. I decoded. That sounded just like an amusement park, so I headed to Kings Island. Besides, CBS/Viacom had just passed the torch, and the keys, to the parks over to Cedar Fair on July 1, 2006. The news articles said there would be no changes made to the Paramount Parks this season, but I couldn't resist going to have a look. Thirdly, I had not been to the park since April 23, so I decided I needed to get some usage out of the season pass.

Therefore I arrived at the park right around 9:15. As I pulled into the lot, I noticed the first thing that made me ponder. For several years, the park had a fairy generic sign, it was a simple rectangular sign atop a tall single pedestal. The top of the sign had the park logo and an electronic message board. That sign survived for more than 30 years, sure it got a rounded top in the early 90's to accommodate the Paramount logo, but still the same basic sign. That is until a few years ago when the park got hit with a severe windstorm that brought the old sign crashing to the ground. Paramount decided to replace that sign with a larger, sturdier double pedestal sign. Still the park logo and an electronic message board on top, but now the lower part of the sign was designed to look just like the front gates of the Paramount Studios in Hollywood. I wonder if that sign has to come down if Cedar Fair elects to end the Paramount licensing agreement.

I made my way up to the entrance plaza. The parks entrance plaza has undergone several changes in recent years. Originally it was a very attractive entrance plaza. It was a fan shape design that funneled people from the parking lot to the admission gate. As you approached the park it was designed so that the gates were straight ahead, and the first thing your eyes noticed as they scanned the area was a large Kings Island logo made out of topiary set atop a bed of white stones to the right side of the entrance plaza. The ticket booths and admission gate were straight ahead. To the left side of the entrance plaza is a row of recessed buildings that held such services as Group Sales, Season Pass Processing, Pet Kennel, picnic grove and the long disused season pass gate. Those buildings were easy to get to if you needed them, but the way the plaza was shaped they were set far enough back that they were tucked out of sight as you approached the park. The ground itself was part of the transition as the ground changed from the asphalt parking lot to the cobblestone entryway. Immediately in front of the ticket booths was an area of cobblestones where the Kings Island logo was inlaid in the ground in the form of white cobblestones set against a darker background. In the center of the plaza was a grassy area with a double lamp old fashioned style lightpost and the parks main flagpole. Circling the grassy area was the main station for the parking tram service. The grassy area itself extended out into the parking lot, creating a nice grassy divider between the North Lot and the South Lot.

When Paramount took over it was lamentable that the Kings Island logo inlaid in the brickwork of the entry plaza was removed, and the topiary Kings Island logo to the right was replaced by a grassy hill decorated with a series of frames holding movie posters for Paramount movies. Sad to loose some of the detail, but not too drastic. The drastic changes started in 1999 when Face/Off took over the land previously occupied by the public picnic grove. Sure the park added a concrete pad next to the pet exercise area and put a couple tables there, but it wasn't the same. I noticed the current popular public picnic spot is on blankets in the grassy divider down the center of the parking lot. Then in 2003 a blue canvas checkpoint arrived between the tram circle and the ticket booths. The park had succumbed to the trend of installing an airport style security checkpoint at all park entrances. The checkpoint, while being annoying, also started to make the entry plaza very congested. Oh, and did you ever notice that the decals pasted to the metal detectors do not warn against weapons, but instead warn you against trying to smuggle food into the park.

Paramount used this congestion to make several changes to the front gate plaza. The first was the removal of the tram circle, which opened up a bigger empty patch of land for the crowds to gather into waiting for the checkpoint. I think the old time lamppost was lost in this deal as well. I sometimes wonder though if this wasn't a cover story, I mean if it was just entry plaza congestion, they could have moved the tram station to where the hotel shuttle stop used to be. Instead the trams main station is out in the center of the lot near the center cross road next to the grassy center divider. Of course, this is when the park decided to run trams, which is hardly ever. Knowing what happened to trams at other Cedar Fair parks, I expect this to go away entirely. I also believe the main tram station was really moved so that the tram station would be farther from the gate than the so called Premier Parking Lot. Yep, if the ridiculous $10 parking fee isn't high enough for you, you can opt for the obscene $15 parking fee to park just a little bit closer to the gate.

This left the other spot of congestion, which was the area between the checkpoint and the turnstiles because it was dominated by the general admission ticket booths. In the past couple seasons the park has launched an aggressive presale ticket campaign, either through local stores or via the internet to reduce the number of tickets sold on property, the discounts are quite generous. Towards the end of last season, through WinterFest an on into this season, they have moved all ticket sales to either the season pass building or the group sales building. Having made that move, they were able to remove the general admission ticket booths earlier this season. While all this has greatly relieved the congestion in the area, it has also had the side effect of messing up the natural traffic flow. Recall that I mentioned the season pass and group sales buildings were seemingly designed to blend into the background unless you are specifically looking for them. Well now they have a couple signs pointing them out for those needing to buy tickets, which means instead of everybody following their instinct to move forward to the gate, they now must cut across the plaza past the groups heading towards the gate.

Another change the park made this season was to eliminate the tradition of opening International Street at 9am, instead opting to open the entire park at once at 10am. I believe the park forgot the purpose of opening International Street early. Sure they might save some money, but they took away that time before the rides opened when families could run their morning errands. What better time to rent strollers, wheelchairs, lockers, maybe visit the ATM or the restroom, and perhaps stop past the bakery for breakfast. At any rate it helped to eliminate the congestion at the front gate because people arrived gradually between 9am and 10am, and then could spread out along International Street, thus helping to better balance the people when the rides open at 10. Of course this led to other problems, as the park had planned to permit certain groups early access to parts of the park, like Gold Pass holders and ACE members. The plan was to use the long disused season pass entrance as a VIP entrance for special events, and to meet there for the ACE walk back.

As the time was 9:20, I decided to partake in the ACE walk back, but did not see the promised sign at the old season pass gate, but I also noticed the main gate was open. I decided to check in at Guest Relations. I was able to get through security with no trouble, but noticed the lack of the "No Bags" lanes. With the old ticket booths gone, the park posted signs on columns between the openings in the park gate announcing the park would close at 10pm. I found an open entrance turnstile and headed into the park. I was just heading for Guest Relations when I noticed the ACE logo sign right next to the inner Guest Relations window. I decided to do my own morning park errands. I got a park map, and started to head to the bakery for breakfast. Unfortunately only the little plaza right inside the front gate is open. It seems that you can get to the rental center, ATM, and restrooms but not much else. So here, I was predisposed to spend money for a Starbucks coffee and pastry, but due to the parks new opening policy, they denied me the chance to spend money.

Kings Island was running a Gold Pass Walk on Weekends promotion, which is sort of like an invitation only fast pass program. The distribution point for the Speed Lane tickets used to be the info booth under the Eiffel Tower where they had a red carpet and velvet like ropes setup to really give it a VIP feel. This year the passes are distributed at the old Return Ticket Booth, with no VIP fanfare. The last time I used Speed Lane, I received a strip of tickets all good for the same 1 hour window, which required making a mad dash around the park to use them all. At this year's winter event, the question was raised if the park could put the ride times closer together, since apparently last season the ride times were really spread out. Apparently they went back to closer together ride times, as this years ticket strip have the ride times set 15 minutes apart. They have also started scanning your gold pass, so there will now be a one ticket sheet per pass holder limit.

I looked at my ticket times, and perhaps I should have waited an hour or so before getting my tickets. Then again they only distribute 1,500 sheets per day so to wait is to take a gamble. With nothing better to do I returned to the ACE sign next to Guest Relations and waited till 9:45. At 9:45 a GR host met us and escorted us to the Beast. The park is careful not to take us past a security rope in front of the other guests, so they had to change the route to Beast. In years past we would duck through a service gate next to International Showplace and then reentered into Rivertown by the Back Porch Stage. This year we went through a service gate near the main gate, walked past some office buildings, and then reentered the park through a door next to first aid. This route takes you past the parks fire and safety department, which delighted a young person in the group at seeing the fire truck. We then headed through Nick Universe and Rivertown and arrived at Beast.

We arrived at Beast shortly before opening, so we talked with the guest relations host. I learned a couple details that would help me plan my day. It seems that in the Action FX Theater the Spongebob Squarepants ridefilm plays until 4pm, then the Hanna Barbara movie plays from 4pm till close. She also mentioned that Son of Beast would not be open until later in the day.

Shortly before the ride opened a greeter arrived at the ride, and proceeded to move the height check pole and the greeter stool out from the greeter station to the actual queue entrance. Soon after our host received the phone call to admit us to the station. We dashed through the queue area, and I paired up with another single rider in the front seat.

The Beast, is a case of how the mighty have fallen. I climbed into the front seat,and we climbed the lift at a nice slow anticipation building pace. The ride has at least three personalities. First it acts like a traditional coaster as you go down the steep first drop and through the impossibly small first tunnel, a nice sharp curve then a couple traditional coaster dips lead you to the former mid course brake run. The remove of the skid brakes means you fly through most of the covered area adding to the sensation of speed, but the brake at the end of the covered area brings you back to a crawl. Then the ride goes into mine ride mode as it hugs the ground as it goes through the horseshoe tunnel and curves around the far ravine. You then get a break as the train climbs the second lift and goes into its third personality: psycho. I still think the Beast helix is one of the greatest coaster moments. Unfortunately, while the brakes did not seem to be bad, the ride suffers from both jackhammering and a case of the Dinn shuffle. Luckily, on my morning riders, the ride still had not had its morning coffee so it proved a mediocre ride and not a rough ride.

As we returned to the station I saw our train park, then mere seconds later the train ahead of it left the station. Getting better on the dispatch times. But the bigger surprise was when we were offered a reride. As there were people waiting for the front seat, I moved to seat 2.1 for the second ride. The second ride was much like the first, and at the end of the second ride the train in the station was already starting its run when our train was pulling into the brakes. I will have to return to this ride later and see if they can keep up this improved dispatch interval. I exited Beast and headed for the midway.

I decided that since it was still very early, I might get a ride on Tomb Raider with minimal waiting. I arrived at Tomb Raider and indeed the line was totally inside the building, so I decided to give it a try. I passed the greeter at the entrance and moved into the queue house. I was glad to see they fixed the queue railing, you see originally the switchback closest to the show building was unable to be closed off, which means that no matter how short the line was, you had to walk through at least one switchback. It is also known that guests do not like gratuitous walking and this kind of setup will cause people to climb over or under the railing to avoid walking through the empty switchback. Parks in turn can choose to ignore it, keep correcting guests, put up more barriers to prevent it, or fix it. It seems Kings Island chose the fix it option as there is now a gate and that final switchback can be closed off. I also like the touch of the bamboo themed queue rail between the queue house and the tomb entrance.

When Tomb Raider was built, the queue experience was billed as being as much an attraction as the ride. The first part of the indoor queue takes you through narrow twisting tunnels of the tomb. It looks like an archeological worksite with tarps along the ceiling, real dim work lights, and the walkway is a bridge to protect the tomb floor. Assorted artifacts line the walls and floor of the tomb tunnel. Unfortunately people are too easily tempted to toss trash off the bridge onto the tunnel floor. I am happy to report that from the parts of the tunnel I checked the park has made good work of cleaning the area. As you proceed further into the tomb the tunnel gets darker and darker until you can't see your hand in front of your face.

From here the way the attraction is supposed to work is the there is a gate at the end of the tunnel that prevents you looking ahead into the next room. Every so often, a group of riders is admitted from the tunnel into the first antechamber, or Monkey Room. The Monkey Room functionally allows a grouper to count off and group the riders. The walls are lines with giant monkey looking statues. Much anticipation builds until finally a light pattern shines on the wall pattern in front of you. The light pattern starts to turn and when it lines up with the wall pattern a secret door slides open to admit you to the next room. Once in the next room you are looking at a statue of the goddess of the tomb. Suddenly the secret door slides shut behind you, an oval shaped screen appears and the pre show video is played. The setup is that you see Laura Croft find the tomb, fight off the monsters, and go to steal the treasure, but wouldn't you know the tomb is guarded by a curse which is activated when she sets off a booby trap. The pre show turns to flames and an overhead door opens to the actual ride chamber, so I suppose the ride is that you are trying to escape the tomb.

That’s what is supposed to happen, unfortunately, they have decided to not use the gate at the end of the tunnel, and you simply walk through the money room. The secret door no longer closes so when you enter the attraction you head directly for the pre-show room. They do still show the video but it no longer coincides such that the pre show video ends right as the ride chamber is opening.

So I enter the ride chamber, take my seat, lower the shoulder bar, fasten the seatbelt and prepare to ride. I don't know if it is an effect of having been on the ride several times and having been on a behind the scenes tour, but it seems like when I look around the ride chamber I can spot the various stunts and scenes used in the ride. As they load the ride the play a recording of a tribal drum beat, and you can see some archeological scaffolding going up the side of the room next to some sculpture theme pieces. Finally the ride start and the whole ride moves forward and just when you are level with the eyes of the temple goddess the gondola brake releases so that you drop slightly but are in a normal seated position. The fire and ice symbols flash menacingly but I think the way her face changes had changed over the years. The ride starts to move again, with the gondola locked, and right as it reaches the top of the ride, they allow the gondola to roll so that you are looking up at the ceiling at the ice spikes. Some melted ice may fall on you and to further confuse you there is a skeleton off to once side. Is the skeleton defying gravity, or are you really looking down at the floor? The ride starts to move again, and you get a second flip as some strobe lights flash, and when the ride stops moving the gondola is locked upside down and slowing the ride is being lowered, then it appears that the floor is opening up to reveal a lava pit. Orange colored lave water sprays up getting some riders wet, and the ride holds this pose for several seconds allowing more than ample time for the blood to rush to your head. After you are released from this pose the ride chamber goes totally dark and the ride makes one more revolution while allowing the gondola to flip one more time. The lights all come on so you can see the chamber as the ride unit moved into the unload position. Originally this was the anticlimactic end of the ride, later they added a line of dialogue "Nobody gets the best of Laura Croft, unless she lefts them, and I didn't raise that kind of girl", then a scream and a blast of artificial fog to serve as a finale. Unfortunately none of the fog effects appear to be working, which is a shame because on the behind the scenes tour they were proud to show off they unique system for using real live steam from a boiler and then right before the steam is injected into the ride chamber, running it through some cooling process so the riders see steam, but its cool to the touch. The ride exit also makes the same plot hole and continuity error as many themed attractions. You are supposed to be escaping the tomb but when the ride ends your view in the ride chamber is no different than when it began, so what have you accomplished. Then while you clearly entered the tomb through a series of tunnels and chambers including a very ornamental archway, when the ride ends you go through a ordinary set of automatic doors and exit the building directly to the outside. Worse the building you walk around as you exit is very clearly a plain warehouse like building. Had this been a park that really knows theme, any part of the building you could see would be in theme, except a couple movie studio parks who get away with the warehouse box look by labeling them as sound stage buildings. Tomb Raider started out being a strongly themed attraction with a mediocre ride system, now the theme is going downhill. If Cedar Fair needs to remove the theme package from this ride, I don't think it can stand on it's own merits without a major reprogram of the ride to make it operate more like a conventional Top Spin.

I exited Tomb Raider and decided to follow the usual pattern, which is to say I headed to Coney Mall. I noticed the Italian Job line was barely past the bridge over the track, but I decided to save it for later as I have a Speed Lane ticket for it later. I took a moment to pay my respects to the Flying Eagles Memorial Grassland. Yep, I am going to mention that at least once per trip report, get used to it! I rounded the next corner and headed to Vortex. Vortex was a walk on. I headed through the empty queue area, noted there was no greeter, and got positioned for seat 7.1. We started to board the train when an announcement was made that they were not loading that train. I stepped back into the station, the train was sent out empty and I took a seat with another single rider in the next train. Vortex is running as consistent as ever, providing a mostly good ride, with just one blemish. As has been the case the last few seasons the mid course brake hits way too hard causing the train to crawl through the corkscrews dangling you from the shoulder bars. When the train returned to ready brake I noted the train in front of ours being attended to with a garden hose. We were then brought into the station, so I exited the ride. I decided I had already seen the Spongebob movie, but not the HB movie, so I decided to save the Action FX Theater for later.

I headed down Coney Mall and headed for Flight of Fear. There was nobody in the outside queue, but that doesn't mean anything as the line is usually concealed within the hangar. I passed the greeter and entered Hangar 18. I was pleasantly shocked to learn that Flight of Fear was a walk on. In talking with friends, I gained some information on which seats on the ride are more accommodating for larger riders. Therefore I actually waited an extra train or so to ensure I got one of the special seats. Unlike Tomb Raider, if the theme package were removed from this ride the ride could easily stand up on its own merits. From the launch, to the three tight inversions, all the way through the final corkscrew, the ride is a solid performer. I enjoyed my ride in seat 2.2 and I was happy to notice they added some red industrial looking lights to the exit hallway. The exit hallway walls were replaced with bland vandal proof panels this year, but the red lights add some nice accents.

I continued down Coney Mall. I noticed that several game joints across from Zephyr have been replaced by skill crane machines, the soda can toss is now a "know out the teeth" game, a punk rack been installed next to the disused rock shop building, and a new Whac A Mole game has been installed in half of the former milk can center joint.

I decided to talk a walk on ride on the backwards Racer. There was no greeter, for those keeping score. I soon took a one click ride in seat 1.3. In April I had a nice airtime filled ride that was spoiled by a tight lap bar, now I have a reasonable lap bar, but the turnaround brake is on, reducing the quality of the return run airtime. I did notice the tents for the Nick parade setup behind Zephyr.

I checked my watch and decided it was time to start putting my Speed Lane tickets to use. First up was Delirium, so I headed through Oktoberfest and into Action Zone. Delirium was build with Speed Lane in mind and there is a secondary entrance located between the exit and regular entrance. Showed my ticket to the greeter and was admitted to the Speed Lane. This lane goes directly besides the regular line until you get to the queue house, at which point it skips the queue house and goes directly to the grouper. I was pleased to see two full switchbacks open. I was the third person in the Speed Lane line and we were admitted to the bullpen first for the next available ride cycle. Delirium had a spell of downtime at the end of the last season, and when it was working it ran a weaker program. I am delighted the regular program has returned as it provides an excellent ride on this spinning pendulum ride. This is one of Paramount's better installs as the spinning pendulum ride is a very hot trendy ride. How nice is it to spin, and swing at the same time, while at time getting inverted looking down at the ground while spinning. More parks need one of these. Delirium is not without its problems, like trying to get 50 people out a single exit gate, or a temperamental floor, or riders who don’t put their loose articles in the foot lockers located around the ride. Note that riders are specifically instructed to use the foot lockers for their loose articles, but I saw more people pile their stuff next to or behind the open foot lockers. This costs more time a the ride operators are trained to move all this stuff ino the foot lockers.

I noted on my ticket sheet that I was given the same time window for Delirium and Italian Job, and those rides are not exactly located near each other. I high tailed it up International Street, dashed around the Tower, and headed back to Italian Job. When I arrived at Italian Job, I noted the queue was about average length which is one switchback. I showed the greeter my ticket and was admitted to the Speed Lane, which in this case runs alongside the ride exit path and runs between the entrance and exit lanes when you cross the bridge over the track. There were a couple remarks like "Are you too good to wait in line?", but I cheerfully ignored them. On Italian Job, the merge point is the grouper, just like it is on Delirium. I was assigned to row 3 of the train, which is not my favorite seat, but hey I didn't wait in line for it either. Italian Job is a very consistent ride across the train, with really the only airtime being in the front seat. The ride may be a bit more intense in the back car. Before I even boarded the car, I noted they are holding people behind a yellow line painted several feet from the queue gates. This is a different procedure than any other ride in the park with queue gates. Unfortunately, Italian Job is one of those rides that I have to do a "What it is supposed to do" vs. "What it actually does". I find it interesting that when the ride was installed at our park last year, a lot of emphasis was placed on the special effects and the fact that it is a roller coaster was secondary. In fact the full name for it is "Italian Job Stunt Track", then they built one at Kings Dominion this year, and clearly called it "Italian Job Stunt Coaster"

When you board the ride, you step into a scale model mini cooper, complete with headlights, taillights, license plates, with body style and trim work consistent with a Mini Cooper S. That part hasn't changed, I was grouped with a single rider, so I took a seat, pulled down the lap bar and closed the functional door. In front of each rider is a speaker, have a nice look at the speaker because you aren't going to hear anything from it. Originally as you were preparing to launch the director would lay the scene out for you over the in car speaker, the ride safety announcements came from the in car speaker, some music during the ride, and finally the director talked with you some more as you pulled into the brakes. Now the in car speakers are non-functional, the whole movie making story line with the director is gone, and any announcements, and the audio for the show scene come from big speakers placed alongside the track. The ride launches from the station, goes under a highway sign that reads "Los Angeles" and immediately pulls into a parking garage. You traverse up an ever tightening helix to the top of the parking garage, then its down the first drop where you swerve between police cars. At this point the cars are supposed to fishtail around the tight curves, but I have never really noticed it. After dodging the police cars, you go into a 90* banked turnaround and into a nice dip, complete with a road sign that reads "Dip" Coming out of the dip riders in the front seat get some airtime, you then head around past some billboards of LA landmarks. Hey, there is a Chinese Theater billboard, I was just there last month! You then go down another major drop, this drop takes place in a tunnel meant to look like the stairway down to a subway station. Much hype was given before the ride opened about how they developed an exciting new special effect that would make it feel like you were going down stairs. To my knowledge, this effect has never been activated, which is a shame. You make another curve and go up a hill to the mid course brake. Those lucky front seat riders get another airtime moment.

The mid course brake is a feature of the ride, at this point the train stops, and a helicopter menacingly fires at the train. The gunner in the helicopter is a real bad shot as the shots hit the various chemical barrels, shipping containers and gas tanks located in the area. Yep, this is Paramount Parks answer to Disney's Catastrophe Canyon, and Universal's Earthquake. As things get hit, some go up in a nice explosion complete with live fire, others cause 'chemical spills' as water sprays out of the barrels and lands on the riders, bigger flames when the shots hit the gas pumps and that huge propane tank sitting right above the tunnel entrance clearly located directly in front of you. Wait, there is a huge tunnel located directly ahead of us, yet we just sit there and take it as angry helicopter gunner dude is shooting up everything around us. Don't stop now, STEP ON IT! Say hello to Mr. Plot Hole. Eventually your driver wakes up and does step on it as you get a second launch into the tunnel. Luckily most of the show scene is still intact, well except for now the helicopter always stays in the up position, where it is supposed to be hidden behind the shipping containers, and then rise up into sight. You then head into the long dark tunnel, it feels like there maybe another 90 degree bank turn in the tunnel. Of course the cars functional headlights and taillights used to turn on in the tunnel but that no longer happens. At the end of the tunnel you blast through the billboard and into the final drop into the faux splashdown finale underneath the entrance/exit bridge. All that’s left is a low speed turnaround to head back to the station. Italian Job is a ride that can mostly stand up on its own merits, however, I don't know what the ride would be like without the show scene in the middle.

From Italian Job, I continued on my Speed Land tour, which took me back to Beast. I showed the greeter my ticket and was admitted to the Speed Lane. Beast, which is one of the parks signature ride, was opened in 1979 before any park had dreamed of virtual queues or offering preferential treatment to anyone other than very select VIPs. The park retrofitted Beast with a virtual queue entrance, the way they did it is nothing short of tacky. Starting in Beast Canyon, they created another lane using chain link fence that runs alongside the perimeter of Beast Canyon (the waiting area, reducing seating for waiting non riders in the process) then the virtual queue goes down a couple steps and through a hole cut in the side of queue house 1. The virtual queue travels around about 75% of the perimeter of queue house 1 (thus eliminating one switchback in queue house 1) then goes over a new bridge which bypasses queue house 2 and puts the virtual rider at the base of the ramp up to the station. You may recall that typically there are 2 lanes on the ramp, one for the front half of the train and one for the back half, during Speed Lane, only one lane is open, as all speed lane users go up the left hand lane and from that point continues the usual route up the ramp and through queue house 3 finally arriving at the station. It’s a very clumsy answer to the problem, and the route is a sheer sense of irony may have been longer than using the regular queue entrance. You see Beast was a walk on today. Oh sure, they have places a grouper at the station entrance, who was holding the regular line back letting people in only after anybody coming up the speed lane ramp for that ride had been admitted. But then they were only allowing two trains worth of riders onto the loading platform, instead of allowing the platform area to fill up. The regular line was just barely starting down the ramp with no switchbacks open. Eliminate the grouper and I'm sure everybody could have been accommodated easily in the station. I made a mistake and went for a ride in 6.1, Beast had definitely had its high test Starbucks coffee by now, and the ride should draw a penalty for excessive roughness, I mean that was outright brutal. But when we returned to the final brakes the next train had almost completely left the station, I could get used to not sitting out on the brake run. So, while the ride may not be running well, at least its giving more rides. When I returned to the station, there was nobody waiting for the grouper in either the speed lane or regular entrances.

I exited Beast, and headed towards Wild Thornbery's River Adventure. I noticed that the gift shop across from Tomb Raider is now an antique photo stand, I noticed a line was forming for White Water Canyon as the ride now has a posted opening time of noon, I noticed the American flags were missing from the front of Wings Diner, and I noted that since the Antique Photo stand is back by Tomb Raider, all the merchandise buildings in upper Rivertown are now disused, which fits well with them flanking a disused Back Porch Stage entertainment venue, The only thing open is a snack bar set up in what was the wooden sign makers booth. This was the parks "Crafter's Village" type section a long time ago with a candle dipper, antique photos, moccasins, panning for gold, and other old time souvenir opportunities. I passed by the area restroom building which is now done up in a violent shade of light green. Gone is the subdued cream colored building with brown trim, gone are the Rivertown era figures pointing the way to the restrooms. Nickelodeon Universe is clearly staking its claim as it starts to take over Rivertown. I passed by what looked to be a vintage ATM by ATM standards, and the new Phantom Phlyer ride, but I'll come back to that one later.

Wild Thornberries River Adventure is a massive overhaul to the park's original log flume ride. Not only did the ride receive a functional rehab with OD Hopkins being called in to restore the ride, it also received a thematic overhaul. Now it’s the River Adventure, with presumably a Wild Thornberry riding a safari vehicle in front of the station house, which went from a subdued dark green to a new vivid yellow red and orange color scheme, and sitting by the rides final curve is a big elephant, but I'll talk more about him later.

This ride was also retrofitted with a Speed Lane entrance, however this install was much more elegant than the one over at Beast. I approached the greeter, and I noted the Speed Lane entrance was chained off, so I thought maybe they came to their senses and since the line was short, they decided to dispense with Speed Lane. Not the case, it appears on this ride that every time a Speed Lane rider comes to the ride, the greeter has to get off their stool, take down the chain, welcome the riders to the ride, put the chain back up, and return to their stool. Wow, I bet that gets old quick. Why do I have the feeling that ride operations probably thinks of Speed Lane as "that nuisance Admissions came up with to sell more Gold Pass upgrades" and would rather rid themselves of the whole concept, that and the Two for Tuesdays deal. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Cedar Fair will discontinue the entire Gold Pass program. I mean Cedar Fair discontinued their Freeway virtual queue program, so I don't see them putting up with it here.

So I was admitted to the Speed Lane, it runs along the outer edge of the rides queue house, then goes up a flight of stairs and joins the regular line right at the top of the ramp where the line splits into two lanes. In this case regular riders use the left lane, and Speed Lane uses the right lane. This really is no operational change, as I have quite often seen one lane closed during non Speed Lane hours. I arrived at the loading station where the policy must be that when Speed Lane riders arrive at the station, they get priority, and as I was a single rider I was placed in a log alone and dispatched. I'm not complaining, as truth be told with the way seating is on log flumes, I would rather ride alone. Also, I just dodged a queue that was all the way down the ramp to the greeter, so consider that a bonus. My log left the station, and did the turnaround to head up lift 1, the top of life hill 1 is marked as holding explosives "No smoking, no sneezing", skull and crossbones signs. I don't quite get how that fits the theme put lets go with it. The log is lowered into the trough with a splash and I start down the course. I note the log already has a couple inches of standing water in it, and I also note the footholds along the bottom of the log have been removed. As noted Hopkins replaced the fiberglass Arrow trough with what looks like stainless steel metal trough work. You can tell because it seems that the Hopkins logs do not hold the course as well as the old Arrow logs and bump along the sides a lot more. About halfway along the outbound run you come to a theme element with looks like a lot of clay pots suspended from a trellis that was built over the trough. How cute, till you pass under them and they start to spit water on you. On second thought, are they clay pots or shrunken heads? You complete the outbound leg with no other theming, make the turnaround to head home and go down the first shallow drop which helps give the log some speed as you head around towards lift two. Right before lift two, you pass under a horizontal beam that has a snake wrapped around it. What I am getting at is while this ride has some theme elements, its not an "Orlando Theme Park" quality theme package. Up lift two to the big drop, I make it down the big drop and consider myself to be pretty lucky with little water damage. All that’s left is the return run to the unload platform. Remember that elephant I mentioned right before the final turn on the ride? Well Evil Elephant's sole job duty is to make sure everybody gets doused as he uses his trunk to liberally spray down every rider in every log. Yep I got off the ride nice and soaking wet. I walked up the stairs to exit bridge, back down the stairs, and to show how long it has been since I have ridden this ride (I usually skip it), I noticed the spring loaded exit gate for the first time. I returned to the midway.

My Final Speed Lane ride is scheduled to by Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle. I also recall that the haunted house ride is air conditioned, so I don't quite want to subject myself to that quite yet, so I decide to head to the spin dryer.

I headed into Nick Universe where Reptar almost had a full queue so I decided I'd try Reptar a bit later in the visit. Directly ahead of me is the Spongebob Water Maze. I never did quite understand the whole water maze concept, but clearly today's youth are really into it, and you can tell the smarter and brighter parents, they are the ones that put their youth into swimwear before allowing them to go through the water maze. I must admit that the attraction does look a lot better since the industrial chemical factory look of the Slime Maze days is gone, replaced with light blue paint, and a big pineapple parked at the ride entrance. I will also revel in the fact the water maze was shrunken down this season to allow for the addition of the Plankton's Plunge kiddie drop tower ride. Ah, smell that strong chlorine smell as I walk past it. Also the slime derrick, which was part of that Slime Factory installation has been replaced with a giant statue of Spongebob Squarepants. I noticed that The Krusty Krab snack bar is now just given the generic name Snack Shack. I also noticed Gelati on their menu, and upon further review learned its just Italian ice and soft serve desert mixed together, and not a rich and creamy ice-cream like desert like I had in Rome that went by the name Gelati. I was all smiles, as I headed back towards Avatar, I headed into Explorer's Corner so denoted by the flag on the Dora the Explorer statute. I looked around the area. This entire area was radically renovated this year. The kiddie Whip was moved over to where the Biplanes were, given some fiberglass statues, and renamed Swipers Sweepers, the Scooby Choo train ride recived a new stucco finish looking station, and new body's for the ride cars that look like blue train engines complete with smiling faces on their boilers. On my last visit the kiddie train engine ride, "La Adventura de Azul" (Blue's Adventure???) only had two ride units running, so since them many more ride units have been added, but I didn't notice any theme elements from the midway. While the train ride may not have received and theme elements, the Hampton Combo which was moved from the front of the section back to where the hand cars were did receive a rethee. The brightly colored umbrella is now kahki and green, and the fire engines, school busses, and sports cars that used to be on this ride have been replaced with 4x4's and jeeps. It s a great example of breathing new life into and old ride, though I bet the Hampton Combo ride enthusiasts are saddened. Overall the entire section which used to hanve some mild hills ha been basically flattened, and just about all the trees have been removed. The area used to be so shady it went by the name "Woodlands" now it’s a big flat area with some rides. I went over by where Scooby's Ghoster Coaster used to dominate the area. A new ride dominates the area taking up the area formerly used by Ghoster Coaster, the radio control boats/cars and the former site of the kiddie whip. That new ride is Avatar, and when I say it dominates the area, it really does dominate the area, the ride is huge. Avatar is a custom themed Zamplerla Skater Coaster, which itself is a much larger Zamperla Skater with a hump in the middle so the track plan more resembles a W rather than a U. I noticed no line for Avatar, but then I also noticed the ride vehicle is not in the loading area, nor does the ride seem to be operating. I walked underneath the center hump of the ride. (There is a publicly accessible midway that runs under the center of the ride) and I noticed the ride tub sitting motionless in the wrong valley of the ride. Uh-Oh, not a good sign. Upon closer review I noticed a crew of ride mechanics attending to Avatar, giving Avatar a pep talk, yeah that's it a pep talk, while working on the ride vehicle. I noticed some service panels removed from the ride and sitting alongside the track. I suppose I better just check in on this one a bit later.

I decided to go to the Haunted Castle so I walked through the center of Nick Universe passing a new snack bar which was built in the same simple style as the new photo booth for Fairly Odd Coaster. I walked around Blues Skidoo when I did a double take. In April, this ride had lap bars and seatbelts. Now the ride only has seatbelts and a little white plastic chain that goes across the tub opening. Almost the way the ride would have been back when I was growing up, except it would not have had the seatbelt then. Be still my heart as I realized that the park had actually removed the lap bars.

I kept on going to the Haunted Castle, and I noted Scooby entertaining guests at the slightly relocated Scooby Meet and Greet area. I suppose I should say I left Nick Universe and headed to International Street to ride Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, as you might suspect, that would be a mere legal technicality. I entered the castle via the left lane over the drawbridge as I showed the greeter my ticket. I realized my ticket was wet and then thought that Scooby Doo is the last ride in the Speed Lane package, directly after the River Adventure I wonder how many wet tickets they get. Ewwww. I entered the queue house for Scooby Doo. When Scooby opened in 2003, there were fundamental problems with the way the queue was laid out. For starters the queue house was totally non adjustable, and you had to go through all the switchbacks no matter how short the line was. You can imagine how that was handled on slow days, as riders took hurdles practice on the queue line rails to take the straight show from the bottom of the entrance stairs to the secret passage rather than needlessly walk back and forth. The Speed lane went around 3 of 4 sides of the queue house, so it was unnecessarily long as well, then on the outside the overflow queue spilled into an already congested narrow walkway blocking the ride exit and stroller parking area. I saw this to point out that Paramount Parks did have the ability to spot problems and correct them. The first correction with probably took 2 minutes was to move the portable bike rack style fence so that the overflow queue wrapped around the front of the building on the HB side. A bit later the indoor queue area was completely redone and the Speed Lane and regular lane entrances were switched, so now the Speed Lane enters via the left stairs and has the straight shot over to the secret passage, and the regular queue takes the right stairs into the queue maze. The result is the addition of one switchback to the queue house, less congestion outside, and they made the new switchbacks adjustable.

Scooby Doo still has the most confrontational merge point. With virtual queue systems the most awkward part is merging the virtual queue riders into the main line. On the parks other rides, they do this at the grouper so that there never a merge till right before boarding the ride. On Scooby Doo the merge occurs in the secret passage part of the queue, where both lanes form a Y and do a hard merge, with a grouper there to physically block the regular queue to control the merge. Its almost enough to make you feel bad when the riders you just cut in front of, who just waited through a full queue house, overflowing out onto the midway are right behind you trying to explain to their children why you were allowed to line jump. I went around the next narrow curve onto the bridge that takes you to the center of the revolving boarding platform. I was giddy with excitement when I was shown to my own private Mini Mystery Machine.

I was even happier when I realized I had a gun that worked. Oh, sorry, Fright Light flashlight. It’s a gun people, the ride is a shooting gallery, lets loose the PC nonsense and get on with life. I went through the ride quite happy with my marksmanship skills. Most people have found the target right after the portrait gallery where if you hit it, a ghost lowers down to reveal another target. Well, I learned a bit more about the ride today. Right after that scene I experienced a ride slow down that lasted almost until I got to the Great Hall scene. I started to learn something about the ride. Most folks know that only the targets that are lit will score, but did you ever notice that some targets never seem to be lit. I discovered with the first kitchen cabinet (not the one that tips over), that when you first look at it, only the target on the bottom shelf is lit, hitting that target will cause that target to go out, but targets on the top two shelves to light up for only a short time, when those two targets are either hit or time out, the bottom target will light again. I was stuck in front of it long enough to determine that this is deliberate behavior on the part of the targets. There are other instances of this in the ride, but why give way any more secrets in this trip report. In an earlier report, I conjectured that the rides scoring unit had a hard scoring limit of 2,999, well I scored in excess of 3,600 this time, so that’s a new high for me, with the annotation that I received a slow ride in parts. I really like the Sally shoot em up dark rides. I exited Ghostly Manor and decided to go ride the Fairly Odd Coaster.

Fairly Odd Coaster is the newest name for the parks 1972 John Allen junior wood coaster. I approached the ride and was undaunted even with a queue that was through 1 switchback in the queue house. As I waited in line I noticed that the mechanics were still working on Avatar. I crossed up and over the track and looked the new blueish lavender color with a pink train and a green train, The trains, lift approach and lift hill sign are decorated with accents that are apparently part of the Fairly OddParents theme, Owing to a case of indecision on the part of the family ahead of me, I arrived at a station with mostly empty seat queues. I opted for the back seat, lowered the traditional style lap bar, fastened the belt and off we go. The new color scheme for the ride is minor as compared to what happened to the first drop. Kings Island’s ride used to stand out from other rides of its type as it featured a tunnel over the first drop. This year the first drop tunnel was removed. I don’t know, if I were the coaster, I’d be the Fairly Upset Coaster. All told I still really like the ride, and I try to take a lap on it every visit Besides, it’s the best running wood coaster in the park, despite the nasty trim brake on the third turnaround.

I headed across Nick Universe to check up on a couple other items I had noted in my April trip report. I took another glance at Blues Skidoo to verify those lap bars are really gone. On my April report I noted that the entrance to the Lazytown Sportcopters (helicopter ride that goes over Nick Universe on a track) had two identical looking ramps that didn’t indicate which one was the entrance. This has been corrected as entrance and exit signs have been added next to the ramps. Also in the last report, I noted how the Nick Go Round looked pretty pathetic with only one row of generic looking figures on the merry go round. At the time I had expected custom Nick themed characters to be installed on the ride. Well now the ride sports two rows of generic looking figures, with some nick characters placed along the outer edge of the top canopy.

I also noted the Central Grill building didn’t look quite as plain as it did in April, and the new snack bar has been painted in the same light green as the restroom building. I took a look at Plankton’s Plunge which is the parks new kids drop tower ride, which appears to be popular. I started to go towards Rivertown when I came to Phantom Phlyers. I noted the small queue house for it was not quite half full, which translates into a two cycle wait. Phantom Phlyer is a custom themed Zamperla Kite Flyer, which is a round circle ride with several ride tubs go around while going up and down in wave patterns. What makes this ride unique is that people lie down on their stomach’s while riding. I still prefer the Dartron version of this ride as it is a larger ride, and is baed on the motions of a Paratrooper instead of the mtions of a wave swinger.

I headed into Rivertown and decided to take a ride on White Water Canyon. This is a ride I can go entire seasons without riding. Due to the placement of the ride, the queue takes the form of a long trail through the woods which has the side effect of making it impossible to judge the length of the queue, especially without a greeter or estimated wait sign. I headed back the trail, crossed the railroad bridge and noticed the park has finally decided to open the big service gate between the entrance and exit trail. You see the entrance end exit trails run right alongside each other, with a tall prison like chain link fence down the center. However any points the park gained by opening this gate, were lost when both of the other gates commonly used for rerides were locked. I walked the length of the queue and as it turns out there were only about a dozen people in line. I was grouped in a raft with a group of 4. I was glad I wasn’t seated alone, as I didn’t want to be the sole target in a raft.

I sat down and fastened the seatbelt, the seatbelts on this ride are made out of an elastic strap instead of traditional seatbelt material. I was seated alone on my side of the raft, a seat designed for two people, and had to really stretch the eleastic belt to get the buckle fastened. Soon we were on our way down the river in our white water rafting adventure. These riders make great group experiences as riders have fun either laughing at other riders get drenched, or conversely griping about your bad luck after getting wet. White Water Canyon uses the smaller rafts which seem to spin a lot more than the larger rafts, so you never know who is going to get wet, and who isn’t. Of course, what is ironic is how much riders complain about getting wet on a ride that is based on white water rafting, where getting wet is inherent. Overall I managed well getting past the rapids in the first part of the ride, even did well on the operator controlled geysers in the middle of the ride, but the last part of the ride involves numerous guest controlled water guns and a couple operator controlled geysers. I was doing well, until I suffered a direct hit by the very last geyser on the ride. I did note the guest controlled geysers have been replaced by numerous water guns with red nozzles that look sort of like fire hoses.

We reached the lift hill at the end of the ride and returned to the station. I pressed the release button on the seatbelt, and the other end went flying across the tub as if jet propelled. I’m glad I wasn’t on the receiving end of that. I exited the ride and observed the operator dousing riders. She was very much enjoying her job, even taunting with the impossible question “Guess my favorite color”

One of the benefits of having the ride set so far back from the midway is that by the time you reach the end of the exit trail, you have had lots of time to drip dry. As I crossed the railroad bridge I noticed a large crowd at the train station, se I decided to take a ride on the Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad. I arrived at the station just moments before a train arrived. I boarded the train and took a round trip ride. On this particular ride there was no atmosphere music and the narration was personally led by an attraction host. She talked about White Water Canyon, Boomerang Bay, and the train storage barn as well as pointing out some important times to remember. She pointed out that today was the last chance to see the Nickelodeon Parade (5pm), which means the Nick character meet and greet will close at 3:30, Boomerang Bay waterpark will close at 7, the train ride closes at 8, and the park closes at 10pm with fireworks.

It was a relaxing round trip ride on the train. I did notice that they only had one train on today, but what was odd was they had the green engine pulling the red cars, usually the blue engine pulls the red cars. I did mention that it was a cool day, and so the waterpark did not appear too busy. I did note the Australian flag no longer flies over the top of one of the slide towers. After the train ride, I decided it was time for lunch, I hadn’t eaten much the day before and thought that a Montgomery Inn pulled pork sandwich sounded good. Therefore I headed to Wings Diner. Wings Diner was themed after an early Paramount movie and the dining room is filled with aviation and patriotic themed props, including a large 48 star flag. I wonder if this eatery will return to being the Columbia Palace next year. You can see why Paramount was quick to change the name of that food stand. Wings Diner features Montgomery Inn products, you can have ribs, pulled pork, a ‘rib pattie sand’ich”, or you can opt for chicken. The line wasn’t too long, and I received a hearty “Welcome to Wings” upon entering the eatery. Wings is setup like a cafeteria, and accordingly I took a tray and started down the serving line. First you pass a cooling case with salads and deserts. While a glance at the menu will tell you the price of the salads, nowhere on the menu does it give the prices for the deserts. Sorry, but if you won’t tell me the price of the desert, I will assume I can’t afford it and leave it be. The deserts looked really good to, and I recall hearing the park did hire a pastry chef recently. My other problem with the deserts is that they are sitting out in front of the serving line with no covers over them. Most cafeterias either have the desserts wrapped in plastic wrap, or have them in plastic boxes. I know I saw one child ahead of me with fingering the deserts so that also helped me to decide to pass up the deserts on offer. I also ignored the sign saying that I should ask about their new hot apple pie. So I went through the line and picked up a pulled pork sandwhich, Saratoga chips, cole slaw, dinner roll and then I got to the beverage station. At the beverage station there is a sign promoting the fact they now have sweet tea. Sounds great, so I indicated I would like some of their new fresh brewed sweet tea. The beverage server looked at me like I was from Mars, and indicated they only had non sweet tea available, and then further indicated that even that wasn’t fresh brewed. I pointed out the sign, but it was clear I was going to get nowhere. I settled for a soft drink, and they did manage to upsell me with the “You can get this great big cup for only 20 cents more” routine. Now, the menu price of the pulled pork combo was $8.99 which included two sides and a dinner roll. When I got to the checkout stand the final bill was just above $13.00 which confirms that the soft drink was right around $4. The $9.00 meal deal was a bit high but not unreasonable, the $4 soft drink is insane. At least the crew at Wings was more customer oriented than a crew I encountered at Bubba Gumps on a past visit. When I got to the line today they were out of Saratoga chips, so she went over to the other serving line to get more, one time at Gumps, they just ran out of an item in front of me, but refused to walk over to the other serving line to get me some. I found a nice comfy looking booth and settled into to enjoy dinner. I noted that the outdoor dining area for Wings has been converted into another group sales picnic area but that is fine, because when I am outdoors most of the day, eating indoors at a park is a nice relaxing respite from the day. I looked over my tray, I had a cup full of cole slaw, and another full of nice warm Ribs King sauce to go along with a generous order of Saratoga chips. The sandwich itself was served on a nice large bun with the bbq piled high. The cole slaw was large enough I could use half of it to top my sandwich and still had enough to serve as a side of slaw. Not only that, all the food was very good to. I don’t think I needed the dinner roll with a sandwich, but after paying $13, you can bet I’m going to eat it. So I probably took longer to eat than you might imagine as I had a nice relaxing high quality meal. Man, it’s gonna suck next year with Cedar Fair food. I finished up my meal except for maybe half of that oversized soft drink, and headed back outdoors.

Once outside, I decided that since I had finished all the attractions in Rivertown, I would go over and see if Avatar was back up. You may recall I am thinking of a spin ride directly after eating dinner. As I passed Reptar, I noted the line wasn’t too long for it, just a little bit out of the station, so thought I may as well ride Reptar while I’m in the area. I passed the greeter and finished my soft drink while waiting to ride. I soon had a seat in row 7, sat down, fastened the belt and away I went. Reptar is a Vekoma junior inverted coaster, with a similar albeit inverted layout as their Rollerskater series. It’s a well made, solid performer. It’s one of those rides that should help prepare future coaster enthusiasts make the transition to the larger coasters.

At the end of the ride, I went to check out the new Nick Universe restroom building. It was still under renovation on my last visit, The outside lost its decorative details, like the paintied flowers over the water fountains or the unique Boys and Girls signs. On the inside the cinder block walls have been covered over with some nice tile, auto flushers have been added to the toilets, and new stall partitions have been erected. The new stalls also appear to be a bit larger than the old ones, as evidenced by the restroom appearing to be a bit more cramped inside. We now return you to your regularly scheduled trip report.

I headed back to Avatar and was glad to see it was open, I was not as happy to see the line stretched beyond the queue area and spilled back into the pagoda. The rides marquee sign looks like a pagoda, and then you enter the queue right under the center hump and walk alongside the ride. I noted the park had installed the shade canopy over the queue that they had started on my last visit, They have also added some scenery panels to the sides of the ride hiding some of the mechanicals underneath, I made my way throught the long line as my dinner digested, and soon enough was up to the front of the line,. The mic person was enthusiastic, and being a single rider I was admitted to fill in an empty seat. I was delighted to find out I was being sent to an end seat on an aisle. The park is still insisting that the person sitting on the aisle seat nearest the boarding platform must be at least 16 years of age. I suspect this has to do with the fact there is no ‘door; on this side of the row as there is on the other side, and the lap bars while adjustable, are all tied together, so the largest person in each row dictates how tight the lap bars can be. I suspect that putting a small child on the aisle seat combined with a loos lap bar is not a situation the park wanted to get into, Never mind the fact they have added seat molding not only between each rider, but also in your crotch area to prevent sliding across the bench, Not the most comfortable ride seat I have ever sat in, but soon enough the bars are down, the loading floor has dropped and we are ready to fly. Sitting atop the giant skateboard shaped car is a huge 2D statue of Avatar. I’m not familiar with Avatar, but he looks like your typical punk skateboard fanatic, complete with a weird hairstyle and a big arrow painted on his forehead. Since he is an Airbender, whatever that is, the ends of the skateboard have molded clouds added to them, and the track work, scenery panels, and loading floor are all blue emphasizing the skating through the sky motif. The ride starts like a swinging ship ride as the vehicle just rocks back and forth in the one dip. Once you have that mastered, they start spinning the ride tub. Here is where people who have waited about 45 minutes to ride start acting surprised. Then the ride finally picks up enough momentum so that instead of just going back and forth in one dip, it can start clering the center hump, and starts its spinnng trek going from one end of the ride to the other which means one hump and two valleys. The ride is so fun, it may disorient you. Here is where riders realize that even though this ride is grouped with the kiddie rides, it is definitely not a kiddie ride, and would be more at home in Coney Mall. Of course the teens who would probably love it are probably too cool to be seen in Nick Universe. Speaking of cool, it has a cool trapezoid shaped loose articles foot locker. I admit I was skeptical about Avatar when it was first announced, especially after riding a standard model Skater, but the ride has grown on me, and I really like it.

Well, now that I have experienced everything I wanted to ride in Nick Universe, I headed towards an area of the park I had neglected, Action Zone. I dashed across International Street and was just about to pass the Paramount Theatre when I noticed it was only 5 minutes until the 3:30 School of Rock performance,

I decided to take in a showing of School of Rock, especially since I had seen good reviews of it on the various park message boards. I entered the theater and noticed the ushers had those big large “all access: credentials like at concerts. I went into the auditorium and took a seat in my usual section towards the read of the house just behind the engineers booth. A couple years ago the theater received all new seating and other enhancements, so I was a bit surprised to see people walking the aisles selling food and drink.

The show started with a crew member doing sound checks, then we see the substitute guitarist arrive late for the show, and out of costume. We see him get scolded by the stage manager who then turns to the microphone PR voice, apologizes and says that kind of thing never usually happens at their shows. The main show opens with a film montage of scenes from the movie School of Rock which helps people like me who have never seen the film get a basic understanding. The basic idea is that most aspects of life are controlled by a mysterious entity called “The Man”, who seeks to rid the world of free expression. True rock music is meant to an outlet to rebel against the man. The concert starts with a nice piece of music that would probably find a better home in the library of an easy listening station. You can get where the plot is going to go. The substitute guitarist stirs a rebellion in the band who switches to a harder rock and roll sound, complete with very loud music, bright lights that flash in your face and other rock concert like effects. The stage manager tries to bring things back to control, but at first she gets ignored. We then hear the stage manager get a radio call from the park big boss who threatens to fire her and the band if she can’t get things under control. She again confronts the band who then accuse her of being The Man, which is just the wrong thing to say, and soon she joins in the rebellion. Further radio calls from the big boss are ignored. Throughout the show relevant film clips from the movie are projected in the background. The music itself, ironically, is not exactly cutting age or rebellious, with most of the songs having been around for at least 10 years or more. The show seems to want to parody the typical theme park rock music revue, but their song selection makes it seem more like a rock revue than they care to admit. The show ends with a surprise involving some metallic shiney streamers. The way some people in the audience reacted to wanting some of the stremer material you would have thought they were throwing money. I also noted that while teens and twenty somethings will really like the show, it doesn’t seem to be something that the older park guests or families will enjoy. I noted they were surveying some members of the audience at this performance, and I was a bit curious as to if they were surveying about School of Rock in particular, or live entertainment at the park in general. What do people want from park live entertainment?

I exited the theatre through the doors nearest to Action Zone and headed down the ramp into Action Zone. I don’t know what possessed me, but I walked over to Drop Zone. Drop Zone is the parks giant drop tower ride, but it is an Intamin drop tower, and I have a very hard time getting into the seat owing to the ridiculously short seatbelts. I noticed the queue was only though 1 switchback in the queue house, and since I did not have a Speed Lane pass,, the greeter directed me to the left entrance. It wound up being about a 3 cycle wait, which doesn’t seem like that should be bad, but it seems to take them forever to unload the ride, let 40 more riders in, get the riders seated and check all the restraints.

When it was my turn to ride, I headed to seat 18 as instructed and before pulling down the shoulder bar, I picked up the crotch strap and extended the belt as far as it would go. I then lowered the shoulder bar, and put lots of effort into getting the belt fastened. I did get the belt fastened but not without a struggle. Now after fighting with a short seatbelt to it fastened, what is the last thing you want to hear? “Upbar, Downbar, Recheck, DoubleCheck” It seems that call went out about three or four times during our load process, requiring the bars to be rechecked each time. When they got to me they felt the need to unfastened and refasten the belt each time. They had to struggle a little bit to, but not as much as I did because I assumed the Wicked Twister pose of putting both hands high above the shoulder bar and pressing down on the tops of the bar above your shoulder blades. This has the effect of lowering your shoulder blades which allows me to get the bar down a little bit further. Don’t get me wrong, if I were expected to get an inch of slack in the belt I would be screwed, but I did get to ride, with Cedar Fair and their inch of slack rule, this may well be the last time. We started our way up the 300’ plus tower while the ride performed one revolution so that you could get a panoramic view of the area. It was a solution meant to make the ride unique and solve the problem of having some sides of the tower with better views than others. It’s a gimmick that worked so well, that when Paramount put one of these in another park they omitted the rotating part altogether. So you climb 300’+, but the effective drop is only about 265’ still quite a tall drop. They let you dangle at the top a bit so you never know quite when WHAM its time to fall back to earth. It’s a fun ride, but with all drop towers the ride experience is way too short.

After Drop Zone, I headed next door to Congo Falls. Congo Falls is an Intamin shoot-the-chutes rides where you go down a large waterfall in a 20 passenger boat, Today, this ride was so popular that when I reached the station there was literally no one else in the station, A boat pulled in with a few riders, but they were not allowed to reride even though they wanted to. The gates opened and I took a seat in the back row, and before the gates closed, another family made it to the station and sat up front. We took our seats, and I am happy to report that even with 18 years of operation, the ride still does not have seatbelts or lap bars. Yes each row has a big grab bar, but there are no active passenger restraints. Lemme check that name plate again “Intamin” My, how times have changed with that company. We headed up the lift, and as we went up I looked down into Timberwolf where they had just finished the three night long Spirit Song festival. The concert shed looked to be reasonably clean, with just some booths in the concourse area to be taken down, we rounded the turnaround and headed for the drop. Congo Falls may not be very tall compared to other rides of its type, but I think it may be the best. Instead of a single steep drop, Congo Falls features a double down drop. I don’t think I have to tell you what that means. From my seat in Row 5, I grabbed hold of the grab bar as we went down the first part of the drop and felt my butt rise up out of the seat, float all the way down then land with a thud, then we went over the second dip, where my butt was flung up out of the seat, had a strong float down the second dip, then made a hard landing at the base of the second drop. Wow, that was airtime nirvana, coming from a park that went on record at a coaster event two years ago saying “You may like airtime, but we don’t” The second half of the ride is an uneventful elongated turnaround back to the station. Even the geysers were turned off. Congo Falls is one of those one-trick pony rides, but oh what a trick. Better yet, I realized I hardly even got wet on the ride. Congo Falls has a gratuitously long exit ramp that was designed to provide a splash zone at the top so you didn’t even have to ride to get wet. You could just stand up on the bridge as the waves generated from the boat wash out the walkway. I admit, in my youth I would have been right up there with them, but nowadays I am content to take careful note of what parts of the walkway are wet and which are dry and to pick my time and route carefully as to dodge the wave.

I looked back at Face/Off and decided to check back on it later, so I instead started to head towards Son of Beast. At that time one of those great acts which seems so trivial at the time occurred: I decided to check my watch. My watch told me it was 4:30. I recalled that the lady on the train had said the Nick Parade was at 5pm. I had not seen the parade this year, so I decided I wanted to watch the parade. So I veered from my original course towards Son of Beast and plotted a new course towards Viking Fury. I went through Festhaus where I noted there is no live entertainment in there this year. I didn’t even see anyone playing Dance Dance Revolution! I headed back outside and up the entrance ramp for Viking Fury. I looked over the seat gueus and opted for the third seat from the end on the Tower side of the ride as that was the highest seat that would allow me to ride the next cycle. The ride stopped, people unloaded, the gates opened, I entered with another single rider and had just sat down in the seat when we were asked to get off the boat and return to the seat queues. The gats were closed, and I saw the Garden Hose of Doom come out. The crew proceeded to have to wash out the last two rows of the boat on the Festhaus, side, then give the ride a test cycle, then dry the seats, the apply sanitizer. So much for an easy on, easy off Viking Fury ride, While waiting I noted the animated Festhaus clock put on its little show. From my vantage point it looked like the person that was supposed to appear out of the right hand door never popped out to perform. That also meant it was 4:45. Eventually the ride opened, and I took a ride on the swinging pirate ship ride, and noted that was my third Intamin ride in a row. Nothing too exciting to report about the ride experience itself. I noted the park has removed all the faux rigging and sails from the middle of the boat, I know they were once there because an early photo of Viking Fury recently appeared on a message board.

I exited the ride, and had one of those “You can’t get there from here” moments, I could clearly see the base of the Eiffel tower, which is where I wanted to go, but the railings for the exit ramp insisted I follow the wooden walkway back to the area by Festhaus. They have even added signs “Authorized Personnel Only” This is really a case where they need to add an opton to exit towards Tower. In my younger days I would have jumped the rail and cut across the grass. I passed by the Oktoberfest locker rental area. Last year the park went from a pay-per-use model to an all-day-rental model for its front gate lockers. I do believe that for most people the all day lockers are going to prove to be much more expensive than the pay per use lockers were. Last year, they left the bank of lockers near Festhaus as pay-per-use, but either they all were rented out on this relatively slow day at the park, or they have been converted to the all day rental program as well, that is assuming they just haven’t been closed for the season.

I headed up and passed a snack cart on the way to tower. Some of the frozen chill carts have been advertising a new Sour Apple flavor, but apparently that is only available at the carts that hand dip their chill, instead of using prepackaged product. The one by tower has the prepackaged product. I passed, I found a space near the yellow line which looked promising, it wasn’t right on the yellow line but nobody tall in front of me either, I noted the park has certain pedestrian crossing zones noted by two railings marking areas along the parade route that are to be left open for traffic. Its like Disney except Disney would have used portable rope and stanchions instead of painting lines on the pavement. The park uses the parade as a marketing windfall. At around 5pm, the International music switches to the parade soundtrack. Then there is still some time until the parade reaches this point of the park, which is a perfect time for the snack vendors, balloon girls, and a whole cart of nick souvenirs to make its way down the parade route. I noted one of the newest gimmick items is a plush dog on a stiff leash, so that you can walk your stuffed animal. I didn’t ask the price, but noted she only had 4 of them, so the individual markup must be quite nice, and they don’t expect to really sell a lot of them.

The parade eventually did make its way to Tower as identified by a park employee signaling the food and novelties vendors to scram. The parade started with flag bearers bearing the Nick flags, in this case really tall thin white flags with orange splotches. What followed was a parade of all sorts of acrobats, unicycle riders, and that was before the floats. The parade had floats from what I am guessing were several hit Nick shows, I am not a Nick fan, but I could tell the children around me instantly knew what they were looking at. Some of the characters even walked along the sides of the parade route shaking the kids hands. Operationally I noted the front of each float seemed to be made with a one way vision material. I know such material exists because I once stayed in a dumpy Las Vegas hotel that had the stuff covering their guest room windows. This dump had exterior corridors for the guest rooms, so that window treatment made it so that you could easily see OUT of the room but it was very hard if not impossible to see in. Walking right in front of this thin mesh material was a person who was giving signals to the float driver using much the same arm movements as the people who direct airplanes along the tarmac at airports. Again, while I don’t understand Nick all that well, I did note the park put on a nice parade, ending with some characters in giant size animal costumes, but then I remembered this was Nick, so even though Nick is passed its messy green slime era, they would have to toss something in. They did, right before the flag bearers at the end of the parade (with identical orange and white splotch flags) they had some character that had on a huge backpack randomly spraying water into the crowds. So yep I got sprayed during a parade. The park does such a nice job on the parade, it is a shame we only get it for one month, it is well received and would add something special to the park. After all, outside of Disney, how many other parks mount a daily parade. At the end of the parade, right behind the final flag bearers, there is a line of characters that hold a fancy rope that is clearly meant to mark. “This is the end of the parade” This is closely followed by security guards who are carrying a much simpler looking rope. After the guards, you have the usual phenomenon of seeing all the people who were watching the parade look like they have joined the parade as they try to move about the park. At at Disney park, this is when they would have workers quickly and skillfully pulling up the stanchions and winding the ropes up on cords to reopen the pathway, which gives the parade a little time to move out. Then Disney would be sending street cleaning machines to pck up the trash left by the parade spectators. Kings Island used a virtual army of sweepers who formed a solid wall across the midway as they cleaned up after the parade. As soon as the crowds died down sufficiently, I headed for Adventure Express.

Adventure Express was a walk on, so I walked right onto the third seat from the back, and noted the car still has its Arrow nameplate. Adventure Express is a ride that has shown it can live on its own merits, as the special effects placed alongside the track have mostly fallen into disrepair. I think some people reported the effects working on opening weekend, but by April23, they had already broken again. But never mind that the ride is a solid performer, with my favorite segment being from the top of the lift to the third tunnel. The final show tunnel seems to have lost all audio, most of the figures aren’t even lit up, some of the animated arms don’t work anyway, and the temple god at the top of the lift has been totally shut off. No longer does he threaten to pour molten lava on the train. Take a good look at this, because this is how the Italian Job and Tomb Raider show scenes are going to get. I noted they were offering rerides, but I decided to continue my tour.

I took a look at Slingshot, its one of those two person rides where they strap you into a chair, which they launch up into the air, then you bounce up and down a couple times, the unnerving part is the ride unit is only connected to the ride with a couple cables. It is normally priced at $25, but they had it marked down to $15, which is still way too much in my mind. I rode one of these in Florida earlier this year and thought that experience was underwhelming. I did note the entrance and exit ramps have been switched so that you exit near the on ride video booth.

I headed back to Action Zone to finish up the rides there. I noted Delirium’s queue was only partially through one switchback so decided to take a second ride on Delirium. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I didn’t see one train go over Son of Beast lift hill while waiting for Delirium, but then I am not in the habit of watching the other rides. So I boarded Delirium and had another great ride on it. I didn’t notice anything unusual about the ride, but as the ride ended they were making announcements that Delirium was closed. The rides exit gate also failed to unlock for awhile. When we were finally allowed to exit, I started to head towards Son of Beast when I saw a wall of police officers and security guards who made it very clear that part of the park was closed, so please turn around and head the other way, which was towards Oktoerfest.

I knew right away something bad had happened. I got the clue when I saw the stern looking law enforcement types clearing the area. Rides close down at times, but to clear the area I knew something special had to have happened. I decided to use my Phone-A-Friend to see if he had heard anything. He happened to be at Cedar Point so that meant he would not be able to see the news or the internet. He did suggest that I take a look from the top of tower. So I headed to the Eiffel Tower, I boarded an elevator and headed to the top. I figured I would not see anything because the park has been known to clear and close Tower when there is something they don’t want you to see. The Son of Beast side of tower was unusually popular, but as suspected there wasn’t anything interesting to see, except for seeing the total lack of action on Action Zone, this includes nobody even walking the midways. Not wanting to be too obvious I took a look at the park from the top of tower and had just gotten around to the International Street side when I started hearing the sirens. I looked around the service areas visible from Tower, but something caught my eye in the parking lot. Rather than the ambulances enter the park via the Columbia Ave service entrance, they had entered through the parking lot exit and were heading down the middle of the parking lot, which would explain the need for sirens as they were needing to get through the parking area. I saw them head across the park and enter the service area and go to the First Aid building, but they did not stay there long when they headed back out into the parking lot and looked like they were heading to Timberwolf. I also noted that people were being admitted into Action Zone again, so maybe some on the ground recon would be better.

I rode back down in the elevator leaving the 1/3rd scale model Eiffell Tower, a look alike landmark to the one in Paris, France. I made my way back to Action Zone, and proceeded to walk all the way back to near the Son of Beast entrance. I noted the cornhole game has been replaced by a short range basketball game utilizing portable childrens backyard basketball hoops. I also noted a sign posted at the unguarded Son of Beast entrance indicating that the ride was temporarily closed, and that a bench had been placed blocking the Top Gun entrance. In other words, nothing to see here. I decided to make a restroom stop, and I overheard a bit more background information in the restroom building while occupying a toilet stall. Nothing more than the speculations that have already been posted to various websites, but just a reminder that before you talk gossip in a restroom building, you might want to know who else is in there. I exited the restroom, and bought a handful of candy from the gas pump theme candy machine sitting out front. I munched on the candy while standing by the Skycoaster. Pretty soon I would not have to resort to listening in on conversations as my phone started ringing. I was taking calls from concerned friends and relatives. I asked them what had hit the news. To give you an idea of how bad the early news was, they were telling me that a train had slammed to a stop right before the loop, sending a trainload of riders to the hospital. So I was within eyesight of Son of Beast, taking calls about Son of Beast and getting more information than the park was willing to share.

Top Gun had still not reopened, and the area had thinned out, so I headed towards Face/Off, on the way I bought a bottle of Coke from the On Location store. They have the larger 24 oz. Bottles for $3.50. I also got an idea how well their higher priced soft drinks are selling when I looked at the bottle and noted it was nearing its expiration date. I continued to Face/Off and noted the queue was back through one switchback, which was just about the right time for me to finish a 24oz. Coke by the time I hit the loading area. I noted the end seat line was no longer than any other lane, so I opted for the seat nearest the control booth. A few cycles later I was off on this Vekoma inverted boomerang adventure. I must report, however, that the ride from this particular seat was very smooth, with a lot of strong g-forces.

Face/Off may be a low capacity ride but it is a very fun ride. Shame the park didn’t purchase two of them. Having ridden Face/Off, I went to check and see if Top Gun had reopened. I noted the Skycoasterwas priced at $15.00. As I have seen this particular Skycoaster has been known to commonly run $10 specials, and occasional $5 specials, I decided to pass on it. Top Gun was open, and as you might expect I walked clear back into the station and onto the ride. I did take notes along the way, such as the fact that the large flag painted on the wall in the tunnel under the service road seems to have escaped with minimal graffiti, so maybe they are still things people hold sacred. I won’t rant again on the almost entire removal of the Top Gun theming, or the closure of the well themed aircraft carrier tour queue house, or even the lack of the artificial smoke that used to follow each dispatch to make the station look like the deck on an aircraft carrier right after launch, or even the loss of the neat 3D billboard, because I have made those rants numerous times already.

Last year I noted the park had kept the very large very oversize American flag in the disused downstairs queue house, last fall on a ride when the line was actually backed up far enough for me to stop at the curve right before the stairs up to the station I noted how that particular flag was done up like a tarp with rows of grommets down each vertical edge. At least one grommet per stripe, a most unusual treatment for a flag, unless they had intended for it to be stretched out and used like the tarplike fabric walls used in the station. Today, I noted that flag has been removed, possibly they found a better use for it in their large Star Spangled Banner celebration last week, then decided to just put it into storage since it really could not be seen anyway, then I got to thinking about the missing flags in front of Wings and maybe after said Star Spangled Banner celebration the crew that went through the park taking down all the extra patriotic decorations took some of he regular decorations down by mistake,

I made my way up to the station and took advantage of a real short line to take a front seat ride. On the way up the lift I noticed the progress on the Great Wolf Lodge, looks like the are working on that indoor waterpark now. The front seat in particular is best at giving that no track under you feeling. Since Top Gun’s theme is almost all gone it is quite evident the ride can stand on its own merit. It may be a short ride, but it is a fun and intense ride. Son of Beast actually adds to Top Gun with the close lift hill and transfer table fly bys. The ride returned to the station and I made my way up the very long exit ramp. You see top gun was another ride set far off the main walkway and uses the very long non adjustable queue trail.

I looked at Son of Beast as I exited Top Gun, and could see one train on the lift hill, further along I saw the other train in the station. Coming up the last part of the Top Gun exit, I noted a crew still busily working in the Son of Beast on-ride photo booth, which is odd considering the ride hadn’t operated for the last few hours. After I was back on the midway, I found a queit corner, which was actually the Son of Beasts greeter area to rephone my mystery friend and keep him updated on the situation. We wound up talking about recent vacations we both had taken as I started walking around Kings Island and he was walking around Cedar Point, When we broke off, I was heading into Coney Mall.

I realized I had not yet ridden forwards Racer this visit, so I headed up to a walk on wait for seat 5.1. It was your average braked Racer ride not much activity to report here. Then I went and took a ride on backwards Racer in seat 5.3. I lowered the lap bar to the first click, which is where I had it on my first backwards Racer ride and was informed the bar needed to be in the second notch. Now, I’m sure its clear that I know full well about the two click policy on Racer and Beast, but I am also well aware of the very inconsistent enforcement of the two click policy, so since there is still a very real possibility they will let me ride in the more comfortable one click position, I am going to try for it, Other than that, the most noteworthy thing on that backwards Racer ride was the crew was already well into dismantling the tents for the Nick parade floats.

I started to head down Coney Mall, I noticed the line for Monster seemed to be short so I got in line for Monster. This year they have added safety pins which check the release lever on the front of the tub. Between unfastening the pins and refastening the pins, the load times on Monster have greatly increased. So I wound up waiting longer than I expected, but I was rewarded with a good Monster ride. Monster is another example of where to get airtime at Kings Island as the tubs bounce up and down an. the go round and round After Monster I went over to join a 1 cycle wait for Scrambler. Scrambler runs at a decent speed for a park model, but slower than carnival owned units. My quest to ride as many different rides today as I could was starting to look hopeful. I had cleared Rivertown, Nick Universe (okay, I guess technically I could have ridden Lazytown Sporticopters, Plankton’s Plunge and the water maze, but I mean to say I rode as many ‘adult’ rides as I could), Action Zone (I wont count Son of Beast since it was closed), and all of Oktoberfest. All that are left are the Dodgems, Zephyr, Action FX Theater, Shake Rattle and Roll and Carousel. It is also getting close to 9PM and the park closes at 10PM.

I walked down to Dodgems and found a walk on situation. I found a car sat down, and proceeded to jam my head and one arm through the insanely too small “safety strap”. I mean it felt like one good crash from behind would be enough to choke the living crap out of my windpipe, the loop felt like it might have been just a tad looser than what a hangman’s noose might be like. Kings Island has adjusted for this by making sure they have the slowest bumper cars in the country, which means they just sort of tap each other not bump, and you hardly even realize you have been bumped. It also runs an insanely short cycle. It is an easily forgettable Dodgems ride that I usually pass up.

I next headed to the Zephyr. I found a one cycle wait here and an enthusiastic crew. When it was my turn I headed for the swings, I took a seat and after a bit of a struggle got the safety strap attached. Looking around the ride I noted something odd. It seems that some seats have a two piece safety strap, while some have a one piece strap that connects to a loop rigidly fastened to the lapbar. I wonder if the two-piece belts offer any more accommodation for larger riders. I noted I was in a seat with the one piece strap. The ride started and Zephyr is a consistent crowd pleaser. I enjoyed it and noted that the Nick Central parade tents seemed to have been totally removed.

The ride came to an end, so I next headed for the Action FX Theater. I entered the line for Action FX Theater and took the only open lane, the right lane for the Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera. Earlier I noted the fact the park has two motion movie theaters but decided to only staff one at any given time. That decision might come from the fact the ride isn’t very popular. There were only a small handful of people waiting to see the next showing of the HB movie, and some of them left when they learned it wasn’t going to be the Spoungebob movie. It saddens me, but possibly they are right youth these days just don’t relate with the HB characters, in much the same way I don’t relate to the Nick characters.

I have a suspicion that this attraction was purchased secondhand from Universal Studios Florida as they used to have a very similar attraction, sure they used a cabin based simulator instead of the Iwerks system, but it seems this year Iwerks has released it to just about every major client of theirs. The preshow starts off with Yogi and Boo Boo talking about animation, then we cut to a scene where Hanna and Barbera themselves give a quick lesson on animation. They sketch Elroy from the Jetsons, add color and talk about how that was the old days of animation, now its done by computer, and they have the computer render Dick Dasterdly. They note that Dick Dasterdly is obsolete, which he doesn’t take kindly to, and kidnapps Elroy. And takes him into the computer. At this point the shows gives a definite cue that you have to hurry and try to save Elroy, join us just through the open doors in front of you. A leftover from the original Universal implementation, now the preshow just loops and the doors open whenever its time. The small group assembled enters the auditorium and finds seats. While waiting for the show start I was pleased to hear a song I have not heard in Kings Island for close to 25 years. Yep, they have “All in my TV” the theme song from the original Enchanted Voyage playing as cover music while they load the auditorium and check seatbelts.

The movie starts, and its your typical motion ride expeirnce, you start off by getting launched our of the launcher with a rubber band by Yogi, then you go wind up in the stone age with the Flintsones chasing after Dick and Elroy. You get reminded of some classic Flintstones gags, like their foot powered car, the scene changes to a graveyward and Ghostly Manor for the Scooby Doo segment, then another scenen change to the future world of the Jetsons, including a stop at a futuristic amusement park so they can work in the obligatory motion movie rollercoaster scene. Of course they eventually save Elroy, and Dick is seen going to jail. The show ends as you crash into a ginat cushion that reads “The End”: just like the whole Cinema 180 days. I exited the auditorium, walked through a small arcade, and headed up the long exit walkway.

As I was heading back into Coney, I decided to take another ride on Vortex. It was a near walk on, so I opted for a ride in 2.1 for a change of pace, as I usually ride in 7.1 for the airtime. I received the standard consistent Vortex ride and then noting the time to be just shy of 9:40, I headed around and took a spin on Shake Rattle and Roll (Trokia). Torika was a walk on and was being loaded as I entered the ride, Troika is another one of those consistent ride experiences, something like a 3D scrambler. As the ride ended I notched that one off the ride list.

I exited Shake Rattle and Roll, and went to take a ride on Flying Ealges. Yep, I realize they are gone, but I just had to work in another reference to them. Don’t say “Get over it”. I headed down the ramp past Italian Job and realized it was 9:45. It was at this point that I decided to ditch trying to ride the Carousel to complete the set and headed back to Beast. Beast was again a walk on, but I learned my lesson. No back car ride for me, no sir. I went back to seat 2.1. I did note the park had already removed the Speed Lane signage and reopened the second queue lane for all riders. I think the seat 2.1 ride was way more tolerable than the back seat, but I wish the park would lose some of the lights along the ride. I mean this ride is known as a great night ride for that in the woods, in the dark feeling, Can we lose some of the lights and restore that great feeling? When we returned to the ready brakes, the station ahead was totally clear, I even looked on the transfer track to see if a train had been pulled off. Nope, they are meeting interval. That in itself shows promise that possibly the new owners can do something right.

I exited Beast, and noted the time to be 9:55. I decided against taking another Beast ride and started heading towards the front of the park. I took the path by Italian Job, and made it to the floral clock when the fireworks show started. Darn, and that carousel was just in sight to. The announcement made some mention of the fireworks show being a tribute to the movies of Paramount which may explain the movie soundtrack being used. The fireworks show was your typical 3-5 minute park closing fireworks show. Problem was it didn’t have that exclamation point at the end, no big finale, it just ended. The people standing around me were like “is that it?, where’s the finale?”

After the fireworks show, I headed up International Street, returned to the parking lot, purchased a can of Coke for $1.00 from a machine, and headed home with a stop at White Castles along the way.

Next Week- July 16, I’m back at PKI again, Yes there will be another TR, no it won’t be near as long as this one.

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville
My Blog ->

john peck's avatar
Sheesh! How long did it take you to write this? I do like your information on the history of things, though.
CoastersNSich's avatar
Very good TR. Long yet VERY readable! I was there too that day, but only from 4:45 til 6:15 pm - just after the SOB incident happened. I also wanted my first and last look of the season of the parade. Fun time.

Dental Plan! Lisa Needs Braces.

Whoa. That was a long TR. Very interesting though, it looks like you know A LOT about PKI.
Hey, quick question. I am going to PKI next week for my first visit since 2001, and im wodering, just how lighted is the Beast? Because I remember it being very dark way back there, and I remember the tunnels to be pitch dark. Im just wondering how much more lighted it is now than it was back then.

The Millenium Force ride Ops: Squishing you where it counts since 2000. Track Record: 89 coasters
Well they have flood lights all along the ravine section between tunnel 2 and the second lift hill. There are also lights in a few other strategic places.

I mean it isn't lit up like its daylight out, but the era of not being able to see your hands in front of your face is over.

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville
My Blog ->

The Mole's avatar
Great dissertation, I mean TR ;)
Just curious, when would you say they got the lights? Because maybe it was the same since my visit in 2001, or have they been added since then?

The Millenium Force ride Ops: Squishing you where it counts since 2000. Track Record: 89 coasters
So is the Movie Theater always run that way where SpongeBob runs till 4 PM and then HB from 4 to close? Every time we go back there to see HB it was closed but that may explain it. They should just post a sign at the entrance saying so, so you dont waste a walk back there to find out.

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