Kings Island - two quick visits 6/4 and 6/6

Associated parks:
Kings Island, Mason, Ohio, USA

Getting back into the coaster/park hobby after a couple years hiatus (lots of pinball, but hey, I made it on the internet.. 4th in C div :D ) The addition of a shiny new GCI just down the road definitely helped reorient priorities.. So, gold pass vouchers purchased and printed, Sunday night, ten minutes til 8, let's go see what's in the shed...

Arrived at the park 10 min after 8, BF and I were through processing in two minutes flat. Very impressed with the speed and efficiency of the KI pass crew. In the park, off to Mystic Timbers. The entrance area is nicely done and the "crashed" pickup is easy to spot. I liked the queuing area.. small sets of switchbacks with a relatively curvy entry walkway, some areas already shaded and saplings planted between the paths. This will turn out very nice as the trees mature. Some of the picket fencing was already coming loose - need to use screws, not finishing nails.

Wait was 15-20 min, got to the station and found two train operation. The shed adds to the ride time, and the station was generally empty for 15-30 seconds after dispatch, so three train operation is certainly feasible. Trains are green, gold and blue (blue was unused). Operations were friendly and efficient, and the end-of-line op granted our request for front seat (first ride). I was looking forward to riding a "proper" GCI, as our only prior experience with GCI and Millennium Flyers were a bunch of rides on Roar at SFDK. Unfortunatley, Roar was in bad shape at the time.. the chainlift sent the cars over the hill at the absolute sloooowest possible speed, the track was rough, and the ride sounded (and felt) like every bolt in the train was backed out a few turns. MT is brand new, so I expected a great ride.

Verdict: MT delivers in spades. Short but intense, with plenty of twists and turns and gentle floater air over each hill. Reminded me of a miniature version of Voyage's return trip .. after the 2nd drop, you don't really come off the ground much til the brake run. Good pacing and a nice tunnel for the turnaround. With Racer and Beast being comprised mostly of straightaways, this coaster fills a big gap that existed at KI.

After MT, we went down the path and caught a ride on Diamondback. Wait was 10 min and that included a couple extra cycles for the very back row. DB is the same DB I remember each year I've been since it opened.. very consistent, very good ride. Intense ejector air in the back over the first drop and just a good ride overall. Still possible to get a good upper body soaking if you (are short and) twist around just as the train hits the splash pool. Hidden water ride in the dry park for those steamy hot days!

Jogged back to MT just in time to catch the end of the line before they closed the queue. Wound up in the very back seat on the very last train of the night. THIS is the seat to ride in. Airtime is much nicer, although still more floaty than ejector (this isn't a bad thing, see DB if you want your stomach in your throat). Darkness plus unfamiliarity made for a very exciting out and back.

The shed effects are fun, and a little better than I expected. Interesting note, the middle of the train is the best place to be for the shed's visuals and timing. Guess that's a consolation prize if you get stuck with a middle seat during busy times. If you're bringing a younger kid on the ride for the first time, you may want to consider a middle seat for the best shed experience, then move to the better-riding positions once the shed is "known" to them.

I returned to the park by myself Tuesday AM to catch gold pass ERT. Got to the gold-pass checkpoint around 9:35 and caught MT with a 10 minute wait.. popular ERT it seems. I scored the back seat and found the daytime ride almost as enjoyable, although nighttime helps both with the ride (hard to see where you're going) and the shed.. seems there's a bit of light leakage? Still pretty cool. Queue was at least 15-20 min when I exited, still before 10am (REALLY popular ERT), so moved on to Beast. Happy to report it's also running well. The speed is good, trims aren't too bad, and the 2nd lift is sending the train down at the highest speed I remember in the last decade. Another plus: it's roughened up a bit. What, that's a plus?? Absolutely. Early last year it was freshly rebuilt, and so damn smooth it just seemed wrong. The Beast SHOULD be rough. The back seat (first ride) SHOULD beat you up a little in the double-helix, because if it doesn't, what's the point? Might as well ride the railroad through the woods. It's not awful, and the front seat (second ride) was tame enough for most wood-o-phobics (and for the true phobics, the 3-row PTCs have that nice cushy middle row). I truly miss SOB and it's nice to see Papa returning to form in its absence.

Last ride of the short day was Flight of Fear, and once again I was pleased with the experience. Queue effects are minimal (some TVs and LED lights) but so was the queue itself. The inside lights are dim and the ride is running well, and the first half is still disorienting enough you can't quite tell which way is up or down til the MCBR. These brakes are no longer bringing the train to a full stop, instead just scrubbing off a bit of speed, so the 2nd half of the ride is as intense as it's ever been. Pat can't fit in this thing (legs are too long) so I snag rides when he's not accompanying. Lack of OTSRs really helped make this rideable, except for folks like him who cannot quite fold into the required Z position in the seats...

Overall, very happy with the park so far!

Dale K's avatar

metallik said:

Getting back into the coaster/park hobby after a couple years hiatus (lots of pinball, but hey, I made it on the internet.. 4th in C div.

I am still glad that pinball is starting to make a come back/hanging around. I tried doing the tournaments but just couldnt keep up with all of it.

Boesball's avatar

I agree that Diamondback is a great coaster, perhaps my favorite B&M hyper, but I've always found its air time to be rather overrated. Diamondback probably has the most air time of any B&M I've ridden, but it's still almost all floater besides the first drop. It's more graceful than intense. What's the appeal everyone has to these B&M hypers because I don't see how Diamondback is better than the park's number three coaster?

El Toro #1, 100th coaster: Gatekeeper

I don't try to chase down all the tournaments, but I do like to hit Pinburgh due to the match-play aspect, as opposed to lots of qualifying. I did like PAPA when it was in the summer, since you could break from qualifying and run to Kennywood. If you like competitive play, there's almost certainly a nearby league or tournament you could participate in without too much effort or running around. Check the IFPA calendar for events near you.

Sort of back on subject, does CP still have pins in its big arcade? KI is still a wasteland of redemption, and I don't know of any other park that has pins like CP did... They played pretty good for location games last time I was there.

Boesball: Agree that the big air is mostly the first drop, but in the rear it's definitely pretty intense. I don't mind the floater through the rest of the ride, and I don't have a lot of other B&M hypers under my belt for comparison yet. I don't know if the GP would like much more ejector... I've seen plenty of barf stains on the metal catwalk around the brake run/turnaround...

Last edited by metallik,
Boesball's avatar

I've ridden four or five B&M hypers, and they are basically all the same, with Diamondback being a bit better because of its layout and splash down and Raging Bull being a bit worse with it's lacking of ever floater air time besides its first drop. The GP loves B&M hypers because they're tall, fast, and good looking. They also eat a lot of people due to high capacity and fast loading. I just don't see the appeal though. I prefer B&M inverts to hyper by a lot. These B&M hypers just don't seem intense.

El Toro #1, 100th coaster: Gatekeeper

Jeff's avatar

The long-train B&M hypers do not ride like the four-across trains.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Dale K's avatar

I work with a lot of people from Germany and India and they always ask me "what amusement park should we go to other then Cedar Point?" because most of them have already been there. I always tell them Kings Island because of not only the park itself but also make sure to hit the Cincinnati Zoo and EnterTRAINment, (which is the nerdiest yet coolest place). They always come back and say "Why isnt this park talked about more? its a great park with some really great coasters.) I try to explain the Paramount years and tell them that they basically stripped the soul out of Kings Island and Kings Island is playing catch up now.

As far as Diamond back goes, still one of my favorite steel coaster out there. I went to SFGA last summer and rode Raging Bull and gotta say what a disappoint compared to DB. I felt it was really slow especially around the corners, to the point where it seemed like it would stop..

*side note* I received my membership card today, Thank you.

EnterTRAINment Junction is indeed a very cool place. A highlight there for all of us is a representative, but rather detailed working model of Cincinnati's Coney Island. Absolutely awesome, I could've stood there all day watching.
There's also a funhouse with some clever stunts and other touches that I really liked as well. Not to mention the miles and miles of model train vignettes that cover a broad history.
It's right off of 75, and not too far of a side trip from KI.

The reason that the B&M hypers are so popular is that they manage to bring a lot of things to the table without also taking things off of it.

Guests love them because the restraints are comfortable, are extremely re-rideable and just flat out fun. The big Morgan hypers have comfortable trains, but they don't have good airtime (Phantom's Revenge and Steel Eel excluded). Intamin hypers (and the RMC coasters) have good airtime but have uncomfortable restraints which reduces their re-rideability. B&M gives you the whole package - comfortable trains, good airtime and high re-rideability factor. Above all else guests want rides that they can enjoy comfortably, which ironically enough is why the Intamin that rides most like a B&M - Millennium Force - has been the most popular ride at Cedar Point since it opened. It's also the top rated Intamin steel coaster in the Coasterbuzz Top 100 coaster list. Those things probably aren't coincidental.

If Millennium Force (my personal favorite) rides like a B&M, I look forward to finally riding a few B&M hypers this year.

Do any of the other B&M hypers look as grimy as Diamondback? What's with the orange clamshell being so nasty filthy?

Last edited by ShaneDenmark,

But then again, what do I know?

Boesball's avatar

MF does not ride like a B&M. It rides like an Intamin. It has similar overbanks to Xelerator at Knotts, high speed sections like Superman Ride of Steel, and the air time hills are more closely similar to Superman the ride.

El Toro #1, 100th coaster: Gatekeeper

What you're saying is true to a large extent - Millennium Force is no doubt an Intamin coaster. With that said, the coasters you mentioned were all designed at least 15 years ago under an Intamin company that produced much different coasters then than they do now.

I've ridden all the coasters mentioned in the post. I can't think of a single coaster on that list I would put on the same intensity level as Intamin's more recent stuff in the US - Maverick, I305, Skyrush. The Supermen trio and Millennium Force are much less aggressive, particularly when it comes to positive g-forces, than their more recent coasters. Other than the overbank that follows the first drop, Millennium Force was designed to be graceful. That graceful ride is one of the reasons why it's so popular, because it lacks the intensity (i.e., positive Gs) that defines so many of their current rides.

It's that same lack of intensity that make the B&M hypers so popular. There's not a single B&M hyper that you have to ride defensively. You do not have to ride Millennium Force defensively. A lot of enthusiasts bash Millennium Force for not being "forceless", but that's the reason why a lot of people like it! You can ride it all day and just enjoy it. You don't need special techniques for handling a ride on it. Even Fury 325 - the most aggressive hyper B&M currently offers - is still remarkably re-rideable. So is Millennium Force. I think they share many of the same characteristics.

rollergator's avatar

Jeff said:

The long-train B&M hypers do not ride like the four-across trains.

I'm a big fan of the 4-across...probably because that's what Goliath oG runs. ;~P

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

I rode Millennium Force several times this morning and (like every other year) was reminded again of how much I love that ride. It always seems faster, smoother, and overall more awesome than I remember.
I've ridden many Intamin rides and favorites include Superman/Bizarro/Superman and Skyrush. Maverick is just ok for me, but I don't dislike it. Same with I305. But I always come back to MF as my all-time. The first drop after an awesome lift and the rideability factor (as Gary Dowdell mentions) are probably reasons why.

Dale and RCMAC, thanks for the info on EnterTRAINMent.. I drive by that place all the time and always wondered how a model train shop could stay in business so long. Now that I know it's got a lot more going on inside, I'm going to make it a point to visit there soon. Travel trip for visitors: just up I75, the Monroe exit (63) offers a smorgasbord of: two huge fleamarkets (3 gun shops in treasure aisles), a megachurch (former home of Touchdown Jesus, til He burnt down in an inferno), a Hustler superstore, 2 big truck stops, a giant outlet mall, a horse racing track and a casino. Something for everyone!

Shane: agree about the griminess of DB. I don't know if the material is hard to clean, or if KI is just getting lazy. When I rode last week, I got lucky with a recently replaced seatback, whereas the neighboring seat's restraint had orange-tape repairs and the seat itself was brown with crud. Just looks like haphazard maintenance; not a good impression for guests :(

Boesball said:

I've ridden four or five B&M hypers, and they are basically all the same, with Diamondback being a bit better because of its layout and splash down and Raging Bull being a bit worse with it's lacking of ever floater air time besides its first drop.

I'm not sure how many I personally have been on, but also quite a few, and I will agree with you that Raging Bull is lower on that list while Diamondback is higher. I actually DON'T like the splash down effect on Diamondback to be honest, and I think it's not a strong finish. I know I'm going to be biased since it's my home park, but I think the way Shambhala does it with the timed water jets is cooler... Also because you actually see them while you are riding instead of it happening behind you.

As far as the floater airtime is concerned, I also think Shambhala is where they figured it out... I don't know about the rest of the newer B&M hypers that opened after Diamondback, but Shambhala really serves some ejector air. I like where the company is going with that product.

Eric & Álvaro
YouTube: Eric y Álvaro Van A

I think Diamondback's splash is not so much for the riders' enjoyment, but more for the spectators. (Although I have gotten a sleeve or two soaked from a ride in the back seat, which btw, was not my goal)
Plus Diamondback's splash is a free service using a simple device that doesn't require things like electricity and maintenance.
I always think the fountain spray "splashes" on Shambala, Manta, etc look rather fake.

ApolloAndy's avatar

SFoG's Goliath is my favorite of the 5 I have ridden. No MCBR means solid air throughout.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I've ridden Nitro, SFOGoliath, Leviathan, and Behemoth, I think that's all.

Behemoth and Nitro are virtually indistinguishable for me - but I got just one lap on the former. Nitro I've ridden a million times. SFoGoliath is fantastic partially because it's a great ride and partially because it has the best placement of any coaster ever (that I've ridden). It basically dives in and out of the middle of the park, giving fabulous visuals. Also, no MCBR.

Leviathan is the best of my limited experience but it's also much taller and really caries a lot of speed. I've only gotten two laps on it though.

Last edited by Vincent Greene,
Hmrapp's avatar

I loved how you mentioned that the back seat offers different airtime than the other rows. I have ridden Mystie only five times, three laps in the middle, one lap in the second row, and one lap in the back row. The back by far was the most enjoyable row of the ride. It offered strong ejector, yet provided smooth floater airtime as well. This aspect diversifies the ride and deepens the experience.

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