Midwest Coaster Tour Part 2 of 2: GCII Continues to Outdo Themselves with Mystic Timbers

Associated parks:
Kings Island, Mason, Ohio, USA

Thursday, June 29, 2017 5:37 PM

After a stay in what seemed to be a shady part of Cincinnati, my wife and I headed to Kings Island for our second day of coaster-riding goodness. The goal was to do a sort of back-to-front trek through the park, but as always seems to be the case, we wound up heading straight for Banshee, perhaps the ride that inspired the selection of this part of the country for the trip in the first place as it would, at this point, put me down to just two B&Ms in the US that I'd have left to ride and also complete my US invert list. We wound up right in the middle of the train with a pretty minimal wait, which was very encouraging.

Banshee was very impressive. It was probably the ultimate mega-invert, delivering intensity from start to finish the way that only Raptor seemed able to accomplish, but with more exciting and exhilarating maneuvers. At no point did it feel sluggish, and no maneuver seemed like a meandering way to get you from one spot to the next. Even the turnarounds at the end still had a good amount of forcefulness to them. It made my top three inverts, and considering how highly I think of my number one (the B-TR clones) and two (Afterburn), this is no small achievement. It's far and away the park's best steel coaster, and to me, it's probably the first real stand-out of its respective type since The Bat. Enjoy that controversial claim. ;)

Given the proximity to The Bat, we made that our next ride. My wife was very surprised by the intensity of it, and I just had an absolute blast. It's not only the best ride of its type, but it's also just an exceptional steel coaster, period. I feel like it gets overlooked in the midst of more statistically impressive rides, but I hope Kings Island keeps it running for many years to come. I really liked it on my first lap on it twelve years ago, and I still have a soft spot for it.

My wife had suggested that we do specifically what we came to the park to do first, so after our brief side excursion to The Bat, we headed over to Mystic Timbers. This ride was really the only one we rode that had any appreciable wait, with a line of about thirty minutes on this lap as well as an encore later in the day.

Folks...oh my gosh...this ride is beyond incredible. GCII only gets better and better, and just when you ride something like Prowler and think they can't possibly improve upon themselves, they throw you a ride like this. Mystic Timbers was non-stop action from start to finish, essentially being a super-Prowler, with more intensity and more excitement. I think one of the highlight moments for me was cresting an airtime hill on the outbound portion of the ride and glimpsing the tunnel entrance straight ahead, but looking down and seeing an almost incomprehensible zig-zag set of maneuvers to position us to it. I also loved the portion right before the brake run where the ride dives down to the river and, instead of just having a little straightaway, banks and bounces for some added air and disorientation before rocketing up to the brakes. As for what's in the shed, well, it's not my place to say, but it was clever and fun.

Personally, I feel like GCII is the king of the hill as far as wooden coasters go, and maybe as far as coaster design in general goes. Those Millennium Flyers afford their rides durability and maneuverability, and where some companies have their high points and low points as far as the quality of designs that they put out, GCII has only gotten better year after year. Mystic Timbers became the highlight ride of the trip.

We took a bit of a break after Mystic Timbers, allowing my wife some time to recuperate. After the much-needed breather, though, we headed off to Diamondback. We both really enjoyed it, and I think she appreciated the first real graceful coaster of the trip. It's good fun, but it's size belies a tameness that unfortunately keeps me from considering it a superstar. I gave it a similar review when I first rode it five years ago, and yes, I gave it five stars in my track record, but it doesn't set my world on fire the way some others do. It's a good fit for a park that, until its debut, didn't really have anything earth-shattering on the steel front, but especially given that it's located at Kings Island with some exceptional terrain, I feel like it could have and should have been more.

Last up as far as new credits for my wife was The Beast. She was impressed with the gracefulness of this one as well, and I think it makes for a cool signature coaster for the park given just how different it is than so many others, but it was an easy one-and-done for us.

We had some park-priced Chick-fil-A for lunch, and then we headed off toward Banshee so I could scoop up an encore lap. The line was even shorter this time with only a station wait, and I was able to pick up an open seat in the front row. The ride was even more exhilarating up here, and I have to commend Kings Island on this purple and blue giant. It's so imposing and fierce, and I honestly could power-ride this thing all day. It's absolutely fantastic.

We looped back around the back of the park again, this time with a stop at Vortex so I could celebrate it hitting the big 3-0. Sadly, I feel like it's a ride that I have to convince myself I like. I like Arrow megaloopers because of their imposing nature, what with those box-beam supports and loops high up in the air making them seem so grand, but gosh, they just don't ride well thanks to poor trackwork (how did Toomer not understand that bottoming out of a drop that goes in a straight line while banked sideways was a bad idea?) and restraints that just aren't positioned well over the shoulders. It's cool as far as throwbacks go, but it definitely had the feeling of a ride from days gone by. I told my wife, who I think I mentioned in my Holiday World trip report has a distaste for inversions, that she should probably skip Vortex, and for her sake, I'm glad she did.

I had hoped to ride WindSeeker, one of my favorite non-coaster rides anywhere, but it was down for the ironic reason that often causes downtime for it: winds. Hoping to make it back on the road at a good hour, we headed back for the final ride of the trip and the only encore that my wife shared with me: Mystic Timbers. Every bit the legendary ride that it was the first time, it was a spectacular conclusion to our day at the park. We hit the road for Louisville, arriving there in time for a yummy dinner at a taco place downtown.

We stayed at an airbnb just outside the University of Louisville called Hawk's Eyre (I think I've got the name right, but PM me if you want more details), and it was so good that my wife said she could've spent several days in Louisville just because of how nice the place was. It was a converted upper floor of a two-story house, and it was riddled with evidence that the owners had a real heart for hospitality. A great DVD selection was on offer, so we watched The Count of Monte Cristo before calling it a night. We stopped at a place called Wagners just outside Churchill Downs the following morning for breakfast, and then headed up the street to the airport for our flight home. I was a bit bummed about skipping Kentucky Kingdom, but with my wife's eager seal of approval, I know we'll be back and we'll visit the park at that time.

Ultimately, it was a great trip, and despite my wife not sharing my passion for regional parks and roller coasters, she really enjoyed herself, and I think she got some added enjoyment out of seeing me in my element. As I might have mentioned, the only non-Disney park outside of the Orlando area that I've experienced since moving to Orlando was Carowinds two years ago, so I had an added level of appreciation for even getting to go on this trip in the first place. There's no doubt that there will be more, but it was a great opportunity to experience with my wife what I spent many years usually experiencing alone.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:47 PM

Out of curiosity, what are the two B&Ms in the US that you have not ridden?

Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:50 PM

Valravn and Wildfire. I'm tentatively planning on visiting Cedar Point next year, which would cover Valravn for me. As for Wildfire, I hope to get it next year as well, but Branson just really isn't that close to anywhere the airline for which I work flies.

Thursday, June 29, 2017 9:45 PM

Great TR! Your review of Mystic Timbers make it sound like GCI took the best parts of the woodie I rode in China earlier this year and removed the "average parts". That woodie is the "Python in Bamboo Forest" and it is at the Wanda Theme Park in Nanchang. It is over 5000 feet long and 160 feet tall and I call it 2/3 of the best wooden coaster ever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_M0aNezTek for a POV.

Basically, the first drop to the first turnaround is absolutely epic with crazy airtime and direction changes. The drop off the turnaround to the deep turn in the structure was boring with pointless turns and no airtime. The weird turn was insane and the ending run as good as the one on Boulder Dash. What it sounds like that by keeping Mystic Timbers at a manageable 3400 feet long, GCI was able to get an amazing ride with no dead spot.

I need to ride Banshee sooner than later as my goal is to ride every B&M Inverted in the world. I already rode 20 and I am only missing 14, with at least 3-4 on my radar this summer.

Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:53 PM

Your description of Mystic Timbers is pretty spot-on, especially with the part about there being no dead spot. It literally just didn't stop. I think of rides like Afterburn and Boulder Dash with their brief moments of reprieve (the hill over the base of the lift on Afterburn and Boulder Dash's far turnaround) and how it's almost nice to get a break on those, but Mystic Timbers robs you of any hope of relief from the exceptional onslaught. It's a masterpiece of design methodology, and I applaud GCII for not resorting to gimmicks or special maneuvers to boost the quality of their rides, instead just relying on unpredictability and maneuvers that repeatedly hit you with forces, often both vertical and lateral at the same time.

As for Banshee, it's a nice return to forcefulness for them after some of their more lackluster recent endeavors into the looping world. It doesn't have the brutality of a lot of their smaller inverts, but as far as the mega-inverts go, I don't think I've ridden one that kept its foot on the gas the whole way through like this one. For starters, you blast through six inversions without any sort of a break, and then the inline roll itself is bookended by high-speed, high-g turns. That lack of a MCBR makes Banshee a bit of an endurance test in a very good way.

Friday, June 30, 2017 1:23 PM

Isn't it amazing how much fun an old Arrow Suspended can be? It's just that a lot of peoples' experiences with them are Iron Dragon at CP and they get a bad rap.

Love to hear all of the positive reviews of Mystic Timbers. We hope to drive down there later in the summer, but might try to do Carowinds instead.

sirloindude said:

Branson just really isn't that close to anywhere the airline for which I work flies.

Nonsense. It's a 3 - 4 hour drive from KMCI, KLIT, KSTL, and KTUL, all of which LUV flies into,and all of which have parks you can visit on your way in or out. (The "K's" are for us "Aviation Nerds." Or whatever I was called.)

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Friday, June 30, 2017 1:50 PM
Friday, June 30, 2017 1:31 PM

Three to four hours is a long drive in my book. ;)

However, I found the three-hour drive from Holiday World to Cincy to be an absolutely wonderful, pleasant drive, so maybe it won't be as bad as I thought.

Friday, June 30, 2017 1:51 PM

We found the drive from Little Rock to Branson beautiful. It's all on rolling hills on 2-lane highways. Worth it.

Friday, June 30, 2017 4:23 PM

LIT - Little Rock....D'oh, you'd have thought I could have figured that out without looking it up.

I'll blame it on the acronym already being in the lexicon of adult beverages...

Friday, June 30, 2017 4:33 PM

I can confirm that the description given of Mystic Timbers is exactly as you have stated. We loved this ride on our family trip and this coaster more than delivers. It never lets up and has some crazy changes of direction that I was assuming was going to be uncomfortable, but was pleasantly surprised by how smooth those changes are.Great trip report!

Last edited by extremecoasterdad, Friday, June 30, 2017 4:34 PM
Saturday, July 1, 2017 12:25 AM

What part of Cincinnati did you stay in that concerned you?

Saturday, July 1, 2017 5:45 AM

It was out by The Christ Hospital. We stayed at the corner of Auburn and McGregor. The parking was less than ideal, the apartment building was pretty run-down, and, given the process of picking up the key, not all that secure.

Saturday, July 1, 2017 11:36 AM

Yeah, the area around Christ isn't the nicest. Next time if you can come a little further north you should be good.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 1:25 AM

It actually used to be a lot worse.. the streets just north of Christ provided what I considered the ugliest view in the city: https://goo.gl/maps/ppqndiqsZum . Very creepy when I used it as a cut-thru from Vine to Auburn late one night...

They've since knocked all that stuff down and closed the streets.. Christ's constant expansion will probably eat it up eventually.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 12:16 PM

rollergator said:
LIT - Little Rock....D'oh, you'd have thought I could have figured that out without looking it up.

I'll blame it on the acronym already being in the lexicon of adult beverages...

Wait, so you mean you didn't know an acronym therefore you googled it instead if complaining that people were using acronyms you weren't familiar with regarding airports? What has happened to coasterbuzz?!

I agreen100% on banshee. It's actually my favorite invert out there. Back seat is a blast. I can't wait to get back up there next year to ride Timbers. It's.gettong rave reviews. And InvadR was really fantastic so I'm excited for its bog brother.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 12:53 PM

Tekwardo said:

I agreen100% on banshee.

Last edited by Vater, Thursday, December 19, 2019 6:15 PM
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 12:54 PM

Tekwardo said:

I'm excited for its bog brother.

Last edited by Vater, Friday, February 22, 2019 5:25 PM
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 2:52 PM

Poor Tek. Clearly a graduate of The Facebook School of Spelling and Proofreading.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 4:44 PM

The bad thing is my phone learned my typos so well now it automatically replaces some real words WITH typos.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Wednesday, July 5, 2017 4:45 PM
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 9:14 PM

Mine replaces real words with cuss words.


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