This was my first visit to King's Dominion, and I had been really looking forward to it. It had been a long winter, very cold with a ton of snow this year, and I was more then ready to get back to riding. King's Dominion is the closest park that is opening this early.
I got to the park at about 9:45, well before opening, and got a great parking spot right up near the entrance. This was convenient since I had lunch in a cooler in the car, and did not plan to eat in the park. The parking lot had several picnic areas scattered around, but without tram service and the fact that small parks seem to have not problem with free parking, I have big issues with the seven dollar parking fee.
I get myself together and head over to the entrance where I meet up with niteride, AKA Joe, from Coasters2k. He lives in nearby Ashland, thus he has a season pass. He gives me a coupon for a sweet nine bucks off. We get through the gates with a good deal of security (metal detectors, lots of rent-a-cops) and head to meet up with the Drop Zone walk back. They are already headed out, so we make a dash and catch up with them.
The walk back was uneventful as far as I am concerned. We all got the Drop Zone promotional CD, and everyone got the first official ride on it. What a ride it is too. It has a huge capacity, and easily held everyone in the walk back. The ride is smooth and quite, and just a bit scary. The drop is unexpected and the brakes bring the car to a smooth stop without any jarring. The only issue with the ride is turnover time. Not all of the seats have been modified to fit larger persons, and if someone has to switch seats, the entire ride's restraints have to be released and rechecked. Also, they have dots on the ground inline to indicate where on the ride to go, but people don't really understand this, and since the dots aren't numbered, the general public has no idea where to go.
At this point we had gained another enthusiast, ApolloAndy from Coasterbuzz. Andy is going to school at Princeton and was down for the day. We headed over to Volcano, where there was just about no line. We were on in ten minutes.
Volcano is a neat ride, but to me a bit disappointing. The launch is great, at the inversion at the top of the vertical spike is fantastic, but that is the highlight of the ride. You go through a series of heartline inversions, three total, as you speed around the simulated mountain. And that is is. The ride comes to a sudden stop as it re-enters the mountain. I don't know, I guess i was hoping for a bit more, possibly the ride going in and out of the mountain some more, and maybe a bit longer. I also found that the ride was rather difficult to photograph, lots of supports and not really any good spots to take pictures.
We next headed over to the Scooby Doo Ghoster Coaster, where we were to meet up with Joe's mom. She had dropped him off, and he was going to meet his father later to get a ride home. She begrudgingly got aboard the Ghoster Coaster with us. This is a nice PTC junior. I think it is the first coaster I have ridden that uses flanged wheels, which is pretty cool.
To get the whole 12 coasters you have to ride Taxi Jam, a little Miler kiddie coaster which is right next to the Ghoster Coaster. So, Andy and i waited by the entrance and hijacked some kids in order to ride, since you have to have a kid to ride. It, of course, was nothing spectacular, but none the less counts as a credit.
We now made our way to Flight of Fear. The ride was a walk-on. I've got to say, it is a great ride. I can see just how painful it must have been before with the OTSR, as it really can toss you around. The one thing I really didn't like about it was the midcourse break run, it really seems to slow the pacing, but at least that pacing picks up again. The helix at the bottom just above the ground that leads into a corkscrew is amazing.
Nearby is Anaconda. It is an Arrow, which I really am not too fond of, but it is a neat looking coaster, with a very photogenic layout, and a pretty cool underwater tunnel. Thing is, it is still an Arrow, and you can just see the bad transitions in it. So, we get on and ride the front seat. It turns out it was not too too bad, just one really jarring section. Later in the day we got up the nerve to ride in the back, and while nowhere near as smooth as the front (and that is relatively speaking), it still was not as bad as some Arrows I have ridden.
We now head over to the other side of the park, and work at the Flying Eagles. These flyers could be very snapable, but the ride is run just a tad too fast, and I could only get a few small snaps out of them. I was rather disappointed, and would love to see them slow this ride down and make it as fun as it could be.
Back to Drop Zone, where we meet up with Cernelli from Coasterbuzz and his friend, and take another go at Drop Zone. Still fun.
This was their first visit as well, and had really only just gotten there, as they were coming from south of Pittsburgh, a long ride. So we headed over and did Volcano, Ghoster Coaster and Anaconda again. We were going to get on Flight of Fear too, but it had broken down. However, Avalanche had finally opened, and was a walk-on. This was a fun ride, I felt it is much better then Disaster Transport at Cedar Point, it had good pacing and plenty of twists and turns. It's midcourse brakes were turned off too, which was cool.
Heading to the other side of the park, we did a circuit on Shockwave. Not too bad a stand-up. It was my first shot at a Togo stand-up, and while I was not overly impressed, I was not disappointed by it either. I enjoyed it, nice transitions and the loop was great.
Continuing, we walked-on to Hurler. I had some trepidation with this ride, seeing that steep banked turn after the first drop makes me thing Hercules, but as it turns out is was not bad at all. The ride also had some nice airtime.
Now we dared the line for Hypersonic. They were queuing people outside the actual queue line, because wit just one eight passenger train running, it was going to be a long wait, and this way people could bail it they needed to.
Two hours later we finally make it to the front seat of the train, which at this point was taking just one passenger at a time, since the restraints on one of the seats had broken. Was it worth it? I am not sure. The launch is awesome, and the airtime at the top of the hill is incredible, but that is all there is to the ride. I hate the brakes on this thing. They are make up of a series of short fin brakes and bring the train to a jarring halt.
The group at this point kind of split up. I was ready to get my lunch, so Joe and I headed to the parking lot, but got sidetracked on the way when we ran into RCTfan from Coasters2K and his girlfriend, who's name escapes me at the moment. We talked a little bit, explaining how our day went, and Joe headed out to get some food while RCTfan and I headed for Rebel Yell.
His girlfriend was very apprehensive about riding backwards, and did not want to get on at all. After some poking and prodding, we finally get her on. Turns out she loved it, and we ended up staying on for a re-ride, beings there was no line. I thought it was fun too. The backwards facing really makes for a different ride, you really have no idea what is coming up next. I was disappointed that it seemed to offer no airtime for a large out and back coaster.
We split off, and I finally got some lunch. Hmmmmmm, hoagies.
Back in the park, I roamed a bit more, checking out the flats, riding Drop Zone again, it was a walk-on all day, and waiting. I wanted to hold of on Grizzly until sundown, and was glad I did. Great ride. Fast and furious, and with a wicked tunnel that offers some nice airtime and lateral surprises. I had meet up with Joe and his father, who is a coaster enthusiast too, and we finished the night off on Grizzly, re-riding over and over.
The day was great, I got a nice tan, and had a good time. The park was very clean, and the ride operators were helpful and friendly. It was also empty, with most rides being walk-ons all day long, and I was able to ride many rides again without even getting off. It was overall a great experience, and I look forward to my next visit.
"If you make it too smooth, it'll be like sitting in your living room."
-Bill Cobb - Designer, Texas Cyclone
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