Paramount's Kings Island
May 24, 2002
My first non-media-day trip of the year started at 8 a.m. Friday morning, the first day of daily operation this year at PKI. My wife, Rachel, our friends, Barry and Olivia, and I took off from north Columbus at 8 and arrived at the park (after passing at least 10 state troopers and their victimes) at about 9:30 a.m. to a nearly desolate parking lot. Good sign.
We bypassed the ticket booths and I collected my four free tickets from the guest services window (a journalist's pay sucks, but there are perks). Once inside, we headed to the rope in front of Hanna-Barbera Land, where about 20 people waited, intending to hit the Beast first.
They let us go at 10:05 a.m. (late!) and we made our way to Rivertown. As we passed Tomb Raider, we saw that it was open, which surprised us as the sign out front said it may not open today. We decided to go for it.
This was my first time, and I will say that the queue only increased my extreme hatred for extensive theming. It's all well-done, but every time I saw a sliding door or an intricate Buddhist statue, I wondered how many flat rides the park could have purchased with that money... or any number of things.
Anyway, I thought the scenery, the theme, the pre-ride movie, and many of the FX during the ride were all stupid and cheesy.
However, the ride itself is pretty darn cool. As we sat down, the OTSRs were moist, and I remembered that YOU MAY GET WET on this ride. That worried me, because I hate being wet. But it was OK. The ride starts with you being raised up under dripping icicles, and that's about all you have to worry about as far as saturation goes. The "lava" did not splash high enough to moisten anyone.
I like the feelings Top Spins produce, so of course I liked the ride. The theming did not detract from the ride experience, but I can't say it added anything either. I will agree with whomever said the "lava" scene holds you upside down too long; I thought I was going to get a nosebleed. But Tomb Raider is definitely worth a ride.
BTW, the people on my ride had nothing good to say at all. I heard "sucks," "too short," and the equivalent of "TAER IT DOWN."
Now we headed to the Beast. Walk-on! Well, it would have been, except that a kid in the train in front of ours got a nosebleed during the ride (must've been the "lava" scene), so they ran 3 empty trains, then called the detox crew in to clean it up (detox crew = two guys wearing rubber gloves). Finally we climbed on, second row.
All the times I've heard horrible things about the Beast, I've always defended it, because it's never let me down before. Not until today. The new trim brakes have destroyed the ride, in my opinion. Sure, the first drop is faster, but the trims pinch hard at the top of the second hill. On the straightaway, instead of going from 50 to 30 gradually, you do it in a second. And going into the Beast's lair, the brakes jerk the train forward again, throwing off the suspense of the building speed.
I returned to the station downhearted. What have they done? If safety was the issue, why weren't only the brakes in the station replaced? At any rate, I'll be reluctant to rave about this ride anymore like I have been doing for the last 15 years.
We trudged down the World's Longest Exit Ramp. Both my friends Barry and Olivia had hurt themselves on the ride; he his neck and she her stomach (lap bar in the gut at the brake run). Barry is soon to be a lawyer so I jokingly suggested he sue. He laughed and said any judge would throw such a case out without blinking.
On to Vortex, the only remaining back-seat ride at PKI, IMO. This was also a walk-on. The first drop's air - still amazing. The first vertical loop - still makes me blue out. The helix - still dizzying. This is one reliable ride.
At this point I realized I'm not 17 anymore. My 26-year-old body now gets dizzy very easily.
Then we headed over to what is now easily the best ride at the park, Flight of Fear. No more than 10 minutes waiting. I cannot extol the virtues of these new lapbars enough. The ride is simply amazing, from the launch to the insane spiral finish, from the quick changes in direction to the final float-out-of-yer-seat corkscrew. Even my wife, who hates many rides for their only slight roughness, loves this one.
It was noon so our party backtracked to LaRosa's under Vortex's high turn. I had built up LaRosa's pizza too much to my friends, so now they were all, "I can't wait to try this incredible pizza!" I was afraid it'd be nasty and I'd be embarrassed. Lucky we got a pizza fresh out of the oven, and it was incredible... even better than I remembered. The sauce is soooo good. Here at 11 p.m., it's making my mouth water just thinking about it.
Our tummies full, we started making our way to the Action Zone, stopping off at the carousel for a spin. I sat this one out; I hate circling rides. After that, we did what has become a tradition: walking through "The Paramount Story" area. This little "park" has plaques in the ground honoring certain Paramount movies. The plaques make a little path around the park. So we play a game: you walk through the park, stepping on each plaque if you've seen the movie. The one with the highest score wins. My wife destroyed us all with 54. I had 30.
Next we stopped at Adventure Express. Amazingly enough, there was a line - even on crowded days, this line is non-existent, but we waited 15 minutes due to 2-train operation.
AE is still as jerky-rough and boring as ever, but the foliage has really grown up around the track - nice. I wish they'd get the special effects (spears, fog, guy dumping hot mist onto you) working again. It looks stupid with half of them broken.
We entered the barren Action Zone next. Barry and I decided to ride Face/Off while the girls looked around. The line was moderate; we waited about 45 minutes for a front-row seat. Who wants to look a stranger in the face during a ride?
The G-forces on this ride blow my mind. Vekoma should forget the GIBs and concentrate on these incredible little thrill machines. Great fun.
We decided to ride Top Gun, then get a snack, but when we got over there, Top Gun was closed. A big disappointment, because my friends had never ridden a suspended apart from Iron Dragon. Oh well. We went for snacks then. Rachel and I got the delicious blueberry ice cream from that place at the H-B Land entrance. My friends got funnel cakes.
Time for the Racer. Only the forwards side was running. This would be only the second or third time for me riding this side. We waited one train.
Nothing spectacular here. No airtime, even in the back car. Still, it's fun. Something just seems "off" since they removed the final bunny hop though.
At this point, rain clouds were threatening, and I definitely wanted a ride on Son of Beast before the rain came. So the girls waited (they though it'd be too rough) while Barry and I hiked it over there. The line was short and we were in the second seat in 10 minutes. The rain had held so far.
Different. There is no other word that more accurately describes this ride. From the drop right out of the station, to the really steep lift, to the massive swooping curve before the drop, to the huge hills even right before the ride's end, and of course the loop, the whole ride just has a different feel. And it grows on me every time I ride. I wholly enjoyed it this time, and it really did feel less rough than last year.
The skies broke open just as we plunged into the loop. As we were sitting on the brakes getting soaked, the ride op announced that there was a delay in the station and that it would just be a minute. Heh, perfect. Then I felt a sharp prick in my shoulder. I reached up and pulled my shirt away from my skin, and felt another prick. I realized that there was a wasp or some sort of stinging creature in my shirt.
I tried not to move as the train curved into the station, but nevertheless I felt him sting me three more times. When my lapbar released, I lept out of the car and over to the ride-op booth, explained quickly that there was a bee in my shirt, and whipped my shirt off, probably to the laughter and bewilderment of the entire queue. Not that I cared.
At any rate, I never saw any insects flying away, but I had five large and painful welts on my shoulder to prove he was there.
Now it was pouring pretty hard, so we all stood under the Skyflyer photo booth and talked, while my wife cooed over my welts. Really, they were more irritating than painful at this point, but thank you, my love!
We wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower, thinking it was covered, so we ventured out into the rain. By the time we got to International Street, we were all soaked to the skin. Oh well.
As we waited for an elevator, my friend told me that the last time he was at Cedar Point, Millennium Force was closed because they couldn't get the speed down below 115mph. Being his friend, and not being a total jerk, I did not correct him, but I wondered to myself how this rumor got started, as I've heard this same story at least 3 times now.
We caught the next lift and soon were on top of the (oops) uncovered tower. We saw the footers of King Cobra, still in place, and its dismanted pieces, way back in the woods.
Back down. Barry and I had a good laugh as the elevator doors opened. We blocked two over-excited middle schoolers from exiting (by walking slowly) until everyone else had left. heh.
By this time the rain had stopped and it was getting darn hot. Nevertheless we were mostly ridden out. We visited the arcade, where Olivia played Sean F. and crew's favorite - yep, DDR. I considered it, but this game tends to draw a crowd, and I'm not keen on being laughed at. So I played the virtual batting cage instead. I also played Police Trainer, *my* favorite game, for about 20 minutes on one quarter. I made commissioner. :)
Exiting the arcade, we took one final ride: the antique cars. Long, slow line - about 20 minutes. Our car, weighed down with four adults, was so slow that the car behind us caught up. Bloody tailgaters!
Weary, we decided to leave then, as it was 4:30. I wanted to finish with Drop Zone, but no one else wanted to ride, so I was outvoted. We left the park and headed back to Columbus, stopping in the Cracker Barrel in Grove City for some tasty grub. I had "Uncle Hershel's Favorite": eggs over easy, grits, english muffin, fried apples and catfish. Yum.
Thanks for reading.
He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking; can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding.
bigger is better
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