Thursday, August 15, 2002 10:45 AM
Our luck was bound to run out. After 16 parks with great weather, it started raining as we pulled into King's Island for our annual visit. We had showers on and off all day. But it didn't dampen our experience, and the park kept everything, including the coasters, running either through the rains or immedately after the showers stopped. The rain drove off most of the crowd, so we could lap each ride several times instead of waiting in lines.
Access. I love the easy access PKI enjoys right off the interstate. It even has its own exit ramp.
Initial impressions. The parking fee is now $9. How much longer are we all going to tolerate this?
However, the entrance to PKI may be the most impressive of any park. And once you clear the turnstiles, your first view is of that fountain row with the Eiffel Tower rising in the distance.
This is a beautiful park.
Staff. We were really impressed with the courteous, friendly, efficient, professional staff. We found not a single exception.
Food. Various members of our group tried different foods at different outlets and everybody expressed approval. Abby Leigh and I for dinner had chicken, potatoes, cole slaw, watermelon and drinks for $8. The food was good and plentiful. Can't beat that.
Rides. PKI just has a great mix of rides. They were all running and lines were minimal. I wish they'd add a Giant Ferris Wheel and extend either the train or the copters around the park.
Face Off. These suspended looping steelers running back and forth through the station don't impress me much, but this is a good version. It's smooth, fast and gives good sensations coming through the loops. If nothing else, it's a good warmup for the other coasters on this side of the park.
Boat Plunge. This one is not as tall, steep or fast as most, but it is the only one we've seen with a double dip, making it the Water Jackrabbit. Definitely worth a ride. Beware the water jet that gets you just as you re-enter the station turn and thought the ride was over.
Top Gun. Wow. We all loved this ride. Pardon me while I gush for a while. We're in the final phase of a summer long park tour, and this and BGW's Big Bad Wolf are the top two suspended steel coasters we've ridden. (If any of you know of any better, let me know, so I can go ride them.) This is the ride everybody wishes CP's Iron Dragon was. This is the one KW, HW or KK needs to round out its collection. My only nitpick is the lack of a grip bar in front of the rider; giving me a grip loop on the swingdown harness isn't enough. But once we start down that first drop into the trees there isn't even time to think about such trivia. They should have made this extra long like Beast or Chang so they could claim a length record. I find it curious, though, that Paramount owns PKI and Carowinds, has coasters named Top Gun at both, and they are nothing alike. I like CW's version, but I love this one.
Drop. Only average. Not close to the ones at KW or CP.
Son of Beast. I have really tried to like this ride. I've ridden it front, middle, back, all times of day. I just think it's too rough. It beats me up worse than any other coaster.
Racetrack. Poor. Small track, short ride. CP and KK beat this to death. How can they charge extra for this ?
Slingshot. Same as KK. Two riders in a wire basket are shot skyward, then yoyo for a while on bungees. Great ride. Onboard camera relays image of riders to audience below.
Mine Train. Indiana Beach, Carowinds and CP are far better, but this is a decent mine train. Its woodsy location and theming help, but the ride itself is lacking.
Pirate Ship. Of all the rides in the world, is this the most standardized? We've ridden them everywhere, and there's not an ounce of difference.
Racers. Wow. Another John Allen masterpiece. I'm not one of those who enjoys the backward train, but the forward model is enough. Speed, airtime, smooth ride, comfortable cars. And talk about personality changes. We rode this early in the afternoon, then again after dark, and it wasn't the same experience at all. After dark the Racer gets much more intense.
Scrambler. A good version with a long cycle. This is the loosest Scrambler framework we've seen. The cars just bounce up and down. Everything's tight; the beams are just flexible. What's with this ?
Adult Carousel. Disappointing. PKI is a major park. This is a low budget Carousel. It's badly outclassed by KW, Idlewild, KK, etc.
Scooters. Another round floor, but this one is a full sized model with an island. KK is crowded at 14 cars; PKI is roomy with 34. Well maintained. A top Scooter version.
Octopus. They have the cars geared down a little to reduce spin intensity, but this is a nice model with a long cycle.
Eiffel Tower. Every park needs one of these. Elevator to the top offers a magnificent view of the park and surrounding country. Great photo op of various coasters, especially SOB and Racers.
Turnpike. Well landscaped, nice cars, but bizarre design has two stations and two tracks intertwined, then one station shut down permanently. Why not combine the tracks into one decent length ride and run them from one station?
Flying Scooters. Great version. PKI denies it, but we ride these everywhere, and it's obvious they've done some tinkering to reduce snapping.
Shake, Rattle & Roll. A modern Octopus. Smooth ride, long cycle.
Flight of Fear. None of us are real fans of this ride, but every coaster fan should try it. Indoor looping steeler.
Vortex. Almost Wow. I could love this ride. Could. Six looping, potentially intense steeler. But what's the deal with this heavy braking, including completely stopping the train at the halfway point just before it heads into the multiple helices? It wasn't just one ride. We rode it several times and watched it while eating ice cream and then riding the adjacent Flying Scooters. It stops there every time. Design a great ride, then tie it down so it can't do what it was born to do ? Come on, PKI !
Beast. Uh-oh. We've got trouble, gang. My first impressions would have been : Wow. Just Brute Force. Into the Tunnels and Through the Woods, on a Terrain Woodie We Go. Like Racer, Beast sure changes personality as the day moves along. Whether this is The Best is always debatable, but it is certainly Memorable. You get speed, air, gs, the works, on a very long and varied cruise with great pacing.
However, we took several laps in the front. And there is the unmistakable view of brand new brakes having just been installed. Now, some of you are going to say No, not possible. But they are there, just this week. The bolts and screw channels are shiny, there are fresh filings and splinters laying around. And they slow the train at exactly the wrong points.
Another great machine being suppressed. AAArrrggghhh !!
Tomb Raider. Great theming outside and as you enter the ride. Disappointing actual ride. Everyone in our group thought the upside down 60 seconds at the end was pointless and much too long.
Train. This is one of the great park trains in America, right there with CP, BGW and Disney. But they should run it around the park with multiple stops so it can function as a people mover.
Rafting Ride. One of the better. Not much theming but total water drop second only to KW.
Log Flume. We've ridden these everywhere, and this is the most extensively themed of all, using a Wild Thornberry motif. Its route through the Ohio forest is also outstanding. Worth a dozen photos. Unfortunately, the ride is not up to the theming or the setting. Only has one drop, and it's only half as high and half as steep as the better ones, such as KW.
Reptar. Greatest family steeler in existence. We love this ride. But it is much much rougher this year than last, which does not bode well for the long term, since last year was its first.
Ghoster Coaster. Raises your two seat car by elevator, then send you down an overhead track. Great coaster, but too short, and heavily braked. Why don't they make one of these for adults, lay off the braking, and make it five times as long ?
Beastie. Best junior woodie in America. Everything about this ride is outstanding.
Helicopters. Overhead two seaters peddled along treetop track. Great ride, but should be extended all the way across the park with multiple stations as a people mover.
Kiddieland. Probably the best Kiddieland anywhere.
Kiddie Turtle (baggage claim theming) is one of only two remaining, Kiddie Dodgem ride is one of only three remaining, and both are in great shape.
Kiddie Carousel is one of only two, featuring cartoon characters instead of animals.
Water Park. Probably the best water park contained within a larger park. Rafting ride is highlight, but board surfing pool is unique.
Conclusion. This is one of the great parks. Why isn't there a book documenting its history?
*** This post was edited by Trekker Park on 8/15/2002. ***
Sunday, August 18, 2002 2:05 PM
PKIEMSOB : Sorry to hurt anyone's feelings. It may be old, but it's not nearly as valuable as those others I mentioned. It doesn't show even close to the craftmanship they do, its sound quality isn't near theirs, and it's not nearly as big. They have much more intricate carving and painting and more horses or animals. They also have more moving units as opposed to fixed units.
Playerpunk : It does have that Tom Tom Tunnel at the end, but little else. It's shorter, with fewer drops, lower speed, fewer helices, and less air. I give it points for the woodsy location, but that's not enough.
Davie : But I think they're all outrageous. Isn't there some way all of us combined can protest this before they jack them up to $20?
Geezer : You're right. I'd trade Faceoff for Magnum or Phantom any day. Boy, there's an explosive idea, taking out the loop on SOB and adding another 1000 feet of track. I could go for it, but there's a lot of SOB fans that would violently oppose such a suggestion.