I arrived at the 350-acre Kings Island soon after the rides started at 10 a.m. Kings Island represented the most “themed” park I’ve visited on this trip. The skies threatened rain and the temperature was cool keeping the crowds light — making getting on rides a breeze. The wait was only about 20 minutes for The Beast.
I started at the front of the park in the Adventure Village area riding King Cobra – the first stand-up looping roller coaster in America, built by Togo, Inc. of Japan in 1984. Lines were virtually non-existent and I was able to walk right on for a front-seat ride. Standing two abreast you are taken through a 360-degree loop and a 66-foot wide helix at up to 50 miles per hour. This was a fairly smooth fun ride with a loop and some good twists and turns.
King Cobra was dismantled and put up for sale in 2002, when downtime and maintenance proved prohibitive.
Next in line was Top Gun, a 1993 Arrow Dynamics suspended coaster, renamed Flight Deck in 2006 and later renamed The Bat for the 2014 season. Again, there was no line to board the front seat of this coaster. These older rides just don’t draw the crowds that the newer ones do. But, it was my first time to ride this type of suspended coaster so it was a new experience for me. This was a fun little coaster riding in 4-person cars hanging below the track at over 50 mph. I didn’t find it as fun as the suspended coaster with your feat dangling but there were alot of twists, turns and swaying back and forth on this 1 minute 45 second ride. I would still recommend this coaster as a different coaster experience, especially for the novice rider.
Located in the Old Coney area, The Racer debuted in 1972 as Paramount’s Kings Island’s first world class coaster. Designed by John Allen of Philadelphia Toboggan Co., this classic wooden coaster reaches speeds of nearly 55 miles per hour during it’s 2 ½ minute ride.
The Racer features a double track with the angle of the first hill at 45-degrees. The Racer was the first coaster to turn around one of its trains, one traveling forward and another running backwards. Only one train was running this day (the backward train was not running). Not a bad ride, but not at the top of my list for woodies. The line to get a front seat was only about 20 minutes.
One of the more comfortable Arrow rides in my opinion, Vortex takes you upside down six times during the rides 2 ½ minute duration. Built in 1987 by Arrow Dynamics on the site originally occupied by Arrow’s first suspended coaster, the Bat, this steel coaster features a 148-foot high lift hill that drops you 138-feet at faster than 50 mph at a 55-degree angle into a hairpin turn. You next race into two vertical loops (72-ft and 62-ft) followed by a really fun 200 foot long corkscrew and a 60-foot drop boomerang turn. Topping of this ride is a 360-degree helix turn.
The line to board a front seat on Vortex took only about 30 minutes and only a little longer later in the day (about 45 min.) for another ride in a mid-train seat. This was really a disorienting ride and when I got off at the end I staggered a step or two before getting back my equalibrium.
Outer Limits – Flight of Fear is an SM&C Enclosed, Launched, Multi-Element coaster awarded best new ride of 1996. Once you make your way through the highly themed queue, you are catapulted from zero to 54 miles per hour in just 4 seconds down a dark tunnel into an enclosed maze of twisting and turning steel track. The ride was packed with four twisting loops and twists and turns. I could see faint images of the track that made me wonder why I was riding this thing indoors. I thought the ride could be better if it were darker so that you could not see the approaching elements, but that would probably cause more injuries.
This was an intense ride and the headbanging was excessive. I tried keeping my head back against the headrest as they recommend but that didn’t help. So I tried keeping my head forward but was still beating my head against the padded head restraints. I rode in the back seat which may account for some of the headbanging. As the queue was the longest wait for any ride at the park (over an hour), I was only going to ride this headbanger once.
The Beast (1979), a Dinn Terrain Coaster, has got to be the granddady of woodies as the longest wooden coaster in the world with 7,400 feet of track, two lift hills, and nearly 4 1/2 minutes ride time. This legendary coaster is really difficult to photograph as it is largely built into the densely wooded area of the park.
Riding in the front seat was an enjoyable experience and and fairly smooth. The more than four minute ride is really fast, has dark tunnels, sharp turns and big hills. It features a 135-foot hill at a 45-degree angle followed by a 117 foot underground tunnel. After cresting the second lift hill, the ride really gets intense racing through a 269-foot above ground tunnel and a 540-degree helix. Speeds on the Beast reach about 65 miles per hour.
Be prepared to be literally beat up riding the back seat. While it’s a good ride in any seat, the back seat has got to be only for die-hard woodie fans as you get a real beating.