Paramount's Kings Island
DATES: 8/17/2000 - 8/18/2000
WEATHER: Cool, mid-70s, partly cloudy with occasional downpours.
ABOUT ME: Male, age 37. Coaster rider since 1977 and fanatic since 1986. I have more than 330 adult coasters on my "track record". I generally prefer wooden coasters to steel because airtime is one of my big criteria. Also, I don't mind a little headbanging on coasters.
RATING SYSTEM: I subscribe to the ubiquitous Griswold scale, which rates coasters and parks on a scale from -3 to +5. Zero indicates a mildly positive rating.
Racer (1972 John Allen/PTC single out and back) +1
What a concept, the Racer was racing! The trackwork was smooth; unfortunately, there were so many trim brakes on that there was no airtime at all and the ride was a total nonevent. Also of interest was the mixed rolling stock. Some train matchups were the traditional dull red/blue PTC trains with front chevron emblems, while others appeared to be newer shiny red PTC trains with Paramount emblems. It would appear that PKI is phasing out the older PTC trains?
The Beast (1979 Summers/Dinn/KECO terrain coaster) +4
Even with the terrible injustices done to this coaster since Paramount purchased the park in the early ï90s, it still rocks. Nothing built since can compare to the wild romp through the woods that The Beast offers. There was some phenomenal airtime on the first couple of hills, and then once you get past the $%!@# brake shed you enjoy a mad dash through the back woods of PKI, accompanied by some wonderful laterals, and continuous acceleration despite the strange feeling that you are doing so on what appears to be uphill terrain. I miss the days in the '80s when you were going so fast in the back section that the train made it halfway up the second lift hill before engaging the chain, though. Nevertheless, no other ride has duplicated the overall effect of The Beast. Topping it all off is the ridiculous upward 540-degree helix that hasn't lost a bit of momentum in all these years. The headchoppers on entry to both helix tunnels never fail to terrify! The injustices mentioned previously include the annoying skid brake in the long brake shed following the third hill; the halogen light standards annoyingly placed in the middle of what should be a pitch black forest; the work lights in the tunnels left on for reasons I can't possibly explain; and the strobe light at the bottom of the first drop (used to take the on-ride pictures). Sigh.
King Cobra (1984 Togo standup) +3
I sincerely hope PKI doesn't remove this coaster, because despite its tiny footprint it remains one of the finest attractions in the park. This ride answers the question, "Why can't a standup coaster provide phenomenal air time too?" While the first half of the ride is fairly ho-hum - lift, turnaround, drop, vertical loop - from there the fun begins with a speed hill (ejector air), a 540-degree helix, another speed hill, some strange twisted track, a turnaround, and several quick bunny hills each offering awesome airtime. If only the restraints weren't so awkward compared to B & M trains. Oh well, it's a small price to pay to enjoy this ride.
Vortex (1987 Arrow Dynamics multielement) +2
My only complaints: this coaster needs a new coat of paint and some softer horsecollar restraints. Otherwise, it's still one of the finest Arrow megaloopers ever built: good pacing, good choice of elements, and a picturesque setting over a ravine. Vortex has six inversions: two consecutive vertical loops, a corkscrew, and a two-inversion Kamikaze Kurve similar to Worlds of Fun's Orient Express. The ride's snap twists beat riders' heads into the rock-hard restraints, which are no longer squishy enough to offer any "give".
Adventure Express (1991 Arrow Dynamics Mine Train) N/A
I did not ride this during my visit. I know, "I WILL PAY!!"
Top Gun (1993 Arrow Dynamics suspended coaster) +2
Short, but far more enjoyable than XLR-8, SFMM Ninja and Iron Dragon. The new "close encounter" with Son of Beast provides some new thrills, too. Of the Arrow suspendeds I've ridden (which unfortunately does not yet include Big Bad Wolf), this is the best. The swing action and speed toward the very end of the ride is the best anywhere.
Outer Limits-Flight of Fear (1996 S&MC enclosed) -2
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Headbanging galore and one of only a handful of coasters with no redeeming features whatsoever (PGA Grizzly and Mean Streak come to mind). If only this was wood we'd have kindling for a nice bonfire.
Face/Off (1998 Vekoma SLC Boomerang) +3
Both this and PGA Invertigo are extremely disorienting rides, and very enjoyable. For those of you not familiar with this type of ride, it uses the standard Boomerang track layout applied to a 2-across inverted train with every other seat facing backwards (facing another set of seats). Fun, disorienting, and virtually every seat is a good one. This particular one, for whatever reason, was more disorienting than its twin at PGA, and as such gets a point higher in the ratings.
Drop Zone (1999 Intamin Giant Gyro Drop) +5
OH. MY. GOD. Taller than the park's Eiffel Tower, and dwarfing the nearby Skycoaster (Xtreme Skyflyer), this was my first Gyro Drop. It was a much bigger thrill than my previous Giant Drop benchmark, Kennywood's Pitt Fall. For those unfamiliar with the differences between standard Giant Drops and the Gyro Drops, imagine a 40-passenger "ring" around the drop tower instead of several four-passenger carriages. The "ring" spins two full revolutions as you ascend the tower, giving a wonderful view of the surroundings. Once you finally drop, the amount of air forced around the carriage as it drops forces your legs up immediately in a sudden whoosh, something no other Giant Drop had ever done to such a degree. Folks queued up below should beware because the gust caused by the drop is enough to knock over small children! I saw items left on the platform by riders constantly go flying--stuffed animals, sweatshirts, hair scrunchies, souvenir cups, etc. My only major complaint with this ride is that despite its apparent higher throughput (40 riders vs. 16, 20 or 24 on other Giant Drops) the ride never lives up to its promise. This is partly because of the ride ops, who never even tried to hurry up and lower cycle times, and partly because of the ride itself, which ascends the first half of the tower very, very slowly. At that point, the ascent quickly gains speed, but it's never as fast as the standard Giant Drops are from the get-go.
Son of Beast (2000 RCCA terrain coaster) 0
I really don't know what all the fuss was about: This coaster is terrible. I really, really wanted to gush wonderful words about this ride, but it was not worth the wait for the two rides I took on it. Simply put, helixes alone don't make a ride. Sure, the coaster starts out promising enough with a wonderful drop right out of the station, a left-hand swoop turn and turnaround into the lift hill, but from the EXTREMELY LOUD lift hill on, the ride is simply painful and accomplishes nothing more than rattling the teeth out of your head. The smoothest part was the loop, which was a nonevent in the overall scheme of the ride. I could not enjoy what little air time there was because of the violent shaking. At least this ride diverted the crowds away from The Beast, where I spent all of my nighttime hours at PKI...
THE PARK: +2