Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
"Meet the New Beast"
Okay, I promise this won't be as long as last weeks 500 lines + epic. However there are several points which need to be addressed.
Just like last week, I caught a ride with Althoff's Enthusiast Taxi Service, and we arrived at the park too late to do the walkback. However, this worked out just fine because instead we made our way to Beast. We had heard that the Beast was going through a transformation this off season and was ready to do a meet and greet this weekend.
We strolled through the park, and arrived at Beast where they were just finishing up pre-opening testing, and soon we made our way to the station. As we wanted a first hand look, we elected the front seat, waited a few trains, then began our ride.
As most of you have heard by now the Beast recieved a new brake/safety systen this year. A hybrid magnetic/friction fin brake system. In other words the skids are gone. We noted the calipers in the station area to be of the friction variety, as was the one right before the lift hill. Going up the lift, we noted some new wood, as was apparent in several areas of the ride. We crested the first lift, looked down and the first drop is now completely and totally BRAKELESS. You go carreening down the first drop at speeds never before thought possible, slam into the teeny tiny tunnel, come roaring out of the tunnel, sharp turn left, climb up to the top of hill 2, and prepare to meet Mr. Magnetic Brake. Mr. Magnetic Brake teases you and robs the speed of the train right as you are preparing for airtime. The magnetic brakes are not as smooth and graceful as the skids, while not as rude as a friction fin brake would be. In other words you will feel a jolt as it takes effect. A little hard for my taste, then you go down the second drop, come back up, turn right, and head into the mid-course brake shed from hell, but wait, "Where have the brakes gone?" Yes there is a magnetic brake in the brake shed, and it is places at the far downtack end of the shed, the effect is that you go flying through the mid course brake shed at speeds you never thought possible, but then Mr. Magneto grabs you and you sort of do a liesurely train ride through the second 'horseshoe' tunnel. Luckily you do build up speed along the jaunt to the second lift, and are able to catch the chain with ease. The ride then takes you up to the top of the second lift, where you get to look in awe at the brakeless first drop, before decending into the helix. Like the shed, the magnetic brake on the drop into the helix is placed towards the bottom of the drop, and today seemed to be hitting rather light. We noted that there are speed sensors just after the magnetic brakes. the helix is wild as ever, then the climb up to the final brake run, where you first come accross a magnetic trim brake to slow the train down, then you hit a friction block brake or two, then you come to a stop on a friction ready brake, then you advance forward into the station, passing over one last friction safety brake.
So overall, we gain a great first drop, and consistency of the ride. We do retain the usual braking along the course that we have come to expect, and the park gains a new hopefully more reliable safety system for the ride.
We then deicded to take a second ride in the back seat, and it was here more or less that we met up with Sean Flaharty and a contingent of coaster enthusiasts. After riding Beast, some went for another Beast ride, while others headed towards the Flyers or Vorrtex. We headed to Tomb Raider.
CAUTION - TOMB RAIDER INFORMATION HERE. POTENTIAL SPOILER INFORMATION. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!
We were eager to see if the park had addressed any comments, or made any changes to Tomb Raider. We walked up to it, and seeing no queue, entered the line. Ya know they really need some shortcut gates. But hey they can weld bamboo! The bamboo queue rails are complete going from the voerflow queue to the tomb entrance. We entered the tomb and noticed it to be a lot darker than last week, and were able to walk a fiar way into it before stopping. We were then admitted to the holding room where we found ourselved in the first row. The tensbelts are gone for real queue rails now. Not much has changed here from last week, the light pattern lit up on the door, and shifted till it matched then the door slid open emiting a lot of stage fog. We entered the pre-show theater and of course someone forgot to prop that door open, and the tomb door slid shut behind us. The tomb no longer goes pitch black as the door slides closed, which means that the magic mirror projection screen does no seem to appear out of nowhere, instead you can clearly see it rise into position. Pre-show otherwise waqs about the same, except that we notices runes or pictographs on the floor this time. We thought a picto of a chicken with an arrow pointed to the appropriate door would be a nice touch. I do have to ammend my earlier TR, there is a second door between the pre show theater and the ride, an overhead door plus a curtain, plus the drawbridges. Three layers of protection guarding those waiting from the ride.
We entered the ride area and found it to be lit up more as well. Hey these seats are WET. We take our seats, pull down the bar, fasten the belt. yada yada.
Okay there were several more special effects this week than last. Some pyro effects, the statues eyes lit up and moved around. More importantly the ride seemed to be swinging the gondola more, and allowing the ride to do more flips than it did last week. In other words is starting to act a little bit more like a Top Spin. This doesn't change the fact that it hold you upside down over lava for a LONG time, and luckily the water didn't get us too wet. They have also added some flashes of light at the ending of the ride. However still not enough of a finale, its still "Now You Will Pay" :) then the exit doors open. (Actually its some voiceover that is now clearly audible, another improvement. A lone that suggests the ride is not over, when in fact it is. Again comments often heard were "Is it over?", "Is that all?", "It's too short". Still a little bit more tweaking to do. Speaking of tweaking, lets get some tweaking done on the automatic exit doors. This week the exit doors were starting to close WAY TO SOON. I.E. before every guest had exited, this causes guests to have to try to hold the doors open while the doors are trying to close. At the very least let's put something in that (IF PanicBarPressed=True then *stop trying to close door* OR *RELEASE pressure holding door closed*) As it is now it takes a lot of force to get those doors open if they closed on you. I wonder what fire code has to say about that, I'd think that fire code would have issues with the resistance the automatic door mech is putting up to you trying to open it. Again the panic bar should override this. Yes I am a GEEK when it comes to fire safety. There is one sports arena in Cincinati that I will not go to becuase I feel the fire exits are inadequate. Then you take the walk of shame down a very unordinary nondescript exit path.
TOMB RAIDER STUFF OVER, FOR NOW.
After Tomb Raider, we headed over to the Flyers. American Flyer Enthusiasts meeting. Three rides were taken, and the action was pretty good too. Some great Flyer rides.
We headed to Vortex, Group 1 boarded the train, not 10 seconds after the train left the statio, a "Noah Build The Ark" rainstorm started. Sorry guys :). The crew did not load the other trains, and went down for weather. We waited a long time in the Vortex station until we thought it had let up enough to try to find something else. Figuring that Tomb Raider, 7th Portal and Flight of Fear would all be packed we headed to the arcade. Here Sean put on a DDR deonstration, which we watched. (I have still not played DDR) We waited out the rain in the arcade, then headed to Flight of Fear afterall.
Flight of Fear was a near walk on, we selected the front seat of the back car, sat down and Rideman promptly lowered his bar and fastened his seatbelt. I sat down, lowered my bar, and could NOT begin to fasten the seatbelt. Wait, I rode this ride just last week, in heavier clothing. Rideman suggested to the operators that they release the lapbars and we would switch places. The ride ops refused, adamantly claiming "ALL SEATS ARE IDENTICAL" Obviously the parks employees do not ride their own rides. In fact rather than releasing my lapbar and telling me "Sorry, no can do", they brought over two rideops to shove the bar down forcefully. I now realize why some people here are stating that they won't ride this ride again. All in all it was not a bad ride, and being stapled did prevent any lateral movement, so it was actually a nice ride though I feel like this bar has been surgically embedded into my gut.
Of course wheever someone tells Rideman something so blatently false, especially when they get hostile about it "ALL SEATS ARE IDENTICAL", we need to go up there and prove them wrong. So we re-entered the FoF line, we lined up for the same exact seat, except that we switched polarity and I sat where where Rideman sat last time. Guess what, I got the lapbar down, and the belt fastened, NO PROBLEM, ROOM TO SPARE, NO BAR EMBEDED INTO GUT. All seats are identical my ass. We noted the rideop who had been nasty and adamently proclaiming all seats are equal must have snuck off to go to the bathroom or something after seeing she was wrong.
Note to future Riders: If you have problems with fitting into this ride, and its a matter of like a quarter inch to get that useless pointless seatbelt fastened, demand to sit on the other side of the train. In other words, those who might have trouble get in the train first, yes it does make a difference. Now to explain why this happens, the floor of the righthand-front seat of each car has been raised up for no apparent reason. Its only a quarter inch, buts it's right under where your right foot goes. If your right foot can't go all the way down to the floor of the train your knee will be higher uup, if your knee is higher up you can't get the bar back as far without undue force. If you can't get the bar down as far, the too short pointless seatbelt can't reach as far. If the too short pointless seatbelt can't reach as far, you may not be able to ride.
Add flight of fear to the list if rides that needs a test seat out front. In short FoF, Drop Zone, and potentiially SoB could use test seats or test cars out front.
Okay, now that rant is out of the way, lets head down to Racer.
We first took a ride in the front seat of Racer, and Exclusive Ride Time took on a whole new meaning. We realized we were the only two on the entire train. I was happily enjoying airtime never thought possible on the Racer in recent years, and Rideman experienced a nasty case or Torque Lock. We then rode the backwards side, again i had a pleasant ride, and Rideman experienced a case of Torque Lock. Dave then decided that as long as he has rented that trebuchet to launch the SoB trains into a pit of molten lava, that he was going to introduce the Racer trains to the trebuchet as well, and the Beast trains just so they won't show up on Racer. Hey Dave, is that trebuchet going up north to deal with the Mean Streak and Raging Wolf Bobs trains as well?
I don't get it, how come I don't get Torque Lock and Dave does? Maybe Dave slams down his own lapbar for laughs.
Okay, now that I had a less than stellar experience on FoF and Dave had a less than stellar experience on Racer, lets cut our losses and go ride Sonny.
This was partly due to Adventure Express being closed at the time. We noted the climbing wall and Cyber Sez (Ham on Rye) were also closed. We did note the new slingshot to be open. this is one of those spring actuated models, and the park is charging $20 for Gold Pass holders, and $25 to other guests. Per Person. A steady line formed, nothing backed up but still a steady stream of people headed to the ride. I've slinghsoted before, so I can pass on this experience. We headed into the Action Zone where the Skycoaster seemed to be at a loss for willing flyers. The fact that it is more expensive than the 300' Skycoaster may be a factor. We noted a peculiar sign which stated "FOUR FLIGHTS FOR $100" Big special, big deal, flights are $25 each. Just like the carnivals "Ride Tickets 50 cents. BIG VALUE BOOK 20 tickets for $10" Same thing, a speical that really isn't a special"
We decided to go ride Top Gun first, and found yet another walk on, and a consistently delightful Top Gun ride. We exited Top Gun, and headed to Son of Beast, another walk-on (are you sensing a trend here).
Son of Beast was running a lot better this week than last week. I rode it in the same seat and all, but found myself having a much better ride experience, not perfect but tolerable. If it ran this well usually it wouldn't be a oncer in my book.
After Son of Beast we headed over to Drop Zone, only a two cycle wait, and a nice 300' airtime laden drop. We also noticed that there were VERY few cars in the parking lot.
Dave mentioned he had never ridden Congo Falls, and had no plans to change that today, we instead headed to Face/Off which had just gone down mechancial. One rider stuck in the train. This riders OTSR refused to open. They were sending "the mechanics". Vekoma really needs to think of a mechanical bar release, because if the electric release refused to work, the only method is to take the seat apart, literally. We did not stick around to watch this operation being perormed. Even if only for an emergency backup, a mechanical overide to the electric release would be nice.
We decided to head over to Hana Barbera Land, wondered hwo long the tacky Tomb Raider display would block a guests view of Royal Fountain upon entering the park, and eventually reached HB.
We of course headed to Beastie, where we are pleases to announce that today it was running with its mid-course brake OFF. PKI has a nice wood coaster, it just happens to be located in kiddieland. We then walked down by Ghoster Coaster noted the real short queue. Shorter than we have seen it in ages, and decided "What the heck, lets take our ride for the season" I have issues getting into and out of the Ghoster Coaster bats. Therefore I limit my rides on it. However a line this short warents a ride. I must be getting better at getting in and out of them becuase I di not have as much trouble today. Ghoster Coaster is a really neat ride, especially when it first comes off the elevator and you can't visually verify that the track is lined up. Its a really neat ride, just a note to the guys that unless you like talking like Mickey Mouse, proper riding posture is in order here.
We exited after a delightful ride on Scooby's Ghoster Coaster (and why do I fit better on the KIDDIE coasters, then the ADULT coaster cars!) My body dimensions do not suggest this to be the case.
We then got in line for Reptar, chose the back seat, where again I had no problems with the belt/shoulder bar. Reptar has added a new higher floor in the station, and my feet do not seem to hit the floor of the lift hill anymore. Minor improvements to the ride. The ride is still as fun as ever, and we saw Dan Haverlock. Talked for a bit, wnet over and looked at Wild Thronberries, noted the elephant was not shooting far enough to get riders wet. concession to cold weather, I guess, and then deicded to head to Tomb Raider. Third row this time. I will withhold furhter TR comments as I combined them up into the spoiler guarded section above.
After TR, we headed back to Coney, where we saw the Flyers just calling our name. We took ac ouple Flyers rides, had fun again. Nice action. Then we went to ride Vortex.
Vortex is runing all three trains this week, and was running nice ad smooth, as far as Vortex goes, then we headed to Monster. Monster is one of those nice spin rides, except that PKI's is fickle, As a consession to the small crowd they were only loading two arms of the Monster. My tub spun wildly at first then calmed down and just sort of stayed put, Rideman's tub never really got started.
We then headed to Adventure Express. As we entered Oktoberfest I asked Dave if the Deli was open, He thought I meant food, Nope, the Ham on Rye was still closed. We then took a ride on Adventure Express. Another fine consistent ride. Though the guy at the top still isn't saying "Now You Will Pay" Maube he is teaching the idol in TR the line.
We left Adventure Express, and took a look at the closed Ham on Rye. We half excpected to see people use the seats as park benches as the attraction was totally unattended, not roped off, and the chairs looks a lot more comfortable than the park benches. I can't fiqure this one out.. Twenty captains chairs, each fitted with a stereo headset, a Virtual Reality visor, and a keypad. The keypads look like numeric keypads taken out of a data entry office, excpet with they keys relabled to suit the purpose. My question is, once you have the visor on, how are you supposed to see the numeric keypad. Some of us computer users may be able to find the keys by tactile feel, but I can't say that for everybody, Next question is the same as I have for DDR, Euro-Bungy and Tramp Things: What is the point?
We took one more Racer ride, I had a fine ride, Dave got Torue Lock. I can't figure it out.
We then headed over to Flight of Fear, I rode in the front seat, on the LEFT as per my earlier rant. FoF is really one of PKI's finest coasters right now: Smooth, swift, action packed, non braked, no headbanging, its just about perfect.
We then headed over for a final spin on the Flyers. We noted an all different crew on the Flyers than earlier today, or last week. We rode, we got some good action. At the end of the ride we, per ususal Flyer tradition applied the Fred Flintstone Tub Brake. (A big foot on the ground dragging the tub to a stop) For countless Flyer rides last week, and for two Flyer sessions this week this was fine and good. This time we got scolded by the ride ops for it. Must have been a ride op who is paranoid over guest safety and lookig like you are trying to exit the rude tub while wildly swigning, when in fact you are saving said ride op work, and possibly trying to cause the ride op to not have injuries. I mean it can't be good to try to stop a wilding swinging 400lb tub with 2XX lb.s of Flyer rider in it. Some of us bigger Flyer riders have seen ride ops get knocked to the ground trying to stop the tubs from flying. However we can stop them pretty consitently, swiftly and safely with the Fred Flintsone Tub Brake. We figure that this particular ride op will get the message when he too gets knocked to the ground.
From the Flyers we went to the Troika and had a fast smooth ride on it, we then walked right past the Flyers not wanting to deal with the current crew, and headed over to Beast. Close the night on Beast, you know PKI tradition and all.
We rode Beast, looked at our watched 6pm on an 8pm close, and yet the park was closing. While this is not unexpected due to the small crowd size, it is unusual as I had not seen that park close early before for lack of crowds. Two hours early.
What does upset me is the WAY the park announced it. Basically "Parks Closed now, go home"
Dan Haverlock was the first to mention it to us, as when we went up he mentioned the 6pm close noted on the front gate, and how he thought the schedule said 8pm. The update seemed to spread by word of mouth. Sean Flaharty had heard about it somewhere. However, we heard no offical park announceent about it. If the park did make an announcement they either need to a)work into improving their public address system or b) making repeated periodic announcements as we had not heard about it from any park sourse. At 6pm the park guests looked confused, folks were still heading back towards the rides after 6pm, at the front gate a queue had formed to talk with Guest Relations. (We presume to give them hell about the early close). Noticeably lacking were any sings througout the park noting the closing time, no sings at the front gate apologizing for the early close, no GR people or staff period apologizing for the early close. Ya know Jacob mentioned that the Marketing department has it made in the shade becuase they have a lot of medicore attractions that are highly marketable. I feel sorry for the Guest Realtions Department that has to clean up after an Operations department that makes a lot of decisions that I don't quite understnd/agree with. Closing the park early, poor to no communication to the paying customers so they can adjust for the early close, the whole Gold Pass program, preffered parking, the obscenely high cost of games/food/gifts/parking/upcharge attrctions, attractions the marketing department did a fine job marketing the heck out of that don't live up to the hype, etc.
There weren't even any big signs warning incoming guests of the early close, they just non chanlantly changed the usual park closing signs, and acted like it was a 6pm close all along.
Thing is PKI has a lot of good rides, they have a nice layout and all, the rides just need some tweaking (mainly to the rolling stock), and some of the operational policies need some tweaking. I realize they want to maximize their revenue, but do they have to make it quite so obvious. PKI has the potential to be a fine amusement park, lets hope for a change in management phiolosophy soon.
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