Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
May 19, 2002
This is the fith part of the Eric and Dave Coaster trip. Today, however we took a trip to my home park, PKI.
We arrived at the park shortly after 9, and thanks to the free parking passes they gave away with early season pass renewals we did not have to pay the $8 parking fee. We entered the lot and as has been usual, we passed on Gold Pass Parking for an even closer space in the unrestricted part of the lot. Yes, there are a precious few unrestricted spaces close to the gate in the SouthEast quadrant of the main lot (as opposed to Deep South, which is even more southeast).
Shortly thereafter we were walking in the front gate. A quick check revealed that the green arrow on the admission computer still points AWAY from the park. We also skipped the ACE walk-back in favor of Gold Pass Early Rides. Today Gold Pass ERT was scheduled on Vortex, Beast, and Tomb Raider. I think in the end only Beast and Tomb Raider were open, as it was quite chilly this morning (46 degrees). The gold pass checkpoint was on the obrder between International Street and Hanna Barbera Land closest to where the rainbow *sniff* used to stand. We then proceeded through a closed HB and most of Rivertown. I was especially eager to hear Eric's reaction to Tomb Raider as he had not experienced it. For myself, I was eager to see if the magnetic braking situation on Beast had improved any.
We approached Tomb Raider and saw that the ride was open and nobody was around it. We entered the TR:TR line (Caution: May contain spoiler information), and the first thing I noticed was that the outdoor queue area has received some canvas shading. We proceeded along the path delineated by welded bamboo and entered the tomb. We walked through the empty dark tomb straight into the Monkey Room. We headed to the center row by chance as there was no grouper directing us, and not enough people in the Monkey Room to need grouped. Just as we got in line the big sliding door opened up. This is about as walkon-ish as you can get on Tomb Raider. We entered the preshow room and the door was sealed as soon as we entered but there was a short delay in showing the pre-show movie. The room, I noticed did go pitch black right before the pre-show so they are back to the way they operated opening weekend. I really like sealing the door as soon as the last person enters as it adds to the effect, allows them to get the next group ready, and you still have ample fire exits.
Preshow eneded, we entered the ride chamber, the ride offered a couple flips, and not all the effects were working but you've read enough about the Tomb Raider experience from me and others in previous reports. What is important here is that when the ride ended Eric's reaction was typical "Is that it?", "Is the ride over?", "It's over already?", "That was too short!", "Where's the big grand ending?". Okay, maybe those aren't quotes but they capture the feeling that somewhere they were on the right track but just failed to reach the mark of a satisfying experience.
We left TR:TR and headed to Beast. Beast has had a minor queue rearrangement. The park is already thinking to crowded days. In peak times, the TR:TR line will be doubled back past the cave opening and the jeep (can you say "line jumping potential", I knew you could), and the overflow will wrap around in the big open deadend walkway between Beast and TR:TR. Of course you may be thinking "That's where Beast overflow goes", Nope Beast overflow has been routed down the hill in front of Beast Aracade and out to its usual lakeside path. Personally if TR:TR line every totally fills the outdoor queue and is wrapped back to the Jeep: Run Away Fast! Anyway we entered the Beast line and discovered a total walk on. Only the front and back cars even had people riding in them. We opted for a back seat ride, and I must say the brakes have been lightened up to the point that Beast is giving an acceptable ride this year. With the deserted station, we then walked around and decided to wait out the front seat queue. We rode Beast in the front seat, Eric got to see the new brakes in all their glory, and we decided we still like the back of the train better. Of special note though was how SLOW the Beast was climbing the first lift hill. Its curious, now with three trains you drop down the first drop just as a train is heading from the helix to the brake run. (The third train advances to the station as soon as the train before makes the turn right before the first lift hill).
As we exited our second Beast ride we noted that the Earthlings had been allowed to ride the rides We decided to catch anoter TR:TR while the line was short. Ok, the line was just backed up into the outdoor queues and took about 45 minutes. The same TR:TR ride except that we rode up in the front row.
After TR:TR we headed up the hill into Coney Mall, and spotting no line at all for the Flying Eagles, headed for a Flyers ride. We were just standing there minding our own business, watching the flyers fly when Rideman appears in the queue behind us. The three of us put on a mini air show exhbiting our Flying Skills. In fact we rode 3 or 4 times beofre heading to Flight of Fear. Flight of Fear was a near walk on, and its one of the best coasters at PKI right now. (Whoda thought we'd ever say that about FoF) FoF delivered a fun fast intense ride, and soon we were headed down to Racer. We opted to ride the forwards racer, and opted to ride in the rows 2 and 3. After riding Blue Streak earlier that week, Racer was just an underperforming theme park woodie. There really wasn't much remarkable about that Racer ride, so we headed to Adventure Express.
Adventure Express was another near walk on, and we found out that the guy who shouts "Now YOu Will Pay" must still be training the characters on TR:TR. Its still a fine mine ride though, and upon exiting we passed by the Edge. The Edge is a rock climbing wall with an agressive operator. Upon seeing Eric carrying his videocamera, she offered to videotape him if he climbed the wall. Eric turned to me and said "Only if he does it!", I turned to the operator and asked about the weight limit. I learned that I exceed the Rock Wall weight limit, which offered me an easy out to the situation.
Speaking of pay extras, we checked out the SpringShot, we were interested in riding it but not for $20 per person. We continued around and took a ride on Top Gun. Top Gun is a really nice suspended coaster, especially after recent Iron Dragon rides. We decided that the Son of Beast line was a bit long and headed to Face/Off. We no sooner entered the Face/Off queue when the following announcement was made "Attention Face/Off is temporarilly closed". Right on cue we did an about face and exited the queue line, then decided to exit the park as well.
No we were not upset about missing that fine Vekoma ride, but we were getting hungry, and an out-of-park dining experience sounded much better than an overpriced in-park dining experience. We had lunch and returned to the park. We noted that the North toll plaza was closed but they were re-routing those coming in the South plaza past the gold pass lot and into the North lot. Speaking of which there was no-one monitioring the Gold Pass lot. Luckily we used Rideman's car which was not previously parked in a really good parking space.
We re-entered the park and picked up where we left off. That is to say we walked back and rode Son of Beast. Son of Beast is on my list of rides with no redeaming qualities. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. They were still having issues with Face/Off but that wasfine as we decided to head over to Phantom Theater anyway. Phantom Theater is the park's dark ride. a dark ride which is rumoured to be in its last season, a dark ride that was just recentlly overhauled to the point where it works better than it has in years. Phantom Theater may not be the best dark ride, but it sure is a good one. We exited Phantom Theater and took a spin on Beastie. Beastie is the parks wooden junior coaster.The Beastie also has a hard trim brake which ruins he second half of the ride, especially since the last dip was unprofiled out a few years back. We then crossed accross the area to Reptar. Reptar had ahalf full queue but hey Eric had never ridden this one either. We waited it out and rode in the back seat. A really like Reptar, its got a quick snappy layout.
We then observed that the elephant on Wild Thornberries was firing good bursts of water they were just premature to hit the boat riders. We skipped Wild Thornberries and headed towards TR:TR. Seeing a sizable queue we skipped TR:TR and headed to Beast. We took a backseat Beast ride due to the short wait and wathced Rideman get frustrated with the ride crew. We then headed back to the Flyers for the mid-afternnon performance of our air show. (Yep a few more rides never hurt anyone) We then took a Vortex ride since it was there. Vortex is going a bit faster through the midcourse block than before and you can't beat that first drop airtime in the back car.
We then decided to pcik up the coasters we skipped. We first headed to recaR. (Backwards Racer) and took a ride in the back seat. We noted that one the blue recaR train nifty litle flags have been added that pop up whenever the lapbars are unlocked. Interesting idea, curious to see where they go with it. We then headed over to Face/Off and though we had to wait a little bit we got our Face/Off ride in dueling seats We then caught another ride on Adventure Express before closing the night on another Flyer Air Show.
My thrid to last Flyer ride was remarkable in that I was getting Knoebels' quality snappage. My last ride of the night was remarkable in that the operator gave us a double ride.
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