Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island

Mason, OH

April 18, 2004

"The 2004 Coaster Season has begun"

Today started the serious coaster season of 2004 for me. Sure, I did cheat a little in the off-season and ride a Miler coaster a few times, but oday marks the official return to the parks for me.

The usual suspects, Dave Althoff and I headed to PKI, and arriving well after the walk back we proceeded into the park where we noticed the self-serve admission lanes have been removed, but there seemed to be fingerprint readers in place in all the admission lanes. While they were not in use today, I wonder if Paramount will be the next chain to go with fingerprint validation of season passes, or two day tickets.

We then safely avoided the photo taker ambush, and headed directly to the Flying Skooters. My last ride of 2003 at PKI was the Flying Skooters, and so we started there today. I must say it did not take long for me to warm up, and I had nice snappy ride. Say it with me "KER-CHUNK" It appears as though the Eagles may have gotten a fresh coat of paint. At any rate, it is good to see the park taking such good care of ithis classic. Flying Eagles - Soaring, Graceful! Yeah, Right!

After our Flying Eagles ride, we joind Sean F. and company and headed down to Flight of Fear. On our way to Flight of Fear we noted the signage was gone for the helicopter ride attraction, we then entered the hangar, and could we have a little light on those stairs before somebody gets hurt. If not light how about some glow-in-the-dark or UV paint to make the steps more visible in the dark, We made our way to Flight of Fear which was just a station wait. I am happy to report I did not have any trouble getting into the train, and a few moments later we were off.

Flight of Fear is a poster child for dramatic ride improvement, from 1999 to 2001 it made great strides in quality, mainly related to losing the shoulder bars. Today, only the theme lights were on in the bowl, and the mid-course was on light. Flight of Fear, however may be the best operating coaster in the entire park right now. More on that subject later.

We walked down to Racer, and while Sean F. and company were debating whether or not to actually ride Racer, we took rides on both Racer a recaR. First a note about seatbelts, if you can't fit under these seatbelts, there is just no hope for you. Let's just say the belts will fit anybody who can be accomodated by the lap bar, and some who can't. Now, I want all the other wood coaster operators to come look at this seatbelt arangement. It accomodates anybody the train will accomodate, will self-retract to fit the person, and is very easy to fasten. These belts did not seem to slow down loading at all.

Now onto the ride, the forwards side of Racer was running rough. Rougher than the profile suggests. I mean out and back rides are ususally pretty smooth, but Racer seems to vibrate and bounce its way through the course. Shame, I can remember when Racer was a real smooth, fun ride.

We then took a ride on backwards Racer (recaR). Our ride was slightly delayed because of a rider that was having so much fun they couldn't contain themselves. recaR always seems to run smoother than Racer. Maybe its becuase it doesn't seem to operate as much as Racer. It looks like backwards is the way to go for a fun Racer ride this year.

We then noted that we lost Sean F. and group, so we headed to yet another walk on, Adventure Express. Adventure Express seems to have a new sound effect in the second tunnel, and the service lights were on in tunnel 3, and the door open in tunnel 4. They seem to not want the tunnels to be dark. Theming elements asside, Adventure Express is still a real fun ride.

We then went to join the crowd in the Action Zone. We first rode Delirium which had a 3-4 cycle wait. Delirium still has it! Its one of PKI's best newer additions, it has spin, it has swing, it has power, and it has some weird g-force sensations. What's not to like.

After Delirium we headed over to Drop Zone, and noting only a 3 cycle wait, we got in line. We spotted Sean F. while we were entering the queue ( It seems we would be near each other most of the day). As you may have heard Drop Zone has new seats, well at least new seat covers. The seats are now black instead of yellow. The restraint system appears to be the same. Soon, we were loaded onto the ride, and I learned that my struggle with the shoulder bars on Drop Zone are not cuased by my gut! Instead the bar hits my relatively hard shoulder blades long before it hits my relatively cushy gut. In fact when I first looked, I thought there was no way the seatbelt was going to reach. Then I slouched down in the seat, At this point we were more fighting my gut, rather than my shoulders to get the bar locked but my gut has more give. Long story short, we finally got the belt fastened (that is I got the belt fastened while Dave Althoff, Jr. played the role of stapling ride op to help me)

What I noticed is that in order to fit in the seat, I had to slouch way down to the point where my back was 4 inches or so off the seatback. Well, anything for a ride, right? We went up and I thought you used to get 2 revolutions, but they seemed to have cut it down to 1 revolution., Then WHAMO, 300' straight down! I'm Awake! Drop Rides, so much goodness packed into so little time.

We then looked around, and decided to ride the coasters of Action Zone. We had heard Jeff Siebert talk about some new tracking technology that was going to make Son of Beast a better ride. So, against our better judgement "I have a very bad feeling about this", "I'm going to regret this" we boarded Son of Beast. Hardly any wait for it, so why not? We took a ride in 6.2 . I now know why they put the on-ride camera at the base of the lift hill. Photos of smiling riders sell better than photos of grimmacing riders. Whatever they did to it, did not do anything to improve ride performance. If only we could replace those two helixes with nice out and back segments, maybe all would be well. So after our 2004 Son of Beast ride, the ride remains "A Pile Of Worthless Crap" Wait, that remark may be unfair to the pile of worthless crap.

After that awful coaster experience, we went and rode Top Gun. Top Gun may be short, and it may be a long walk back there (especially with the re-ride gate closed), but it is a fun ride, its actually a great suspeneded coaster, just a wee bit short. I noticed they replaced the tarps under the bogies. The new tarps have even more grommets than the old ones. I'd stay off this ride in the rain, if I were you.

We then headed over to Face/Off. Face/Off has a bit of a wait, but nothing serious. Face/Off is a really fun Vekoma coaster. No, I really mean that! Face/Off is a great, if short ride. Face/Off seems to have gotten new OTSR's as well. The new ones are mostly black, with a big yellow section at the bottom.

Leaving Face/Off I checked my watch, and it seemed we had accompished a lot in the three hours we had been at the park so far. We then walked past the Making of the Movies show which was to start in 34 minutes, but decided against it. We headed around past the front gate, again dodgin the photo patrol that was still posted, and made our way to Hana Barbera Land.

Our next stop was Scooby Doo and the Hauned Castle. The line was just across the the bridge across the Moat ("MoatLand: Have your X coupons ready!), we then entered the Entrance Hall "Entrance Hall Land, (have your Y tickets ready)", and proceeded down in Stairland ("Have your Z tickets ready") [Footnote 1]

A while later we were boarding our Mini Mystery Machine, and riding through Ghastly Manor. After our first ride, I sorrowfully admit I am 0/1 for Scooby rides this year, I lost by about 100 points. We even had a wheelchair rider head start! (The ride slows down while loading wheelchair riders)

We then went over to Beastie, and after a a while we were in the back car of Beastie. Beastie is the best running wood coaster in the park, but of course they could not have it flawless, they had to add a trim brake just ro remind you that "You can't have it all".

From Beastie, we continued our tour of the park with Reptar, noticing a longer than we wanted to wait line for Ghoster Coaster, anyway Reptar's line didn't look all that long, but it was moving slower than I recall it being in the past. After a longer wait than expected we boarded Reptar. Reptar is another fine Vekoma ride, no I mean it, Reptar is another fun Vekoma ride! No complaints about this one, though I would rather be on Flight of Fear.

By this time a snack was in order, and so noting that the Krusty Krab Snack Shack is STILL out of Krabby Patties, I settled for a Smurfberry Ice Cream is avery smurfy dish. How was it? Just Smurfy! It should be for $2.50. I mean $2.50 is what I am used to paying for two dips of Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream at Graeter's (the nations best ice cream flavor, at the nations best ice cream shop, not that I think highly of it or anything :) )

We then took a walking tour of Rivertown where we saw that parade they must be talking about. I didn't notice any elaborate floats, but we did see about half a dozen people marching around with pool noodles, inviting us to Come Along, Come Along, to the ,ooops, wrong park, sorryy. Anytway they were pushing the Meet the Nicktoons Live show. We declined.

The two water rides looked to have a bit of a wait, and with each of us having camera gear that we deem valuable, we decided against water attractions.

We did take a nice sit in the train station and waited for a train to arrive, then we took a nice relaxing train ride. Of course, our main purpose for riding the train ride was to check on Boomerang Bay. It sees to be coming along, with Zinga, ooops, sorry, that wrong park thing again, all these parks just blend together after awhile, the Tazmanian Typhoon, and Coolangta Racers are showing great progress, and thats really about all we could notice from thet train excpet that al lot of our favorited are back under new names. Enjoy them folks, I won't be able to join you, as the copy of the PKI Park Guide 2004 states that "All Crocodile Dundees Waterslides are not recommeded for guests in excess of 250 pounds" Have Fun! Tell me how they are! David then re-reads the guide, WAIT thats a recommendation, not a prohibition - Boomerang Bay, here I come. Whats the WORST that could happen. :)

Speaking of the Boomerang Bay guide, it seems that while the "Awesome Aussie Twister" (Ultra Twister), and Bondi Pipeline (Bonzai) require their riders to be 46" tall, there is a big fat "X" in the 52" column. does that mean riders for those two slides must be between 46" and 52". If so, thats a drastic change, as I ahve been on both of them in the past, and I can't recall when I was under 52",

Also on the Park Map, there was no reference to Kookaburra Bay, did that attraction fall victim to budget cuts???

<Me dodges the PKI representative that just came to confiscate my copy of the PKI Park Guide>

Anyway, the tran then returned to Losantiville , which looks awfully similar to Rivertown. BTW: take a close look at the two small American flags on the fronts of the locomotives, take a close look at the field of stars. Its not 50, its not 48, I will leave as a trivia question the actual number of stars on those flags.

I noted the Kettle Corn place is still there, despite rumors to the contrary, then we headed back to Beast.

They had the new Beast video playing in the queue area, too bad the volume was turned down so low, and with the sun, the glare on the screen I only caught bits and pieces, but from what I saw it looks pretty good. Wonder if I can get the DVD in the gift shop. I noted the signs changed in the station, then we boarded the train, and headed up the first lift, with a new annoucement with safety annoucements alternating with assorted scary noises broadcaszt over what looks like a bunch of speakers they picked up at a closeout sale, I mean they must have half a dozen different models up there. Then the Beast went over the first drop.

I wish I could have nice things to say about the Beast on its 25th anniversary, but all for naught. The car we were in must have had square blocks for wheels, cause it Bumpda-BumpDa-BumpDa, bounce-bounce-bounced, jack hammered its way around the track. I mean there was not a shred of fun in that ride. That was bar-none, the worst Beast has ever run. Ick, get me our of Rivertown, that was HORRID. That actually made me start to think there was hope for SOB (Okay, not really, but the SOB ride was SMOOTHER than the Beast today, and that's saying something, and I thought the SOB ride was rough)

Maybe PKI can send its wood coaster maintenance crew to Holiday World to learn how to maintain a wood coaster. Just a thought.

We then finished up our tour of PKI's coasters with a ride on Vortex. Vortex was running about its usual self. Mediocre, but then maybe my judgement is cluded by that massive headache Beast just handed me.

We then inspected the arcades for Pinball, no machines to be found excpet a 4 player derby race redepmtion game that uses a pinball like mechanism. The Indiana riverboats should give PKI a bonus for teaching cincinnati children that gambling is cool. I mean redepmtion games these days aren't even skill based, they are essentially gambling machines. Luck seems to be the predominant decider between winners and loosers.

We then watched a mechanic climb into the center of the Wave Swinger, don't know what that was about, but the ride was operating later that same day.

We then headed to Festhaus to use one of the cleanest restrooms in the park, and I grabbed a soda, right before heading to Macking of The Movies.

Making of the Movies is the big new show this year in the masively upgraded Paramount Theater. Real theater seats (well they forgot the cup holders but its a step in the right direction), new AV equipment, all around a much upgraded facility.

The show itself, well I don't want to give too much away but heregoes:

All this with some comedy thrown in. All in all a pretty good show, and on par with what movie studio parks offer in this regard. Its a nice addition.  After the show, we toured the Emporium, and looked but did not buy a wide variety of merchandise. After the Emporium we took a ride up Eiffel Tower, where we noted the newly rehabbed elevators are ready. The biggest visible changes are the cars arre now lined in stainless steel and some of the metal grillwork in the door windows is gone.

My oh my, was it windy on top of tower, but we looked around, got some photos, decided that there are certain big buildings the park could do a better job of making look asthetically pleasing from the tower. Then headed back down the tower to spend the last half hour riding Coney Mall flat rides.

We took a ride on the newly rehabbed Scrambler, there seems to be a lot more than just fresh paint here. It looks like someone really did a nice job on this one. We then walked over and took a ride on Monster, then headed over to Wave Swinger, then onto Troika, and finally finishing up with anothr SNAP-TASTIC ride on the Flying Eagles.

Till next time,

[1] If you caught those obscure references, youtoo must have seen the fractured fairy tale, "Sleeping Beauty", which poked fun at Disneyland, if you didn't catch those references, there were from the fractured fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty".

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