Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
August 15, 2004
"It was a different kind of day"
Through a bizzare set of circumstances, the composition of our group to PKI changed. Originally my Aunt and Uncle were going to PKI, and I would meet up with them, then my Mom decided to join in. Well The aunt and uncle had to cancel out due to illness, so it wound up just Mom and I going to the park.
Due to some early morning commitments, we didn't wind up leaving for the park until 11AM. Although I have a season pass, I would have to get a 1 day ticket for mom. I first tried the on-line ticket promotion, where I noticed something new since my last visit to that site. You see to get the highly toted discount price of $32.99 you must now purchase your ticket at least 7 days in advance, if you need to use your ticket sooner, the web discount price is $38.99. My mom qualifies for the senior price, and I noticed the web offered no discount off of the $25.99 gate price.
So on the way to the park we stopped of at McDonalds and visions of Egg McMuffin's danced in my head. I thought they served breakfast later on Sundays, but was soon disapointed to be eating a Big Mac and fries. While their I checked in at the Blockbuster next door.. No senior discounts but you could buy a ticket for $32.99 and take it to the park the same day.
After eating and driving to the park, we arrived just in time to get stuck in the 12:!5 rush to get into the park. The toll plaza was very busy, and mom was a more than a little shocked to learn the parking price is now $9, I have a parking pass, so we entered the lot for free, and searched for a space.
We walked up to the front gate, and I came to terms that this would be a very expensive day at the park for me. It seems that PKI is running all kinds of limited time offers to get us to renew earler and earier each year. This year those renewsing and using their special flyer get a special reduced price and tons of free perks based on when they purchase/process their pass. The renew price is $79.99 and all renewal passes are Gold, the posted gate price is $84.99 for a regular and $89.99 for a Gold pass. The free goodies include a 2005 parking pass, gold pass upgrade, free guest ticket for Aug 29, 2004, free Fearfest admission, and all the gold pass goodies.
Warning: Season pass bring-a-friend tickets are only good on August 29, 2004. Plan your park visits accordingly. I presume as an anti-scalping measure the tickets must be picked up by August 28. On the other hand the park just announced they will be open from Aug23-27, which represents a schedule change.
So, I obtained and processed my 2005 season pass, The new passes are a lot prettier than the 2004 passes, but a couple things concern me. As several signs in the processing center state, the word "Parking" will NOT appear on your pass, your parking pass is embeded in the bar code. Thats all well and good, but with no visible way to eyeball a pass and determine if it has parking privileges seems to be a mistake, and is just asking for problems at the toll plazas next year. I wonder if they are intending to announce parking as a standard season pass benefit early next year, thus eliminating the need to make parking passes. The other thing is that I can't seem to find 2005 on my pass anywhere, I wonder if they intend to use a distincitve design for each year.
While I was in the pass processing center, I noticed a nice bulletin board of upcoming events, and I was handed a 2004 season pass calendar. Gee, ths stuff would be nice to get during the season, not at the end of it. In all fairness, PKI does have a superior pass processing arangement that put's that park up Norths to shame.
So I then checked the closings board, and noted the only closure was Nickelodeon Splat City (water maze), and that the park would close at 10PM. we made our way through the security check, I purchased mom an admission ticket (yes for $25.99). We made our way through the front gate turnstile, and I went to get a Fun Guide. A notice posted on the rack that contains Fun Guides advised that the show scheudle in the guide was incorrect, and that the correct show schedule could be obtained at the info booth under Eiffel Tower. I suspect that they just ran out of Aug 15 guides, and put up the Aug 16 guides. I also picked up an orange flyer telling me that the parade would be at 5pm, nick character meet and greets would end at 3:30, and that the parade route has changed. (Of course with the Aug 16 park guides there was no parade route marked in the fun guide anyway)
Our next stop was to look at the Italian Job preview. It consisted of a facade surrounding the park logo at the head of the fountain, a few sketches and renderings of the ride, and a couple mini-coopers. I took some photos and we headed to Eiffel Tower. As my mom does not ride much, I knew that the show schedule would be important. We also stopped for our Keyhole Photo, got some free fudge samples, on the way to Eiffel Tower.
At Tower I noted the posted show schedule. There were three real live entertainment offerings, as the Nicktoons show was dark and the karaoke is in the evening. The shows are arranged so that unless you want to sprint down International Street, you can watch one show around 3PM and the other around 7PM. With the parade at 5PM that owuld make one show every other hour. While I was at Tower I was surprised to learn that they were still handing out Walk On Weekends tickets. This special Gold Pass program is limited to only 1,500 per day. Either I underestimate the number of gold pass holders who visit the park, or their isn't much utilization of this program.
Knowing that using priority boardings would allow me to get more rides in today without taking up much time, I picked up a green sheet of tickets, which contained tickets for Scooby Doo, Wild Thornberries and Beast, then I elected to use my optional ride on Delirium, so I recieved a red ticket for Delirium. The tickets look a lot like FastPass and each give a 1 hour window during which you can enter the ride through a special entrance. I was a bit dismayed to learn that all 4 rides had times of "Between 5:15 and 6:15", not only did this interfere with the parade, but man just getting on the rides would involve some fast stealth park navigation. Could they not spread the rides out throughout the day?
I checked my watch, learned it was just before 1PM, so we headed to Scooby Doo. The line for Scooby was all the way back to the face painting stand, and took about 40 minutes. I noted the line seems to move a lot faster once you reach the bridge over the moat.
My mom really liked Scooby and managed to get 480 on her first ride. I was of course well over 1,200. Its a fun ride, and a great addition as the rides popularity will attest to. After our ride on Scooby, we decided to head towards Action Zone to begin our tour of the park.
We reached the Paramount Theater and noted that they were admitting guests for the 2PM showing of "Making of the Movies: Live". Therefore we entered the newly renovated theatre and found seats in the back row.
By now most people have seen the show, with its movie theater style pre-show entertainment slides, then the short video clip about Paramount Studios, then the segment on Foley artists, then the movie preview, then the green-screen demo, and of course Titanic 2: Still Crusising, finally capped of with the montage of greatest film moments.
While Mom enjoyed the show, her initial reaction when the house lights came up was "That's It?" , its a good concept just seems underdeveloped, and is demonstrating movie making techniques that are now old hat, and well played out in other parks movie making demos. . She also noticed the seats were way more comfortble than the old benches. BTW: did you know the megaphone says "Rydell High"??
We then entered the Action Zone, where I showed mom the area, noted the line for Face/Off was longer than I wanted to wait, and wound up taking a solo ride on Top Gun.
Top Gun had a minimal wait, just down to the bottom of the stairs up to the station. I son found myself for a short but fun ride in the front row of the back car. On my way back up the hill from Top Gun, I noted the Son of Beast line was way too long, about halfway through the queue maze and a good way up the hill. I also noted a train parked on the brake being attended to, and the first aid truck at the rides exit ramp. Why am I not surprised?
I noticed the Ice Scream Zone now has the blue ice cream, in fact we got some ice cream at $2.50 each. We passed by Delirium, but I declined it since I will be 'fast-passing' it later in the day. We made our way through Oktoberfest where I skipped Adventure Express as the line was back out to the midway, and we entered Coney.
In Coney I took a ride on the forwards Racer as the line was just back to the midway with none of the queue house in use. Some time later, thanks to the sluggish crew, I was in the front seat of the back car. I recieved a typical mediocre Racer ride, and soon it was back to walking the park.
I noted people coming out of the Flight of Fear building through the entrance, so I skipped it. We crossed the path by the Ring Toss, and shortly past the High Striker I noted a PKI flag that had a bad encounter with the light pole next to it. The bottom corner on the fly end of the flag looked as if it were swiss cheese with all the burn holes in it.
Anyway, we were soon at the Vortex end of the midway, and knowing the Vortex is a capacity machine and the line was just back to the end of the fenced in line area, I took a ride in the very back seat of Vortex. The airtime loaded first drop was great, and for some reason the ride didn't seem near as bad, as it seemed like a nice fun ride. The three people that shared my car were all coming off complaining of major headbanging, but it didn't seem that bad to me. Of course ther heads were a the wrong height....
I then took a look at a completely full queue area for the Flying Eagles so I skipped it.
Noting the time, it was almost time for the parade, so we found a good spot on the inner ring of Tower that gave a staium view over the grass to the outer ring below. Really a great viewpoint. We shared an elepahnt ear while we waited, and soon the parade started. The theme song seemed catchy, but it didn't have long term appeal as something that would roll around in your head. The parade reached the International Bandstand at 5:07 and was completely past at 5:15. I wonder if we got short changed as this was the parades last run. The floats looks really nice, and the performers had lots of enegry and seemed to be having fun, but I thought there was going to be more interactivity. We were right by a Nick logo and everything. Just watch out for evil elephant's brother who marches in the parade squirting water on the crowd.
5:15, actually that works out perfect. I left my Mom to explore International Street by herself while I went to run the PKI WOW Pass Mini Marathon.
I cut through the Emporium and thus avoided the large crowd on International Street, and cutting through the Festhaus soon reached Delirium. I had heard rumours of a festhaus fire but nothing seemed out of place.
I entered Delirium through the left hand lane, which goes right to the pre-load area without going throught the queue maze. I found myself in the next group to be let into the preload area. As Delirum had a full queue maze and all the way back out to the midway, I saved a great deal of time, and soon was riding one of the hottest new flat ride success stories. Its intense spinny good fun!
I exited Delirum, and not withit being 5:35 I didn't know if I would have time to use all 4 tickets, I headed straight to the back of the park to ride Beast. At Beast I entered the left queue again, and went through the incredibly tacky new queue that runs along the outisde of the normal queue. I climbed the final ramp up to the statiojn to chants of "Bullshit!, Bullshit!" The Beast line was back out to the midway the the enire first queue house in use. I was imediatly admitted to the seat queues without any wait, and then after only a 2 train wait, I found myself in seat #2. Seat 1.2 is my new favorite seat on Beast based purely on rider comfort, All in all, it seemed to be a fast smooth Beast ride, above average even.
After Beast I mae the sprint to Wild Thornberries, and at 6:00 the greeter was dropping a chain blocking the right hand lane, a lane that bypasses the full queue house, goes around a corner, behind a fence, and up some stairs to go along isde the normal queue and right to a waiting log with no waiting. There wound up being 3 of us in the WOW lane, so I jumped into theback of the log and slid all the way back. The other 2 refused to board the log. I strongly suspect this has something to do with the fact that people don't want to ride rides sitting in someone elses crotch unless they have a relationship going on with that person. So I wound up with a log all to myself with a real long queue. I almost felt bad:)
The ride on Wild Thornberries was really fun, and I was totally dry until the evil elephant took care of me. :) After exiting I looked out the station window and saw the skull and crossbones on the first lift from the window.
I looked at my watch, 6:10, I don't know how rigidly that 6:15 time limit is enforced, and as I did something I rarely do, I forgot to take off my glasses before riding, I had to attend to drying glasses before continuting on.
I wound up announcing my presence at Ghastly Manor with 2 minutes to spare. Lets note that I walked through the park alone and at a brisk pace and it took me darned near the whole hour, groups don't stand a chance if anybody has any ideas of games, food, or restrooms.
The WOW line for Scooby was all the way back to under MAestro's former balcony in the queue house. They were merging by alternating between WWO groups and standby groups. I wound up riding another ride completely alone, and took advantage of that fact to smoke 1,560 out of the ride. Its amazing what you can do in the center seat without those annoying riding partners with good aim who are also blockng your vision.
I finsihed my Scooby ride, and with a few minuted before the meeting time, I walked through the glassblowe shop. I spotted a nice piece consisting of an Eagle and a flagpole with an American Flag. I took note of it and met Mom at the Tower to compare notes. It seems mom also noticed the same piece, and with mom being a big blown glass collector, she had only resisted buying it to see if I got a Gold Pass discount. (Yeah, right)
We then picked up some soft drinks. PKI has changed from selling 20oz. bottled drinks for $2.75. They now sell 24oz. bottled drinks for $3.00. All in all its actually a better per-ounce price, but don't tell the park that.
After picking up soft drinks we went in to watch Tuned In. Tuned In is a music revuew themed to presumably Viacom TV networks: CMT, BET, TV Land, and VH1. Sadly the now use recorded music instead of a band. The show was the typical arm waving theme park show. I noteed the Love Boat captain adornedin feathers. And, oh I miss the Jeffersons. They had that theme song rolling around in my head. Mom seemed to enjoy this show better than the other shows.
After Tuned In, we did a walking tour of HB, and I noted the water maze was open, despite positings to the contrary. I didn't look at Beastie, but Taxi Jam, Ghoster Coaster and Reptar all had long lines.
I decided to get into the competetive game spirit and found myself handing over $3 to pit my water gun shooting skills against my fellow park guests. Well, I didn't get a gold medal or a laurel wreath, but I did get a nice sized orange and white Clown Fish (I Won Nemo!!!)
After winning Nemo, I showed mom the redone Wild Thornberries and showed her Evil Elephant as a was of explainging why I got wet.
We then bypassed the Rapids Ride, and we took a ride on the Train. The train is a nice slow relazing ride, mom got a glimpse of Boomerang Bay, we hear the story of The Real McCoy, and soon found our way back in the park. The train made a real evil noise going past the back of the picnic grove, I hope the train is okay, and I wonder if they have a bad spot of track.
We continued the tour, I skipped Tomb Raider with its full queue maze, and I had alread ridden Beast, so we found ourselves in Coney. The line for Flying Skooters was onyl through 1 swtchback, so I decided to take a ride. I suppose mom has not watched me on the Flyers since I have honed my ACE piloting skills. I actually scared mom, she was sure I was going to fall out of the tub. In other words, I had a wonderful if rediculously short Snap-A-Riffic flight. They have taken to ringing the bell to tell you it is safe to unload. On my cycle they rang the bell, I looked out, and I didn't even feel comfortable deploying the 'landing gear' let alone getting out of the tub. Mom also told me that the Flying Skooter was my grandfathers favorite ride, and she enjoyed it as well, but "We never flew them like maniacs" How many bonus point in Flyer scoring to you get for scareing your mother????=
We proceeded down the midway, we reched Flight of Fear,, whcih was back past the 1 hour sign. I decided not to wait for it, and instea headed to a walk on backwards Racer (recaR). recaR runs a lot smoother than Racer and has some nice air moments on the oubound leg, if not for that trim brake. And hey they were actually racing them!.
While in Coney I showed mom the Worlds Largest Skill Crane Machine in the Coney Arcade. ($2.00 per game, 3/$5) I mean this machine is HUGE and the prizes are HUGE. It must be seen to be beleived.
I finished up my ridng night by taking a walk-on ride n Adventure Express and we then headed up towards the Tower. We stopped to get a funnel cake, and after waiting in a long line, I found myself handing over $4.30 for a funnel cake.\
We enjoyed the funnel cake at the Eiffel Tower, then we walked over to the glassblower shop to go purchase our Flag toting Eagle. Wow popular piece, they sold a lot since 6PM, but luckily they still had one left. We bought our souvenir, then headed towards the front gate.
On the way out, we stopped to look at our two keyhole photos, We did not pay $10 for a park photo, but we did startle the attendant with our photo that was takin back by the antiuqe cars. "Since when did we take photos THERE!"
Our plan had been to get out of the park by 9PM to beat the crowds out. We started to head out of the prk when BOOM! Fireworks. 10PM. We stuck around to watch the Fireworks show, which meant we had to sit aorund in the parking lot awhile for the crowd to clear out. We stopped off past White Castles on the way home. (Hey, the service was way better than that I recieved on my last trip to the Fields Ertel Steak and Shake!)
Wow, a wonderfully fun day at the park with my Mother. It wqas interesting hearing mon's review of the park as she had not been there in three years. Mom thought the park was being well maintained, looked very clean and lots of new paint. Shw also thought the midways looked overcrowded with food and gift carts, and that she didn't like how they shoehorn new stuff in, or worse yet replace older stuff. She also thought he landscaping has gone way downhill in regards to trees and floweers and topiaries and other lpark beautification. She enjoyed Scooby and the shows, but laments when KI had a real live entertainment schedule.
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