Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island

August 29, 2004

"What sort of insane person goes to the park on "Bring a Friend Free Day?"

It was an unusual kind of day, and as such my cousin Ricky did not pick me up at Coasterville until almost 3pm, and then we still had the 17 mile drive to the park. When we arrived at the park and saw the parking lot, well things didnt look so good. If it wasn't for the fact that it was free, we would have been choosing another way to spend our time.

In fact, here it is 3:25 and cars are still streaming into the toll plaza. I used my parking pass, and for $0.00 later we entered the parking lot. Our next sign that this may not have been the greatest day to come was when were sent directly to the Boomerang Bay parking lot without given an option to even hunt for a space in the main lot. So after a bit of a drive and hunting for a space, we finally wound up in Boomerang Bay - Row 92. Folks from BeastBuzz, IIRC correctly row 94 is the end of the parking area. We were just about as Deep South as one could park. I have NEVER parked back this far in the lot except that time I came for Boomerang Bay and used the back gate.

The whole reason I came today was so that my cousin Ricky could use my "Bring a Friend" ticket. I quipped that had he been a season passholder we could have just entered through Boomerang Bay, but he isn't so its the long haul up to the main gate. Luckily for us, what do we see, a parking tram! The parking tram made getting to the gate a nice non-strenuous experience, and the parking tram even provided the first thrill of the day with that hairpin turn.

At around 3:45 we were dropped off at the main gate, and fate seemed to be on our side. As soon as we approached the security check area, they decided to open 3 additional lanes, as soon as we got the the front gate we spotted a lane off to the side that no one seemed to notice. So we both entered the park, me with my pass, and Ricky with the free ticket.

Speaking of those free tickets, I suspect they are taking steps to prevent scalping. For starters you could not pick up your bring a friend free ticket today, you had to get it in advance, the other is that the passholder must enter with the guest. Not just any passholder, either, a close look at the barcodes reveals a striking similarity between the barcode on the ticket and the barcode on the related season pass. It did feel kind of odd becuase we are still in 2004, and the BAFF ticket clearly stated to present my 2005 season pass.

So, on into the park, and our first stop after succusefully avoiding the photo ambush was the Paramount Theater. I wanted to check the showtime for the Tribute to Heroes presentation. Okay, now I see how it works, Making of the Movies will show during the afternoon, and the Tribute to Heroes (9/11 Memorial) will be shown in the morning and evening. I note I have two options to see it today, 7 or 8 pm.

With that bit of planning out ot the way, we headed into the Action Zone, and into the Son of Beast line. Son of Beast line wound up beging approximately 30 minutes, which is a lot shorter than the parking lot would suggest. We took our places in seat 6.2, and we were soon off. The drop out of the station is fun, then the long noisy lift hill up 218', then we turned and whamo airtime on the frist drop, back up, then more air into the helix, around the helix, man this is flying today. More air on the drop into the loop. WoW! I am impressed, the ride rode much like it did on opening day, many years ago. I can say that was one of the best Son of Beast rides I have ever had. Why can't they ALL be this good!

We then headed to Racer, Racer had about a 15 minute wait and we found ourselved in the back seat, of the blue train. Racer is a coaster that is trying to show riders a good time, but for some reason just can't seem to do it. Right now its tracking is lousy, which begs the question of why the backwards side seems to get constant retrackings, and the forward side seems neglected in comparison.

We continued down Coney where I showed Ricky what has to be the "Worlds Largest Skill Crane" machine, not to mention the most expensive at $2.00 a play. I mean this machine is just way too big for its own good.

We then played a few carnival games, and I got to take home a leopard becuase of my skills in getting a bowling ball to stop in the dip. From the carnival games we walked back to Flight of Fear, saw the outdoor queue area in use, and made a hasty retreat from Ft. Cooper.

While we were retreating from the fictitious military base, we ran into Dave Althoff, Jr. (aka Rideman). What a pleasant surprise, we exhcnaged stories on why each of us would come here on a day that should have had a big red flag on it. Seems Rideman just stopped down to take advantage of the season pass deal, and thought he would get a couple rides in in the process.

Time for a peak at the Italian Job site. The antique cars are all parked back next to Racer, and it looks like demolition has started on the Antique Cars station. I susepect with the park being closed this week that real work has probably started now.

As a group, we proceeded to Vortex where the line just extended as far back as the permanent railing. That means about a 20-30 minute wait, which isn't bad. Soon we were filling up the back car, and took a herky jerky Arrow multi element ride. The loops aren't bad, but watch out for the corkscrew and boomerangs.

From the Vortex, we decided that the Flying Eagles line looked a bit long, and soon found ourselved in a Beast line that did not look long at first. That is until you realize that the entire first queue house was full, and the second queue house was 2/3 full. In other words it took awhile to ride the Beast, and we decided that given the relatively short front seat queue, that we would hold out and take front seat rides.

Beast would be a fine ride if it weren't for those brakes. Here is another coaster that is just trying to show you a great time but the park won't allow it. I mena it seems to be an improvement over the skid brake days, and that final helix is still the ride defining moment. They say its now a 4:50 ride, part of that is the 2:00 you spend on the first lift, and if we add scond lift to that, you can see how little time you actually spend flying through the woods. I can't fathom how it still warrents a #7 spot in the Golden Tickets, when there are so many far superior rides out there.

We looked at Tomb Raider and decided the line looked a bit long, then we noticed the train ride was closed. That's odd, on an extremely busy day, with Boomerang Bay operating, the train ride is closed. Must have had something bizzare happen there. We headed through the rest of Rivertown, noticed the Evil Elephant had a change of heart and is now not spraying the riders, and proceeded into Paramount's Kids Island. or thats what they should name it. I mean it is the #1 park kiddieland for 4 years running hadn't you heard?

We made our way accorss the kiddiearea and were lucky enough to make it into ride Scooby Doo before the rain hit. We crammed three people into a car, and yeah we had the added challenge of our guns getting in each others way. I scored pitifully, to be quite honest, the lowest of the three in our car. Still Scooby is a mighty fine ride.

We exited, and then made our way back to Racer. We near had a water ride as we sat in seat 4.3 of Racer, and we noted that Rideman declined to ride Racer. Not much to be said, so we got in line for Adventure Express 5-10 minutes later we were taking assorted seats int he back car. This time we did get a water ride. Not drenching beut it was a water ride to be sure. Advenutre Express is underrated as it gives a remarkable peppy trip through its 'woods'

WE waited out the rain by walking through the Emporium. The shirt I wanted to get for a friend is apparently out of stock, but I noticed they have a Gift Box for Beast fans, its a collection one each of the 25th anniversary stuff they can't seem to sell. Sold sperately the gift box would cost you $35, the boxed bundle is yours for only $20.

We dclined the Beast gift box, and instead headed to the Paramount Theter arriving at 7:57.

We entered the sparesly filled auditorium. As you may or may not know, Paramount Parks has teamed up with Madam Tussad's (better known as makers of wax sculptures for wax museums that they operate) to create a tribute to 9/11.

The show starts with an opening introduction and show credits shown on the big movie screen, after a very short while the movie screen raises. Behind the movie screen sitting on the stage is a wax sculpture depciting the now famous image if three firefighters hoisting the American flag atop the ruins of the World Trade Center. (NYC).

A picture is worth a thousand words, and since there are countless reactions, I'll show you a photo of a scultpure I have on my mantle at hone that looks quite similar, if a lot smaller.

Flanking the sculpture on either side are two video boards showing a slide show of various imagery and quotations. The presentation is tastefully done and stays away from blood, guts, gore , and destruction, and instead of focusseing on the bad, shows the heroes and everyday people coming together. Again it is about as uplifting as one could hope for out of a 9/11 tribute. The slide show takes about 5 minutes or so, and then the audience is invited to come up onto the stage so they can get abetter look at the sculpture, and to take photos.

I went up on stage, but what I soon realizes is that even standing by the stage footlights, the sculture is just too big to get into frame, and by the time I found the right spot out in the auditorium to stand, I had to patiently wait for the rest of the audience to file by. Now, I need some help here. What, may I ask, is the fascination with people having their photo taken with this sculture in the background. I mean its a work of art, you don't go to to Lourve and stand next to the Mona Lisa. I was in Rome and I didn't see people standing next to Michealangelo's Moses. I just don't seem to get it, if anybody does get it, please help me out here.

By way of plug, if anybody would like to see this exhibit, and does not have a PKI pass and would rahter not spend $43 to see it, PKI is holding a FREE public viewing on Friday Sepetember 10 from 10am-8pm. Free parking and admission. International Street will be open with special exhibits but no rides or games.

After leaving the 9/11 exhibit, we decided to try to beat the crowd out of the park and so headed off to Bob Evans for dinner.

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