A Paramounts Kings Island Trifecta!

A Paramount's Kings Island Trifecta

Saturday October 22, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday, November 6, 2005

"It's a PKI 3 for 1 Special - 3 Visits, 1 Trip Report"

This report endeavors to roll up my post season coaster activities, which all happened at Paramount's Kings Island, and roll them up into one big TR. This will save me from having to describe stuff three times in three different reports. Until the post season started, I was starting to wonder if I'd get my value out of my season pass. Sure I had been to the park 4 times this year already, but one was the March construction tour, then another was the Italian Job Media Day. That leaves two visits, one of which was my company picnic. I figure I have visited 17 different amusement parks, fairs, or FEC's this year, so it seems to have come at the expense to visits to my "Home Park", except that Coney Island, OH should really be my Home Park as it is closer. But, not to worry as I make three more visits to PKI during the post season, and with using my parking pass a couple times, I have come out well ahead.

The first visit came on Saturday, October 22, 2005, as to best fit into Rideman's schedule, and considering the kind of weather we had on the 23rd, its just as well. The park is scheduled to be open until midnight on the 22nd, so we figured we didn't need to awake with the chickens, but we didn't think we'd be staying up with the owls either when we started. We got started later in the day than usual with Rideman picking me up around 2 and us arriving at the park around 2:30. But hey its cold outside, and its post season, and the parks open late. We should still be able to have more than enough fun.

Our first clue that it was going to be busier than we expected was when the lines for the parking toll booths was out to Kings Island Drive. We used a parking permit and proceeded to park in the standard parking in the North Lot, and had a short walk up to front gate. We decided we both needed to renew our season passes, and the lines were real short at the season pass processing center. So we walked up to the tables, filled out our registration cards, then went to the ticket windows, paid for the passes then joined the processing line. The line was just barely out the door of the processing center, so a very short time later we were having our photos taken, and I had a pleasant surprise as the photographer in my lane was someone I knew from when I worked at the park as co-workers. Mind you I have not worked there in 10 seasons. We next picked up our passes and headed to the main gate.

PKI has or had one of the quickest most efficient main admission gates anywhere, but it seems that security has gone and messed that up by installing metal detectors. The security checkpoint is about at the end of the group sales building. The park said they removed the tram circle to ease congestion in the entrance plaza, I'd like to point out there was no congestion in the entrance plaza before those metal detectors arrived. It also means that now that the tram pickup is way out in the middle of the parking lot, and you walk the rest of the way to the gate from there, which means that it is no longer a shorter walk to park in standard parking and take the tram. I'm particularly peaved at the security checkpoint today as it seems like I got in "The Wrong Lane" you know the lane with the ultra sensitive metal detector that can detect a scrap of foil torn from a chewing gum wrapper? Everybody who was in the same lane as me got the third degree and I though surely I'll get in quick as I already have all my metal objects ready to put in the dish, Wrong, I eventually had to remove my jacket, belt, turn my empty pockets out, get hand wanded and finally they decided that "Hey he really isn't carrying anything into the park"

What’s next, Strip Searches? I mean I can get into an airport easier than this! Then we learn that not all the entrance lanes are open so the entrance lanes are almost clear back to the security checkpoint. I hope Rideman was joking, but he mentioned that it took us 30 minutes to get into the park. This from the park that used to have the most efficient front gate around. We come out from the main gate onto International Street, and as you might expect we get stopped by the Keyhole Photo person, "Would you stop and smile" We declined the request, I mean we just spent 30 minutes at the front gate, we want to get to a ride.

Okay, its time to go ride something, so we head to Delirum. I hear that Delirium spent much of the summer sidelined, so I was glad to see it open. The line was also reasonable with the queue just back to the $3 soft drink machines, and only s switchback open. Delirium is a Giant Frisbee, one of those spinning pendulum rides that are so popular these days. I see PKI has managed to find the shortest, lamest program they could find to run on Delirum. Come on, this ride used to give a much better ride than this! It literally takes them more time to unload and load the ride than it does to run the ride. I think now you get 1 maybe 2 swings at full height. Then again, the ride sat the last two weekends of the season out for mechanical problems. I hope the warranty is still good on it! This ride used to be great, but that was underwhelming.

After riding Delirium we made a strange move. We decided to go to Hanna Barbera Land. The reason is simple tonight is a Fear Fest night, and the park has been known to close Hanna Barbera land early on Fear Fest nights. We cut through the Festhaus where it looks like they may be starting to redecorate the place and we find it odd to see somebody sitting at a corner table with a laptop working away. Right now the Festhaus is playing host to a walk through haunted house attraction, but we ignored that and headed to International Street. The fountain is sporting a new wooden floor in preparation for its transformation into an ice skating rink. We neared Hanna Barbera Land and find out that yes it will be closing at 7pm.

The children's areas of the park are decorated for a child friendly Halloween event called "Nick or Treat". We noticed several rides sporting purple and orange bunting and some decoration like scarecrows scattered about the area. What caught our eye was one scarecrow, from a distance it looked like he was holding a cafeteria tray complete with disposable dishes. My initial reaction was that some smart aleck thought it would be funny to add to the decoration. Upon closer examination, however it was revealed that the tray was an intended part of the decoration. Amazing what passes for theme detail these days. We cut through the area and made our way to Beastie.

Beastie is the parks junior wood coaster, and it is your basic standard PTC junior wood coaster. The line for it did not extend beyond the bridge over the track, so we decided to take a ride. Some time later we were in the back car, with Rideman right behind me. The first part of the ride is a figure 8 shape ride where you leave the station, make a right hand turnaround to the lift which crosses over as you go up the lift, down the first drop, through the tunnel, then back up into the second turnaround, which is to the left. Down the second drop, past the on-ride photo cameras, crossing over again. over a short bump, then up into the third turnaround to the right, then you go through a series of hills and dips in a straight line along the perimeter of the structure, the final turnaround to the right, one more dip, and into the brakes. The ride has a mid course brake on the third turnaround, but today that brake was off so the ride gave a decent ride with some minor hints at airtime and some gentle laterals. Why is it the junior wood coaster is the best running wood coaster in the park, for several years now?

After our ride on Beastie we decided to get our last ride on Scooby's Ghoster Coaster. The park has announced the all new Nickelodeon Universe children's area as their 2006 attraction, which will effectively replace Hanna Barbera Land and much of Nick Central. There is still some debate over just what rides are going, what rides are merely being rethemed and possibly relocated, and what brand new rides are coming, as details have been sketchy at best. It was widely thought that Scooby's Ghoster Coaster was to be a casualty of the new Nick Universe. While being one of the areas newer rides (1998) and being a fairly unique ride piece, it suffered from having an abysmal throughput. Ghoster Coaster is a junior suspended coaster where you ride in 1-2 passenger individual cars that appear to fly around above the park. Its one of those cases where part of the reason the ride was so cool, also contributed to its downfall.

We walked past a sign proclaiming the ride had a horrid wait and found the rides small queue area to be about half full. But remember when the ride has 3 or 4 cars, each of which only carries 1 or 2 people at time, it doesn't take long for a long slow queue to build up, and it doesn't take much room to house the 100 or so people this ride can handle in an hour. It was a long wait, on the order of 45 minutes, and that’s when you have to be thankful for the gift of conversation. I mean you get going on a good conversational topic, and you can practically get those hour long waits to just zing by. We eventually came to the loading area. The cars which look like bats with a basket hanging down can either hold 2 children, 1 adult and 1 child, or 1 adult. Another reason the line moves slow is it’s a challenge getting into and out of the cars. Inside the 'basket' is a seat that looks something like a motorcycle seat, except that you just can't swing one leg over, because the other side of the basket has a solid wall going from about the height of the seat to the floor. This means you have to swing one leg over, insert it between the sidewall and the seat and get it wedged in there in a position that kind of forces you to bend the knee. Luckily all your weight is on your butt and none of it is on your legs during the ride. This serves as a guide when you lift your other leg up and rest it in about the same position next to the open side of the basket. Slightly higher than the seat itself is a ring that goes around both riders with two protrusions that separate the front and back riders. The idea is to put a ring around each riders waist so as to limit the amount of lean you have, and to keep you on the seat. Lastly a door closes over the other side of car which encases the other leg and forces it into the riding position, and closes the ring around your chest. The ride has 4 or 5 cars, I think they were running 4 which would give them a car in unload, a car in load, a car waiting to go up the elevator, and a car on the ride itself. The elevator speed is such that it doesn't take the next car up until the previous car is back in the station. I went first and wedged myself into a car. (The wait time, and the challenge of getting in and out of the ride are the reasons we usually only ride it once a season, if that) The operator is nice enough to warn you of a sudden stop ahead as the car advances from the load area to the 'on deck' area. Bracing is essential here to eliminate discomfort in certain parts of the male anatomy. A bit later the car advances onto the elevator with an even bigger jolt. You then go straight up the elevator which is positioned in the middle of the queue area. You can wave to people, or have people staring at you wondering why you are riding a kids ride. The moment you roll off the elevator is one of the rides greatest, in that due to the shape of the ornamental bat above you can't see the track immediately in front of you. Therefore you can't be totally sure the elevator is lined up correctly. Its those fun ride effects that play with the riders mind that are so fun. You roll off the elevator onto the monorail track and start with a slight drop to get some speed then a turnaround to the left to start soaring over the back areas of Hanna Barbera Land, it s a fun ride soaring along at treetop level until you come to a straight section of track right before you get to the Red Baron's Biplanes. At this point here is a hard (BRACE!) and potentially painful mid course brake, the ride goes into a helix above the red baron ride and the track is banked so that it is evident the ride is supposed to go around the helix at a higher rate of speed, but with the hard brake, you kind of crawl through the helix leaning against one side of the car. Right after the helix is another mid course brake, then you turn right into the final brake. You then get to extract yourself from the car, and for some reason I always seem to find getting out of the car harder than getting in.

We next walked through Nick Central around that great waste of space known as the green slime zone. Today, they found some use for it as they have added cornstalks to turn it into a corn maze. Sort of a child friendly haunted trail attraction. We verified that the Krusty Karb Snack Shack still does not offer Krabby Patties, then headed to Reptar. The queue for Reptar was reasonable so we took a ride. Due to the station configuration we found it easier and quicker to ride towards the front of the train. Reptar is a Vekoma inverted rollerskater, and is becoming quite a popular ride for Vekoma. I'd call it kiddie inverted coaster, but with a 44" minimum height requirement, its not really a children's ride as much as it is a family ride. We enjoyed a fun quick ride on Reptar before cutting back through Hanna Barbera Land. We noticed the area gift shops windows to be almost totally obscured with gift wrap. I say almost because they 'accidentally' left the top part of the windows uncovered where most adults could stand on tip toes and look in. The shop is to become the "Visit with Santa" type attraction during Winterfest. To this point it looks like they have merely cleared all the gift shop stuff out of the building.

We continues around the HB Carousel and the Photo with Scooby attraction to visit Scooby Doo And the Haunted Castle. The queue was just back to the indoor queue maze and not all the switchbacks were in use. A short time later we were helping ourselves into a mini mystery machine. I thought they used to have a grouper/loader person here, but I suppose we can trust people to group themselves. This ride is a Sally interactive dark ride, and for those that just finished reading my Camp Snoopy report, I can say I feel vindicated, I was able to almost triple Rideman's score. Funny, Rideman used some of the same excuses I tried on Jerry, bad weapon, bad target layout, etc. I noted some of the mechanical stunts were not working, and we think we saw one stunt break when it fired and then failed to reset.

We walked up International Street, and I looked in the new Starbucks as I had not seen it yet. Attractive looking setting, but the line was clear back from the coffee bar, wrapped around the dining room, and out the door into the old dinig area for the Café Parisiane I did mention it was pretty cold today, right? We then looked at Chick-Fill-A, which is another new food stand this year. It didn't look bad till we figured out that it would coast us more than double what it would cost at a regular Chick-Fill-A. I tell you food prices in this park are beyond getting out of hand, they have gotten out of hand, and are getting further and further into space. We turned the corner by Busytown Grill and headed towards Rivertown. We bypassed Wild Thornberries but did note the elephant effect seemed to be off. We continued past the closed for the season rapids ride, and further past the train ride which usually takes people to Boomerang Bay, but on this afternoon it it taking families back to the parks Pumpkin Patch, tonight it will take scare seekers back to the start of a new haunted trail located along the exit of White Water Canyon. We also skipped Tomb Raider as neither of us really enjoy it, which brings us to Beast.

The line for Beast was just back to the bottom of the ramp between the 2nd and 3rd queue houses, and no switchbacks were in use. A time later we were in the third seat, and we're off. Beast is the parks signature wood coaster, it was built as the tallest, fastest, longest, badest wood coaster in the world. Well baddest is subjective, and by virtue of the fact that other parks build taller wood coaster that happen to run faster, the ride is left with Longest Wood Coaster in the world. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish Holiday World would add about 900' onto Voyage so that we can just strip Beast of all its records. The Beast also has a very loyal following in Cincinnati who consider it to be the ultimate roller coaster, which isn't helping the fact that its still one of the most overated rides around.

The ride starts with a turnaround to the right to come around to the lift hill which is set up parallel to the final brake run. While you traverse the lift approach there is a nice piece of theming with a mine car and a mine shaft that looks nice but I can't remember what theme the Beast was supposed to have. You then climb one of the slowest lift hills in existence, while you might get treated by some recorded beast roars on speakers located along the lift hill, or you may just get the safety announcements. At the top of the lift, you start down the first drop, the train then fights its way through the magnetic brake located on the first drop, then you go through what looks like an impossibly small tunnel at the bottom of the first drop that looks vaguely like that mine tunnel you saw in that theming piece at the lift hill turnaround. Maybe that is the theme to the Beast, its really a big mine ride. You come out of the tunnel and make a turn to the left where you have a drop a hill a drop, and a hill up into a right hand turn. Under ideal circumstances there can be gentle airtime in this part of the ride, but thanks to the magnetic brake located just before the second drop, they have pretty much insured that this part of the coaster offers a lifeless ride. When you round that right hand turn you enter what looks like a sideless tunnel, it has a roof but no sides. This area was intended to be a safety brake for when the coaster had 4 trains. The 4 train concept didn't last too long, and so there wasn't a need for a safety brake here anymore but they kept it in place as a trim brake. When the park replaced the skid brakes with fin brakes a couple seasons ago, they also went with the maintenance free magnetic brakes for trims. Therefore this area which used to be a brake shed for skid brakes now contains mostly a long section of track, which I assume is meant to be speed track with the supports of the brake run structure enhancing the feeling of speed. They did put a magnetic brake at the end of the old brake run, I mean we would not want the ride to get too fast now, would we?

What happens next is a long prolonged shallow drop. Its not a real noticeable drop but once the train leaves the track is getting gradually lower and lower picking ups peed all along until the very noticeable drop right before the second lift. So you come off the shed, make a turn to the right and head straight into a tunnel. There used to be a tunnel, than an exposed turnaround to the left, then another tunnel. Now that middle section has been filled in to create one long tunnel around this turn. After you exit the tunnel you make a turn to the right, and have a ground hugging section of track that follws the terrain nicely all the while picking up speed until you make the sharp turn towards lift 2. You go up lift 2, where you get a nice view of the park, and both the audio recording and several signs warn you to keep your hands down. You make a left hand turn off the lift and go down a shallow curving drop that leads into the rides famous double helix. Did I mention there was a magnetic trim brake on this drop, well there is. You then go around the partially tunneled double helix, and the make your way back to the brake run with one final dip before you reach the brakes. Both of us thought that Beast was running incredibly rough today and we were glad to move along to something else.

We headed to Italian Job, which is the parks new ride this year. We entered the line and were in line for about 5 minutes before the ride went down mechanical. Knowing Italian Job to have prolonged downtime we bailed out of the line and decided to try our luck again later. We exited Italian Job plaza, took a left and headed towards Vortex, but first a stop at the Flying Eagles. Wait, not only are the Eagles not here, this site where 10 Flying Eagles were sacrificed for no good reason at all has been desecrated. They have setup a Cornhole game in the area. Cornhole, for those non-native Cincinnatians is that picnic game where teams throw a series of corn filled bags at a wooden board located some distance away. The game gets its name from a hole in the board, scores like horseshoes, a bag in the hole scores 3, a bag on the board scores 1. The park is trying to run Cornhole like a carnival game.

We next headed to Vortex, where the line was again a reasonable wait. Vortex has been taken down from 3 trains to 2 as the park prepares for the winter, so the line moved slower than usual, but we held out hope that maybe with only two trains on, they might not use the mid course brake. No such luck, they still practically stop the train, which means you hang from the shoulder bars in the corkscrew. We took our ride in the second seat from the back in order to get a rare spot of airtime in this park , and I note the park has not added the silly belts like Cedar Fair is starting to do. Vortex is an Arrow Multi Element with 6 inversions. You leave the station, turn right, up the tall lift hill, a turn to the right, down the first drop (airtime in the back car) then up the second hill to start a long drawn out turnaround to the left which circles above Rivertown Pizza and brings ou in line to cut through the structure through the two vertical loops as you head back to a sharp turnaround to the right located next to the loading station. You then go through the mid course brake where you are almost stopped before being allowed to drop down a short drop then go through 2 corkscrew turns as you are hung from the shoulder bars as you head towards the midway, then there is a boomerang element s(2 inversions) right next to the midway, then a helix and into the first set of brakes located behind the Shake, Rattle and Roll (Troika) then a right turn into the final brakes.

Exiting Vortex we took a look at the Paramount FX Theater, which is the parks facility for Iwerks ridefilms. Looking at the marquee I noticed they were playing both Elvira's Superstition and Funhouse Express. Well I had seen Superstition at other Fear Fest events, but I had not seen Funhouse Express, but it was used in a Discovery show special, so we went to see Funhouse Express. I see they added a little but of haunted castle façade to the start of the ride queue, we made our way through the queue area which was sporting a collection of Phantom Theatre props and characters. It was about a 2 or 3 show wait for Funhouse Express, along with Phantom Theatre music and sound clips. Iwerks movies are the kind of ride where when the ride moves it moves about 72 people at a time, but then there are long periods of at least 5 minutes where it just sits still. Eventually we were invited into the preshow area, they used to try to assign people to rows as they entered the preshow area, but tonight they admitted like 72 people, then let everyone figure it out based on white stars painted on the ground. Each person stands on a star, the stars in each row match the number of seats in that row. There was a film loop playing on the televisions in the area that was meant to set the scene for you. I say film loop, and the clip was about 20 seconds long and kept repeating. The basic story is that you have arrived at some old guys "scariest fun house ride" the old guy looks for his ride operator who is not at his post "Where's My Ride Operator!!!!" the old guy bellows, saying that he should have sacked Jimmy about 20 years ago. Must not be a good business relationship if this duo have been working this gig for 20 years and this how they get along. The old guy accuses Jimmy of sleeping on the job. Well Jimmy is dreaming but he is not asleep, instead he is under the fun house with sketch pads designing his own fun house ride, and he lets us know he his starting to build it right under the old guys nose. We see sketched of parts of the ride, take careful note when he shows us a flipbook animation of a stunt involving the riders car getting stomped on by a giant shoe, and also note that is the stunt he was drawing right before he gets interrupted by the old guy threatening him "If this ride's not running in ONE MINUTE…."

We watch that clip at least a dozen times before we were admitted to the auditorium. Seated, seat belts checked, time for the feature. The film starts right where the preshow ended with you sitting in the dark ride car and Jimmy arriving at the operators console. The ride starts and you go through the crash doors into the funhouse, Far from the worlds' scariest fun house ride, the ride consists of carboard cutouts and looks pretty cheesy, you only have to endure about three stunts before the service lights come on right by the "spider falls on you" gag and then the old guy berated Jimmy for breaking the ride and fires Jimmy. You are slowly brought backwards through the now lit funhouse where you can see its got trash strewen about and looks run down. Jimmy says no I'll show you a real ride, and Jimmy and the ride console falls beneath ground, and then so does your ride car, and you wind up at the entrance to another dark ride "Clown Chaos" this one starts with a long roller coaster like tunnel, then an areas where it looks like you travel in suspended cars in a cave full of scary props then it just goes crazy as there is no more track, and you negotiate a serried of hills drops, spins, bumps, and stunts that are far beyond any realistic fun house ride. Rideman mentioned its kind of like the Halloween themed version of another Iweks movie "Smash Factory" Careful observers will note the last stunt before the ride ends is a giant shoe coming down on your car, wihch just barely misses your car, and cuases a seesaw like effect with a loose board, throwing your car back up to the loading area for the old guys funhouse. Jimmy then gets rid of the Old Guy by sending him down to the basement, while he proudly unveils "Jimmy's Clown Chaos" Cute film, and we exit into the arcade which seems to have the Nickeldeon Parade theme music playing, we then make the long walk back to Coney Mall.

We reach Coney Mall and I notice the park has installed a double story water race game trailer. I couldn't resist a try, and $3 later I was walking down the midway with Pirate Scooby. We started walking towards Flight Of Fear and were almost down to Flight of Fear when we saw what looked like Italian Job testing. So we turned back and headed to Italian Job. Yes the ride was open, and the line was shorter than the line we bailed out of earlier. Italian Job is the parks newest ride, and is themed to the Paramount movie of the same name. The idea behind the ride is that you are a member of the stunt crew, specifically you will be in one of the mini coopers during the big chase scene towards the end of the movie. The park has decorated the waiting area with parodies of road signs. Stuff like "Congested Traffic Ahead (As if you didn't notice)", "No Line Jumping Zone", "Speed Limit .35 MPH" (Yep that’s POINT 3 5), a One Way sign with arrows pointing both directions, and "SLOW (As if you had another option)". I thought the park used to have special ride related footage for the q-tv monitors in this area, but they seem to be getting the same loop as the rest of the park. Michael Jackson's "Thiller" was playing while we waited, and soon we were up to the head of the line where they assign seats. We were sent to Row 5, and we climbed into the Mini Coopers. The ride uses scale model Minis, licensed from BMW and everything. The cars feature Premier style lab bars, which considering this is a Premier ride and all. The cars also feature working doors, real mirrors on the sides, license plates, mini cooper trimwork, and well they used to have working radios and lights, but those features seem to have been disabled. The safety announcement that used to play on the car radio while your boarded and right before you exited the ride are now played on the rides PA system. The three of us get into Row 5 (Rideman, Scooby, and myself) and moments later we are launched. The launch on Italian Job is a lot more gentle than the one on Flight of Fear, and in this case it leads into a triple upwards helix themed to look like a parking garage, you then go down a drop and swerve between some police cars, complete with working lightbars. As this is my first night ride on Italian Job I think the ride may look better at night. Speaking of disabled effects, I thought the cars were supposed to fishtail as they swerved around the police cars. You then go through a severely banked turnaround, down a dip, and then rise back up, pass some billboards and into the subway stair drop. It’s a drop in a tunnel themed to look like the entrance to the subway, and much buzz and excitement was made about how revolutionary special effects were going to make it feel like the car was actually rolling down a flight of stairs. It's even on the promotional animations. I have yet to feel any such special effect. You come back up a hill, pass a "Dead End" sign and come to a stop at a shipping company yard. Ahead of you and to the left is a menacing helicopter looking down and firing at your car, on either side are chimcial barrels getting hit and blowing up in the cross fire. (Some spraying water on the riders), gas pumps explode then finally a big gas tank right in front of you goes up in a big ball of fire. When I say fire, yes the park is using live fire effects for this, impressive. As soon as the big tank starts to explode the brakes release and the train is launched forward into a long dark curing tunnel. You know this tunnel was especially cool when the train had working lights. Its about a 12 second long tunnel before you reach the other end, come crashing out of the billboard and go down the drop in the aquaduct into the splash down finale. It’s the sort of drop that just screams "Put your hands up, let the people in line see how much fun you are having" After the water effect, its just a turnaround to the brakes then the unload station. The ride still seems to be a winner and a family favorite, but I worry about the upkeep on the theming.

We exit Italian Job and head back around to Flight of Fear. We are a bit dismayed when we see people coming out of the Flight of Fear building through the entrance, but that is merely because the indoor hangar section of queue is just about full. It takes about an hour before we are seated in the front seat. Talk about theming going down the tubes, I realize they can't use the Outer Limits stuff anymore, but the laser lights that used to play during the "Message from the aliens" amd the lights along the top of the UFO that used to strobe around in faster and faster circles in time with the animation of the UFO on the video (which is still there) don't work anymore. Its Paramount, we install attractions with great theming, we just don't maintain it. Anyway we are seated in the front seat of the train, which is our usual spot to ride Flight of Fear, ad I am sitting on the far side of the car away from the openings as the close side of the train has a raised floor panel that makes me ineligible to ride as it gets my legs up so high I can't get the bar down far enough. The important thing to remember is that this is a tried and tested configuration for us. We lower the lap bars, Rideman clicks his seatbelt, I reach with my seatbelt (which doesn't go around the rider, instead it goes from the back of the seat and hooks into the support arm of the lap bar), and not only can I not get the belt fastened, its nowhere close to fastening. The loader tries stapling my lap bar but even with that its ruled a no-go, and I take the walk of shame. A bit disappointed, sure, but I although I don't consider myself to be overly fat, I do know that I am larger than the average rider, and I have come to take that there are some rides I just don't fit on. Maybe I gained a little this summer and Flight of Fear is no longer in the cards for me. Another important thing to remember though, is that for me to get out of the train, Rideman had to get out of the train, which meant while I was being shown to the exit, Rideman got back into the train and slid across to the seat I had just vacated. Rideman, who was cleared to ride on the other side of the seat found that he could not get the belt fastened on the seat I just vacated either. Rideman shifted back to his original seat, but not before performing a little experiment and thus determined that the seatbelt on the seat I had just vacated was so short that the bar had to be significantly lower than the bar on his side in order for the belt to fit, a disparity made more significant due to the floor plate.

We headed down to Racer, which had a short wait, and soon we were in the first seat of the back car on Forwards Racer. (Backwards side was closed). The three of us boarded and were soon on our way on the parks classic out and back wood coaster. Not much to say a lift hill, a series of drops, turnaround, more drops. This ride seemed to better than usual though, it actually seemed to have some airtime, and perhaps the turnaround brake was off. All in all I had an enjoyable ride on Racer.

We entered into Oktoberfest where I noted that virtual reality thing is down to $1 a player, and still can't drum up business. We pass it by and get in line for Advneture Express. The line is only back to the bridge over the tracks, and so it takes almost no time at all for us to get into Rideman's favorite seat (the front seat of the rear car). My, its been a long time since I’d ridden Adventure Express at night, the ride makes a very fine night ride. Sure the usual cases of run down themeing are present here, but the ride is solid enough to stand on its own. In this ride you drop out of the station into an S turn to the right to enter tunnel 1 which is the track closed tunnel, after which you make your way to the right into a tunnel where if you are lucky the spears may decide to work and try to jab at you, the tunnel leads to the first lift. The lift used to have speakers in the support structure that played sound effects like the lift hill was about to collapse. That effect is gone now too. At the top of the ift you make a gradual swoop drop to the right crossing under the lift into my favorite section of the ride, and that is where the ride does like a figure 8 series of turns low to the ground passing under a series of arches. Wild laterals and a wild ride, before going through the drop in tunnel three, then one last pass through the lower ravine before you enter the forbidden temple (tunnel 4), The tunnel starts with a curve in the tunnel designed to block out outside light, which is usally a wasted effort as they often leave the service door open in the 4th tunnel. The 4th tunnel contains the rides second lift hill. It’s the rides thematic climax as you are slowly being brough up to the big chief at the top of the hill who is making threats about disturbing the forbidden temple, now you must pay, and he looks like he is going to dump a cauldron of molten lava on you while his underlings beat their drums on perches along the sides of the lift. At least that is what is supposed to happen when everything is working. So you have just had the built up for the ride to get really wild and crazy, I mean hey you just intruded on their temple, its time for bad stuff to start happening. Instead you crest the lift make a turn to the right and head back to the station. Great ride, lousy ending.

We exited Adventure Express and managed to get around the chainsaw wielding maniac in a scare zone set up between Adventure Express and Delirium. Rideman was being evil when he cornerd some squeamish scared girls by said chainsaw wielding maniac.

We made the turn into Action Zone, and having already ridden Delirium, we skipped it, walked past the parks go-kart track which was reduced to $3 from its usual $6, to bad its just a plain oval, and headed back to Son of Beast. Well Son of Beast has already gone into hibernation it seems as the sign indicates that it is closed until next spring. We head next door to Top Gun, but not before noticing that Extreme Skyflyer (Skycoaster) seems to have found a price point people are willing to pay - $10.

We enter the Top Gun queue, make our way down the stairs and through the tunnel which used to be the entrance to Fightertown, USA until Son of Beast came along and the tunnel entrance was changed to fir whatever loose theme that Son of Beast has. The Top Gun entry tunnel has been painted with a wall mural of an United States Flag. We enter Fightertown, USA as announced on the sign along the wooden fence. This is where the long entry path to Top Gun, the Top Gun exit and observation area, and the Son of Beast queue maze all reside. It is another case of theming going bad. The model fighter jets are gone, the radar prop is gone, a lot of the little fighter unit flags are gone, it seems all that’s left in this part of the queue are the posters of scenes from the movie and a nautical style yardarm flagpole. At least the Top Gun military division still has its flag on its flagpole, which is more than I can say for the crew down at Ft. Cooper. (Flight of Fear) I wonder since they have the yardarm style pole, it would be a neat touch to spell TOP GUN in nautical signal flags on the two sides of the yardarm, sure the average guest won’t notice, but it would be a nice Easter Egg, you know something that Disney would do. There is a sign as you exit the tunnel under the service road announcing the wait time is 1 hour, We quipped this is because it takes an hour to navigate the 2 mile hike back to the ride. In reality the line was just back to the stairs that lead down from this section of queue to the station area. As you cross the bridge to the station house you pass by a giant billboard of an aircraft carrier with the sponsors logo on it. It’s a nice touch at theme but a sore substitute from the really cool 3D aircraft carrier billboard that it replaced.

Before you say I'm being too harsh about the deterioration of the thematic elements in the park, the park has come out and said they want to by a Hollywood style park, just like its competitors down in Orlando, so if they want to be that caliber of park, I have to judge their theming on that level and not how I would that of a more local park. Also since this is a trifecta TR, I am getting all my theme rants out in the first part of this report, (I think) which means the other two days should be rant free.

Back to ranting about Top Gun, after the bridge you used enter an area that was sort of like the below decks section of an aircraft carrier, and you looked through chain link fence into various parts of the ship: the weapons magazine, communications center, bridge, etc. Then you walked up a flight of stairs onto the flight deck. Now that entire part of the queue has been closed for several years now and bypassed. There are a couple of those military unit flags being used to obscure the view into that area of the queue. We climbed upstairs and entered the next level of the station. This used to be themed to the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, and the signature effect, I thought was when the train was leaving the station blasts of artificial smoke came up from under the train. That effect too, is history. Luckily again Top Gun is a ride that can stand on its own without the theme package, sure it’s a short ride, but its got a good drop, and it does wat a Suspended Arrow coaster does best, lots of high banked turns which cause the cars to swing way out to the sides, and a good deal of speed to boot. The sponsor gets more play in the form of decals on the seatbacks, and in lift hill and brake run recorded announcements.

We exited Top Gun, made our way past the closed Congo Falls (did I mention it was cold?) and headed to the last coaster in the park, Face/Off. Face/Off queue was around the permimter of the queue maze, but no switchbacks in use, then we decided to wait for the front seat, so we know we wound up waiting over an hour for this. Although Scooby went on Italian Job, Racer, Adventure Express, and Top Gun, I did not feel safe trying to carry him onto Face/Off so Scooby waited in the station. Why not it’s a single train station, and that platform is secured tighter than tight wile the ride is operating. It has full height super queue gates that look like they could hurt someone. They tried to get me as the gate opened Rideman went through, and before I could get through it started to close in my face. The park really seems to love me today, doesn't it?

Now, its been noted that PKI is the "Highest Attended Seasonal Theme Park in the World" I ask, what is the "HASTPitW" doing installing a low capacity Vekoma Boomerang. Sure its an Inverted Boomerang, but its still a Boomerang, in fact it may be worse that its an Inverted Boomerang in that the throughput seems higher on standard Boomerangs. The Face/Off ride started and if proper ride posture is used the Invertigo can be a really fun intense little coaster. I mean it’s a fun ride, it just can't get the throughput the park needs for it, I think the park should have installed two of these.

Well, we didn't expect to be out late, but here it is 11:30, we decide to try to beat the big Fearfest crowd out to the parking lot, and so we make our way out into a parking lot that seems to be blanketed in fog. I knew they went crazy with the artificial fog this year. We made our way to IHOP and then made our way home.

VISIT 2

Fast Forward to Sunday October 30, 2005.

The cast of characters is a bit different today, instead of Rideman, I am visiting the park with my cousin Rick. Ricky picked me up around 12:30, and after a bite of lunch at Culvers, we arrived at the park, I'd estimate shortly before 2. We used my parking pass, and pretty soon we were parking in the North Parking lot, and making our way up to the front gate. I can report no hassled with security, and with almost no wait we entered the park.

Following Rick's lead we headed directly to Italian Job via the now disused scare zone set up between the floral clock and Rivertown pizza We hit good fortune arriving at Italian Job as the ride was closed when we first entered Italian Job plaza, but as we were debating what to do instead the ride opened so we were able to snag a ride with a very short wait. We were sent to row 5, and yes the ride is just as fun as it was last week. It’s a good family ride, and Rick seemed to like it.

From Italian Job we headed to Vortex, Vortex was a near walk on, and soon we were in the second row from the back (my favorite seat). Up the lift, another good dose of airtime. I thought I was going to lose Rick during the ride. It has been established that he can't handle spin rides, but he had ridden Vortex before but now it seems that being flipped upside down doesn't work well for him. Well I guess each rider has to know their own limitations.

We next headed to Funhouse Express, I would have rather seen Superstition, but only Funhouse Express was open. It was a 3 cycle wait to get in. It’s a cute movie ride, and Rick seemed to enjoy it so if that wait and all got his stomach back in order, that’s a good thing.

We next headed down Coney Mall, stopping in the Skeeball building, the main Coney Arcade, and the arcade that’s in the Sports Shop building. We decided that the arcade game selection at the park is not quite what we like. (I could have told you that at the total lack of pinball machines) We decided not to chance Flight of Fear for reasons stated above and the fact Rick claims to not like it. We instead headed to Racer.

I was surprised to find both forwards and backwards tracks running. We opted for the forwards track, and Rick opted for seat #3. Unlike last week the turnaround brake was on, but Racer was still giving a pretty good ride. Rick confirmed my feeling when he got into the train and comments about how tight the seats are. He hadn't even gotten to the lap bar yet, he was talking about the seat width between the side wall and the seat divider.

We headed from Racer to Adventure Express which was also a walk on. We rode Adventure Express in seat three as well. Hmm, now that I have had a recent night ride on AE, I think I like it even better at night, that’s not to say it’s a bad ride, no in fact its one of the better rides at the park.

After we left Adventure Express is when life started getting interesting. We stopped in the Festhaus so that Rick could check the Bengals score, and he thought he would get a Coke. Well, Cokes turned into a pizza and Coke snack for each of us. That’s 4 slices of pizza and two Cokes, $17 please. Yep, food prices have gone INSANE and INANE in this park.

We sit for awhile to let the food settle before heading out the back door of the Festhaus into Action Zone. Here I get the bad news that Delirium is closed. We head past the go-kart track and are heading to Top Gun. I already knew that Son of Beast was closed for the season. We are almost back to Top Gun when I see a big yellow sign proclaiming a special on Extreme Skyflyer (Skycoaster) - I can't believe it, somebody pinch me, only FIVE DOLLARS!!!! The persuasive side in me comes out and within about 5 minutes I have talked Rick into trying it. I go up to the window and purchase our tickets, then we get into what turns out to be about a 1 hour wait for Skycoaster. I can't fault the crew, even though they only had one side open, they were running it with ultra quick efficient operation. Sizing people up before they even got to the harness shelter so they could plan around their supply of harnesses, and then harnessing several groups at the same time. For a one tower operation, they were running people through about as fast as could be hoped for. The hard part for me was keeping Rick's mind off of what he was waiting for while we waited the time until we were invited into the harness shelter. We were suited up in our matching harnesses then send to the next waiting area to wait to be taken to the flight area. We were to be the third group to fly, but just then a second crew arrived to operate the second side. The catch was that they would not have a cameraman for the second flight area, so no videos would be available. We were not interested in a video, and when they started asking the groups starting at the front of the line who wanted a video, we found that we were the first group in line not interested in a video, so we were sent over to Flight Area #2.

We were invited to step onto the lift and were taken up to the launch area. Flight cables secured floor going down partway, we fall forward. The pre flight fall worked on Rick, he let out a nice scream. Launch cable attached, platform going down. The winch started and we moved about 10' when the command was given to bring us back down. Obviously they needed to recheck something, Hey, when its my life on the steel cable line, take all the time you need to check, double check, and recheck. This got Rick a bit more scared and nervous, then we started up the winch again, this time we were starting to twril a bit from side to side. Again, not a feeling I usually associae with Skycoaster. About a quarter of the way up, Rick announces I am no longer his favorite cousin, about halfway up Rick comments "It looks a lot higher from up here", about 3/4 of the way up I learn that Rick can cuss with the best of them. We reached the top, and my evil side came out, did I pull the orange knob right on command. No, I waited for a "Pull it Pull" <I pulled>. The first time you do Skycoaster is the best because therer is nothing that can prepare you for that drop. We crossed the tower then started to swing back and forth. Rick started to admit that he liked the ride and that that drop takes the cake. We grabbed the loop and were brought down to the ground. I think Rick was scared before we flew, but afterwards I think he is glad I talked him into it. I think. So I had to buy both tickets, it was a good investment.

We next headed to Top Gun, it was a walk on, so we were able to quickly grab a ride in the second to back seat. Rick was sort of unimpressed having just experienced "The Drop", and I admit that yes it is a short ride. But it's a fun short ride.

We next cut cross the park to ride the Beast. Going through Festhaus it looks like Christmas decorations are going up, the main stage looks to be back, the stained glass window is uncovered and it looks like they are building a small round stage in the middle of the hall. We make our way back to Beast. Rick loves the Beast, and he really likes night rides. At first I thought there was no chance of us getting a night ride with an 8pm close, but then the time changed this morning, so yep we can get a night ride. We rode in seat 5 of the Beast, and I received a ride that was much better than the one I had last week. Beast was, and is, (and will always be??) Rick's favorite coaster at PKI.

After riding Beast we headed through Rivertown. The wait for Tomb Raider was totally inside the cave but neither of us have much interest in that ride, the train and rapids rides were closed, and as it was cold again, Rick said he would only ride Log Flume as the result of loosing a bet.

We walked through Hanna Barbera Land. Rick who is about 9 years younger than I wanted to have one last look at it before it gets totally renovated. Seems that what he had heard was that everything was going to be ripped out and replaced. As I don't think we quite know for sure, I don't think it will be quite that drastic, but then I can't really say for sure. We took a nostalgic walk through Hana Barbera Land.

Some of my own memories:

* Gulliver's Rub-A-Dub - sort of an outdoor dark ride in round tubs

* The original Enchanted Voyage, which is still the best dark ride the park ever had, if only for my personal nostalgia purposes.

* Winnie Witch's Cauldrons

* The Sunshine Turnpike

* The crazy fountain which is where Ghoster Coaster is now

* The House of Cards

* Being used to pay per ride at LeSourdsville Lake, and the great experience of finding out that we didn't need tickets to ride the kids rides at Kings Island

* Finding out I was too big for kiddie rides - it happened on Boulder Bumpers.

* The yellow and orange castle turret garbage cans

* Having my first ride on Scooby Doo (now Beastie) and developing a ride phobia I would not get over until 7th grade!

Ricky wanted to get one last ride on Beastie in case it went away, so we got in line it and while waiting in line I heard a few other people voice concern that Beastie was leaving. I'm fairly certain we'll see it next year under a new name. We took rides in a middle of the train car. They only had one train running tonight, and I was thinking that maybe they would still have the brake off. Nope, it was on, Beastie is back to its usual self.

We then headed to Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle but the line was backed up across the bridge, so we decided to just call it a night and head on home.

TRIP 3 - November 6, 2005

Well, it’s the third of the three PKI trips detailed in this report, and yet again we have a change in the cast of characters. The Monday Night RRC chat group (IRC Server: freepass.starchat.net #roller-coaster) were making plans for PKI closing day. We asked Paul Drabek if he wanted to come, and he politely declined. The next day PKI announced their big closing week promotion where all season passholders could bring up to EIGHT friends free. The conversation went something like this:

Us: "Do you want to go to PKI on Sunday"

Paul: "No"

Us: "We have free tickets"

Paul: "I'll be there"

So on Sunday morning Paul and his 5 year old son Bond arrived at Coasterville,, OH around 9:20 and we made it to the park in time to park in the North Lot, and get to the ACE meeting spot after the walk back group left, but before the park officially opened at 10:00. The park made admissions a breeze with being able to just hand the email printouts directly to the ticket taker. One of the neat things PKI has done for the coaster enthusiast for many years is to reserve the first ride of the day on Beast to ACE members. The way they manage this is to have a Guest Services Rep meet any ACErs in the park around 9:40 and escort them back to Beast. For many years the meeting place was in front of the Glassblower's shop, but when they moved their International Street store layout around a bit, they decided to install a more permanent tribute. Thus right out front of where the Glassblower used to be is a paver that reads "Paramount's Kings Island salutes the American Coaster Enthusiasts" (With both groups logos) It's not hard to find, when you enter the park look to the right, and you will see three flagpoles (American, Ohio, PKI flags), at the base of the United States Flag you will find the ACE block.

The time we had to spar before the barriers were dropped to head to the back of the park gave us time to take care of some matters, and look around at the preparations for Winterfest. The fountain is further along in its transformation to being an ice skating rink, and it looks like skate rental buildings are being constructed. Holiday decorations are already starting to appear on the International Street buildings, and right as you enter the park at the head of International Street a small stage complete with access ramp has been constructed. I believe this will be the official stage for the nightly lighting ceremony. In a move unusual for an amusement park, it looks like the park has closed almost all of its gift shops in order to inventory and remove their summer merchandise and to retheme and restock the shops for Winterfest. Thus, the parks major gift shop, "Emporium" was closed. Well, I think I have killed enough time for Rideman to arrive just a few moments after 10:00. We exchange greetings and decide to head towards Beast.

We briefly meet up with a few of the other coaster enthusiasts in the park in Beast plaza before getting in line. We get up to the station and all the seats except the very front and very back are walk on. Its about a 3 train wait for the front seat. We decide to take this opportunity to get a quick front seat ride. First Paul and Rideman ride and I hang back with Bond, dutifully letting 4 people get in front of me so that when I board the Beast, Paul and Rideman have just returned and Bond can walk straight through the train.

So, I board the Beast for a solo front seat ride. The ride runs especially nice in the front seat, and you get the full benefit of the views the ride offers without those bulky headrests in the way. Having enjoyed our ride on Beast, we next headed to Italian Job Stunt Track.

The line for IJST looked about average, which meant it would be about a half hour wait or so. IJST would add the extra challenge of trying to do a "Small Non-Rider Swap" with two stop loading. The way PKI does this is when you reach the grouper at the final turn before the station (where they assign seats) the Non-Rider and their companion waits near the place where the grouper stands. So Rideman and I rode the IJST. Its funny riding the ride with Rideman because Rideman adds his own soundtrack to the big hellicopter battle scene. Rideman and I then exited, and we collected Bond and Paul went to ride IJST. Paul had not been on the ride since media day. I was interested in hearing Paul's review of IJST and was glad to hear that his opinions of the rides current state matches what I thought.

Okay, we had just ridden two major rides, it was time to let Bond have some fun. Bond reminds me of myself when I was his age. Paul said that Bond had a traumatic experience with a children's ride at Six Flags over Georgia, sort of like I had a traumatic early childhood experience on Beastie (was called Scooby Doo then) I rode Beastie early on in my life. I was very afraid of rides for several years after that, and though I gradually got over it, I didn't get fully over my fear of rides until seventh grade. So, Bond, I know what you are going through.

We walked through Rivertown, past Tomb Raider, then past the closed train ride, then past the closed rapids ride, then past Wild Thornberries River Adventure. WTRA was open despite the cool day, but we did notice that the elephant's trunk had been covered over to ensure that he didn't squirt anybody. We then entered into Nick Central, we looked at Reptar but kept moving on. Bond did seem to have a great meeting with Spongebob Squarepants in the "Meet the Nickelodeon Characters" area. Rideman and I confessed to not knowing who any of these modern era Nick characters are, so Paul pointed out some introductions. Does anybody remember when the costume characters used to roam the park and there was the added thrill to finding the character then jockeying for position to get that hug or autograph. Now it seems that parks position their costumed characters in designated meet-and-greet areas and set up queues and it’s a very organized and structured activities.

We moved from the Nick Meet and Greet area to observe Ghoster Coaster's last hours. Paul tried to talk Bond into trying it, but no luck. Paul mentioned something about hand cars, and so Rideman and I showed Paul and Bond back past the Mini Whip (which I have operated, BTW), and then past the radio control cars and boats to the hand cars. Bond got in line for the hand cars, and well unlike most riders, Paul made his way around the track like he was in the Indy 500 time trials. In fact, Bond enjoyed the ride so much he rode it again. Still undaunted, Bond would have gone for a third round but Paul put a stop to it.

We walked to the end of this area of HB, to learn that Bond had no interest in the Red Baron's Biplanes. However also in this area there is a little miniature train ride. The concept is simple its basically a dark ride ride system, except the entire thing is outside. The 'cars' are themed to look like train engines. They train engines look like they can hold 2 children and 2 adults and the trains go on a curvy course through a field with really not much to look at. There are some guesses that this will become Dora the Explorers Railway next year.

Bond was interested in riding this, so Rideman and I first held back while Paul and Bond got in line. Then Paul had the wild and crazy idea that we get in line as well. Paul found out that yes one child will get all 3 of us onto the ride. I know I could hardly keep a straight face as we walked through the line, I don't know how Rideman felt. The only thing I did know was that the cars looked impossibly small for all 4 of us to fit into Well the Green Engine came up to the load station, and the attendant ushered us in. Paul choreographed our loading into the train car. We put Bond in the child seat on the far side, then I got in and sat on the big seat on the far side, then Rideman sat next to me, then somehow Paul squeezed into the other small 'kids' seat. Now if you have ever seen Rideman, Paul and I, we are not small guys in the least. I think its fair to say every cubic inch of that train car was occupied by somebody's body part. It was ridiculously absurd, but hey we are at an amusement park and silly is the order of the day, right? After we were loaded in, and yes the safety chain across the opening secured, the loader told us that there was to be no picture taking on the ride.

Well our Little Engine That Could made it about 3/4 of the way around the course, it made it up to the highest part of the ride and it was headed back down. Then with less than 3/4 of the ride left, the unload station in sight just beyond the next bend our train car stops. We look back and all the other train cars had stopped. Seems the cars are powered electrically via a hot rail, and thanks to all the leaves falling and collecting on the track, the yellow engine that had just started its run got snagged up in some leaves, which blocked the brush for the electric pickup. This means that we got evacuated off the kiddie train ride, but not before we talked the person evacuating us to take a photo of us all crammed into that train car.

Coming out of the back reaches of HB, Bond was next interested in Yogi's Sky Tours. Yogi's Sky Tours is the same general type ride as the train ride we just left, except that you ride in helicopters along a track that runs above HB. It’s a cute ride, and it seems to be very popular. According to the sign the wait from the bottom of the ramp is about 45 minutes, and the line was just about to the bottom of the ramp. Paul, Rideman and myself got caught up into lots of conversation along the way up to the chopper boarding area and so that magical time speed up thing occurred. While waiting in line I purchased some cotton candy from a street vendor who was working the Yogi line. Bond is very aware of his surrounds, as while waiting in line, I took the cover off the cotton candy and started eating it when Bond looked straight at me and said "No food on the rides" Paul is training him well. So we shared some cotton candy and a lot of conversation until we reached the boarding platform. Rideman demonstrated his competence in Dutch ride systems by pointing out all the electrical connectors that run along the track, and also the real nifty ride tool the attendants use. On one end of the tool is a key to unlock the doors of the choppers. The little 2 person helicopters have bars in the windows and the door locks, and can only be opened with a key. Don't want anybody jumping out mid ride. Anyway on the other end of the key is what I think is a magnet that operates a magnetically operated start button located on the side of the car.

Paul and Bond boarded a chopper and took off, then Rideman and I boarded a chopper. One of the first things you notice is that only half the seat bench is cushioned. I wqas lucky to get the cushioned half. The next thing is the seatbelt which is shared between riders is fastened to the side of the bench with a strip of Velcro. You can imagine about how well that works out. So the car starts and our legs reach for the pedals placed before each rider. The presumed idea behind this ride is that your chopper moves along the track in a speed that is directionally proportional to how fast you pedal. There is a safety system that will slow or stop your car if you get too close to the car ahead of you, aand their may be some speed limits. Also, if you stop pedaling the chopper would stop, then the ride would nag you and if you still didn't start the car would start moving on its own. At least that’s how the thing worked when I first rode it. Rideman and I first tried pedaling feverishly in an attempt to catch up with Paul and Bond, but when it became clear that no amount of pedaling was going to help us we first eased up on the pedaling, then Rideman wanted to cause the message to play to tell us to pedal the chopper so we stopped pedaling about midway through. The chopper moved on along the track at about the same speed. Hey, there is no benefit to pedaling, so why put ourselves through a needless workout. We lazed the rest of the ride back to the platform. From there we proceeded to walk through HB put Bond didn't ride anything else.

We walked around the Eiffel Tower and started to head to Action Zone, deciding to cut through Festhaus as a shortcut. Holiday decorating is going on a a fast pace here, my reaction is that we are finally getting our Festhaus back. It seemed to have been almost abandoned but we are getting it back. In some ways it is even starting to look more like a German beer hall than it used to. We managed to save Paul from paying absurdly high prices for mediocre park food, and headed into Action Zone. Well, perhaps it should be called Non-Action Zone today. Drop Zone and Extreme Skyflyer were closed for wind, Congo Falls was closed for the cold, Delirium and Son of Beast were closed for mechanical reasons, which left the pitiful pay extra go-kart track, Face/Off and Top Gun in the area.

I don't think we even bothered to look at the line over at Face/Off as its bad even on slow days. We headed back to Top Gun. We made our way through the tunnel and just past the 1 hour wait sign stood the back of the line. Well, we decided to stick it out and wait the hour to ride Top Gun. I don't really think it took that long, but that may have been partly due to the magic of conversation. There was a wish you had a camera moment when there was somebody who turned the disused stand for the model fighter jets into a rather comfortable looking easy chair.

We made our way to the bypass where you go around the outside what used to be the aircraft carrier tour part of the queue. There is one area where you can kind of see inside and along the back wall of the area is a HUGE United States Flag. We were stopped in a particular spot along the queue where I could see the fly end of the flag. (The end usually farthest from the pole) The flag looks like it is really a tarp made to look like a flag, as the fly end had a row of grommet holes running at least one per stripe from the top to the bottom, and rope was passed through said holes lashing it to the nearby support column. At least I had not seen that many grommets in a flag before. There doesn't appear to be any along the top or bottom edges, but I made the effort to peer around and see the hoist end of the flag, and there was a matching column of grommet holes in the white header on the hoist end. It kind of reminded me of something from Survivor 2, this was back when Survivors could take one luxury item into the game with them. Colby (who came in second) used misdirection to totally bamboozle the crew. There was a rule that the luxury items can't be anything survival related. (tarps, knives, matches, that kind of thing) Colby wanted to sneak a tarp into camp, so when he was choosing his luxury item he requested to bring a very oversize Texas Flag, explaining to the producers that he was a Proud Texan and that he needed to have his Texas Sized Texas Flag with him. The producers thought, that it would cause some confrontation around camp so they told him he could bring an oversize Texas flag. Well, Colby went to a flag maker, and commissioned a special Texas Flag, oversized and made of the same material that tarps are made out of. He then had them install grommets all along the edges of the flag, and some in key spots in the center just like a tarp. So the producers thought he was brining in an odd looking flag, but he was really bringing in a tarp that happed to look like a flag. And in the first few episodes he used it as a roof to their shelter, but I think somewhere along the way the producers shut him down because I think by episode 3 or 4, the Texas Flag was being used on the ground as the floor of their shelter. Of course later on in the season, Jeff Probst found a way to get that Texas flag out from the camp. Since this tangent has run so long, I'll just go a bit further to say that on Survivor 4, they allowed Pashcal to bring a United States Flag, and he used it as a Unites States Flag, complete with pole, staked into the beach.

Where was I, oh Top Gun. We made our way to the station and did another swap with Paul and I taking the first ride, and Rideman hanging back for the pass-and-ride. Paul likes the old Arrow suspended coasters, as do I. We received a fast and fun, if brief ride on Top Gun. At this time, Bond needed a bite to eat. The idea was simple Paul and Bond would go out to the car, then give us a phone call when they were ready to rejoin us.

Well we met John Peck and his crew at about the same time in the front gate plaza. Standing in the Front Gate plaza, I realized two things. People were streaming into the park like crazy, and that the wind was starting to get bitterly swift. Rideman and I decided to go out to assorted cars to change into warmer gear. I first took the chance to get my discount season passholder ticket to Winterfest at the special $16.99 price that expired on November 6. We went out to cars, noticed the swarms of people clogging the admission gates, the security checkpoint and season pass sales/processing. Was exiting the park really such a good idea? The park still hasn't gone back to the UV "Magic Lamp" handstamps, and this year have just been using plain old ordinary handstamps. Today's read "RIVERTOWN" We went to cars, we changed, I put my winterfest materials into Paul's car. Paul and Bond had a quick bite, then we headed back to the park.

It took a bit of time to get through the metal detector lanes, then we went to the reentry gate, or what used to be the reentry gate. It seems that one of the changes with the new visible hand stamps is that you can reenter through any open lane. We look back at the long lines to get through the gates. Ugh. We see an entry lane open up, and I decide to display some international flair as I queue for the main gate Italian style. That’s right, I saw the new lane open, and forcibly ran over there without regard for fellow park guests and got our group through pretty fast. It worked at the Coliseum in Rome, it can work here.

We entered the park and headed to Coney Mall. We noticed that Springshot was also closed due to winds, that Adventure Express had a line baked out onto the midway, and so we went into Coney Mall. Racer also had a line backed out onto the midway, but at this time the switchbacks were not in use. Therefore it was a relatively short wait and we were getting into the front seat of the back car. Paul and I first, and I saw Paul get stapled into Racer. Paul claims his Racer ride was painful, but I thought it was a slightly better than average ride, the return brake was on hard so the airtime it had reclaimed temporarily was gone.

We walked down a crowded Coney Mall, stopping near Italian Jobs back side so Paul could have some photos. We decided against Flight of Fear when we learned it only had one train running and a long line. We headed towards Vortex and didn't quite make it.

We ran into several groups of coaster enthusiasts near Happy Days Diner and stopped to engage in that behavior where you stand around on the midway talking about rides when you could be riding them. Well, if the park weren’t so crowded, anyway. We add Don Flint and Jim Scudder to our ranks (and a few others). Paul goes down by the Paramount FX Theatre to get some Racer pictures, then we head to Advneture Express. We note that Racer is starting to use some of its switchbacks and the line is still out onto the midway. The Adventure Express line is back to the midway, and we knew it would be a touch slower with only 2 trains running. It took about half and hour to get on Adventure Express, this time Paul and Rideman rode first, and Bond and I came second. Bond would have been eligible to ride Adventure Express but he chose not to. As Paul and Rideman were leaving to enjoy their AE ride, Bond announced that he liked Rideman better than me. I'm crushed, well being kid-friendly is not one of my strong suits, and I took some ribbing over that the day or two I worked HB rides. I had a nice solo Adventure Express ride to meditate on the errors of my ways, but hey Adventure Express is one of the best running coasters in the park, even if I did get behind the group that has to scream at the top of their lungs from the second the train starts moving out of the station until it returns.

After Adventure Express we take another Nick Central break for Bond. By this time the only way to describe Nick Central and HB Land is INSANE. Huge lines for everything Even the hand cars had a bit of a wait. We let Bond take one or two more laps on the handcars before heading back across park to Vortex.

We get as far as Happy Days Diner. Vortex had a line running back through Coney, even the Troika has a line backed out onto the midway. Bond has a giant pretzel as a snack and after some more conversation the Vortex line gets reasonable. We recall it only has two trains running.

We get almost all the way through the Vortex line when Bond and Paul have to leave for some 'family issues', but the rest of use this time to get a front seat Vortex ride. I nited Vortex has added a front wall to the front seat so you can't stick your legs clear up into the nose of the car the way you could before. Rideman and I rode together, and while on the lift I got an apprecation for the Corkscrew seatbelt probem, as I realized there was no way I could reach the (imaginary) seatbelt buckle secured with the shoulder bar the way I was. All in all it was a fun last Vortex ride of the year, and we met back up by the Vortex photo booth and headed for Beast

The last few years, PKI has started the really nice gesture of saving the last Beast rides of the year for coaster enthusiasts. We gather in Beast Plaza, and wait there until the park is almost cleared. Shortly after 6:30 (the park closed at 6) we were moved to a behind the scenes area between tomb Raider and Beast to wait.

Jeff Seibert, the parks PR guy gave a closing day address to the assembled coaster enthusiasts, thanking us for our attendance, commenting on where time had flown. He gave us some brief details about Nick Universe next year but nothing that hasn't already been announced except that Avatar is Not the Disk'O coaster that had been rumored but it will be a "Similar Experience" take that as you will.

You can tell the park is really excited about Winterfest as Jeff spent a great dealof time telling us about all the Winterfest attractions in a nice level of detail, allowing us to get a touch more detail. Just about everything he said has made it to the winterefest web site.

With that it was time to stop talking and start riding. We were allowed to enter Beast station through an emergency exit which took us up a flight of stairs right up to the loading area, totally bypassing the queue maze. Paul and I rode first while Rideman waited with Bond. Beast may be overrated, but there is something special about ending your season on Beast. Call it "Tradition!" There is something bittersweet knowing that its November and you are riding a roller coaster, but also in knowing that once the train returns to the station, amusement park season is OVER in Ohio. Savor that last ride.

We return to the station and we do the swap off. Since they were allowing re-rides, I yelded to Paul since he doesn't get to the park as much as we do, so Paul got a double ride while I waited with Bond at the ride exit. We could have stayed a few more rides in the mini ERT session, but we decided to talk some more as we made out was past swan Lake where they were testing the holiday light and sound show that will be taking place on the lake before heading up International Street, with Carol of the Bells playing on the sound system. We made our way out to cars, I claimed my stuff out of Paul's car, and we wihsed Paul and Bond a safe ride back to Santa Claus, IN, and Jim Scudder, Rideman and I had dnner at Culvers before heading to our assorted houses to end the coaster season,

The coaster season may have ended, but I should have at least one more amusement park visit this year when we go to Winterfest. Watch for the Trip report. Speaking of trip reports, this means I only have one more trip report to write, and I will be caught up for the summer. Keep your eyes peeled for my Ohio State Fair trip report.


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