October 1, 2006
I hadn't planned on going to the park today, but coming home from church the radio announcer said something that changed all that. He said that it would be 76 and sunny out today. I thought to myself, how many more days like this can I expect to have this year, and decided to spend it at the park. So after church I went home, changed from church going attire to theme park going attire. I also grabbed my camera and its accessories as the park had just been purchased by Cedar Fair and I wanted to document the park just in case Cedar Fair makes some big changes in the off season. I had also decided to renew my season pass, so I figured a few minutes online might save me several minutes in line. I soon had purchased, printed, and registered an eTicket for a Cedar Fair Maxx Pass. I grabbed a snack and was off to the park.
Owing to my late start, I didn't arrive at the park until 12:45. I had forgotten a beverage with my snack, so I stopped at a coke machine out in the parking lot and bought a coke for $1.00. Sure it was a can, but on a per unit basis it was still a way better deal than in the park. I made my way through the parking lot and realized it's not going to be too crowded today. I did note the chains up blocking off the exits from the Gold Pass lot, but noted the entrances to both the Gold Pass Lot and the Premier lot appear to be unattended. I soon made my way to the front gate plaza and noted Son of Beast was going to be closed. What a uhm, surprise.
I made my way to the season pass building and was happy to find the extra queue area empty, and registered e-ticket in hand I proceeded directly inside. The inside of the season pass building is still done up in its old time cameras and film strip motif. What has totally changed is the whole process. I showed my eTicket to the person at the front desk, as well as my 2006 PKI pass. He took my PKI Pass and stapled a yellow "Complimentary Parking" ticket onto my eTicket. I was then directed to a camera station.
I had some brief difficulty at the camera station. From what I could gather the person is supposed to scan the eTicket or pass ticket, then scan the parking ticket. I gathered the photographer made a mistake, then tried to just do it over, but when he rescanned the eTicket, it showed up as void, and already used. He had to call a supervisor over, who noted what happened, and was able to reset the barcode on my eTicket so it could be used again, but it would take the computer system 5-10 minutes to reset. They offered me a chair while I waited. During that time I heard that no parking passes are being sold yet, only the free parking for renewals. I also determined that the season pass crew knows little more about how passes work next year than we do. Eventually the computer releases the block on my eTicket and I am able to process. A quick photo is taken, and then I am handed a stiff piece of paper, it's a little bit more durable than Florida theme park tickets. On the front side it is red, and still has the film strip motif of the old PKI passes, except that it reads "Temporary Cedar Fair Maxx Pass" The back has room for my signature, a big block of fine print that I need to get out a heavy duty magnifying glass to read, a barcode, and a small Paramount's Kings Island logo. The fine print explains how a Maxx Pass works, good at PKI only in 2006, good at all CF ride parks in 2007. Any passholder perks are only good at park of issue, then the usual stuff. He indicated he thinks the plan is to mail the regular passes out but that is purely speculation on their part.
Pass in hand I exit the season pass building and make my way towards the metal detectors. Flanking the metal detection checkpoint is some fearfest theming in the flower beds, most notably two King Cobra cars with skeletons riding them on one side, and two Phantom Theater cars (again with skeletons) on the other side. I have not trouble clearing security, note the park closing time is 8pm, and head to the front gate. There were long lines at the stroller lanes (which don't have turnstiles), but almost no wait at the lines with turnstiles. I choose a regular lane, and am soon admitted to the park. I note as my paper pass is scanned the server puts my pass photo up on the ticket takers monitor. I enter the park and pass by the brochure rack as I can get a park map on the way out.
I enter the entrance plaza, and the first thing I notice is the big Paramount's Kings Island logo is gone, replaced by a section of cemetery fencing, some headstones, a Kings Island Fearfest logo, all flanked by two hearses. I head towards Acton Zone, and note the alpine chalet look of the return visit booth has been removed now that it is not selling WinterFest tickets. I also note both a magic show and "Monster Bash" have moved into the Paramount Theater. I head to Delirium and was nervous at first, but upon closer inspection noted the switchbacks in the queue area were not in use, and in reality the line was just a one cycle wait. I would have gotten on in the next cycle but I was the 51st person back in line. While waiting my turn I awndered if I should stow the fannypack (with camera) in the metal bins or take it on the ride. I decided to take it on the ride, and when I sat down found just enough room to the side of me to slide the fannypack, almost as if the ride were designed that way. No problems with the belt or bar, so I was soon swinging and spinning on one of the best new rides the park has installed in awhile.
After Delirium I head towards Top Gun. I note that Days Of Thunder (go-karts) are priced at $6 which is way too high for a dull oval track,. I get back in that area and note Son of Beast is barricaded with two trash cans at the entrance, a bench across the exit, and a greeter. I was headed to Top Gun when a sign caught me eye. I didn't have much time to read the sign until an Extreme Skyflyer attendant (Skycoaster) walked over to me and told me that I could ride for only $5 instead of the posted price of $15. I quickly made my way to the ticket booth and soon had a Skycoaster ticket. There were just two groups in front of me to be admitted to the harness shelter. There I was given a cubbyhole for my personal belongings and fitted into a harness. Lets see, last month I let some stranger help me into a harness, then tether me to a steel cable attached to a bridge, so that I could climb around on top of the bridge. This weekend I am letting some stranger help me into a harness, then tether me to a steel cable attached to a big arch, so that I may be winched up 153' and freefall back down. Harnessed up, I was sent to Flight Area 2, and there I found 4-5 groups ahead of me. I waited out the time by noting that Drop Zone could not get enough riders to fill a cycle, which is unusual for that ride. I also took the time to look about the Skycoaster harness, the first time I really had time to look it over.
Eventually, it was my time to fly. They invited me into the flight area, I went up on the lift, changed places with the other flyers, they had me connected to the cables, had lowered the lift all the way to the ground, and were ready to start the winch when. STOP!!!! They brought the lift back up, unhooked me from the cables and had me exit the flight area. A foreman type person came over to me and explained that they needed to perform a test flight, but that I would be welcome to join the staff member on that test flight, oh and the staff member has to pull the ripcord. Fine by me, so soon myself and a staff member were being attached to the cables and winched up 153'. I think I surprised the staff member when I remained totally calm throughout the entire flight. I mean I have done numerous Skycoasters now, the novelty has worn off, but hey for $5 why not? I return to the harness shelter, trade them the harness back for my belongings, and head back to the midway.
I next head to Top Gun. Lets just say the theming situation at Top Gun has not improved, but I was able to take a seat on the next train out. No waiting. Top Gun was its consistent good but short self. I was wanting to drop the main weapon out of my fighter plane onto the wooden coaster sitting next to it, but no such luck.
I next headed to Drop Zone, which was another walk on. I usually avoid Drop Zone because I have a hard time fitting into the seat. That was not a problem today as the buckle fastened easily, just don't ask me to get an inch of slack in the belt. Drop Zone may be 300' tall, but some of the smaller carnival models I have been on recently provide a much wilder ride. I bypassed Congo Falls and headed to a walk on Face/Off (are you noticing a trend?) I took a seat towards the rear of the train, and had a wonderful g-force filled ride on Face/Off. I then headed to Adventure Express. On the way there I noticed some scaffolding, orange barrels, and other construction equipment from the Worksite scare zone. Doesn't look like too much of an attraction. I also noticed Slingshot was closed for a private party.
Adventure Express was a walk on, and it was its reliable self. The dummers eyes were lit, and their hands were moving, and there seemed to be more light in lift 2, but the big temple god at the top was still turned off and had no light shone on him. Exiting Adventure Express, I noticed that Cyber Sez was closed, and headed into Coney Mall. (Or in its Fearfest persona Coney Maul).
I headed over to Racer, where I turned down a walk on for a one wait front seat ride. They are still stapling you in, and I noted that I had my wallet in the wrong pocket. That was a slightly painful ride. But not too bad, as I took a walk on backwards Racer ride. How come backwards side always seems to run smoother?
I headed down Coney Maul, next stopping in at Flight of Fear. Oh no the line is outside the hangar door, but it was taking the shortest possible route through the hangar. I waited it out and took a ride in the orange train. Flight of Fear is another ride I have had fit problems on in the past, but not so today. Its still a great ride but the mid course ride brings you to a total stop, which means you get hangtime in the final corkscrew.
I took a peek at Holiday Horror which is another scare zone. The evil version of Christmas, smashed santa statue, bones sticking out of the strands of lights and all that. I wonder when someone is gonna get offended at this and complain. I head on to a walk on Vortex. Vortex was running its usual self, so I go to take a look at the new 3 point challenge. 3 point challenge is a new basketball game that has taken over the former Flying Eagles site. Sniff. It's a new kind of basketball game, the person gets 40 seconds to shoot 12 3 point shots, The more shots they make the better their prize. They flash the game with Xboxes and Ipods. Did I mention you need most if not all 12 3-pointers to get the top prizes? It had a small queue to play and they get $5 per player.
From 3 Point Challenge, I headed over to Italian Job Stunt Track. Italian Job's line was just starting to back up into the queue house, so it was should have been about a 20 minute wait, except that they were only running 2 trains. I reached the front of the line and was grouped with a part of 3 and sent to row 3. I noted the special effects on Italian Job haven't really improved any, but at least the show scene still works. I thought I might have felt a faint pop of airtime, but that may just be wishful airtime.
I next headed over to Beast, and walked right onto a ride in seat 1.3, As I was riding Beast I noticed the newish orange ski fencing apparently in place for next week's coaster event. The Beast ran about its usual self, which means its fine up until the horseshoe tunnel, then in the ground hugging ravine section it starts shuffling and jackhammering like mad. The final helix while still the rides signature element is just brutal. I wonder if some coaster enthusiasts mistake ride brutality for a good ride. From what I have seen of the Beast queue this season, the average park goers seem to know the difference and are shying away from it.
After Beast, I headed down through Rivertown. I next passed a closed Tomb Raider, what a surprise. I then passed the train ride, during the summer the train ride serves as transportation to the water park, during FearFest it serves as the first part of one of the haunts, and during Nick or Treat as transportation to the pumpkin patch where a child can get their very own pumpkin to decorate. Having no interest in that I continued on and spotted a closed for the season White Water Canyon. By this time it was about 4:30 and I was getting hungry, I also spotted a sign for the new Wings Diner Buffet. Your seasoned park reviewer needs to check out this new eatery or this trip report wouldn't be complete, see the sacrifices I make for you?
So they have restricted entry to only the front center door, and have set up benches so you have to go straight ahead to where they have to entrance lanes setup. You pay on the way in, I think $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children 10 and under, and there is a special admission ticket/buffet combo deal available online. I go inside, and $13.86 with the tax later I am taking a place at table. Okay they are using the same serving line from Wings but the queue rails have been removed. Starting from the far left, there is a beverage station (soft drinks, tea, coffee, water), then the rolls/butter, then the first steam table has fried chicken, mashed potatoes (made with redskins, skin is in the mashed potatoes) , chicken gravy, carrots, green beans. The second steam table is the pasta bar with spaghetti, bowtie pasta, marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, meatballs, and garlic sticks. Front and center the bottom shelf is a fairly decent salad bar with tossed salad fixins, cole slaw, potato salad, pasta salad, fruit salad and puddings. On the top shelf are deserts such as cheesecake, german chocolate cake, and brownies. On the other serving line in the first section you have chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and baked beans. The last station has buns, hamburger patties, grilled chicken patties, and seasoned potato wedges. Next to that is the toppings bar with cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle and tomato. Lastly you have another beverage station, but this one also sells beer. Condiments are over where the checkouts used to be. I note they are using paper plates, plasticware and paper cups on this buffet, and apparently you are responsible for bussing your table at the end of the meal. I tired just about everything, most of it is on par with what you would expect at one of their catered picnics. The only item I didn't like was the chicken nuggets, a bit too hard. But I especially liked the homestyle mashed potatoes and gravy. (Hey it's a gravy buffet, and it was installed just in time for Caoster Con XXX!) Deserts were good, and the all in all I would have to say the food is nothing special, but if you consider what a burger, fries, and a Coke would cost you out in the park, I'd say its an excellent deal, especially since you also get the salad and desert to go with it. While I ate I watched the Bengals game for a quarter. Hey, unlimited food and drink, and football on TV, does it get any better. I noted for the most part the Wings theme package is still in place. Those American flags on the outside still haven't returned.
After dinner, I headed towards the new Nick Universe. Hey I just overate at a buffet, and I got my money's worth on soft drinks alone, much less all the food. Nice tame kiddie rides seem to be just the picture. Again I wasn't in the mood for water rides so I passed on Wild Thornberries, but I did not the evil elephant had been given the day off.
I also decided to pass on a walk on Phantom Phlyer (Zamperla Kite Flyer), and instead headed to Rugrat's Runaway Reptar, a nice gentle family inverted coaster. It was just a two train wait to ride Rugrats and there really isn't much to report, it was about the same ride as always. I do like these family inverted coasters though.
Okay, so my stomach still hasn't settled, but I know, don't contents settle when being shaken? I headed over to Avatar. I was having doubts about my stomach as I was boarding the ride, but too late to back out now. Avatar was a walk on, hmm usually you can count on Nick being busy, especially with Nick or Treat going on. I am happy to announce that I easily survived my ride from Row 4, I am not as happy to mention that Avatar isn't the ride it used to be. It used to be you got 5 trips along the entire W shaped course, now you only get 3. I still think it, like Delirium are great additions to the park.
I next headed to Beastie, I mean Fairly Odd Coaster. Another walk on ride, so I took a ride in the back seat on this junior wood coaster. It's still the best running of the Kings Island wood coasters. After Fairly Odd coaster, I took a look at the formerly empty plaza caused by removing Jetson's Orbiters, and relocating the Hampton car ride. That big plaza is the site if the family friendly funhouse maze. I passed on that and headed to Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle.
Wow, Scooby had a line, not too much of one though just spilling out of the secret passage into the front room. One thing I noted is that the formerly dark queue areas in Flight of Fear, and Scooby Doo have been brightened somewhat. There was no grouper so it was a seat yourself operation. I took a car and headed into the ride. Man, why do I have to get the special needs slowdown in the first spot between the ride start and the first target. Total waste of a ride slowdown. While the special effects on the other rides seem to be suffering, Scooby Doo is actually looking better. I mean I saw Scooby and Shaggy actually running around in circles, haven't seen that stunt work in a long time. It was a respectable scoring ride and soon I was back on the midway.
From there I decided to do a photo safari of the park, starting with Nick Universe, then through Rivertown. When I got towards the back of Rivertown I noted Tomb Raider was now open, so I decided to take a ride. I was leery about how my camera bag would hold up to being held upside down for 30 seconds solid, so I went ahead and rented one of the Smart Carte lockers then joined the queue. There was no queue and I walked right into the preshow room. The preshow played, the big door in front of us opened, then the door closed again. Our ride was being delayed because a rider on the previous ride lost a cell phone. Need I remind you the ride is the only one at PKI that has lockers right out in front for express use of the patrons of that ride, there is a big "No Carry On Gear" over the entrance, there is an announcement made in the pre show room, there is a chance to stash carry on items in cubbyholes in the "Rendevous Room", there is another announcement made in the actual ride chamber, there are fabric zipper pouches mounted to the ride and furnished for each rider. After all those warnings and provision by the park, I really have no sympathy in this case, besides its delaying my ride. We waited for them to either find the phone, or find the remnants of the phone. Then when they have the ride area clear, the big overhead door doesn't want to open, so there is another delay, why is it that no matter how short the line its this always turns into a half hour ordeal to ride? We are finally admitted to the ride chamber, and because of the large crowd that had no assembled they actually filled all three rows. That didn't improve ride performance any, as its still a pretty horrid ride. Normally Top Spins do not bother me, but when this one went upside down I had a real strange feeling in my sinus passages, it's the same feeling you get when you are underwater in a pool and you get water up your nose. Anyway I keep riding Tomb Raider in the hope it gets better, but it doesn't, but this time I wanted to take a ride just in case Cedar Fair does something to it. Oh, and I thought the ride chamber was brighter than usual you could actually see all the stunts around the walls. I exited Tomb Raider and continued my photo safari through Coney Mall.
I did stop at Shake Rattle and Roll (Troika) because it was loading, there was no wait and it's a fun ride. From there I continued my photo safari down Coney Mall, through Oktoberfest, and it was turning dark as I toured Action Zone. Therefore my Action Zone and International Street photos are not the best. Up on International Street they have the cemetery of gone but not forgotten rides, and a real cool lighting job on the Eiffel Tower. I noticed Scrooge's House from WinterFest has been pressed into service for some kind of FearFest show. I looked in both the Emporium and Thrills are Paramount shops but the only Kings Island only merch I could find are the retro 70's style shirts. I noted the Kings Islandoply games are marked down to $19.95, which is annoying as I paid near $30. I noted the purple lights in the entryway, and grabbed a Fright Guide from the brochure rack, then stopped past Guest Relations to get a regular park guide. I looked around the old King Cobra car for a awhile then headed out.
Next weekend is Knoebels!!!
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