Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
Kings Mills/Mason, OH
Well, after all the latest reviews of just how great and how smooth Son of Beast has been running, I just had to feel that for myself. So recalling the grand of trolley park tradition (I don't drive), I caught a bus out to the park. Speaking of which those busses are a great deal, they run about once an hour and only cost 50 cents (summer clean air promotion) to go the 25 miles from downtown Cincinnati out to the park.
I arrived at the park just as the big electronic sign outside was proclaiming 9:00. I'm all smiles and making time, but all it took was the walk to the front gate to take all the wind out of my sails.
"Son Of Beast Not Operating Today" proclaimed the big red A-frame signs lining the front gate area. I let out a choice word, and figured well I'm already here, I may as well go inside and play "GP" and start off on Face/Off and work myself around the park.
I used my season pass, and quickly entered the park and headed to the ACE brick. No one here I know yet, but there were a couple ACErs. I then turn around, use the facilities, and by the time I come back both Sean Flaharty and Dave Althoff were there. We passed around some comments about SOB not being open, we viewed the video of the Idlewild Chris Trotter immitation, we talked coasters until the GR person officially gave us the bad news we were hoping not to hear. Oh well, I figure it is better to visit a park with a friend than to go it alone, so I proceed to join the walkback to Beast. We talk coasters all the way back to Beast and while waiting for Beast to open. Amazing how time flies when you are talking coasters. Beast opens and I start to hop in the second seat of the first train when Sean points out to me that he is a single rider. Okay i'll wait for the second train and take the first class upgrade to the front seat.
My first Beast ride of the day was pretty good, the braked didn't seem to be on too hard, and the whole ride experience was quite enjoyable. Unfortunately this would prove to not be the case later on today, but more on that later.
We then find out that we have Flyer virgins in our midst,so we walk over to the Flying Eagles which we find out are closed. Boo-hiss, after failing to get any intrest in the Troika, we head for Vortex. Vortex is a great ride with airtime, up until the midcourse brake, where it just sorta drags itself throught the rest of the course. I opted for the very back seat, and had a pretty normal Vortex ride.
We then head up towards Outer Limits when I note a few things along the midway. first the price on the Launch Pad (Tramboline Thing Wannabe) has been lowered from $7 to $5. Due to my physical statistics I am ineligible anyway...... I then spot what looks like a space module sitting out in front of the Skeeball building. "What in the world is that????" That turned out to be a self service Karaoke Video Machine. No joke, you look along the outer walls of the machine which has the playlist printed on it, as I mentioned a big outer space looking box, then there are 4 video scren terminals along the outside of the machine, and two recording chambers accesed through doors located ont he sides of the machine. The front of the machine has a video screen and a place to insert your recording for playback. I did not notice what recording media it was using, but I did notice the price. $20.00 for this little high tech engineering masterpiece. For 1 song. The machine is setup to take credit cards, and as I mentioned totally self service. We then rounded the corner for the Voyager and noted a big "X" through the sign "$5 Admission" We failed to ask what the new admission charge was. I also noted that this Voyager was different from the one at Dutch Wonderland. The one at Dutch Wonderland has two hatches on each side, the one at PKI only has one hatch on each side.
We then proceed to enter the Outer Limits:Plight of Ears building, and noted that the preshow was off, the queue area audio was off, and most of the lights were off. The room gave a strange errie silent echo effect. We mused about the reaction to an OL ERT. OL:FOF was not busy, in fact they sometimes had to wait for the 10 riders needed to launch. We all waited for the front seat, and I happened to be last, with an odd number of riders I was looking forward to a solo ride where I could actually have shoulder room. Not so as another single rider follows me into the train. While I can report that I did not experience any headbanging I must ask, "If you spend the whole riding actively working to prevent headbanging, what fun is it? If it isn't fun why am I riding it?" I hit the unload area, and noted Dave playing with the Exit Gate with a smile on his face. I guess he found something amusing about this ride..... Shame it really should be a good ride but it just doesn't work.
We then walked down to Monster and John and I hoped to repeat our Spin-A-Rama performance, but even though we got some twists and turns, we just didn't get the wild out of control spinning we did the last time around.
Next up was Racer, we rode forwards and even though I headed right back towards the back car, everybody else stayed up towards the front. Hey, let's see what the front has to offer. I take a ride in the second seat, and am reminded about the airtime this ride has, and in fact the ride even appears to have had some trackwork or something it feels much smoother than last time. (Or maybe its a front vs. back thing).
We continued our course and rode Adveenture Express, front car. We got to see the lack of activity around SOB, got to notice how really nice of a mine ride it is, and hey we could even understand the guy at the top of the lift. Then it was on around bypassing King Cobra, walking past the SBNO SOB, and headed into the Top Gun queue. Top Gun is one of the longest non-adjustable queue lines in the park. Especially when combined with the exit ramp. (I think it may have competition from White Water Canyon though) As overheard from a guest "They must have really expected this ride to be something" We also noted that they have apparently given up on the themed area of the queue, and proceeded up the steps and headed towards the back. Top Gun is a solid performer, a short zippy ride that demonstrated the suspended coaster concept. We exited and since the re-ride gate was closed, that shout down any desire of a reride. I then remarked about how well the Action Zone is themed, I mean they spent millions on theming, they went and built this grand momument that looks just like a giant sized wooden coaster, even put some realistic trains, and a realistic looking photo booth. And whats this they even built a big queuing area for this grand momument of theming. So much detail paid for something that is just there to look at.
We walked past Son of Bat, exited Top Gun and noted a convention of 5 associateS camped out at the 'entrance' to this decorative momument infomring would be riders that it is only a momument and that they can't actually ride it. But why 5 people? Does it actually take 5 people to tell people its not really a ride? Couldn't these people really be out operating the rides the park COULD be operating but isn't????? (Viking Fury and Flying Eagles for instance)
It was at about this time that a motion was made to dump cameras into cars, and Sean decided to take off. On our way back to the gate we talked about how Wheelchair rental is PKI's version of Fastpass, and had the discussion about how at no other park to we see wheelchair rider policy abuse as much as at PKI. We also learned that for $8 anyone can rent a wheelchair, no actual medical condition necessary. Now back before Paramount took over, there was no charge for wheelchair use, you just had to leave your season pass or state ID as a deposit. It seems that Paramount has realized a revenue stream, and is now collecting $8 for them. How can we expect them to attempt to cut down on abuse, when they have developed this convenience line into a revenue maker. So mush so that before you would go to the Stroller Rental to get a chair, now its a feature booth all to its own. Now I realize that virtually every park offers wheelchair rental, and most of them offer disabled persons the same courtesy of not having to wait in line. How come other parks don't have this rampant abuse thing going on. what are they doing to discourage it?
We then got handstamps, procced out to cars said goodbye to people. talked coasters out in parking lot, had some soft drinks and then re-entered the park.
This time we headed for Hanna Barbera Land, and for Phantom Theatre. PT is really a nice dark ride, the story may be lacking but in terms of stunts and all its a very good effort. Plus all the nonsense signs about having to be less than 60" to ride are gone. We exited and headed for Beastie. The small wooden coaster, where I realized that dang they even took the final dip out of this ride. I don't recall what year it lost its final dip, but I distinctively recall a dip right by the Boulder Bumpers. We also noted the mystery brown strap on odd numbered seats, is gone. Beastie even has a hint of airtime on it. We walked around kiddie land, and had a "Why couldn't we have cool stuff like this when we were kids" moment. (Those of us who grew up in the Hampton Age). I tried to get on Taxi Jam, but that didn't work out.
We then headed into Rivertown, and by this time it was just Dave, Dave and John left in our group, and John was amusing himself by counting every time Dave A. said "problem", which was followed by a recuuring threat from Dave A. about John Peck's method of returning to Columbus.
I was so looking forward to trying a Gelati, a unique frozen custard and Italian Ice mix. Of all the frozen dairy whip stands PKI has, only one has Gealti, sure other stands have Italian Ice, but only Depot Sundae has Gelati. Much to my disgust, it seems that the Gealti stand is another part of the intircate theming of the areas, I mean it looks really nice, almost like I could really buy some Gelati from it, but alas the stand wasn't open.
I mean the more I go to other parks the more I realize what this one does wrong. And that's a shame, I mean it is natural to want the best for your home park, but when there are so many little things you see they can do, and they just don't do them t is really frustrating.
We walked down a couple doors and proceeded to ride the Kenton Cove Keelboat Canal. I am happy to report that all the disgusting foam that was caked all over the boat storage area, and around the loading area is gone. We procced to ride, and we exited the ride without getting too wet. Dave was puzzled by the footer from a removed exit ramp. You see the Keelboat entrance and exit were remodeled a few seasons ago in a parkwide effort to become more ADA accesible. (i.e. replacing ramps with those more gradual, closing severly steep hillside ramps and paths).
We then decided to check and see if the Flyers were running yet. Much to our delight, they were, and we took two rides on them at this time. My very first Flyer ride of the day would also proove to be my best. Mu Flyer skills would just digress from there. Luckily they were not enforcing the No Single Riders rule. While these Flying Skooters were good, they pale in comparison to the PHLYERS at Knoebels. We then hit the Troika, and then hit some free Ice Water. Continuing on around we rode Vortex, back seat again. We then tok an air conditioned walk though the Skeeball building which save for an air hockey table is all redemption. In fact some of these newer redemption games look to be 'one off's from gambling devices. I mean if a park can run that Colorama game why can't they operate a roulette wheel, or a prize wheel. I noted back in New Jersey that the parks offered a lot of Prize Wheel games. (Lay your money down on a number, if the spinner stops on your number you win a prize.
We then rode the Wave Swinger, and had a fairly unremarkable ride, except for Dave A. managing to get hooked on a tree or shrub(!), and just noticng how much stuff (i.e. shoes) falls off this ride. We then walked down the midway and stopped off at the Dodgem cars. Ok, PKI needs to do two things to this ride. 1) Speed up the cars so they actually BUMP insteadof just sort of tap each other, and 2) Take about half of the cars off the floor. I mean this is bumper car overload. Also for some reason the circular bumper car arena just doens't seem right. I mean you don't get to cut people off in the corners, and a lot of good bumper car strategys just don't apply to a round arena. Maybe they need to ditch the One Way Only rule, and remove the center 'bumper'.
Next up it was recaR, and we sat in the 'lead' seat for lack of a better term. (Ok, the one that goes over the hill first). Wow, recaR is becoming a rather good airtime machine. An impressive ride. We then decided to head up to Eiffel Tower and get a look around. Upon apporaching Eiffel Tower we note that they have rearranged the queue area for this ride. The former double queue is now on single queue, the turnstiles are gone, and it just seems to work better. I mean I guess the double queue worked well when they assigned each of the queues to an elevator. But since they are loading both elevators from both queues. (When they use both elevators) it really makes sense to have just one queue. We board the elevator and I'm not kidding they have changed the 'programming' of this elevator. Whereas the elevator usually climbs at a pretty good speed, now it crawls. I mean they must be wanting to turn the elevator ride itself into an observation ride. For some reason crowding 50 strangers into a small room with questionable air conditioning, and limited window space, then seeing how slow we can make it go up or down just isn't a pleasant experience, and it was getting a lot of guest comments. I noted a slight change in the spiel, instead of "An elevator will return every 3 minutes" its now "An elevator will return every 5 minutes" We took a long look from Tower, noticing that Viking Ship was down, that there was no activity around the momument of theming called SOB, that the Drop Zone tower has also changed programing and is also climbing up the tower at a much slowe pace. Maybe they want to stress the Space Spiral component of the attraction. And even Face/Off looked different. Now the train pauses for a few moments at the top of the first lift. I know it doesn't make sense but it seems to navigate the vertical loop slower than last year, We then noticed how relatively empty the parking area is for a Sunday, and that a lot of folks are using the new Waterworks parking area. We then heard what sounded like the elevators alarm bell. Hey maybe it isn't a programming change maybe the poor thing is getting tired from hauling us to the top of tower and wants to take a Break (Down). Hmm, onwards we look and see the water park, and I notice how Rivertown is the only area that keeps a rustic tranquil look to it, (at least from tower). We comment on the vast amount of asphalt paving, and how they need to do somehing with the abandoned rivertown Anttique Car ride (the coney mall one still operates). We then decide we better try to get off tower before the elevator decides to go from malfunction to no-function. We get in line for the down elevator, and I happen to get right under the air conditioner for "The room at the top of tower". It was a leakhy air conditioner, but please don't rush to fix it, as it provided a nice chilled water rain effect that I found to be quite nice. We then took a sloooowww elevator ride back down.
We then paused for a rest under tower, I had an Icee, and Dave A. and John were near asleep when we decided to go to Viking Fury which looked like it was running. We walked via the cool gift shop, exited the other end, and the Viking Ship was not open, but we hit it in time to watch the Glockenspiel on top Festhaus do the Chicken Dance, and even the 'acting' here appeard to be different. At least it seems well maintained. We then decided to ride Adventure Express, where we made the observation that it is nice and shaded, that is all except for the ready brake that you get to sit on when they setup. This ride was in the back seat, and I noticed that by the time the back seat starts up the lift the cool dude at the top has finished his speach. Maybe he could repeat it for the rest of the train. We then took another Ice Water break (hey it was hot!) at Oktoberfest Gardens, where we sat on the back patio and realized that the number of places where you could sit and have a nice quiet meal are disapearing. Q-TV has now invaded Oktoberfest Gardens, and our nice drink break was interupted by Stimpy singing something about wanting do be a DJ on the radio. Ya know you are tired when you just sit there and watch the stupidest stuff Q-TV has to offer. By the time we finishig our break Viking Fury was open, and we realized there really is no quick way to it from the Biergarden. We walk all the way around, and take an end row. A nice normal Viking Ship ride, then we head back to see get some more Flying Skooter action, 2 more rides, then down to Beast.
We had a typical length wait for Beast, actually no it was a little bit shorter, starting about at the hight checker. We wait and head toward the back of the train. John and Dave are in seat 16 and I'm in seat 15, both wheel seats. I thought my ride was gonna be special when it just felt funny going up the lift. Then it started, "Square Wheels" this was the roughest, jack-hammeriest Beast ride I have ever had, the whole train shake rattle and rolledits way through the course. I mean this ride was truly miserable, and I thought maybe it was just my car, I mean I don't see Dave A. or John reacting, yet. I had memories of Thunder Run with the trailer trains, that's how unpleasant the ride was. This is about the time my headache started.
While stopped on the brake run, I bring up the Zach's Zoomer incident. This starts Dave on a conversation about it and he says the ride is kinda like Beastie so lets take a walk to Beastie and discuss it. We first stop by the Cool Zone outside beast, where I am saved from an impulse $2.50 soda purhase by a non-working bill reader. We decide to go get dinner outside the park instead. We first though walk down by Beastie, where it surpised at just how close we can get to it, to discuss the Zach's Zoomer incident at the alledged part of the ride that had the incident. We passed our armchair verdicts, which I will supress. Hey we are here at Beastie, lets go for a ride. Another smooth ride with a hint of air. We then head out, but John stops by First Aid something about a headache, hey John hasn't been acting right since his Beast ride. Hmmmmmm.... While in First Aid we enjoy the coldest water fountain in the park, and the 1975 era park map on the wall.
We then exit the park, get new handstamps, and decide to go to Steak N Shake. "I had the Triple Steakburger wth cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, with fries and Chili,, and a Sprite if anybody cares" I really do think these out of park dinners are very relaxing, and just good for you. I mean it's not that we eat outside of the park becuase of the price, its more about table service, better quality food, and not having to listen about someone wanting to be a DJ on the radio. :) O Okay, I mentioned Steak-N-Shake where fo course coasters were discussed the entire meal, which I think may have annoyed the people in an adjoining booth, but oh well. Anyhow, funny story since I brought it up: we were finished eating and up front paying our checks, which took a little bit longer than normal since the barcode scanner wasn't functioning properly. So John Peck asks the cashier for a cup so he can take the rest of his shake with him. The cashier has a soda fountain right behind her for carry out orders,and the requisite cups for serving soft drinks. She tells John, that he would have to talk with his server about getting a paper cup. In the time she said that she could have reached behind her and gotten one. Now why should John have to track down a server who is loaded down as this is peak dinner hour? So we pay, and we start to walk out the door when John jokingly says to the cashier "I always wanted a glass like this" and proceedes towards the door. Amazing he got his paper cup then in a hurry.
So anyway that was your intermission from the TR.
So we return to the park, and as we suspect the parking lot toll collectors have already called it a night, not that it mattered since we have a parking pass with us. But anyway this gives Dave the opportunity to speed demon through the toll plaza like a madman. John says something about having to change :) and we find a nice parking spot and reenter the park.
We first head to HB, and John tries to use his newfound skill to try to get me on Taxi Jam. I mean he talks a good game, and he has the plan "Now you gotta find a boy, parents are more weary with girls, also find a single boy, two kids in the same family will want to ride together. Now you don't want one too young, his parent will want to ride with him, so you want a child still short enough to ride, but kinda old (for a child)." We try for a while but we finally say it just wasn't meant to be today. I think that we were right, we shouldn't have tried the three strange guys standing around by the ride apporach, it looked suspisious, and in today's society I can't blame any parent for not being exactly trusting.
Ok, Flying Skooters festival, three more rides on these Skooters. After that I was kinda getting bored with flying skooter sand my last two rides weren't exactly stellar, etc. So we head down to King Cobra. We knew Dave didn't exactly like his last ride on King Cobra, so we were kinda surprised when he followed us into the queue area. Which turned out to be a walk on, and hey they were running two trains, whether it was doing them any benefit.... I get into the train (5.1) and I am glad the lapbars don't automatically relock anymore, gives you a bit more time to adjust things, and things need adjustmemt here. I start with the shoulder loops, I squeeze them ttill they lock, then tried to fasten the orange belt, no luck, I fully extend the orange belt, no luck, I squeeze a little bit more, there thats done. Took so long that just about the time I got that adjusted I was just pulling the 'waistbar' closed when the operator came up to me and offered me a 'raise'. Great I was a bit crunched, and I must say for once, I was locked into King Cobra in as totally natrual and comfortable position as you could ask for in a standup train. Then the operator went to 5.2 to check on Althoff. Now it was sort of hard for me to see the proccedings as its sorta hard to turn around when you are harnessed to a post. First I hear "Want a raise" followed by "That's as high as It can possibly go" (I'll let you guess who said what in that interaction). Some more tweaking of bars and belt then a "Oh, just forget it" and the sound of a rider making a hasty retreat to the exit ramp. So John and I procceded to ride King Cobra, and I can't say I find any fault with this ride. It's much more pleaseant and rideable than the B&M standups, it has some awesome airtime, the trick track, the whole package. We tried to wave at Dave during the station flyover, but he was engaged in discusiion with a ride op. (Why doesn't that surprise anyone?) We hit the brake run, and notice the train in the station the riders are still walking through the queue gates, what the. Oh well we're gonna be here a few minutes. They really need more loaders/unloaders, like 6. One per 4 riders. We finally pull into the station, pick Dave up at the "Kiddie Corral Box" :) And we exit down the ramp, dodging a wheelchair (on a stand up ride!!??!!), but hey this one looked legitimate. Then acted as kids running our fingured on the couragted metal backing of the food joint. We exit and head to Top Gun, where Dave is equally childish and runs his fingers in the spokes of the fencing all the way to the station. Another back of the train ride on this consistent performer, then after exiting behind the slowest walkers in the world, we opt not for a reride, even though the gate was open. We head up by Face/Off and find a 30 minute wait, a check of watches revealed that would make it out last ride. We decided not to end our day on a Boomerang, even an inverted one. For the same reason we skipped Drop Zone, and headed back towards the traditional night ride, Beast. Why oh why, my head still hurts from the last Beast ride. But we decide to stop off at Vortex on the way, get halfway up the stairs, and find the ride closed down due to mechanical difficulites. Since they were just evacuating the line, we figured by the time they would get a machancic out and all they may opt not to reopen tonight, or if they do it would be our last ride. We head down to Beast where our timing could not have been better. We go towards the front, and I take seat 1.3.
We exit the station and just as we pass the transfer shed the FIREWORKS go off, we continue to watch the fireworks all the way up the lift. There was a kinder gentler time when PKI used to stop the two Beast trains on top of the wo lifts so that riders could pause and enjoy the fireworks. Not tonight! We head down the first drop, and my hands go instantly to grabbar. Oh no this is not gonna be any better than the last ride. Ohh my heads throbbing as we head into the mid coursebrakes. But hey I could watch those fireworks on the second drop, and through the mid course shed, through the totally dark tunnel YES!, around the bend and onto lift 2. More fireworks watching, off lift two into the "Go out with a bang" finale on Beast helix. Up the final hill and onto the final brakes. We stop ont he brakes for an extended time. Long enough to finish attempting to watch fireworks throught eh struture and trees. Then we sit there some more, and sit, and sit, and sit, and finally the other train pulls out of the station. And we feel the brake drop from under us. But we still don't pull forward cause the next brake is holding it back until the trian advances to the block point. Ah now we can ride into the station. And we exit and make ourway back to the entrance. By was of the middle path. We note the new Carousel Horse topiary where the floral bell used to be. (and the SOB floral and wood arangement out front looks nice, even if the ride doesn't actually operate) Then we walk under tower, and the same exact elevator that was crawling earlier today was flying up and down at full speed. Hmmm. Then it was time to exit, but first I needed to hit some Tylenol at first aid (I place full blame for this headache on the Beast) It is nice that First Aid stays open after park close. In fact coming out of First Aid I felt an errie silence walking through the park I hadsn't felt since 1996. I held back telling the First Aid people "I need tylenol to get rid of this headache the Beast gave me becuase it runs so rough" I figured that remark would only get us another trim brake to whine about. While I was calming my head, Dave was letting GR know his feelings about several aspects of his day. I mean he pulled out his PSION, and GR had a printer waiting and out came his TR a copy for GR. (Ok, so maybe I decided to embellish that part) We then procceded to ride the Auto Ride to Coasterville, where I got home, and that ends another great TR. (I hear Dave keeps a CP candy cane in his trunk, does that mean that Dave's Car comes with a 48" height requirement?)
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