Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
Location: Kings Mills, Ohio
Date: October 31, 1999
"It's kinda fun to do the impossible"
Unlike last weekend when it was real cold, I knew today looked to be a great weahter day, and since it was the last day of the season, I of course anticpated a strong coaster enthusiast showing.
Also knowing that I had to renew my season pass today, I decided to arrive at the park at 8:45am, which was actually great timing to meet Sean Flaharty in the parking lot. We soon made our way to the front gate where to my surprise no one was in the season pass line, which meant that I bought my SP ($67.99), had my photo session, gotten my pass, and a couple interesting promotional offers, all in 5 minutes. Of special interest to the coaster fanatic is that my season pass bears the Son Of Beast pawprint, which entitles me to an ERT session scheduled on April 9, 2000. We got in line with the rest of the coaster nuts at the turnstiles and tried to give away the stacks of free tickets we had. (Seems they were giving two free tickets away with every season pass purchase), a lot of folks (GP) took the time to scalp their tickets, we merely tried giving ours away. The gates were soon opened and we ran to our post for the next 45 minutes (Glass Blowrers Shop) were everybody shared stories, plans, etc and made introductions. Seems an over average number of coaster enthusiasts were in the park today. Sure all the regular standbys were there, but a lot of new faces too. Around 9:30 one person (forgot names) passed out unofficial tour stickers. These were very limited edition and got even more limited as people lost theirs to the rides. But why tour stickers? And what's with the name of this post?
Well Jeff Seibert came out and we got in a hushed huddle on our unofficial plot of International Street, to announce a few things. Most importantly that there was going to be a tour of the Son of Beast Construction site, as well as some other surprises, all we need to do is meet back at this spot at 2:00pm. One of his other comments was that they were going to be removing their eigth most popular attraction in order to make room for their 2001 attraction. Then Angie gathered us together for a big year end group photo. We then proceeded to do the normal Beast ACE walkback. Now usually there are about 10 people max per day for the walkback, we had over 50 today. We were placed at the front of the queue and were let in around 10:00 and saw that Dave Althoff, Jr. was a bit tardy so got to watch the walkback from the exit ramp :). We had an average Beast ride, which was soon followed by a second Beast ride since the line was so short. Upon reaching the platform to our dismay they were assigning seats. I dont know why but the seat assigners retreated when we hit the front of the line, so we took the opportunity to slide over to the back seat. Another Beast ride, then we went down to the Vortex, again with the short line we decided to take a front seat ride. Vortex was running its usual. Then we decided to head down to Outer Limits, a bit more crowded than last week. At least they had enough riders to fill the trains this week. We noted a small delay before they boarded us. We rode, and had a reltively smooth ride while practicing safe riding precautions. However after our ride the ride went DDM for a while and we had to wait for the rest of the group to get to ride.
We then headed around the park to Racer. I WOULD have had a nice brakless airtime laden back seat ride if it were not for my lapbar deciding to ratchet to one notch before painful. I mean they were shouting "WOW" at the air, I was shouting "OWWW" as I was wrenched between the seat and an offensive lapbar. Then on the brake run, I did a check, I could not push down on my lapbar. This IS significant in that PTC's ratcheting lapbars need to be pushed down before they come up. I was fearing torque-lock, but luckily just a mild shove down released it at the end of the ride. We then exited Racer.
Next up was Adventure Express - we had a good ride, and were most inspired by the Son of Beast flyby. "You know, we could board this ride a lot easier, if you'd open the gates"
Next up was a trip to Top Gun, and our first mild line of the day. Short enough to be tolerable, however a locked re-ride gate killed any thought of a reride.
We then made our big mistake of the day... we ate lunch.
No, the food was good, the service was good, and the price was semi-reasonable for a theme park (BBQ Rib Sandwhich and a Coke - $6.50)
We took a while to eat while talking, then we went out to the parking lot to grab camera gear. I got to watch Dave play "Find Your Car", but we made it back to the park before 2:00pm, when we were met again by Jeff Siebert.
This time he told the story of Ruth Voss (former well known GR person at KI) and how they looked to better the relationship between PKI and ACE. At this time they checked to make sure that everybody was in either ACE or NAPHA and had a card to prove it. He then told everybody to go to the International Restaurant.
We all made our way upstairs into a restaurant above the front gate that hasn't operated to the general public in a number of years. *Impossible Feat #1*, then they introduced some of the top people at PKI, passed out some fact sheets that tell us all about Son Of Beast, while they told us some things about it, then they passed out vouchers good for 50% of our gift shop purchases, then they explained how the tours were going to work. Each tour could accomodate 10 people, they then had sign up sheets in order to sign up for your tour. We got into group 5, which meant we were to meet once again at the Glass Blowers at 4:40 for our tour. They then announced that we would have a short ERT on the Beast after the park closed and to meet next to the Beast entrance at park close. Then just when the surprises couldn't get better, they unveiled a luncheon buffet. Deli Sandwhiches, Pizza, Potato Chips, Prezels, and cookies, and soft drinks made up the buffet. *Impossible Feat #2*. We were allowed to linger in the restaurant until 3:30 but left somewhat early in order to go to the EIffel tower. To our surpise the Tower had a full queue but I got to start my photos of SOB from atop Tower. Then the tech-heads in the group decided to analize some electronic equipment mounted around the top of the tower. We then headed back down to earth and took a ride on Beastie which killed just enough time to get to our appointed pick-up spot at 4:30.
Right around 4:40, Jeff Siebert once again met us, did a roll call check against his roster sheet, and took us to the loading area of The Son Of Beast Expedition. *Impossible Feat #3* (A waiting van parked behind the fence). As we entered the van we found hard hats waiting for us in the seats. We were given adjustment instructions as we took our seats and were soon off "Please keep all hands, arms, legs and other body parts in the ride vehicle at all times" Then a welcome spiel and a safety spiel due to the nature of the event. (While riding past a lot of service buildings) Ending with a "Behave yourself and don't take anything spiel" Shortly we were on our way through the PKI woods. You see there is one huge woods behind PKI, and it was in full fall foliage. Very beautiful. And anyone who thinks PKI has no room to expand should see this. You could tell the van was loaded with coaster enthusiasts as we were cheering as we rounded the corners and experienced some minor lateral forces. Some even jokingly put their hands up. Then when he stepped on the brakes someone called out "Trim Brake". We were then traveling underneath Beast. The van was nice enough to stop and allow us to take a photo of the Beast train flying out of tunnel 1. We then proceeded around the Racer, and finally to the Son of Beast construction site. It was at this point that we unloaded the van. (And were told to not leave anything in the van as it would not be waiting for us).
It was at this point that my shutter finger went nuts. We started the tour by the far helix. Stressed were the sheer amount of wood. (It is very dense and hard to see through), "Built to withstand the test of time" as the phrase used. The wider than average catwalks. The trains will be by Premier Rides and will have an additional shock absorbtion system not used before. He verified that it will be a lap-bar only ride, even with the loop. (YES!) I got some interesting photos including one right up by a section of track looking uptrack. We tehn proceed to the drop before the loop and were shown the prefab method used. Seems they build an entire bent, cross bracing and everything on a large 'table' on the ground and then raise it into position with a crane. We were shown some of the hardware used to built the ride, including some very very large bolts. We then went inside the near helix which is almost entirely enclosed. There are a fee spots where I-beams allow both train crossovers and service access into the middle of the helix. Standing inside the nearly closed helix was a site to behold. I wish I had a Circlevision camera. We were told to invision a lift hill behind the helix cresting 60' above the top of the helix. WOW!. We then went around the station area. (Within gawking distance of the guests viewing from the midway), and finally up the hill wear the lift hill, some curved track brake run and lift approach would be. We also got some rare photos of Top Gun. Jeff casually noted that if we were stadning where we were then when the ride was open we would get run over. He alos noted that it would run within 6' of Top Gun, and they had to shoehorn it in next to Adventure Express. He also mentioned drops all the way to the ground. with the ledgers resting on concrete. Just the magnitude and sheer size of the project is amazing. To be able to that close and under it is even more amazing. We then walked back along a service road past Adventure Express where we got some more rare photos and where AE failed to send a train up the lift while we were waiting. Some of us also We then walked back along the service road to the far helix of Son of Beast, Took a group photo, and got some proof photos. (I was there!), and were then loaded into the van to go back to the park. We took the same path back as we went out on. We had to stop for a deer where I noted "I didn't know the Safari ride was still running" A very profound comment considering where I was walking. We then were soon deposited back at the loading area, told to leave the hats in the seats, and we entered the park. With kid-in-candy store faces.
Then there was some usage of gift shop vouchers, returning gift and cameras to cars and then some night riding.
First up was Top Gun, getting good and dark, great ride, then over to Adventure Express, another good dark ride, then Racer, (brake was on this time, but I got mild air since my lap bar stayed put). The Recar, which I still think runs better than Racer. Then he headed down to Flyers. (We had to get one more Flyer ride in!), then Troika, then Flyers. And "I GOT MY FIRST VIOLENT CABLE SNAP!!!!!!"
We then went to the waiting area for the Beast ride. We were informed that the ERT is for ACE or NAPHA only. We waitied and talked coasters amongst ourselves and key PKI personell. I met a lot of people I worked for and with in other words. Most remembered me. (I don't know if that's a good sign.....)
Then after the last GP took their rides, the Beast was reopened for us, and we entered via the emergency exit *Impossible Feat #4*, this exit took us back the orgianl exit path, then around a service walk and up a flight of stairs to enter at the back of the loading platform. We chose our seats, and were admitted to the ride. They were insistant on 2-clicks out of everybody on this ride. But soon we wereoff on a Beast ride with minimal lighting and minimal something else.... Can't guess what it would be, but boy the ride is better when it runs faster. A truly aweson Beast ride, a TERRIFIC end of the season.
The ERT was only one ride long, but I beleive we will be tresuring that ride for awhile. Especially Dave Althoff, who reccieved his annual case of lapbar Torque Lock on this ride. With all the key personnell there.
We left Dave on the platform (after making sure he got out alright), and made our way to the park exit and ultimately home.
I would like to thank Paramount's Kings Island personally for the AWESOME day they showed ACE. With their permission I would like to send a letter of commendation to the head of their department. I mean it was a post season dream come true.
I would also like to thank Sean Flaharty for helping to put the event together. With only about a week's notice, Sean was able to amass between 75-100 ACE members for the event. (With no formal advertising, with the short deadline)
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