Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island
Location: Kings Mills, OH
Crowd: HEAVY! I think they were shooting for an all time attendance record!
Reason I was stupid enough to go to PKI on a Saturday: To meet Jerry Dorf & friends.
"Life is what you make of it"
Well, I was already saying to myself "Why am I going to PKI on a Saturday, especially right after reading Dave Althoff Jr's lecture on PKI's capacity issues. I guess I wanted to see it in practice?
So I slept in,awoke, dressed in my coaster finest (shorts, Kennywood Thunderbolt T-Shirt, Waist pack to protect valuables from rides and my fellow park guests, and comfortable shoes) Had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel (Anyone else ever have Chicken sticks and eggs for breakfast?) and got to the park around 1pm.
Note: Cracker Barrel (at least the one in Mason) is giving a $5 off coupon to Dollywood with each purchase. But they had Dollywood brochures there, which had an artist rendering of the Tennesse Tornado. I know how wrong Artist renderings can be, but I swear it looks like it has single bench trains, seating 16 riders. I know Arrow has never done single benchers before so it looked odd, and the headline "The World's First Spiroloop Coaster" WTF!
Anyway, back to PKI:
Arrived at 1pm, just in time to watch Face/Off setup at the tippy top of lift 1. Now I know some were (as was I) commenting on the genius of putting a ride so visable from the Interstate, Kings Island Drive, and the parking lot, to attract guests. Well ride runs over the Season Pass area, and when train was setup on top of lift 1 for an extended period of time, guests below (who had not yet paid admission) were getting (unfoundedly) worried about said ride's safety. I entered park, made a run past Bathroom1, and started my tour of the park.
I started with the PAZ (Paramount Action Zone), well the train on Face/Off was back in station, but prospective riders were being turned away. Just as well since the Stunt Show was about to start. I believe Mr. Althoff already gave a blow by blow of the stunt show, so I'll just say it is a different and refreshing entertainment for PKI. Having watched the Stunt Show I took a walk down Top Gun Exit to see the footers which I saw on Sean Flaharty's excellent webpage just before leaving for the park. (You know you are a coaster enthusast when you go to look at a coaster that isn't even BUILT yet)/ Noted Top Gun line was all the way back through the queue-trail And starting back down the exit trail! Last week Dave Althoff noted the confusing state in PAZ as you have the King Cobra, Face/Off, Congo Falls, and soon to be Drop Zone queue lines all backing up out onto the midway, a midway which is cramped when the stunt show is going on. Well here is what they were doing yesterday:
Face/Off - extra queues set up before you get to the station, after you pass the exit ramp you weave back and forth accross the midway. The queue house is rated at 1 hour, the temporary queues rated at 1.5 hours, then the line backs up alons side Congo Falls and reached the gift shop they have in that area.
King Cobra - Any overflow is directed back alongside the Go-Karts.
Top Gun - Wind the overflow back down the exit ramp
Congo Falls= Yeah right, but their normal queue house was full (first time I saw THAT happen)
Drop Zone - ??????
Oh, and the Ice Scream Zone was open selling Ice Cream, Floats, Soft Drinks, and Iccees. Headed up through Oktoberfest towards Adventure Express, noted line was overflowed back around the Edge (A $7 climbing wall which was fairly busy), Racer had a full queue house, Vortex was back to Dodgems, but I went into the newly renovated main games building, done up in a nice shade of "Ohio Amusement Park Teal" For those specualting the Arcade was not enlarged, so the extra space must be giving way to more servvice area. Also noted that the temporary price increase on Bowler Roller to 50 cents, is now back to a quarter. Outer Limits back to Skeeball, which I walked though did my survey of the three arcades in the park. Still have not found a Pinball Machine! Heading into Rivertown, Beast back to the Antique Cars, headed through Rivertown, and into HB, coming back around to Tower (see the land clearing again, just as Sean pictured). Up International Street look at watch, (2:30, still had not ridden any rides yet (I know Tower has a ride sticker, but....) I was to meet Jerry at the Unofficial Official Coaster Enthusiasts Meeting Point (The benches outside the Glassblowers shop) at 3:00 so knowing Jerry likes to be early figured he has GOT to be nearing the park now, and I also knew he had two guests who do not have passes (Jerry has a pass). Well as a public service I could not let his two guests pay $35 each and face these conditions, so I went out to intercept him. Which I did right around 3pm. Jerry and I talked while he got his pass processed and then (as I suspected( they concluded to come back another day)) so I reentered the park and said "Which 2 hour line do I I wish to wait in?" All things being equal, I chose Face/Off. Which I am glad I did becasue they happened to be testing Drop Zone that day. So about every15-20 minutes they would cycle the ride, empty. I'm not sure wether they were really testing, or this was a clever ploy on marketing's part to get people interested. So while watching Drop Zone, and waiting for Face/Off (only one minor period of downtime while I waited) I finally entered the real queue house, to note that (thus far) no one has felt the need to vandalize the wooden stockade fence that surrounds the queue house, so after a wait which wound up being 2.75 hours (started by souvineer store) I was on thr ride. But first a moment of TPM. They are still assiging seats on this ride, with a new wrinkle "NO SINGLE RIDERS!" Whcih meant that even though I had the coveted "First in the gate" position to pick seats (Sorry, seat assignments are not open for discussion). Now why build LONG front seat queues if you aren't going to let anybody wait???) I had to step aside until an odd numbered party needed a partner. (How Ironic I was wearing my Kennywood Thunderbolt T-Shirt!) I finally boarded the ride, I was sent to the thrid seat fron the back, with a party of three, and soon we were on our way. Dang is this ride ever smooth. I still beleive the ride itself is a sure fire winner. The smoothness, the pacing, it just works well. Oh, and I now have a favoirte 'stunt' to pull on Face/Off. Hope to get a seat where you are facing downwards going up lift 2, then act like you are doing all you can to NOT puke in the rider sitting across from yous lap. Works well with total stangers. Oh BTW: The "Fun and Safety" guide says "Riders must keep legs in proper riding position" but I never saw a definition of that proper riding position.
Ok,now let's see what Face/Off souvineers I can buy, shall we? Upon inspection of the gift shop, I note a really nice looking almost tie dye orange/yellow shirt witht he Face/Off logo, and a nice grey shirt witht he Beast 20th anniversary logo with REAL colors, not that purple and orgnge scheme). Imagine my suprise when I go to purchase these shirts, only to find out "PKI does not carry XXL t-shirts this season!!!!!" PKI, you just lost $50 I was going to spend!
Now it's time for wood, so heading over the the Racer, I note the full queue house (and the 45 minute wait sign,I recall Dave Althoff saying "When has the Racer wait EVER been 45 minutes." It was today, for real)) Unlike Face/Off however, the Racer line keeps moving at a pretty good clip 45 minutes later I am in seat #2 on the backwards side (chosen due to the overflow line being shorter) It was a good ride, some gentle air, but all in all running pretty well.
Now back to Vortex, the line was back the The Most Annyoing Game in The World, but I knew this ride was high capacity, so I got in it's queue, 50 minutes later I was in seat #2 of Vortex, where I encoutnered PKI's answer to the "Exit Pass" situation, issueing the rider a "Two Pass" On this one, the inconvenieced rider recieves a Two Pass and while they still have to wait in the queue line, at the end of the ride, they are given a second circuit (or ride)) Vortex itself, as all of the coaster I rode today, was running fairly well. The opening day squeal was gone, and the coaster seemed to negoitatethe course pretty smoothly, then again I dont get headbanging because he head is above the top of the shoulder bar?
Well now I'm getting hungry, so 5 minutes and $6 later I have a Bacon burger, fries, and Coke from Tucker's and with a season pass coupon I have a FREE Beast Sports Quart. Not that bad of a deal, considering a good burger, fires, and drink froma fast food place is about $4. I've noticed they have gone to a see though look on their Sport's Quarts I wonder if that isn't partly to help discourage folks smuggling beer in them. Now it is 9:00, time for a night-ride on the Beast. Well the sign said "1 1/2 Hours", but that was up by the Cool Zone, and the line was back to the Antique Cars. Actual wait was more like 2 hours. Which meant I got to watch some Q-TV. Now correct me if I am wrong, but isn't The Road Runner Show a Warner Bros. property? I mean let's advertise for your competition, why don't ya. Anyway, the beast line was moving pretty steady until they pulled a tactic I have never seen the Beast operators do before. Usually the OPEN the queues at the end of the night so they can get the whole line inside the fenced area. Tonight they were CLOSING all the queues at about 9:30 on a 10 pm close. What this does is makes it seem like the line has not moved in the last 45 minutes. They even shut down the on-ride photo. Give the effect that the ride is broken down. I don't know how it started but the rumor went through the line that they were only running 1 train. Yet this effect is somewhat diminshed when every 3 minutes you see 36 happy faces running out the exit ramp. It works better at Disney World (who created this trick) when you can't see the exit from the entrance. Luckily for me I was only like 10 people back from the point where they froze the line, meaning I was in good position to run up and snag a very back seat ride. While being held at the top of the ramp leading into the station I noted they have added 6 banners claiming Beast Trivia Facts"
"It took 123 miled of wood to build the Beast"
"Are you brave enough to Go through 623' of tunneled track"
"Can you survive 4 minutes and 50 seconds of the Beast
"Can you survive 1.4 miles of the Beast"
"You are about to ride the Guineess Book of World Records' Longest Wooden Rollercoaster"
"The Beast is waiting for YOU"
Also dead center in the station is a musuem quality exhibit with a timeline of important events in the life of the Beast. Very current, even has "May 11, 1999 - The Beast's 20th Anniversary celebrated by The Amercan Coaster Enthusiasts" and "May 1998 - The Beast voted the world's #1 Classic Coaster by USA Today" A fact they also have on a large banner outside the front gate. On the right pane of the same display case They have more Beast trivia. (Total number of Beast rides given, total length each train has traveled" AND a questionable statistice "Travel through over 1,100' of DARKNESS, some even underground" Ok so one banner says 600' this one says 1,100' I wont even touch the "Darkness" thing, though tonight the tunnels were in fact pitch dark. But the exterior floods were lit, I guess they did not want me to get anymore than 1,100' feet of darkness. The trains, as mentioned sport a new front logo, and they front and back cars sport claw marks, I failed to notice wether the UNLOAD side of the train had the claw marks. or not. Oh and a new 20th Anniversary ride entrance archway back down on the midway. Well, let's ride the Beast
Somone mentioned special audio effects, what I heard was " ". Silence! Not even "KEEP YOUR HANDS DOWN AND INSIDE THE CAR, REMAIN SEATED AT ALL TIMES" I know it is probably not true but I almost SWEAR those brakes are not on after park close. I mean the Beast gave one heck of a good ride.
By this time of course it was 10:30.
"Game Over" - Dave Althoff Jr.
Now getting back to my opening quote "Life is what you make of it"
Sure the park was crowded, sure the lines were long. BUT the coasters themselves were running great, the friends you meet in line, being forced to take more notice of the park. I left PKI with a smile on my face! I actually had an enjoable time! Sure it could have easily been the day from hell, but You have to take what you get and make the most of it. That said do not expect to see me there on a Saturday again for quite some time. (Unless, of course, I am having a Beast Night-Ride Withdrawl attack like I think I may have on June 12)
Now onto the Son-Of-Beast: I was looking for a preview center, none to be found.
Those who know me, know I worked the park 8 years, I should have known better than to go on a Saturday. But that means my Mom had also seen the park for 8 years at night, and her initial reaction was "This is the busiest I have EVER seen it" when she came to get me.
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