Paramount's Kings Island

May 31, 1999

Trip Report: Paramount's Kings Island

Date: May 31, 1999

Location: Kings Mills, OH

Weather: A bit cool

Crowd: Medium to heavy depending on what themed area you were in [1]

Admission: Thanks to YOUR support and patronage in record numbers admission is now up $1 to $35.99 ($20.99 for those coaster junkies less than 48" tall)

********************************

"Sorry, <Ride X> is experiencing some mechanical difficulties, I don't know when it will reopen"

Hoping for a light crowd but not knowing what to expect we arrived at the parking lot around 9:30, found a close in parking space, and proceeded to the front gate, to be met by the following:

"The following attractions will not be operating today: Drop Zone"

Well after a few expletives we started going over options out by the tram circle, (do we stay here?, Americana?, Coney?, Camden? SFKK? Wyandot? ) we finally said "We're already here" and entered the park. We then thought maybe an early ride on Face/Off, got through the turnstile, came out from under nothing [2] to see a line, a little investigation detected that the line went all the way down to Face/Off (or at least as far as the Stunt Crew Grill. Gee, 9:30 and Face/Off is back to the main gate. This day is not turning out so well.

Well, we quickly changed to "Plan B": the ACE walkback. At around 9:45 Angie from Guest Serivces met us, and by 9:50 we were being escorted back to Beast, where upon rounding the final corner by the Keelboats, we discovered the entrance to be blocked by a garbage can and two ride ops. "Sorry Beast is closed" Angie ever the hostess went up the exit to get the real scoop, and a few moments later the area manager came down to inform us that the Beast merely needed to have its blocks test run. Did you know it takes 30 minutes to run blocks on the Beast? Angie radioes to Guest Services to try to see if she could divert us to another coaster (preferably one that is red and yellow), but no luck.

Then things got REAL cool:

Angie decided to join in a little Coaster Nut Behavior. [3] We got filled in on Son of Beast (and no the park will not abbreviate that, or so we were told), a little talk of coasters here and there, and before you knew it 30-40 minutes had past and the Beast opened. Then Angie decided to go ahead and RIDE with us! Way cool!

Not to mention that the Beast put on an above average performance to boot! Those laterals were there in force, and I swear I got a faint, tiny little hint of an attempt at airtime on drop 2. (right after tunnel 1). To use the Dave Althoff Beast Judging Method, we flew at least 25%-50% up lift 2. Way to go for the first ride of the day!

Now, we could done a second Beast ride but the line was back to the pop machines, so we headed over to Vortex. Vortex line started on the bridge over the track, so a real quick wait and we were in seat #2. Vortex, I have one word for Vortex today: Transitions, or lack thereof. So after a rougher than usual ride on Vortex, we decided to pass on James Bond, and head to Outer Limits. Upon appraching the Outer Limits building we did not see a line anywhere, went oninto the preshow building and the line started at the point where you are right by the stairs to go up into the saucer but alas the line pulls a Disney[5] and goes the other way. But I am not griping 15 minutes later and we are in seat #1 of Outer Limits, ready to be launced into outer space when the ride goes DDOG[7]. A few minues after boaring our train, and noticing the should bars not locking we hear the following heated argument:

Operator: Can I measure your son?

Obnoxious Guest: He was measured out front!

Operator: We want to check him again

Obnoxious Guest: Stand up here ______

Operator: I'm sorry, you are too short to ride

Obnoxious Guest: He is RIDING!

Operator: I'm sorry, he is to short for the ride

Obnoxious Guest: I paid $36 to get into this damn park, and my son is riding

Operator: No sir, he is not

etc,

Until a security guard could arrive.....

Shortly thereafterthe should bars were lowered, making the train 1.5 riders wide, a figure PKI seems to like on its woodies[8]. The launch fired, and somethng amazing happened. Outer Limits ran SMOOTHER than the Vortex we had just gotten off of. I don't know what they did to this ride but it is now rideably smooth. Not only that but they have operations pretty good now, to the point where you almost walk through the line. I can not personally see how a 4th train could help matters. Mr. Althoff mentions the shoulder bars as slowing down loading, but shoot they had the OTSR's locked and had to standby for the train to clear the block.

Ok, check the watch: 11:45 3 coasters down, A great Beast and Outer Limits ride and pretty close to my usual schedule. Time to head on down to walk right on Racer. Racer was running decent today, the turnaround brake hit hard, but overall still a good ride, even if only because I was busy watching the other train [9]

Not time to go around to Adventure Express, here a 10-15 minute walk and we werein the last car. But Adventure Express was just a vehicle, the coaster ride, while still its conisistent good ride, provided a much better view of the Future Site of SOB. it looks like one of those SOB helixes will be hugging Adventure Express if the footers are any indication.

Another great ride scored, time to check out the Paramount Action Zone; "so THIS is where everybody is"

King Cobra was backed out onto the midway, so we walked right past it, towards Face/Off. Back to the two hour point. Not quite ready to bite that bullet, we decide to look at Drop Zone. Nothing much going on with it, except they are SLOWLY cycling the ride up but then slowly lowering it instead of dropping it. We look a bit, then decide to ride Top Gun, go back to Top Gun "We're sorry this ride is down mechanical" <phone ring> "Top Gun is now open" A quick jaunt through the queue trail and we were in seat #1 of Top Gun. We did not see much clearing by the lift of Top Gun like we expected, but down at the ravine turnaround those footers look awfully close. SOB is gonna add some great visuals to some existing rides. We exitied Top Gun then decided to check out the Paramount Construction Zone.[10] Ok, not its time to go ride Face/Off, wait ther are setting up for the Stunt Show, grab a Coca-Cola, and prepare to watch what they called a show. 5 minutes long and phoney as hell, big deal. Well time to duck back to Face/Off, and while in line for Face/Off we see Drop Zone cycling at normal operating speed. Now we don't know what to do, wait for Face/Off, or camp out near Drop Zone. Our decision was made easier when 15 minutes later "We're sorry Face/Off is closed. We don't know whenit will reopen"

Time to camp out near Drop Zone, of course the ride op manning the temporary barricade of park beches and one portable gate said "DropZone will not be operating today", but we and the 20 folks standing there had a hunch. A hunch which grew stronger when the workmen packed up their toolboxes and left the scene, the crowd started getting bigger, the regular ride crew appeared on scene, a group started getting a queue line formed, but still "You may as well go ride Beast, Drop Zone will not open today"We stood closer to the benches trying to stay by the portable gate. Then the manager comes out "Drop Zone will open in about 1 hour" They run tests, a ride op comes out "Drop Zone will open in 30 minutes (It's only 5 10-15 minutes since our last upadate", one more test cycle, we here in the distance "Prepare to open the line" The crowd by the benches was now 5 deep, plus that line thing all the way back to the control booth for the Stunt Show. "Everybody move towards High Striker" The mob moves over about 5 paces. "A guard stands by the gate. "May I have your attention please! When we open the gate, please walk in a single file line back to the ride" We weren't realy in the formed line but then when they told everybody to move towards the gate, we were able to snake a good place. They then opened the gate just far enough to admit one person at a time, and soon we were walking in a nice orderly line to the ride. Congrats to PKI on their good handling of what looked like a crowd control nightmare. When the dust settled we were in the inadequately small queue house, about 4 rides from the gate.

The ride itself:

Ok, I guess this is where I am supposed to rant about how awesome Drop Zone is, how it "erases everything", etc.

Maybe I have had one too many Skycoaster flights, maybe it was because they were embedding the OTSR into your stomach, but while I will say the ride is tall, offer a good if novel view, and you can see the SOB construction site, the drop itself was just blah. No airtime, no gut wrench, nothing, not even a scream outa me, and the first time I rode a Giant Drop I was screaming, and every Skycoaster ride, I scream bloody murder. Don't get me wrong, the ride is a good fit for the park, and I enjoy it, it just isn't as thrilling as I hoped. I will give them credit for the smooth braking, no jerk, you just gofrom freefall to slow nice and smooth. I mean I was smiling ans happy, but just did not feel fulfilled.

Ok, time for Face/Off, and 1 hour and 45 minutes later we were in Seat #1 (or is it #14) the one closest to the midway, I'll let you decide which endof the train is the front, but I have a clue to that extra axle and chasis, it seems to have to dawg that engages the lifts. And make no doubt about it, the lifts are at heart traditional chains, incased in some elaborate mechanism, whatever it is it is facinating to watch from the ride, and smooth as silk. This ride just keeps getting better. And to report back, no you can not wait for the end seats, they are assigned, but they are clever they fill from row #2, meaning two groups can be accomodated for an end seat, but after that there is no choice.

We happend to be the last people up to the platform for our ride, and no one requested the front end, so we got sent there.

Still Face/Off is one awesome ride, and after that the rain started.

We took a tour of Hana-Barbera land and looked at the Kiddie Suspended (Ghoster Coaster) we judged the line to be about 30 minutes, but decided not to, so after a tour on Eiffel Tower, we went to Larosas [11].

We remembered a LaRosa's accross the street from Custom Coasters International. Were we supprised to find not only LaRosa's leveled and tuned into a shopping center, but Custom Coasters reduced to one small sign and an empty looking storefront in an old shopping center. We pulled in, nothing to be seen. We assume they have found bigger and better pastures (or office space).

We then headed home, and had LaRosa's closer to my house.

[1] If you were in the Paramount Action Zone, the park was pretty darned crowded, if you were in Coney the crowds were typical, if you were in Hanna Barbera Land or Rivertown the crowds were light.

[2] There used to be a fancy table service restuarant above the front gate, now the space is empty, therefore we walked out from under nothing

[3] The fine art of standing out in the middle of an amusement park midway, with a coaster running in earshot (vortex in this example), and standing there talking rather than riding.

[4] Isn't it fun reading the footnotes?

[5] Several Disney adventures have queue lines that make you think you are about to enter the attraction or board the ride, but then duck back away. Jungle Cruise is a prime example of this.

[6] It's the amazing recursive footnote [6]

[7] Down Due to Obnoxious Guest

[8] Reference any number of Dave Althoffs writings about the PKI wood coaster trains

[9] They were actually racing the trains, and it was a close one!

[10] Ask Sean Flaharty for directions, there is a spot on the exit ramp of Top Gun where you can get a comanding view of the site.

[11] Although PKI serves LaRosa's we went outside the park to a real Laross. One that on Monday and Tuesday night serves all-you-can-eat-pasta. (Hear that Todd?)

Back to Trip Reports