July 18, 2004

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    I took two days off work at Cedar Point to visit Paramount's Kings Island with my then-girlfriend Kristi and her family. I hadn't been to this park since 2002, and I was eager to give The Beast another ride, especially at night.

    I tried to use my ACE discount when buying the ticket, but because I was spending two days there, she told me to buy a two-for-the-price-of-one deal they had. It's pretty much the same as the half-off ACE deal, so I did it. They opened the gates at 9:30, but the park didn't open until 10.

    It was raining lightly, so we stepped inside a gift shop to buy ponchos. The rain soon let up, and we headed down International Street to a fork in the road. We were stopped there because it wasn't 10 yet. They had a chain up across the path that kept us from journeying to The Beast. Employees stepped over and under the chain, and vehicles drove around putting on the pre-opening finishing touches. I don't understand why they'd let us enter the park only to stop us halfway to anything.

    About a minute after 10, they dropped the chain and let us go. We followed the footprints to the 25-year-old Beast. We hopped in line and made our way to the back seat.

    Call it "anticippointment."

    I anticipated riding my number-one wooden roller coaster again ever since I stepped off my first and only night ride in 2002. It flies through the trees, in and out of ravines and valleys, tears right above the ground and through tunnels, and finishes with the best finale on a wooden coaster ever.

    Well, it did. Now it's a 7,400-foot-long coaster riddled with four sets of powerful magnetic brakes that take almost every punch out of the ride. The first drop and drop into the helix are the only braked parts of the ride where the brakes are hardly felt. The second hill and brake shed are awful.

    A daytime ride was not all that fun, but I vowed to give it another shot at night. After all, a night ride in 2002 tossed my doubts out the window when I questioned if the Legend was any better. We rode twice.

    Up next was the roller coaster that replaced The Bat: Vortex. I rode in the back. The first drop has some good airtime on it, and the bottom of the drop really presses you into your seat. The second hill pops you out of your seat, and the unbanking of the next turn jolts your head into the restraint. Ah, Arrow Dynamics.

    The loops are forceful, but I think my favorite part of the ride was the turn after the loops. It's underbanked and really tight, so you're thrown to the side of the seat. I love lateral Gs. The brake run slows you down a lot, but it makes the following corkscrews have a lot of hangtime. It's fun being around 40 feet above The Bat's old footers and hitting the restraint. The following batwing isn't too rough and has good forces at the bottom. The helix finale shuffles a little, but it's not bad. There's a strange piece of banked track after the main brakes that doesn't really need to be banked that much.

    Vortex is fun, so I rode it with Kristi's brother again in the back seat. One amusing sight we saw when waiting in line was a cage for kids not tall enough to ride. They've got these on a few rides here.

    Kristi wanted a prize so we headed to play one of those games with guns that shoot water in a hole. Kristi and her brother played, and her brother won. She picked a black and white hat, which her mom was forced to wear.

    Next we headed to Racer. The forward side wasn't running, even though we saw them testing it when we were trapped in the middle of the park. When we were in the station, the forward side started running, so we would ride that next. I headed for the back seat, and Kristi and her brother headed to the front. We ended up being a few trains apart. Racer's got some good airtime, but it lags a little on the return run. As the trains climbed the lift hills, the ride hosts near the back would wave to us as we climbed to the top. We rode backward and forward. Backward is really cool. The drop off the turnaround has some good airtime and really throws you around.

    Next was what I was really excited about: The HUSS Giant Frisbee, Delirium. Watching it swing over the midway from various places in the park was awesome. This is one big ride. The line was the longest we'd encountered until that point. We waited about 30 minutes under the tarps as people smoked in line. Boy, I hate that. I was coming down with a cold, so the smoke was even worse.

    When you get to the ride, a ride host counts off 50 people as you pass the gate. When we got there, we waited behind the fence as the ride cycled. We hopped on and strapped in. The ride hosts are really quick when they check restraints. Two or three circle around the ride checking restraints and seatbelts. It helps a bit with the capacity.

    I was really excited. I'd never ridden anything like this before. The floor lowered and we sat there. We sat there for a long time baking in the sun. It broke down! After a while, they were able to raise the floor so we could get off. They rounded us into the waiting area after the queue but before the ride as they worked on it. Supervisors were running around talking on radios until a mechanic showed up. After tinkering with it a bit, we got to hop on again and ride.

    Holy crap, this ride rocks. After one ride, it became one of my favorite flat rides (Skyscraper still wins). It's easily the best ride at PKI. It only does four full swings, but when it bottoms out, we're pulling five Gs. I could feel my sinuses clearing with each swing. At the peak of each swing we rotate a little and either get a view of the park (sideways), the ground or nothing but sky. It's very cool. Read the ride specs, if you want.

    After the awesomeness that is Delirium, we wanted to get a bite to eat. We stopped at Bubba Gump Shrimp Shack, and I got shrimp, fries and a lemonade. It cost $10, but I guess that's decent, considering I got shrimp at an amusement park.

    After eating we headed to Adventure Express, which was pretty much right across from the Shrimp Shack. This was my first roller coaster. I rode it in 1993 and loved it. I tried it again in 2000 and was not impressed. I rode it this time and liked it. It's one of the best mine trains I've ever been on. Gold Rusher at Six Flags Magic Mountain still tops my list, but barely. If Adventure Express didn't have so many big jolts and bumps in it, it'd be number one.

    The ride has a decent drop out of the station, but the best aspect of this ride is the use of the terrain. It twists and turns around a ravine. It dives near the ground, flies high above it and everywhere between. It travels under old mining equipment and support beams. It has a few powerful helices. It really picks up a good amount of speed before the first lift hill. The second half of the ride is fast-past and winds around a lot. Then the second lift hill is inside a mine shaft and features mechanical guys pounding their fists as a big head in front of us warns us of impending doom. What's the doom? Nothing. The ride has a small dip off the lift and enters the brakes. It's got the most lackluster ending ever.

    Top Gun was next. While waiting in line I saw some really big logs. I wonder why they were there. This is a pretty fun Arrow suspended coaster. I like the use of terrain and only one lift hill. The first drop is decent, but the turn afterward and the rest of the ride are what it's made of. There's a turn right next to a path, and the lowest turn by Son of Beast is packed with G forces. This ride is probably my second-favorite suspended coaster, falling just behind Big Bad Wolf.

    Next up was the tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster, Son of Beast. Some guy was running between the kid cage and the control booth. The ride hosts told him to say in the cage as they dispatched a train.

    My first ride on this in 2000 was outstanding. My next ride in 2002 was underwhelming and left me in pain. I rode in the front row and back row, respectively. This time I rode in the middle, and it was just OK. It really shakes and rattles. They seem to have silenced the lift hill a little bit since my last visit. The top is still extremely loud and can be heard from anywhere in Southern Ohio.  I was thankful to enter the block brakes midway through the ride. The first drop is decent. It doesn't seem very steep. That's probably because it has such a large pull-out.

    Some parts of the ride seemed like they were retracked because they rode better than other parts. The loop is the smoothest and best part of the ride. After the loop, the ride shakes around and bangs you through a second helix and a big, swooping, forceless turn before rumbling into the brakes. Phew. This ride is impressive, but only stat-wise. Otherwise it's just a really rough woodie with a loop.

    After our bashing, Kristi, her brother and dad went to Congo Falls. I didn't want my camera or feet to get wet, so I sat out. They got a good soaking. This ride has a decent-sized splash.

    Face/Off would be our next ride. I rode this in 2000, and remember it being really forceful and leaving me fairly disoriented. We got to the entrance and were told the ride was down. We decided to wait. Within about five minutes it opened, and we hopped in line. We decided to get in seats to face each other. Kristi and I faced her brother. This ride's pretty forceful, but it shakes around a little. That's Vekoma for you. Her brother had the widest eyes I'd ever seen. The drop off the second lift made them practically bulge out of his head. One thing I like about this ride is that there's a slight wait at the top of the first lift hill and no wait at the top of the second. It's a little unexpected. It's even better because one way or the other, you don't know when the top of the lift comes. Being around 160 feet in the air seems really high up when you're facing down. The area between the loop and cobra roll is the most forceful.

    We headed to Ice Cream Zone and I got some blueberry ice cream. It was pretty good.

    Next was Flight of Fear. The surrounding areas are highly themed to a military base. Inside the queue building are TVs that play a news broadcast and other things about a UFO that crashed or something. It's all about the government hiding it saying it's a new attraction at an amusement park. It's pretty amusing, but it sucks when the employees come over the PA to tell people not to stand on the hand rails. That starts the video all over again. The theming inside the building is amazing. They really went all out with this.

    We waited a little more than an hour before we got to ride. I hopped in the back seat, while Kristi and her brother got in the shortest line. I'd ridden this ride twice before: both in the front seat, once with lap bars and once with shoulder restraints. The lap bars are a big improvement, but it still bumps around a bit. The cobra roll is the roughest part of the ride. It tosses you right then left. This time the block brakes were on just a bit. The ride is basically a bunch of curves and four inversions in the dark. It's fun, but not really worth the hour wait. The corkscrew at the end is fun because putting your hands up in a corkscrew is nifty.

    As we walked away from Flight of Fear, we saw some puke. A couple feet further was more puke, but it was covered with sawdust. I guess they missed the little spot.

    We headed to Tomb Raider The Ride, only to find out it was closed. That was disappointing. I'd only ridden two Top Spins, and this was a Giant Top Spin in a box. It looked like fun! I missed out on it in 2002 and opted for a ride on The Beast at night. A ride host at the entrance told us it might open tomorrow. I sure hoped so. I didn't want to miss this again.

    My batteries were almost dead, so I stopped inside Outfitter's Supplies to buy some. I picked up an expensive pack, but the employee in the store told me they're too expensive and that he couldn't let me buy them. He pulled some batteries out from behind the shelf and gave them to me. How nice! Thanks, dude!

    I wanted to try Flying Eagles because everyone on the Internet says they're a blast and easy to snap. I got in line and waited. They've got a really low capacity. When I got on, I had no idea how to snap them, so I just looked like an idiot on a kiddy ride. I moved back and forth, wobbling around not snapping. Boring! I got off and walked away. On the ride after me a girl was sitting in one tub snapping every single time she could. It was ridiculous. I decided to ask her how she did it.

    She explained it to me and got back in line with me. She told me when to move the rudder and how to lean. This time I started snapping it after a few swings. It surprised me at first. I got a bit of airtime! After a while both of us were snapping around and around. Now I saw what all the fuss was about. This was really fun!

    We rode Vortex again because it was nearby.

    We decided to get in the Eiffel Tower to view the park from almost 300 feet in the air. I took the opportunity to take pictures of the park below: Face/Off, International Street, Delirium, Drop Zone, Son of Beast, Flight of Fear, Racer, Vortex, Rugrat's Runaway Reptar and Beastie. This is getting boring, so the remaining pictures from the tower are at the bottom of this page.

    We went to ride The Beast at night. We waited 30 minutes -- plenty of time for the sun to set while we were in line. It wasn't quite dark, but it was dark enough for this ride to be going pretty fast. The brakes really made this ride, though. The helix finale was incredibly forceful and great, but the rest of the ride was a bit sluggish because of the brakes. I wish they'd do something to remove those brakes.

    We called it quits and grabbed some food at a nearby Subway. From the parking lot of the Subway, we could see the nightly fireworks show the park put on.

    What a fun day. What was better was that we were visiting again tomorrow. Oh boy! Day one: 8/10.

    Click here for day two at Paramount's Kings Island.

Pictures from the top of the Eiffel Tower:

Action Zone* Top Gun Delirium in full swing*
Top of Son of Beast's lift hill* Drop Zone falling The huge first helix of Son of Beast*

    * 1600 x 1200 resolution

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