Kings Dominion’s Intense NASCAR-Themed Giga Coaster Doesn’t Dissapoint
Intimidator 305 SignThe train rockets around the final turn. Guests waiting in the queue hear it roar by and into the final brakes. Somehow the short stretch of magnetic brakes slow the charging train to a crawl. Immediately, the train erupts with adrenaline-fueled applause and laughter as Intimidator 305 has just delivered another thrilling, world-class ride. But how did this impressive giga coaster end up at Kings Dominion? Let’s take a look.

Kings Dominion’s Giga Coaster – Intimidator 305
In the Spring of 2009, there were the usual rumors of another roller coaster in the works for Kings Dominion. Intimidator 305 LiftThis year, one of the rumors making the rounds was for an Intamin Giga Coaster (roller coasters 300 to 399 feet tall). To me, it sounded like no more than a silly pipe dream from the Kings Dominion faithful. A hyper coaster seemed unlikely to me, but a giga coaster sounded like an impossibility as there was only one other Intamin Giga in existence (Millennium Force at Cedar Point). But, sure enough, June rolled around and Clint from KDFansite had the first images of massive red track that started showing up in the park’s parking lot. Apparently, Cedar Fair felt that Kings Dominion was in line for a new signature roller coaster and the Dale Earnhardt/NASCAR-themed giga coaster was going to be it. Intimidator 305 is the sixth tallest roller coaster on the planet and nearly a mile long at 5,100 feet.

The NASCAR/Earnhardht Theming & Trains
Intimidator 305’s station and plaza are similar to the other ride that bears the same theme, Intimidator at Carowinds. Intimidator 305 Trains Entering StationThere’s a Chevy Monte Carlo #3 replica like the car Earnhardt raced, billboards that tout his accomplishments, a large picture of him on the side of the gift shop, and the front cars have the Monte Carlo’s hood. The similarities pretty much end there. The rides delivered by the two coasters couldn’t be more different. I’ll have a full Roller Coaster Showdown post up soon that’ll pit the rides against each other. There was a large queue area, but thanks to an on and off rainy day, it was mostly empty. As I entered the station, I noticed the Intamin-designed trains. The seats were much more upright and stiff than the open bucket seats found on the B&M-designed Intimidator. The new over-the-shoulder straps have been seen in European coasters, but are making their debut in America on this ride. The restraints may inhibit airtime a bit, but overall they’re comfortable and preferred to the hard horse collar-like restraints that were on the ride when it opened.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!
“Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”, echoed throughout the station just before the train was quickly pulled out of the station and immediately up the steep (for a lift hill) 45-degree 300-foot peak. The climb is very fast and quiet as the rest of the Intimidator 305 Station & Liftpark’s roller coaster hills quickly shrink to little mounds far below. If you sit on the right side of train you feel very exposed and get a great view of the seemingly small hills of Anaconda and Rebel Yell. I remember riding Anaconda as a kid and thinking that the ride’s 144-foot climb seemed so high. Then, as we approached the crest, the train seemed to speed up a bit as we began a steep 85 degree, 300 foot dive. I was briefly lifted out of my seat before the train returned to Earth and immediately entered a wide, high-speed, banked turn that hugged the ground. The g-forces are intense! Yet the ride remains smooth and pain free. People had been reporting that this was where they were graying out or blacking out. Thankfully, I didn’t experience anything more than a bit of lightheadedness on one of my six rides.

The train flew up and into a 150-foot tall hill that’s taller than most roller coaster’s lift hills. This hill produced more airtime towards the front of the train than the back, but very little air overall. Then, in a mini-preview of the madness to come the train banked to the left, flattened out, and then banked to the left again before entering another turn.

Attack of The Twisties!
Nothing Intimidator 305 had delivered so far had been all that special or unique. Sure, it was tall and fast, but things really got interesting at about the midway point. The train traversed a number of sharp transitional twists. They looked like Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominionsimple changes in banking in the videos that I had seen, but they really don’t do them justice. The twists or twisties as Robb Alvey dubbed them in his POV video (below) forcefully tossed riders from one side to another. They weren’t violent or painful in anyway, just a heck of a lot of fun! After three of these insane high speed twists, the train traversed two back-to-back camel back hills providing some good, but not great airtime. The last of the two hills dropped the train into it’s final turn and twisted transition. The train was still charging down the track with plenty of speed and intensity as it climbed up and flattened out for the final brakes.

Intimidator 305 has been one of the toughest roller coasters in recent memory for me to rate. On one hand, the first half of the ride is exhilarating, but really nothing all that amazing. I’ve  experienced many a high speed turn before and the drop didn’t feel as high as I thought it would. I honestly feel like I might have enjoyed Intimidator at Carowinds’ first drop (in the back seat) just as much. But, those transitional twists or twisties are very unique. They really help set Intimidator 305 a part from any of its hyper or giga coaster peers. They’re a new kind of thrill that some reported they got a short bit of airtime from. In fact, on Kings Dominion’s bobsled coaster Avalanche, you do get a bit of air on those transitions although at a much slower pace.

Intimidator 305's Layout | Kings Dominion 2010

Thanks to the unique experience provided by the twisted elements, the ride’s overall intensity, and the agoraphobia-inducing experience offered by a sky-scraping Giga coaster, I award Intimidator 305 with a 9.0. It’s clearly not a 10, as 10’s blow me away. And it’s not just a notch below (9.5) as it’s more than an element or two away from a perfect. Final Rating – 9.0 (Excellent)

Here’s an onride video from Robb Alvey at Theme Park Review:

Note – This video was filmed by a professional with permission from the park.
For safety reasons, please DO NOT take a camera on a roller coaster.

Intense Roller Coasters - For Adventurous RidersIntimidator 305 is rated ‘IN’ for Intense. It’s a 4 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale for of its extreme height and speed.


Trims, Restraints, & Enthusiasts Complaints
I feel the need to set the record straight and give my take on a few things. From reading and watching the early reviews of Intimidator 305 by Robb Alvey and others, it was pretty clear that quite a few people were blacking out or graying out from the intensity of the ride. I’ve experienced this myself on Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain. While I enjoy an intense ride, I’d rather not experience something that serious. Since the complaints, Kings Dominion has adjusted the trim brakes to slow the trains slightly. Some enthusiasts have noted that they’ve felt trims and complained that the ride isn’t as intense as it was before.

Intimidator will feature Over the Shoulder StrapsWell, that’s the point. To me it’s common sense. Kings Dominion doesn’t want guests complaining about what many would consider “scary experiences” from their new signature ride. If you feel that the ride was better before, then please hold those rides dear, but you’re wasting your time by complaining. They have to build these mega attractions so that they suit the general public, not just the thrill junkies out there. For 99.99% of people, blacking out on a roller coaster is not a desired state. No matter if the airtime is better. And, for the record, I barely noticed the trims. On a few rides I realized that the trains speed was remaining constant when it probably should have been increasing. But, I never felt that the intensity was sapped out of the ride or that it was neutered in any way.

Early reports were that Intimidator 305 would have over-the-shoulder straps, not hard restraints like those found on looping coasters. I learned during the Q&A with park officials that due to a mix-up with Intamin the trains arrived with those hard horse collar-like restraints. They have since been swapped out for the straps and they are pretty comfortable and produced zero headbanging.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think about Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion? Do you agree with my review? Leave a comment below. Image 5 courtesy of CoasterImage.

42 Responses

  1. Merle

    correct me if im wrong but were you talked about how it got to kings dominion you said a giga coaster seemed impossible as there was only one in existance that bieng mellinuim force. isnt steel dragon 2000 a giga coaster as well?. but great review inn the povs it looked pretty good but not great and i remember talking to an enthusast at ceader point who had ridden it on opining day and she claimed to have expirianced alot of headbanging

    Reply
    • The Coaster Critic

      Head banging is a non-issue now with those restraints. There's nothing to bang your head on.

      The rumor was that KD was going to get an Intamin Giga Coaster as in Intamin's model name for Millennium Force and now I305. I meant that there was only one Intamin Giga Coaster in existence at the time. You're not wrong though Steel Dragon is considered a giga coaster too now that that term refers to coasters 300 to 400 feet tall. It's a monster too! Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land.

      Reply
      • Quil

        Steel Dragon is Definitley on my most wanted list. I hope TPR goes there soon, because while looking aat POV's & pictures, we can see how massize ang gut-churnig it looks, but there's nothing I've found that's close to a review of the ride. It's hard to tell if it's actually worth riding. If I ever find myself in Japan, Nagashima Spa Land will be my first stop.

  2. Robert

    Coaster Critic I think you were spot on with your review. While the first half of the ride wasn't as insane as I thought it would be, the twisties were awesome. The airtime was also lackluster and that knocked the ride down a bit for me. Maybe when you rode it Kings Dominion had taken some trims off because when I rode it at the beginning of August, the trims were very noticeable and didn't let up until the pull out from the drop. I also would agree with you when you say the drop didn't feel as high as it was and I actually prefer Nitro's much smaller drop. Nevertheless I'd still say it's a great ride.

    Reply
    • The Coaster Critic

      Thanks Robert. Maybe the B&M trains on Nitro & Intimidator are heavier causing more pull on those shorter drops making them feel more intense. Just a guess.

      Reply
      • Robert

        Having heavier trains would make sense. On a similar note do the newer B&M trains such as those used on Intimidator drastically affect the ride? I've been on Nitro and Apollo's Chariot and the airtime was great on both. Is Intimidator a similar experience or is the airtime stronger or weaker?

      • Merle

        i have been on diamond back and nitro and nitro for me was much better and offerd much more memorable air time

  3. MDC

    Good review! I hope to be able to ride this sometime in the next couple years. How does it compare to Millennium?

    Reply
  4. Mike

    Nice review. I have some qualms with the 2nd part of the review. I hate to come off as an enthusiast complainer but it pains me that people don't get to experience the ride the way it was meant to be. I have to believe that when a designer plans, builds and tests a ride and it opens then it probably opened the way it intended it to be. I'm not sure if you were able to speak to anyone about the trim situation but from all my research over the past few months and from the comments I've seen from Kings Dominion workers/management it seems that the trims were added because of a wheel issue and not because of the greyouts/intensity of the ride. I know I can state that I had grey outs post trim and I've also talked to people at the park and read comments from people stating that they still were greying out after the trims were put on. Since opening KD has also added many water sprayers in the station as well as around the track which is reportedly due to a wheel issue. Also I've heard many reports of KD only running one train because of the wheel issue. This is just the evidence that I've gathered but it all seems to point in the same direction. I haven't heard of anyone blacking out on the ride but many people say they have because they confuse blacking out w/greying out. I also don't think it's right in saying you didn't feel the ride was neutuered or noticed a lack of intensity when you never rode the coaster before the trims. The coaster is still intense but there is a HUGE difference compared to how it was before. Previously i believe NO RIDE could touch the intensity that this coaster had and now it is no longer head and shoulders above all other coasters. I'm not really a KD fanboy or hater or a crazy coaster enthusiast (so I hope I don't come off that way) but because I respect and like you Joel, Aric and many others who read and write for this site it is majorly disappointing that you guys don't get the pleasure of experiencing probably the craziest most intense coaster ever created. I've heard John Pagel state that the ride is a work in progress and I do believe that there is a possibility the ride will go back to the way it was sometime in the future. What I can tell you with all certainty is that the trimmed 305 is a COMPLETELY different ride experience than when it was untrimmed. So much so that I would ride up a lengthy ridiculous post like this!!

    Reply
    • Katie

      (talking about the 1 train operations, here) Along with the wheel issues that the ride is having, I was told that the other reason for this is that the computer wasn't getting the "all restraints locked" message and therefore, not allowing the train to dispatch. The computer that it has doesn't tell exactly which seats are coming across as "not locked", it has a "all or nothing" sort of message.

      I agree that the ride isn't the same, but it is still a great ride, in my opinion. Your review is spot on with the way I feel about it. Great review! 🙂

      Reply
      • The Coaster Critic

        Thanks Katie. I haven't heard about the wheel issue that you and Mike have heard about. I did notice that they ran both trains as the park got busy. So the one train issue may have been resolved or was just a rumor. I wish I would have known about this before my visit. I would've asked the park reps.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Thanks for the comment Mike. I knew you'd have a take. I'm not familiar with the wheel issue. If I would've known about it beforehand, I would've been asking questions when I was at the park. If there's something to it, that's quite an interesting wrinkle to I305's adjustments.

      Based on what I know, the 'company line' that the VP of Sales & Marketing (I think that was his title) stated at the Q&A was that guest comfort was their priority. So he alluded to the fact that the trims were adjusted because of complaints. I also want to say that I heard that I305's trim brakes were always on the ride and they just tweaked them. Not sure about this one, but I feel like Robb Alvey stated that during lunch.

      I'll take your word that the ride experience is different, but I'm not sure if I would have found it so pleasurable if I would've grayed out like I did on Goliath. I don't think that I would've rated it as highly, but we'll never know.

      And when I mentioned that it didn't seem neutered, I meant that I couldn't feel the energy sapped out of it at any point. Yes, you're right I don't know what it was like before, but I could have noticed an abrupt reduction in speed or intensity, but I didn't.

      Thanks again for your take. Would you rate it as your top ride? What would you rate it before and after the trims?

      Reply
      • Mike

        I didn't know you hadn't heard about the wheel issue. The word has been that because of the speed and heat that the wheels have been melting and they are looking at new wheel compounds. This may just be another rumor but from what I know it also could be a possibility. I can believe the trims were adjusted for rider comfort but it is just hard to accept because it seems like it goes against the whole point of the ride. It seems Intamin wanted an intense ride and everyone was elated on opening weekend with how the ride was operating including the public. The ride was tested and I'm sure Intamin made sure that no bodily injury could be caused by the G forces. Robb Alvey said it ate Millineum force up so if they didn't want an intense ride then why not build a Giga similiar to MF? There are also 10 other roller coasters at KD so if it's too intense for some people there are many other choices in the park plus other parks around with lots of other coasters for people to enjoy that aren't as intense. It just doesn't make sense to me that's why I think it really is a wheel issue. When I rode pre trim the only problems I had with the ride was the head banging roughness and I also would rather not greyout. The other thing that seems odd to me is I still greyout with the trims so I'd rather not have the trims, still greyout and keep the speed and intensity of the ride. With that being said i didn't ride with the new straps but pre trim i would rate it a 9.5 with some deduction only for the roughness and little airtime. The intensity made up for the lack of airtime though. Before the trims i literally thought the train was going to fly off the track. One of the bad things is the ride didn't have a lot of airtime and the trims have taken away what little airtime there was. With trims I would probably give the ride a 7.5 or 8. I still think it is good and intense but just not the craziest thing I ever rode. This year I've been to a lot of parks for the 1st time including Six Flags Amer, Six flags Great Adv, Hersheypark and KD. There is NOTHING that touched the insanity of 305. Now with the trims I feel like El Toro is just as intense and a better ride. 305 just seemed like the craziest coaster ever and now it's not as "unique" to me I guess. I have heard people state that the ride seems faster on some days and perhaps the trims have been adjusted so it is difficult to know or tell how the trims affect the ride on any given day from what I've read. I know on the day I went I would have no problem believing the ride was 10 to 14mph slower and it was definitely a different ride. The present day could be different and it is possible you experienced something closer to my original rides. I do think you review is very well done and i agree with the majority of it. Lastly I hope I didn't come off as rude with my 1st comment and if so I apologize. Glad you enjoyed the ride. I hope to get back there next year and make my 1st trip to Carowinds nxt yr also.

  5. LW

    Am a season pass holder at KD and have ridden I305 a bunch of times this summer. Millenium Force has always been head and shoulders above all other coasters for me, and I was excited to ride what promised to be true rival. My first ride was in early May, and the sheer intensity of it amazed me! It was unbelieveable. Only complaint was the hard plastic shoulder restraints. I went back to KD in early June and was anxious to ride again, having heard about the addition of the trim break on the first hill. And while the ride was still great, those trims definitely had am impact on the overall speed of the ride (but did not stop me from greying out coming up that second hill – I experience that every time I ride, front, back or middle.) I took three trips to KD in August and noticed two things: 1) the new soft shoulder restraints made the twisties that much better; and 2) I believe they have "loosened" the trim breaks (or whatever the appropriate term is) – much less noticable than that visit in June, but not quite as intense as my inagural rides in May. Bottom line, Millenium Force is still my first love, but I live 80 miles from KD and am thrilled to have I305 in my back yard.

    Reply
  6. Brian

    Sounds like all of us here need to keep riding this beast.. I'd say it's definitely a work in progress. Very good review, CC, but until I get down to KD again, I'm still sticking with Mike on this one. Not to jump the gun on your coaster showdown (which i am really looking forward to reading) but the best part about Millenium Force is the freefall feeling on the first drop and I305 didn't match that feeling for me. Plus the hard restraints made the twisties uncomfortable. I have to make time for one last KD trip before before the season is totally over so I can try out the new restraints and whatever other tweaks they have made that we don't know about.

    Reply
  7. Thrill Fanatic

    I have never ridden Intimidator 305 before, but 14 mph slower sounds like a big difference as far as the intensity and airtime. i think that if they possibly made the first turn out of the first drop longer and more gradual, it would still prevent the grey-outs without killing the speed too much due to the trim breaks. It would also improve the first drop then too!!

    Reply
  8. Quil

    I was just wondering about this, CC, do you think I305 made it into your Top ten? Millenium Force is your Seventh, and i'm prettey sure a lot of people want to see how it compares.

    Reply
  9. Hoss

    Coastercritic I'm curious on what you think about this idea that I have been proposing for a long time now. I think that Kings Dominion should once or twice a summer announce a day that they will remove the trim brakes so that people who sign waivers and pay extra can ride it. Now let me explain:

    I totally agree with you that it is common sense for the park to add trim brakes. Most people don't like to gray out and the park doesn't want to be dealing with any lawsuits. But if for one day people were forced to sign waivers and the park announced this way ahead of time then I think the park could make quite a lot of money out of this. Sure most people prefer the way the ride is now, but some people miss it the old way, and others like me were never fortunate enough to ride it the old way. The bottum line is that everyone wins! people like myself are happy and the park is bringing in the cash! The only problem would be if during the offseason they redesign the first turn.

    Reply
    • The Coaster Critic

      Interesting idea Hoss. Think of it from the park's perspective though. They'd make it known to many more people than it currently is that I305 isn't operating it it's "top speed" or full thrill level. When really it's operating at it's top speed to supply safe rides for the guests. Again, you'd make a small amount of people happy, but you might hurt the image of the park's rides. I don't think that they want to even publicly acknowledge that I305 causes some to gray out. They'd be bringing attention to something that very few people know anything about. It's not the craziest idea, but pubic relations/perception would be the problem.

      Reply
  10. Hoss

    ^ I am seriously thinking of contacted the park about this. I was on I-305 this past August and it was the most intense roller coaster i had ever ridden and it was going probably 10 miles per hour slower than its potential! I would come back to the park all the way from MA again just to ride this thing trimmless. I-305 is my #2 steel and #3 overall behind El Toro and MF. If it was trimmless it seriously might have been #1.

    Reply
  11. Prof.BAM

    I305 is now slower than Intimidator at Carowinds. The complainers were probably complaining because they were reccommended not to ride for some reason but did anyway.

    Reply
    • Quil

      I305 is a gigacoaster. If the trim brakes are really slowing it that much, they should be removed, or at lest watered down a bit.

      Reply
  12. Hoss

    Thanks for the response Coaster Critic:

    "They’d make it known to many more people than it currently is that I305 isn’t operating it it’s “top speed” or full thrill level."

    I was at the park on August 21st and there was an ACE ERT event that night that I was completely unaware of. I consider myself to be an enthusiast just not ACE yet b/c I don't have the money to take advantage of their benefits due to being in college. Anyways my point is that its not hard for the park to set up enthusiast events without the general public really knowing about it. In the same way I don't think it would be hard for them to pull this off without much of the general public finding out the truth behind I-305. And besides my idea brings in tons of cash for the park. That alone should trump a little bad pulblicity.

    And as for the Grayouts…well people are still graying out on it. I did on 1 of my 5 rides.

    Reply
  13. gstarr

    This is my favorite roller coaster ever! I can't wait for the 2011 season to start to judge the new tweaking of this ride. Supposedly the angle of the first turn has been adjusted to lessen the issue of people "blacking out" which is supposed to alleviate the need for the trims. I wonder how much it cost KD to rebuild so much of the coaster? Well, anything that improves this already stellar experience gets my vote!! Ride on!!

    Reply
  14. DRU

    I rode it today 6/16/11 for the first time. I can't even imagine it being more intense than it is now. I was blown away. WOW! I305 is the most intense ride i’ve ever been on. FYI…This was my first ride on a Giga. No “grey out” but a bit dizzy and tingly afterwords. So fast, best turns, and chicanes, words can’t explain it…

    PS. I'm surprised about the air time complaints. I felt some great ejector air on it, first row early on a cool day. Maybe you should try it again. I heard that it's now faster [95mph] because they softened the first turn and the train is able to carry more speed through it. I didn't feel the first trims at all.

    I think the lesson learned from all this is that we need to get on these coasters when they first open, before they trim them…

    Does anyone know what the max g force is on I305?

    Love all the good info. Thanks very much.

    DRU

    Reply
  15. DRU

    Quotes from wikipedia about I305

    "Modifications"

    "About a month after its opening debut, Intimidator 305 received trim brakes on its first drop that reduced its speed. By September 2010, the park completed the modification of the amount of braking and where braking takes place.[15]

    At the start of the park's off season, Kings Dominion removed three sections of the roller coaster's track, starting midway up the incline of the first airtime hill to the peak of the first airtime hill. The radius of the first high speed turn was widened to reduce friction and impact on riders. With this improvement, the trim brakes on the ride's first drop were removed, returning the ride to its original speed. Other rides by Intamin such as Xccelerator, Maverick, Wicked Twister, Possessed had to be renovated to remove and add additional ride supports and elements in the past.[16][17]

    "As of April 2, 2011 Intimidator 305's second hill was modified due to rider's complains about blacking out. Also Intimidator 305's trim brakes were removed in 2011."

    Reply
  16. DRU

    Looks like everyone should to try it again. I wonder if the mods may have returned the ride to it's original intensity?

    Has anyone ridden it recently who could compare it to that first month it was open?

    Thanks again for the great info.

    DRU

    Reply
  17. GregB

    Interesting notes about the changes. I rode it in Summer 2010 and honestly wasn't all that thrilled with it (the one at Carowinds is airtime city, and much more fun to me). I'll have to go back and try it again.

    Reply
  18. Matt

    Wow I just found out that this is exactly as tall as the statue of liberty(from foundation to torch), 305 feet. And I always thought the statue of liberty was a small thing, although ive never seen it in real life.

    Reply
  19. DRU

    Bad news about the trims lately. I have noticed a change in the amount of braking on the 2nd camel hump. Last year and the first half of this year the I could barely notice the brakes, they would kick in very gently. I was told that the computer controls the amount of braking according to the train speed. I assumed when I felt stronger braking the last times I rode her last month it was due to too many heavy people being onboard. After many rides on her yesterday [walk on all morning and afternoon] with a half full train and still feeling the brakes kick in pretty hard I was kinda bummed. This larger amount of braking does kinda ruin the airtime on that 2nd hump. It also noticeably reduces the intensity of the last 1/4 of the ride and makes the last twist a bit slower feeling.
    A note on grey out. I had never had any type of grey out before because I always scream my head off and pump my fists into the air on the whole ride. Yesterday I wanted to try to experience what a grey out might feel like so I just relaxed on my 5th ride for the drop and 1st turn. WOW! I did feel the effects. I would have to call it a mild grey out. I am glad I tried it because I half thought people were exaggerating. I will not do that again though because it did make me feel like crap for a while.
    FYI… They were filming I305 and Volcano for next years Insane Coaster Wars.

    Reply

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