Visiting Kings Island had been a bucket list item of mine for many years. I can’t say whether it was effective advertising that I’d absorbed watching Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoons or whether it was due to my early research on roller coasters as a kid on a database such as ProQuest in the public library. I remember looking for the record-breaking coasters that existed at the time, a quest that lead me to become very interested in the Beast. I’d been on very few large roller coasters and the details that emerged as I browsed articles that I’d taken the time to find on microfiche and print out were mind-blowing to me. What the heck is microfiche? You can find out here.
Let’s examine this a bit further. I was a child, there was no internet to speak of, one couldn’t just google anything. I had employed skills they taught at my elementary school on how to look up books, magazines, periodicals, and how to utilize various external databases to research specific topics in our public library system’s database. Once you identified the specific article you wanted to read, you had to find the correct corresponding microfiche among thousands of others that were, if I remember correctly, in huge shelves and drawers. Next, once you had located the correct tape cartridge, you took it to a viewing machine where you had to turn it on, insert the cartridge, and let it spool up which usually involved a good bit of noisy whirring sounds. Once loaded, you had to scroll through the tape until you found the right article, using various knobs to control the speed as article after article streamed by, which could actually make you nauseous. You controlled the speed of the scrolling and other knobs adjusted the contrast and brightness manually. Upon finding the right article, you could make a print out of what was on screen for something between 5 – 10 cents a page. The picture quality was terrible but the text was usually easy enough to read though occasionally it was distorted. You really had to be dedicated to research something back in the day.
What entranced me with the Beast were the sheer numbers. A ride that lasted over 4 minutes and not just a few seconds? Speeds over 60 mph on a wooden roller coaster? A track over 7,000 feet in length that travelled through ravines, tunnels, and often times hugging the terrain? It sounded epic, and unlike anything I’d ever seen. Fast forward 20 some years, and I was still dying to ride the damned thing and felt silly that I’d never made it to the park as it was only a few hours away from my home in Cleveland. That needed to change and I had planned to go on my way back from a trip to Louisville, KY. An unfortunate accident involving a slippery bathroom floor and a worn out pair of flip-flops resulted in a fall that dislocated my shoulder and that plan had to be scrapped.
By the next year, with the prospect of also getting to experience the giant new inverted roller coaster, Banshee, it made my first ever visit to Kings Island even more greatly anticipated. This trip was a great success. I loved the park, finally getting to see and experience it in person, and examining the remnants the park’s previous owner, Paramount, had left behind. It was fun comparing it in first person to the images and video I’d seen of it from various sources over the years (including an episode of the Brady Bunch called “The Cincinnati Kids” which is definitely worth a watch).
It was with great satisfaction that I began to plan what would be my 5th trip to Kings Island a few weeks ago. For this year, they had a brand new custom terrain coaster built by Great Coasters International (GCI) called Mystic Timbers. When I arrived at Kings Island a few weeks later on a Sunday afternoon, I went straight back to see their new (now 3 month old) hotness. My overall opinion of Mystic Timbers’ addition to Kings Island is that it was a nearly perfect investment. Check back this Monday for my full review and rating.
So what about the rest of the park?
Has there been much changed since I visited briefly last summer or even since 2014 when I had a nice two day trip there? Not really, at least not that I picked up on. A redone parking entrance and a replacement food stand in Rivertown are about all I could remember having read about and really didn’t notice when visiting. The park is in excellent shape and continues to be very pretty. It has a very different feel from it’s sister park in the north that I’m very familiar (and smitten) with. Mystic Timbers’ addition meant the park needed to modify the entrance to its river rapids ride, White Water Canyon.
This was a change that happened last year that I didn’t even see when I made a couple-hour visit on my way home from another Louisville trip last July. White Water Canyon’s entrance hasn’t grown in yet, but it should eventually have a similar effect to what I’ve seen in pictures of Kings Dominion’s trellis-like tunnel of climbing plants (which are maybe Wisteria?) and should be quite pleasant.
This is also in a part of the park which had seemed to have been somewhat neglected since the removal of The Crypt, an indoor and apparently supremely-themed Giant Top Spin that had been quite renowned when Kings Island belonged to Paramount and operated as Tomb Raider: The Ride. Later, it was renamed The Crypt following the sale of all Paramount parks to Cedar Fair in 2006 and much of the theming stripped and the operations were zapped of their intensity. You can read more about this former ride here if you’re interested. The entrance to The Crypt and its large ride-building are still there, but not quite as conspicuous since Mystic Timbers’ addition. There are also fantastic views of the park’s hyper coaster, Diamondback, here (though it might be time for a new paint job for that solid and entirely re-rideable beauty).
So what does the future of Kings Island hold?
Speculation is always fun and you can spend hours upon end perusing enthusiast sites and social media to discuss and read others’ opinions as to what the park’s next big (or small) additions may be. Banshee, a huge investment and a fantastic success in my book, was only added 3 years ago. I imagine it will be a few years before they get some big sexy new ride. Cedar Fair has built two giga coasters over a short period of years (gigas being coasters of 300 feet or more in height) at sister parks Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto, Ontario and at Carowinds, which straddles both North and South Carolina. Leviathan, at Canada’s Wonderland, and Fury 325 at Carowinds, are giga coasters manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M). Both of those parks already had existing non-inverting B&M hyper coasters (meaning 200 ft tall or higher) just as Kings Island has with Diamondback.
While I can hardly think that building two gigas at sister parks constitutes a trend, I don’t think it unreasonable to imagine Kings Island eventually receiving their own giga since it appears to have the capacity and demand for continued expansion (not to mention the enormous amount of vacant and hilly land available). I’ll put my neck on the line and say, perhaps, such a ride could open in time for the park’s 50th Anniversary in 2022 (though I’m not the only one thinking along that line of that speculation as I’ve certainly seen others expressing similar opinions in online forums).
In the meantime, a new family ride or two, upgraded facilities or food options, and maybe a major new flat ride or water slide could well fill that gap in time (not unlike what Cedar Point’s done over the past few years with the redone Gemini Midway, Soak City water park, and renovations, replacement, and/or expansion of hotels and eateries).
What’s Your Take?
What do you think of Kings Island? What direction would you like the park to go as far as new editions in coming years? Were you a nerd like me obsessed with roller coasters as a kid?