Our next day was dedicated to a full 12 (13) hours at the beast that is Kings Island. I had got it into my head over the various years of planning that this might be a tricky one to complete, there’s always a bit of trepidation when you’re staring down 15-odd creds and thinking anything could go wrong at any time.
Day 2 – Kings Island
We arrived nice and early in order to deal with some business, namely picking up our ‘2020’ cedar fair platinum passes that they had kindly offered to honour in 2022 instead. Brandishing various emails and the original tickets, we confused a friendly and helpful member of staff and, miraculously, ended up with exactly what we wanted, parking refund and all.
Even though the park wasn’t officially open yet, they do let you wander in to wherever you like without any form of batching or rope drop and so we opted to camp out the entrance to #1 Mystic Timbers. It was a rather joyous spectacle, the simplicity of watching several test trains running, a staff member appearing at the entrance at 09:55, getting a phonecall at 09:58 and opening the queue. Just like clockwork, seems rare to find many parks with a performance record like that.
So at precisely 10:00 we were seated on the first train of the day and ready to find out what’s in that bloody shed. I do have to give credit to the marketing of this ride, that phrase has stuck with me like very little else in the industry and it feels like I’ve been saying it for a lifetime already.
Before you get there however, there’s some track to negotiate, a surprisingly awesome layout full of high speed, relentless, bumpy, twisty goodness. GCI are back on top form and I can’t emphasise enough how much I’ve missed this. As you hit the brake run hot, some creepy warnings are played over the speaker system warning you not to go in the shed. The announcement breaks up, losing clarity as you head inside. The first half is standard GCI storage shed, but the second half is themed. We were right at the back so couldn’t actually see what was going on, nor hear the little radio that plays one of several old pop songs so it was a little confusing when the rest of the train were seemingly clapping along for no reason. After much suspense, one of several sequences takes place, themed to one of the rides in the park and you’re scared straight back into the station.
All in all I absolutely adored Mystic Timbers. Not only is it amongst the most standout pieces of hardware that the manufacturer has ever pieced together, it has bags of character and charm and I couldn’t really have asked for more. Except maybe fire.
Headed round to the #2 Beast next to continue on the woodie streak. It was an honour to finally get on this legendary ride and I had no idea what to expect. It’s a laugh.
The freshly reprofiled first drop actually felt quite good but it doesn’t really do a whole lot of significance over the remaining 7000ft. But, over that length, it’s just an all round fun time ‘being’ on an old wooden rollercoaster that isn’t overtly offensive. The trims make me chuckle when they hit in all the places that might have otherwise looked exciting, but I think my favourite moment of the whole thing is the timing of the trains – they blaze past each other at a very specific moment that marks the beginning and end of the ride for each respective group of guests and it’s such an on-board spectacle.
After thinking a nearby ugly building was Flight of Fear and then discovering that it was just an ugly building, we doubled back to #3 Diamondback. The longer, stadium seated trains on B&M hypers have grown to concern me as I had until this point found them to be unfailingly inferior to the standard design. I think Diamondback managed to buck that trend somewhat, but by no means did I find it spectacular. It’s average, run of the mill at what it does best. Floaty drops, meek airtime, trims that make me chuckle just when it looks like it’s about to get exciting. Slow it down there, you’re having too much fun.
And so to speed things up, #4 Orion was the obvious next choice. An old technique was reborn on this ride, one that takes me back to the days of the disappointments of X2. ‘Sunglasses on, not caring.’ It will be coming up a lot over the next couple of weeks.
It ain’t no Fury 325, but I still prefer it your average B&M hyper simply for breaking that formula. I’m not big on the sensation of speed as a whole, but at least it feels fast paced and fun, until that same old trim in the same old place on the first airtime hill at least. Just. Design it better. Oh and the brake run being taller than most coasters is a rather facepalm moment too.
The one thing these do have going for them is that they’ve really nailed the giga drop. It both feels huge and it kicks your ass, where other manufacturers have somehow failed.
Continuing on the theme of failings, #5 Banshee, what the hell was that? One of the last hopes in the world for me to fall back in love with the B&M invert again and it just goes upside down 7 times with a similar sustained force throughout. Sunglasses on, not caring.
The one thing the vest design has going for it is that the seats feel wider and you don’t have to rub sweaty elbows with strangers.
Having made excellent time on what we considered to be the ‘big 5’, it was time to start operation mop-up.
The Bat was spiting. Abandoned, with one train parked on the lift hill. That’s going to stop me having the set of Arrow Suspended coasters at some point (unless they just close it) and I’m significantly bothered by that fact.
#6 Adventure Express was a thing. The quirky themed lift hill at the end of the layout was an unexpected highlight that led to absolutely nothing.
#7 Racer was very enjoyable. It felt more powerful and significant than the Kings Dominion equivalent and that endless line of sequential hills is always fun. Suffers from the same issue of you not actually knowing who wins because the trains finish apart from each other, divided by painted walls, but the sheer length of the pre-brake run track with everyone just wobbling in a straight line for 15 unchanging seconds had me in stitches.
Of course we immediately went round again for the #8 other track.
#9 Flight of Fear was awful. There’s more to see in the queue than the KD counterpart but it went on forever and then the ride was running really, really poorly. Ruined the reputation of this attraction for me, as is the job of a good clone.
All the other queues for stuff we needed, but didn’t really want, were starting to look bad now. Grabbed a snack and headed into #10 Backlot Stunt Coaster. It’s more nicely presented than the KD equivalent (that’s 3 now) but the special effects part still didn’t work, nor did it have the comedy of someone in the train reacting to that fact.
What else have they got? I’m struggling to rattle them off in my head now.
#11 Woodstock Express. It was a bonus just to be able to get on it, and for it to not have the 90 minute queue that was stated on the app (trying to scare us off I feel).
#12 Invertigo. Worldwide set complete, now let’s never speak of it again.
The Eiffel Tower was open, unlike the KD equivalent (4). I did have to laugh when the lift operator said it’s an exact replica of the real thing. Despite the fact it’s a different colour, size and shape.
Good views though.
And we saved the worst til last. #13 Flying Ace Aerial Chase was a total travesty in every conceivable way. Sunburn, heat exhaustion, terrible capacity, medics were called to the station, a ridiculous safety announcement that tells you ‘not to stand up’ on a suspended coaster and an awful ride that manages to bang your head at under 10Mph. I was lined up to see a perfect shot of a small child taking the restraint directly to the jaw on one particular transition. Sign of a quality product.
Chores successfully completed, back to the good stuff.
Mystic Timbers had developed a fairly hefty queue, but it was worth the wait of course.
Orion’s queue had also got a little larger, this time we got to queue through the theming, which was nice to see.
Couldn’t be bothered to queue for anything else, so gave the shed one more go as the sun was going down. This time the wait had some great comedy in the form of a bunch of teens deciding to alter the distribution of large quantities of small rocks within the queueline. PASS IT BACK, PASS IT BACK, PASS IT BACK! Everyone got involved. Who needs queueline TVs.
Night had fallen and the ride was hauling so hard it made a noise I’ve never heard GCIs make before. The wheels (either sidestop, upstop, or both) were literally screeching with force and excitement, what an incredible ride. Also 3 different laps, 3 different monsters.
But of course night falling can mean only one thing in this park. Even the op box says it on a sticker. The legendary Beast night ride. We sprinted into the queue just before park close, having only just discovered that there was in fact a firework and drone show on that night (and every night with a 10pm close, to celebrate their 50th anniversary). This meant the only way to ride it involved having to watch the spectacle while standing in the queue, at which point the ride was temporarily shut down for the display.
Some technical faff later, the ride suddenly starting chewing through the queue at an extremely impressive rate. We ended up amongst the last few trains and were treated to a fantastic atmosphere with cries of BEAST, BEAST, BEAST, BEAST! on all sides.
It’s not going to be making any waves, but I get it, it’s just one those things you have to do some time. The tunnels and laterals felt all the more brutal in the darkness and another train of ghostly figures screaming down the first drop towards us as it all came to an end was quite the moment.
Kings Island then, what a park. I’ve never felt particularly positive or negative about a Cedar Fair establishment before. Things have changed.