Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Friday, July 04, 2008

Kings Island - June 29, 2008

Trip Report: Kings Island
June 29, 2008
Mason, OH (but not for long if Mason gets too greedy and bites the hand that feed it)
Wearing: Xavier Musketeers t-shirt

Today, my cousin asked me if I wanted to go to Kings Island. Let me think about that for all of 2 seconds. He had to play in a softball triple header this morning and afternoon, so after all that was said and done, we didn't get to the park until 4:30 or 5.

We pulled into the park, and using the season pass received free parking, and were lucky to vulture a space near the center of the parking lot. We were passing through the front gate plaza just as the Full Throttle energy drink people were setting up a stand to give away free samples, but they weren't ready to serve yet. I also took note that the parks main US Flag was up. We then proceeded to have a quick trip through the metal detector and the turnstile.

Once inside the park we decline the photo ambush, and start heading down International Street. When we passed the US Flag, I looked at the base of the flagstaff to discover the "ACE Paver" has been dug up and replaced by some paving bricks that almost hide the fact the big paver was ever there.

We are heading up International Street, and Rick indicates he wants to ride Scooby Doo ATHC. We arrive at the castle to find the queue back to the bridge over the 'moat'. So, that means about 30 minutes later, we are boarding "our very own mini mystery machine" I did notice while waiting in line that one child had a flashlight that was shaped and colored just like the fright lights used in the ride cars. I did not check to see if these were available in the gift shop, but if so what a clever marketing idea. What's next Turkey Callers being sold in the gift shop at the Voyage exit? I also noticed some guests pull off a great scam using the former virtual queue entrance. They actually walked into the ride using the old Fast Lane entrance, then when they got to the merge point, (where there was no attendant to merge people) they simply but firmly stated they were using Fast Pass. (Which is of course Disney's name for it, not KI's), they even cleverly told the people who started to fall into line behind them that "This lane is for Fast Pass only" so it would not become too obvious. Kudos on the creative line jumping scam, it wasn't till later in the day I would learn the virtual queue system was not being offered! It may be wrong, but I have to give it style points.

As for the ride itself, our scores were passable, not great. I at least doubled up Rick's score, so I was happy with that. I think I noticed a new audio cue in the fright lights. I noted that when it would succesfully register a target the fright light would make a slight clanging noise, almost like when you would hit the target on an old fashioned mechanical shooting gallery, instead of the usual noise it makes when you take a shot. I could be imagining this, but I thought I heard distinct sound cues for hit and miss that I hadn't noticed before. We exited the ride and thinks seemed to get warmer for what was mostly a cool day.

We headed into Rivertown, and I took Rick by the Back Porch Stage to show him parts of Area 2009, then I showed him the mysterious new flower pot stands down by The Crypt. Speaking of the Crypt, I had not been able to succesfully ride it this year, so into the Crypt line we go.

The line was spilling out of the Crypt and just back to the outdoor queue maze. Groan, that means this is good for 45 minutes to 1 hour. And the line moves at painfully slow pace, as opposed to the Scooby line we just left which never seems to stop moving. Into the indoor portion of the queue, and it seems to be a bit brighter inside than it used to be, no more stumbling around in the dark. Are those water drop sound effects, or has it started to rain outside? This did not mean that it is no longer make-out central, as there were two young couples going at it both in front of and behind me. We get to the former monkey room, which is now the skeleton room, and I note the ropes that were used to convert three loading lanes into an indoor queue maze have been removed. The one closest to the room entrance has been replaced by a pair of chains that can be used to shorten this part of the queue, the end closest to the big round door has been replaced by a more substantial railing. So, they have managed to make some changes in here, but the PA system is still set WAY TOO LOUD, as if the only speakers in the whole crypt are in this chamber and they are planning on the sound carrying through to the other rooms. They also didn't go with lighting that is more comfortable on the persons eyes when the walk 'backwards' through the queue and are in the center of the room facing the former spotlights for the show element. I at least remembered to keep my eyes diverted down this time. Oh and a laugh to whatever guests posed a skeleton drinking a beer. I'm sure that wasn't part of the park's doing.

Well the big round door no longer opens and closes, not that it has the last few seasons anyway, and the loading lane to the far left is now blocked off since the gondola now has 2 rows instead of the 3 that Tomb Raider had. I head into the preshow room where the grouper was using the height check pole to block off one or the other loading lanes as her method of directing you to the proper lane.

The preshow is now gone, and the big animatronic bat like creature in the front of the room no longer growls or moves his wings. The overhead door opens silently and we start into the ride chamber. Several of us who were the last to enter the main chamber were started when the overhead door literally started to close right behind us. I guess they now press the button as soon as the last person has entered the main chamber. Well, its into the seat, lower the shoulder bar, fasten the belt. Bars checked, time to go. And hey, this time I actually get a ride! I notice the techno music and strobe lightning effects that were mentioned earlier this season are all gone, in fact I don't remember any music or sound in the main chamber. The ride quickly lets you know its not Tomb Raider by going in the reverse direction as it used to. If thats not enough, when it gets up to the top, it gives you a nice quick 4 flip sequence. During part of the ride you just sort of move around like you did on Tomb Raider, but with no obvious show scenes or rationalle. At times you make complete revolutions with the gondola locked in one place, but at no time do they hang you upside down for extended periods of time, nor did I see the water jets activate. Towards the end of the ride you do another rapid multi flip sequence. As a carnival fantic, I would say this is now passable as a theme park Top Spin ride, but not as good as when in the hands of a psychotic carnie. Owing to the absence of the lava pit scene, the ride also seems to go by a lot faster. When I rode at the end of the ride as the gondola was parking itself, the operator was delivering the old Laura Croft lines: "No one gets the best of Laura Croft unless she lets them, and I didn't raise that kind of girl"

The exit doors open, and I exit the Crypt building and notice behind the Crypt building a nice big land clearing, and that collection of big heavy earth moving machinery we had seen in the former Swan Lake earlier in the season has been moved back here.

We head to Beast, and the wind and skies look to be threatening to dump some serious rain anytime. The Beast line was almost back to the greeters stand with no switchbacks in use. I duly note the fast lane is blocked off. Some 30 minutes later we are getting into seat 1.3. I note that in addition to the 'car flag' size US flag they have mounted to the front of the drive box, the former stick flag on the work area by the transfer track is now a full size flag. So the ride starts and Rick immediately starts to complain about the tight uncomfortable seating. The ride seems pretty good through to the second tunnel, yes the brakes are hitting hard, but thats to be expected. Once through the second tunnel the ride goes into shuffle master mode. Up the second lift, and into what may be the most intense part of the ride, the helix. The ride is still running rough, that is for sure. We pull back into the station and head towards Vortex.

I note the time share scam booth is now more permanent looking, boo-hiss, the park directory in front of the restroom building is still directing people down a closed path, but they have also put a merchandise stand in the area to more effectively seal off that closed path.

We also note 3 Point Challenge is doing a strong business, now at $10, and no "$5 special" sing in site. Vortex line was merely back to the bridge over the track, so in no time at all we scored a good Vortex ride in seat 6.2. Rick laughs at the do not stand up and keep feet in car sign in the car. "How am I supposed to be able to get my feet out of this car" I thought Vortex was running pretty good today.

We take a peek in the former Skeeball building where I notice a shooting gallery has been added (75 cents and nothing special), and it also seems to me that quite a few of the machines in there are starting to show their age, it should be noted it has been the same machines in there for a few seasons now.

We press on, and I note the solid color yellow and purple flags in the cneter of coney are now Cedar Fair flags. We head into the X-Base. We head to Firehawk, which has a full queue maze, but they are running both trains and both stations. This is one of our favorite rides in the park, so we decide to wait it out. 60-75 minutes later (I hate lines), we are boarding. I thought it was a bit cool for the misting fans but at least they are misting fans and not soaking fans like you find at Magnum XL 200. The grouper that stops people at the end of the main queue maze and holds them there has returned. We arrive at the station just in time to hear "We need two riders!" WE take them up on the offer and are soon in the next to last row. Now in the past I have had trouble getting the vests on this ride unfastened at the end of the ride, this time I needed to apply a hard whack to the buckle to get it to fasten. At least I noticed the lapbar go down several clicks with no real effort on the part of the operator. We go out on the course, and hey with the overcast day I get to keep my eyes open on the lift hill. The ride is still one of the best rides in the park. The feeling of flying, the vertical loop on your back, and with both trains running no long pause on the brakes. We return to the station, and you guessed it the stubborn vest buckle would not unfasten it. I tried beating the hell out of it, the operator suggested pushingthe buckle in, the operator tried to release it. They finally had to have the driver press and hold down the restraint release button on the console while the platform operator gave the buckle a couple more thwackings till it released.

We exited Firehawk and declined to ride Flight of Fear due to a line that was out of the building and into the outdoor queue area. Rick needed to take some time to play the Coney skill games while I watched. We then proceeded to ride a totally walk on Red Racer in seat 5.3. AS Rick said, at least its the smoothest he has ever remembered any Racer run, now if we lose the trim brake and the slugishness we might have a winner. The ride crews were trying to get people worked up about the racing aspect of the ride, which also hit the fact they probably should have gone down to single train operation on each side as they were really having trouble getting people to ride it, and messing around getting the riders warmed up helped them send full trains. I don't recall it being that dead when it ran backwards, I'm just saying...

From Red Racer we headed to Adventure Express for another total walk on in the front row of the back car. Aw, the Arrow nameplate finally dissapeared. Adventure Express was running great today, both rides and special effects wise. AT least they are taking care of this ride.

WE head past Slingshot (Rick: "I wouldn't ride that with your money), and into Action Zone. We head to Drop Tower to find it to be only a 1 cycle wait, surprisingly enough. Let's just say the ride had just reopened from some unexpected downtime. It took some shoving on the bar by the operator, but I was able to fit on this ride. That was with the Intamins style belt fully extended, no inch of slack rule here. The ride is rotating again, I thought I heard they decided to lose that feature some time back. It is a nice size drop tower, but give me the more open carnival versions instead. Upon exiting the Intamin Giant Drop Tower, I did a lower appendage check, yup both feet still there.

Next we headed to Son of Beast, the line was about a third of the way down the long ramp from the station to the queue maze. We wait it out, and then decide to ride in the front seat. When we got to the decision point, the front seat queue was only 1 or 2 trains longer than any other row. So about 30 minutes total we are climbing into the front seat of Son of Beast, and fastening the short seatbelts. We are rewarded with what was quite possibly one of the smoothest Son of Beast rides I can recall in recent years. If it ran like this all the time, I might actually enjoy riding it. No bad shuffle in the helixes, and an overall great ride.

By this time the park was just about to close, but I was able to duck into Delirum just in time to ride Delirium right as fireworks were going off. Fireworks added an interesting visual to a quality spin ride.

After Delirium the park had closed, I noticed the display at International Restaurant where the Evil Keneevil bike was is now a display about the Grand Carousel. We then exited the park, and exited the lot by the almost totally ignored North Exit. We got to Waffle House in time to be starting into our meal before the crowds started to arrive. Oh besides the waffle, I discovered they have toast made from raisin bread and served with apple butter. Yumm! Then it was just the drive back home.


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