Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

TR: Kings Island - Ride Warrors Weekend - May 9-10, 2009

Trip Report: Ride Warriors Weekend at KI
Kings Island
May 9-10, 2009


On this weekend, the park decided to host a big park sponsored event. The park had been teasing the event since January, but real details were scarce until about two weeks before the event. I was happy to see that they were making use of their online ticket system for the event. For Gold/Plat pass, you merely had to fill out a registration form, no ticket purchase required unless you wanted to pay the extra money for the picnic lunch. So I registered as soon as I could and was set to attend the event.

I arrived at the park around 8am on the first day. I was surprised to see the parking toll collectors already at it, but thats what passes are for. I headed right up to the registration tables by the old season pass gate. Registration was simple, I gave them my name while showing my ACE card. They put a soft drink wristband on my wrist, hand me an event lanyard and a full color event program. I headed into the park using the specially marked metal detectors which allows me to dodge the general public who is also gathering at the gate.

I have no trouble clearing security and the admission gate using just my gold pass. I head up International Stret to the Gold Pass early entrance gate. It seems late arrivals are being held here, and then every 5-10 minutes a park representative is escorting groups back to the ERT area. All told I don't get to the ERT area until nearly 8:30. Morning ERT is scheduled to be Beast, Italian Job and Vortex, with Beast ERT ending at 9:00 so it can open to gold pass holders. Given that knowledge I head to Beast.

My first Beast ride, I just want a seat, so I take seat 5. I am about to board, when uh oh, we are not boarding this train. There goes another 10-15 minutes as they pull a train off and send it to storage. The ride itself was pretty good, love that new smoother helix. As I am walking down the exit ramp, I hear Diamondback will be added to ERT. Not wanting to venture too far, I take aother ride on Beast before heading to Diamondback.

I get to Diamonback just as ERT is being 'moved' there. I enter the queue and get to the station platform just in time to see the season pass running of the bulls end with quizzcal "How did they get here already?" looks. I beleive I scored 4 rides on Diamonback during the ERT period in various seats.

After the general public were admitted the line for Diamondback started snaking through Rivertown and got back as far as across from the train station. Time to ride something else.

I start touring the park and note Crypt is open. The line is just back into the ante chamber, so I have a 2 cycle wait to get on the ride. This time was worth it as this may have been one of the last day the gondola was flipping like a good Top Spin. Still not a great Top Spin, but passable. Upon exiting Crypt I instantly noted how the Crypt exit path makes the ideal Diamondback photo observation area and take several photos.

By the time I finished that, had a comfort stop, and got a free soft drink, it was time for the Beast walk back. Beast walkback was much the same as other Beast walkbacks, except Cedar Fair only takes you back as far as the turn after the first tunnel, whereas Paramount used to take you all the way to the backmost reaches of the Beast. Still, got lots more photos and then continued on my tour.

I proceeded to do the standard lap of the park, grabbing a ride on Italian Job (30-40 mins for a middle of the train seat), and about 10-20 minutes for Vortex. I have seen Vortex use its limited station queue area more this season than I have for years. I do the usual look at X-Base, decline the rides due to the long wait times, and go ahead and continue my tour with a ride on Racer. Racer line was out to the midway with none of the switchbacks open. I ride Blue Racer as I think to myself there is still a good coaster here begging to be let out.

After Racer I grab one of the French Bread Pizzas at Midway Eats and Treats along with a free drink. I must say the french bread pizza is actually rather decent for $5. After my snack, I took a ride on Adventure Express in the back car, it had almost a full queue but that doesn't take tooo long. Adventure Express is running its usual reliable self, except with all the special effects turned off. Still only 2 train operation as well.

From Adventure Express I start to realize the lines are getting longer. I decide to grab a quick ride on Viking Fury and thats when Rideman annopunces is arrival. Operations could be improved a bit at Viking Fury, but soon I join Rideman at the exit to the ride.

We cut through Festhaus and head to Action Zone. Bad call, Delirum line is too long, Son of Beast line is too long, Flight Deck line is too long, we look through the On Location shop. We stop ourselves short of walking to Invertigo, knowing it would just be another crowded spot.

We stat lapp 2 of the park, we decide Adventure Express is probably our best bet, sure the queue is full but its one of the shortest waits in the park, Much like our first ride except we find more enthusiasts to join our happy group. We stop in Festhaus for drinks and they comment how they have a scavenger hunt entry form that both Rideman and I ween't even offered. We head towards Nickleodeon to try to get some items for their hunt papers. We wind up taking a ride on Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle. Its was a fairly ordinary ride, about the only oddity is my score ended up ended up being something goofy like 1769 with is odd since each target is supposed to score 30.

From there we stop at Greaters for ice cream and then Skyline for free drinks. Its time to head to the Kings Island theater for the presentations. We are treated to some old park photos on our way in, and a preview real for the memorial day weekend events. This is followed up by speeches and Q&A's by a park operations person, Don Helbig, and Jeff Gramke. We also had a video presentation by Tom Rebbie. If you were at the Beasts 25th birthday event, Tom told most of the same anecdotes as at that event. We did learn that the reason Beast has tunnels was out of necessity, and the idea of an underground tunnel was apparently unheard of at the time. They talked about the Beast rehab and how they widened the helix radius slightly. The operations person became the subject of a whine session about line jumping, smoking, the unfair treatment/confusion of platinum passholders, and that sort of thing. (Note, they were all very real concerns, just probably not how the speaker wanted to spend his time).

After the presentations in the theatre we had about an hour until the Beast's birthday party, which we spend partially riding Fairly Odd Coaster. We head back to the Beast Birthday party in the picnic grove. Imagine a wedding reception: You arrive, there are bowls of chips and pretzels, there is a DJ spinning records (in this case a lot of 1979 era music), there are people serving cake. On the way in we filled out a raffle ticket, and were given a free refillable souvenier cup which we can begin using at the picnic groves sfot drink stands, which were opened as a self service operation. They had Little Bill out first, and Scooby later. They did a Locomotion like dance "EVerybody get behind Little Bill and ride the Little Bill Coaster" to which some smart alecks chanted "We're to tall to ride the Little Bill Coaster" Every 15 minutes or so they gave away some door prizes, I didn't win but Rideman won one of the promotional displays, one that shows how Rivertown looked before the renovations. They cleverlyt had a table at one end showing Diamondback merchandise that you too can buy during ERT in the Diamonback gift shop. They also ordered way too much cake, "Everybody come back for as much cake as you want, go ahead get a sugar high!"

The party lasts about an hour and half then we go back into the park,. We decide to start our ERT eraly by taking 2 or 3 Diamondback rides with the public to close out the park day. Then instead of heading toward the front of the park, we headed to Beast. We didn't ride Beast but that was where they wanted us to all wait for the park to clear. Once the park cleared, ERT was on. At this point the single rider line was closed, and the seat assigner was sent away, now its go ahead cram the station, get in any seat queue you want. Rideman described it as a NAPHA like ERT, after the first hour, only about half the people were still riding, once midnight hit, it was only the die hards. By midnight, unless you wanted a front or back seat ride, it was a total walk on., So for the ERT time, the first couple laps we paused between rides to chat in the gift shop, besides on ride photos were FREE during the night ERT as long as you elected electronic delivery via email. After about 2 or 3 rides, Rideman and I got sperated, he is more social during ERT than I am, particularly with a new ride. I don't know ow his night ended, but by lap 4 I was perfecting the dash down the exit ramp, swerve around the displays in the gift shop, out the gift shop, door, down the midway, and back through the empty queue maze and riht back onto the next available train, and taking most of my rides in rows 2-4 or 12-15. All told at the end of Day 1 of the event, I had racked up something like 17 Diamondback rides.

We headed back to Cincinnati, and we added a Steak N Shake stop on the ride home, so after factoing in not getting out of the parking lot till 1:30 or so due to socialzing, we didn't get to Coasterville until like 2:30 or 3AM. We also wanted to do the morning ERT, thats starts out at 8AM, why do I think we aren't going to make it?

Morning ERT was especially appealing becuase it was shceduled for X-Base, where the lines are usually so long we can't get any riding done. Doesn't matter, we still didn't get to the park until 8:30, then we had to check in all over again, get new wristbands and everything. We entered the park and this time Don Helbig escorted us as far as Eiffel Tower, and asked if we knew our way, then we headed the rest of the way ourselves.

We bypassed Racer, why waste X-Base ERT on Racer? We headed to X-Base to learn Firehawk was down, as it would be all day. We rode Flight of Fear which was about a 15 minute wait owing to want to ride in te front seat. I get stapled into the ride to the point where I didn't really enjoy the ride, but it was worth riding becuase it wqas running with all the serivce lights on in the main ride buidling offering a rather unique ride experience for this. We exit and I announce I'd rather not ride it again, and I decide to take advantage of the fact they decided to open Vortex in replacemet of Firehawk. On a side note, Rideman tells me that on a later Flight of Fear ride during ERT he sat in the seat I had trouble with and reported back it has a shorter seatbelt than most other seats.

Meanwhile, I take back seat ride on Vortex, enjoy the floater air, and am dismayed they are making everybody walk around with an almot empty station. I get back in line and decide if its a one and done, I'm going to Row 1. I wait a train to get to ride in row 1, and another single rider joins me. I take a great front seat Vortex ride, we get back to the station and there is nobody waiting at the station gates. I ask about a reride, and the crew allows us to stay on for a second lap. At this time its about 9:25, and Don Helbig mentioned the rope by Juke Box Cafe would be temproarily dropped at 9:30 to allow people to leave the ERT area to ride Beast or Diamonback with the gold pass people. I head to DIamondback and this time the running of the bulls got to the ride faster, I might as well have ridden Beast. I think it took 20 minutes to get one ride, by which time Rideman joined me. He did ride Beast first, and so we take another DIamondback ride together. I am happy to report they had the soft drink stand in front of Diamondback open for the morning ERT. They weren't set up to sell food, but they were setup to pull free drinks, next year I hope they have that open for the night ERT.

Once the public enters the park, we let them have DIamondback, its time to actually ride the rides, since for the most part the park was too crowded yesterday.

We start with Reptar. We both had misgivings about riding Reptar due to our sizes, I evne joked "Double Rider Rejection" coming up. Remarkably we both fit into Reptar, it may have been a snug fit but we did fit. We nostalgically reembered when you used to have to walk the lift on the rides first weekend. All in all not a bad little ride. We next head to Avatar, where we manage to score an end seat ride. It had been so long since we had one of those it was refreshing. We continued with a ride on Fairly Odd Coaster before heading to Action Zone.

Once in Action Zone, we spotted a 15 minute wait for Invertigo. We took the rare opportunity and owing to a bottleneck in the station even got an end seat out of the deal. Invertigo is another neat ride that suffers from low capacity. We continue around to Flight Deck, which unlike yesterday is now a walk on.

We note its not even noon yet and we have alost hit all the E ticket rides. We skip Son of Beast for now, and even though Skycoasteris only $5 Rideman vividly remembers the hour+ wait we had two years ago "Don't even think about it".

We cut through Festhaus where we stop and talk to some fellow park nuts. People are starting to tire out, what with the late night and early morning. Our talk gets interrupted when they play a teaser song from the country music show at full volume, with the threat the show starts in 15 minutes. We were still around when the show started in 15 minutes, and it was too funny seeing people scrambling for the exits.

We then take time out fo our days to call our Mothers, I mean it is Mother's Day afterall. After that, we decide to grab lunch. Usually food means either a catered food event or leaving the park. The free drinks wristband makes the euqation more interesting. While food prices int he park are only slightly marked up, its the drinks that are usually the deal breaker. We go to International Street Skyline and figure out that even though the chili itself is marked up, since we aren't paying for drinks, it would wind up costing us the same as if we left the park to go to Skyline, and we don't have to tip here. So, yes you are reading this right, we ate lunch inside the park!

After having lunch, I bought some insurance in the form of a gift from the Glass Blower shop for my mom (she loves blown glass) . We decided to run our gift shop runs out to the car, and reentered the park.

We heade dback to Diamondback and took another spin. We met up with another enthusiast but our visit was short lived as he had to make use of his picnic grove ticket. Dave and I took another lap around the park, this time passing up more stuff than usual. I fact I think it was more a walk around the park, we take a lot of time analyzing the back half of Coney since we both think that area is currently underutilized. We get some free drinks at times, we note FIrehawk is still closed, we do take a ride on Vortex just for the sake of riding something. We also make stops at Racer (blue side), where Rideman gets his usual torque lock ride which means he has sowrn off both Racer and Beast for the remainder of the season.

We do take another ride on Adventure Express, and get into the Delirium queue. The queue is about half full but we decide to wait it out. Not even one full cycle later the ride goes down mechanical. We decide to wait it out. It takes about15-20 minutes by which time most of the queue has abandoned ship so we are in the second group when it reopens. As Rideman noted, all in all we probably spent the same amount of time as if the ride had operted normally. Delirium is a ride worth riding at all costs, anyway, as its one of the parks best rides. I also not that even thought Crypt and Delirum appear to use the same seats, these seats are more accomodating than Crypts.

We next head to Son of Beast to round out the e-ticket rides we can get, I think from here out we both neat Italian Job to finish the set of operating coasters, and I need a Beast ride. We ride Son of Beast in a "take a seat, any seat" mode as the line was close to 30 minutes long. We got rewarded with the usual horridly rough ride.

At this point we take a run through the Emporium shop (ever notice how many parks call their main shop the Emporium?), and head to Italian Job. The good news is the Italian Job line has shrunk since last we looked at it, and we got assigned to row 1. The only negative is they insisted on mega stapling me. I just don't get it.

After Italian Job, Dave heads right to Diamondback, and I score a walk on ride on Beast. At least I finished the set today. At this point I high tail it to Diamondback. I have a gamble to make here. One of the event perks is one ride on Diamondback after the park closes tonight, call it a mini ERT. I look at the line, it looks like they have enough riders to go to close, but the neet up point is again, way back at Beast. I figure I can take a ride here with the GP, or I can retrace my steps back to Beast and join that group. Either way I get 1 ride. But if I ride with the GP, maybe I can start heading back towards Beast afterwards and fall in with the group, and thus get two rides. I deicde to take the GP ride. I wait out the line and am dismayed becuase by the time I go down the stairs to go u nder the track, they have admitted the Ride Warriors group to the closed off queue. Looks like I lost the gamble, but I still get paid even money 1 wait: 1 ride. I'll take gambles like that all day. By the time I get to the top of the station stairs the end of the queue is startingto go dow under the track. I take a ride in my assigned seat. I exit the ride, the park is clearly already closed, the ERT line is laready completely inside the station. I remember, "It never hurts to ask, all they can say is no" and remember that parks often make excpetions or turn a kind eye during events. I fly through the gift shop and head to the closed ride entrance. There are some ride operators and some green shirted GR staff huddled around the ride entrance.

I pull the lanyard out from under my t-shirt and start to ask "Am I too late?" I don't need to, the entrance gate is opened for me and I fall in right behind somebody toting a tripod up to the station. I get up to the station, and note there are still sizeablelines for the front and back seats. Unlike standard practice they are letting people wait out for preferred seats. I head to Row 14, the backmost empty seat queue. My gamble then really pays off I wind up getting 4:1 odds, as I get three more rides as they allow me (and anybody else in non desired seats) to stay on until they clear out the front and back seat lines. Woo-Hoo!!!!

We deicde to forgo the usual after park meal tonight, but I do wind up getting the Kings Island under glass snowglobe from the DB Trading Post. And with that we leave the park after a mostly succesful event.

And with that, I am happy as I am now just 5 KI trips in arrears writing TR's.


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