Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, November 08, 2009

TR: KIngs Island Fall Tri-Fecta (10/17, 10/18, 11/1)

TR: Kings Island Fall Tri-Fecta
Mason, OH
October 17, 18 and November 1.

Okay: the usual rules of a Kings Island trip report apply, you have ready my gushings about Diamondback, and I have described most of the rides. So a little less on the verbosity unless something is special.

This report covers three 'short' visits to Kings Island I took in the fall.

October 17

I wasn't really planning on going to the park today, but I was up in the Fields Ertel area anyway, and despite the chill in the air, I figured I was only 1 exit from the park so I dropped by. I arrived at the park around 2:30 and my first order of business was renewing the season pass. I wasn't sure how many more visits to the park I would get this year, so I decided to stop past the season pass center now. In 2009 I had a gold pass, and looking forward to my 2010 park plans, I figured a platinum pass was the right level, so I took my gold pass to the window and asked about pricing. The park had run an unbelievably good deal on gold passes, on selected days they were only $65, but the platinum pass stayed firm at $145, this means you need to plan on at least 2 visits to other Cedar Fair parks to justify the upgrade.

I walk right up to an open window, and $145 later I have a platinum pass and she collects my 2009 gold pass for the renewal. I'm skeptical, but I go inside and I get a friendly camera operator for the photo shoot for my platinum pass. I ask him, and he tells me the 2010 pass will, of course, only work in 2010. Long story short, he gets his supervisor, who goes to the person who sold me my new pass to get my old pass back. Now I am ready to enter the park.

I breeze through security and enter the park, and pretty much head right to Diamondback. The ride had about a 20-25 minute wait, and I wait through the regular line since I did not see the single rider lane open. I get to the boarding platform, request and receive seat 16. At this the single rider in the now open SRL makes it clear he is a single so he too can score a ride in a prime seat. Seat 16 really is the best seat on the ride. Upon exiting I duck into the Single rider line, and I get to the front of what is essentially a walk on and promptly get rewarded with a ride in dull seat 10. I take one more ride through the normal waiting line, winding up in an acceptable seat and then head on to check out the rest of the park.

I get back to Beast and decide to take a ride. The line for Beast is about halfway down the long ramp between the top and middle queue houses, so it has a bit of a line but not much. I take a seat towards the front of the train, and soon we are off. In the nice things department, I really like the flagpole they have added to the center of the turn out of the station, where all the support cables come together in the center of the turn, they have installed a flagpole with a United States flag, which really looks nice. They even have a lamp above the doghouse which shines down on it. That's a cool installation, actually I have noted several rides have flags now, most are of the stick flag variety mounted around the operators boooth, with some exceptions, Diamondback for instance has a full size flag on the inside roof overhang of the station neartest the operators booth. Okay, having gotten the niceties out of the way, the Beast ride was rough, sluggish, and all that work that went into smoothing out the helix was for naught, as it was roguh as ever. Why do I continue to ride on this overrated ride?

I take a quick look through the arcade, then head to Back Lot Stunt Coaster. I was pleasantly surprised to see the very first switchback just inside the entrance closed off so as to bypass the needless walk all the way down the hill to the queue house and back. What's even better is they weren't assigning seats, so I took a ride in the front seat, otherwise known as the only seat on the entire ride with appreciable airtime. I take my seat, lower the lapbar, then the bars release, and tehe operators do bar checks again, and the operator sets my bar looser than I had it, which is strange since this particular ride is usually staffed by operators who like to see just how far down they can push it, entirely arbitrarily as the guy next to you can have a bar much looser than yours but his is okay. It was nice though, getting those two airtime pops which come right before and after the subway stair drop. At least the lights on the police cars and the fire effects work in the show scene.

Out in front of the ride for Haunt they had a Wallandas promo doctored up so it said Fallandas, "Help him Fall!" closer eyes will note its sponsored by Shapiro!. The controversial celebrity death scene between Beast and Crypt was replaced by an American Idol parody scene "After Life Idol". I head up into Coney Maul, themed to be a carnival so tacky looking most cvarnival operators would be offended. Cheap used-car-dealership stremaer pennants line the midways on both sides and give the place a suitably tacky look. Sideshow canvas advertises dubious sideshow acts. And look at the phony snack bars, selling stuff like "Funeral Cakes" Just for good measure, I take a ride on Vortex, the line is just back to the Troika exit, which means only about 15 minutes. Exiting Vortex, I am curious about the big white tent I see setup in the area.

I don't make many stops in the area, I dod look and see that the X-Base rides are, as usual very crowded. I happen to be walking past Monster just starting a load cycle with almost nobody in line. I can't pass that up, and get rewarded with a Monster ride that not only has the usual pops of airtime, but I had a car that spins a bit more than the usual Monster car. All in all a good ride, even if the loading proceudre insures it takes time to ride. I also stop at Racer, and take a back seat ride in Red Racer, as Blue Racer is already closed for the season. Racers line was just down to the bottom of the ramp. Man, I could see Racer just trying to be a good coaster, it had suggestions of airtime and all.

Next I head into Oktoberfest, and take a walk on ride on Advneture Express. Not a whole lot to report here, as Advneture express was running pretty consistant and all. Looking at my watch its about 5:40 and I could use a bite to eat. I head to the International Restaurant to check out the Fright Feat. Uppon arriving at the International Restaurant I learn I have to exit the park, go to the ticket windows, and get a ticket for the meal.

So I run out get my ticket and run back in, so now I have the $13.99 prepaid meal ticket, and I get in the steadlily building line for the Fright Feast. By 5:50 the line is back to the Kings Island Theater. The staff takes those of us in the back half of the line around to the back door of International Restaurant and admits us through the staff entrance. On our way in they exchange our meal ticket for a front-of-the-line pass to Slaughter House, one of the new Haunts. I get into International Restaurant and it is midly decorated for the season with some black fabric on the walls, fake cobwebs and the like. I've seen fast food places decorate for the season better. The advertisements showed the buffet setup in coffins, but that wasn't to be. What was to be is probably the most German meal one could get in the park! Recall, we are talking about the park that has an entire section themed to Oktoberfest, has a building called the Festhaus, and yet they seem to be trying to strip away every thing even remotely german about it. For example, there is nothing inherently german on the entire menu in Oktoberfest, with the exception of beer, and even then its not German beer.

I go down the buffet line, and whats this, hot german potato salad, brats and kraut, roast chicken, pull pork BBQ, cole slaw, mac and cheese, german chocolate cake, and the obligatory pumpkin pie. I have a nice german meal with brats, kraut, sides, a pull pork sandwich, and both deserts of course. The meal even included soft drinks. I stuck around even after finishing up eating to see if there was any kind of program, but then after figuring their wasn't I exited out the front doors to International Street.

I note my front of the line pass for Slaughter House mentined in the fine print it is to be redeemed by 6:45 at the Kings Island Theater. I walk over to the Kings Island Theater, but first walk through front gate gifts. Front gate gifts has a bag sale going on, as in buy a bag for $10 and take whatever you can fit into the bag. I'm glad they let you look first, becuase the offerings in the store are almost entirely garbage that even Goodwill would probably throw away.

Okay, Kings Island theater, and Don Helbig is there meeting people under a Fright Feat sign. From there every couple minutes a staff member comes to escort people down to Slaughterhouse. Slaugherhouse takes place in what is normally the Stunt Crew Grill. Normally you line up for Slaughterhouse coming from the side nearest Delirium, but they escort you to a seperate line that is setup coming from the Invertigo side. Not that it matters since they must open it at 6 or so, and take people as they come down from Fright Feast, I'm thinking the impact on regular Haunt visitors is close to nothing. Careful observation will note that the Slaughterhouse is a bit bigger than Stunt Crew Grill, and I doubt you even go into the building part of it where the service lines are, instead the haunt takes place on the two covered outdoor dining patios and the area in front of the stand. The entrnace way is setup to look like abutcher shop, you go in, they tell you the rules, then you enter the haunt. The bad thing about going this early is it is too light out in the outdoor non covered portions. They do make good use of strobes and like most of their offerings is more focusees on blood and gore and less on pure scares. It seems their most common scare is baging on a wood wall, or opening a small sliding panel, shouting at you, and then slaming it back closed. That's not to say Slaughterhouse doesn't have its moments, it has the furnace from Phantom Theatre, it has a room where you walk through and car starts up and moves a couple feet towards you with horn and lights going. If it weren't for the obvious safety barrier that might be effective. I noted the pig pens in the middle of the maze that were to house real pigs instead house plush animal pigs. Towards the end they have a buthers counter scene where the butcher is working on a body with a meat cleaver that looks just like one you see at the very start of the maze, leading you to wonder if you are going in circles. The last stunt is one of those air cushion walls where you have to squeeze between two air cushions, its similar to, but not as effective as a similar stunt used at EnterTRAINment Junction. Not a bad haunt, really.

I nnext have time to high tail it all the way to Urgent Scare which is in the Action FX Theater. I get there before 7 and the line is backed up to the old Flight Commander entrance, but I have a sneaking suspicion the main queue area for it isn't open yet. My suspicion is confimed when right around 7, we go on a nice steady walk and when the dust settles I am to the part of the Acton FX queue where it splits into two lanes. Only one lane was open of course,a nd the actors were using the other lane as a walkways. Urgent Scare is a haunt with a story, the story last year was a plaque or virus was running rampant through the town being spread by a tainted energy drink. This year they dropped the whole energy drink line and were openly calling it the Swine Flu causing the problems. The story is you have to get to the hospital before its too late. As you wait in the queue line, deranged 'patients' pace back and forth and medical equipment is strewen through the yard. The queue line forms the perfect "mob" heading to the hospital and a sound loop provides "rioting angry mob" sound effects.

When you get to the hospital, they first group you as normal, but then they only let you into the hospital lobby one at a time. Under the guise of being photographed for a visitors pass, they have you go in, stand on the X, and the camera is rigged with a special effect set to activate a few seconds before the shutter, in the hopes of getting your reaction. You are then handed the usual pink Souvenier Photo card. They then escort you into the "elevator" where you wait for the rest of the people in your group to get their photos taken. It sounds like a time drag, but they really have it set to military like precision, and I betcha the idea is that instead of waiting 2 minutes before groups, they take 8 peopls photos one a a time 15 seconds each, and that way it actually seems like the line is constantly moving. The "elevator" is a room with a vibrating floor, then you get off the elevator, and go through the doctors office, very creepy doctor. Then you go through the inside part of the haunt where you go through the haunted hospital, guts and gore are the name of the game here. Imagine everything you never wanted to see in a patient room, they probably have it was you walk through the wards. The haunt takes place in the side of Action FX theater nearest Vortex, and continues along the exit hallway in the building, through the arcade, and then all the way up the long exit path. When you exit the hospital (and go outisde) they twll you you have to be decontaminanted after going throught the hospital, and they, make you walk through a water curtain, on a 39 degree night. I'm so happy I had a hood. The exit ramp is setup more like making your way through the military blockade. Oh, and the bungee person got me agan this year, as they moved the location of the person that literally drops in on you from bungee cords. Once you get back up to near Vortex exit where they have a tent setup with the In-Haunt Photo stand.

Urgent Scare is, I think, one of the best haunts here. It has a story, it has a mix of good old fashioned scare along with your guts and gore, the fact it is one of the longest haunts at haunt helps, and even with the line, I was able to make it down to the all new Cutthroat Cove by 7:40. I should have spent my time at Trail of Terror, which is also one of my favorite haunts there. I'd say Urgent Scare and Trail of Terror are my two favorites, though Sluahgerhouse isn't bad. Cutthroat Cove is Redbeards Revenge under a new name. I knew that going in, but though Redbeards wasn't too bad, and with a new location they might have improved it.

Redbeards former home was the mining company, and Back Porch Stage. Both of these were removed this year as they are now the Diamondback queue area. Cutthorat Cove is setup at Outer Hanks, so I first expected Outer Hanks to be closed, but it is in fact not only open, but it has a Haunt overlay as One Eyed Jacks. You enter Cutthroats through the Viking Fury exit. The Viking Fury Exit combines with a new paved walkway that runs behind the airbrush shop to form the queue area for Cutthroats with the actual haunt not starting until you reach the Outer Hanks dining patio. They have lined part of the queue area with nautical code of signals flags, and a quick check revealed they just strung them up in alphabetical order instead of cleverly hiding a message. I guess this, and that big disused Viking ship count as nautical queue theming. It appears they have built the haunt on the back part of the dining patio nearest the lake, which means they can still keep a sizeable part of the dining patio open for those who want to eat or drink at the bar. The main problem here is there is no cover over the haunt, and with the dining patio lights on, a good portion of the haunt is brightly lit. There is entirely too much light here. They used ofggers to great effect in a couple places, but it was, as advertised Redbeards Revenge relocated. They made good use of the sound system in the area for creepy music, but all in all, I have to give Cutthroat Cove bad marks. It exits out directly into Lt. Dan's Back Porch Bar. Care for an after Scare Cocktail?

They had opened Cutthroat Cove a bit early, so I was able to exit, and get down to Showplace by 8:07 and so caught most of Hot Blooded. I found it to be nowhere near as engaging as Dead Awakening. Okay, girls kind of scantily dressed, okay, but I just got back from Vegas, so my expectations may have been a bit more than a family park can offer. The rain wall special effect in the back of the set was nice, but overplayed. The small scale pyro was neat, and very loud. The show just didn't do it for me and seemed to be more similar to Ghouls Gone Wild then Dead Awakenings. After the show, I went back to Diamondback for a few more rides, but by this time the queue was entirely full, and single rider line was back to the cell phone display. Ugh. I took two more rides though, at about 45 minutes apeice.

By that time, I had to head out. I realaized how cold it was when every stand that had coffee or cocoa was insanely busy. I'll just wait till I get home. Once I got home, I was contacted by Rideman who wanted to go up to the park the next day, but he wasn't ging till late, so I coudl still do church, brunch and that kind of thing.

October 18

As mentioned, I started the day like any normal Sunday, went through the Sunday routine. Then I sat and waited for Rideman. Rideman had inidcated he was going to take it easy in the morning, after all the park is open till midnight. To give you an idea, his text message asked "I'm finally going, do you still want to go" I'd say we arrived at the park around 4 pm, but to my mind any park time is better than no park time!

We pulled into the lot, and found a nice parking space in the first row of general parking and headed into the park. It probably won't surprise you that we beelined it right for Nick Universe, you thought I was going to say Diamondback! The idea isn't as strange as it sounds as we knew Nick was closing at 5pm, and it might be our last chance to see it as Nick. We took a quik ride on Fairly Odd Coaster and confirmed that while it is the best running wood coaster in the park, it is also still braked. We witnessed an attendant tell an adult that one of their children (family of like six) could not ride for height, so instead of having the one child wait, she made the other 4 all get off. I don't quite get that.

We then took a quick walk through Nick on our way to Diamondback. We got to Diamondback, and found it to be a total walk on. You're telling me the park's newest ride is a walk on!??! We walked right on to seat 16.. What a great ride. We took a few more Diamondback rides before doing the customary tour of the park.

On our first pass around the park we skipped Beast, but took a ride on Back Lot Stunt Coaster. It too was a near walk on, so we went right for the front seat. Recall just the day prior I rode the ride with a loose lap bar that the operator set. This time I got the ride operator who wanted to see just how far it could go down, not just till it touches, but how far they could physically lower the bar. That was just uncalled for. At least it gives a fun if short ride.

We next headed around and took the customary ride on Vortex, nothing much to report here. We started heading back towards the front of the park when we took a walk back to X-Base. Ok, its cold, maybe all the people are in Flight of Fear. Nope - walk on conditions here as well. You may recall I had trouble with Mr. Freeze, so I was hesitant about even trying to ride Flight of Fear. I took my usual spot on the left side on Row 1, and was rejected. However, the ride operator suggested I move to Row 2, which I did actually changing stations on the operator side of the platform, recall it is a two stop loading ride. Okay, they were able to get me seated in Row 2. At least I got to ride Flight of Fear, its a shame its so hard for me to get on the ride since it is actually a really fun ride, even if they do brake it to a full stop, and with the delay in the station I caused don't tell me it was a blocking issue. At the unload platform, my belt would not release and Rideman had to perform martial arts on it for it to release.

Okay, next up was Firehawk, which Rideman declined as he was not suitably equipped. Now there were 4 people in front of me in the queue when I joined the line. Sounds like I would get a a quick in and out ride, right. Wrong, Rideman clocked it at 15 minutes. Most of that time was spent with me strapped into the back seat looking at Rideman with both of us gesturing "What's taking so long?" Oh well, I at least got a great ride on my second favorite coaster in the park. I'm flying, oh and vertical-loop-on-your-back!

After Firehawk, we decided that Rideman needed to get his jacket out of his car before the No Re-entry policy starts at 7pm. We noted that Scrambler was running during Haunt for the first time in years. So this year we gain Scrrambler back but lost Viking Fury. I suppose the bigger change is Flight Deck is now open during Haunt. Rideman got his jacket and we headed to Invertigo.

Wait, this can't be right, a walk on for Invertigo! We again walked right on to an end seat, the end facing Congo Falls and took a quick hihg G intense ride. Our ride included an extra show as I got a glimpse of the flag retreat out in front of the park while we were climibng lift 2. It seems the park is raising the flag in the morning, and taking it down at sundown, very traditional, but only for the flag out in the former tram circle in front of the park. That particular pole is even flood lit, and the still keep the flood lit at night.

After Invertigo, we head to Son of Beast. Okay, you probably know Son of Beast is closed for the forseeable future, but they are using the Son of Beast queue for Flight Deck during Haunt. What they have done basically is cut an opening in the very back of the Son of Beast queue nearest Flight Deck, so you start of going through the Son of Beast queue, then when you get to the end of it, you cross over the exit lane, and go down a newly paved connector to the regular Flight Deck entrance, then you enter Flight Deck as normal at that point. Actually using the Son of Beast queue is probably unnecessary but it helps with crowd control as at one point you have the queue for Club Blood, the exit for Flight Deck and the queue for Flight Deck all right next to each other, so putting Flight Deck queue in the Son of Beast queue helps allievate some of that congestion, and allows another coaster to be open during Haunt to take Sonny's place. I did not not only is the Son of Beast entrance and exit fenced over, but the theming in the tunnel, as little as it was into the area has been completely painted over. I didn't look at the Flight Deck side to see if they painted over the big American flag mural. When we got to Flight Deck we sat down in the front seat of the back car, and rode for like 7-10 times straight without even getting out of the seat. I didn't even undo my seatbelt the whole time. Marathon going on on Flight Deck. At one point we were the only two on the ride. What was more amazing is they were still running both trains.

When we tired of Flight Deck, we were going to head to Delirium, but due to a rider who was so excited they couldn't contain themselves, we decided to pass it for later. We passe Sling Shot and I had to think hard about the $5 special before I finally declined it. It was even a walk on at only $5. We opted instead for a back seat walk on ride on Adventure Express. Another steady performer nothing too bad to mention here. I noticed the game booth that was a kids jacobs ladder, then a Guitar Hero game is now a soccer themed skill game.

After Adventure Express we took a ride on Racer, and with unbelievable luck had a walk on front seat ride. They even let us ride with only 1 click on the lap bars, it was shaping up to be a great Racer ride, too bad Racer failed to deliver the goods. We continued our way around and stopped off at Zephyr for a swing ride in which we were the only two riders. Are you noticing a trend?

Rideman pointed out to me the feature fo the gross "Funeral Cakes" stand I had missed, which was a skeleton , using a urinal, next to the soft drink machine. I alsways had my doubts about certain citrus sodas. We noticed Troika was not open for Haunt, and since we had already done Vortex and Back Lot, we decided to finish up the open part of the coaster collection with a ride on Beast. The good news is it was only a train or two station wait for Beast, the bad news is the two click rule was in play. The new flag was still there, and the ride was for the most part dark with very minimal lighting on, which is a better night ride than this thing has given in years as far as asthetics go. The bad news is its still running slow and rough. Let's head to a true night ride.

We head back to Diamondback and proceed to take numerous Diamondback rides, mostly in the back seat. We must have ridden Diamondback several times for an hour or two. once we even took a ride in the front seat, seeing as it was also a walk on. The operators commented "Welcome to Diamondback, proving once again Kings Island is better than the Magic Kingdom" When asked how that is, he said "You just waited a total of 30 seconds for a front seat ride on our newest, biggest coaster, at the Magic Kingdom you wait 90 minutes to ride the elephant ride!"
Low temperatures, lower wind chills, and the very open front seat provided a very cold ride experience, "Welcome back Diamondback riders, how was your freezing cold ride" On one ride we were cuationed to protect our ears going past Showplace, and sure enough when we passed Showplace it was the exact right time for Hot Blooded's pyro features. Yes, that was loud. We rode Diamondback until we were just about ready to leave the park. We even stopped of at Starbucks for a quick warm up. We took in a tour of the Haunt displays in theInternationsl Street store windows, and the Phantom Theater characters on the Bandstand.

After Starbucks, we realized we hadn't ridden Delirium, a situation we needed to fix. We headed to a walk on Delirum, but not only a walk on Delirum a Delirum in Party Mode. Basically the rules were whever the ride stopped, if you wanted off, get off, if you wanted on, get on, no need to exit until you have had your fill. We took 3 Delirium rides in that set, and both swear the last one was significantly shorter than the other two. I labeled the ride experience "Invigorating", Rideman said "So, that's what you call it" The ride operators said something like "Welcome to Delirum, we are going to swing you 137' in the air at speeds up to XXX, which is going to feel great in this weather, while spinning you at XXX rpm, which is also gonna feel really good in this weaher!"

After Delirium, we were basically done with the park and headed to Waffle House, but I stopped off for a walk in haunt, Slaugher House with no queue, and only 3 of us in our group. I mainly wanted to see if it was better in the dark, it was slightly. Then it was our of the park and to Waffle House for some Scattered, Smothered, Covered, and Topped hashbrowns to which we added Cassa De Waffle picante sauce (like a salsa) and hot sauce, oh yeah we also had drinks and cheeseburgers. Its the Coaster Enthusiast after hours dinner of champions!

November 1, 2009 - Closing Day

This was another day I really hadn't planned on going, but I just couldn't let my final chance to ride Diamondback for nearly 6 months go away! I got the the park at 5:15, which was really late considering it closed at 7pm. I entered the park and started with taking my final ride on Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle. I failed to win the Twitter contest for last rides, but when I arrived at the ride, the line was only 5-10 minutes long, if that. Now Scooby has been getting lots of complaints this year (even from me) for non-working Fright Lights, and inoperablt stunts. I swear they decided to have the ride go out on a high note. I think every effect was working, even some I haven't seen work in several visits. I even had a Fright Light that worked the entire ride.

After me Scooby ride, I met up with Don and we headed to Diamondback. We proceeded to enjoy the benefits of a Diamondback with maybe a 5-10 minute wait for the next hour and a half. I think we scored 7 rides in that time, with 5 of those being in that wonderful back seat, 1 in row 15, which may as well be the back seat, and 1 in row 2, which may as well be the front seat. What a great way to end out the season, with the airtime filled goodness of Diamondback,. That also means I began and ended my season on the same ride. We declined the traditional Last Rides for ACE offer on Beast, I mean why take 1 ride on the rough Beast, when in the same time as the ERT we could get two back seat rides on the smooth as silk, and airtime filled Diamondback. On one ride I looked at the group assembled for Beast final ride, and I doubt there were 20 people in that plaza, I recall in years past that whole plaza would be packed with people for final ride.

After the park closed, we managed to be the last customers at Starbucks, and then did the customary final night meat up at Culvers after the park closed.

So long, it's been a great season. With this my coaster trip reports are done for 2009.

I do have a non-coaster trip to Vegas, not sure how I want to handle that one. There may be a trip report, then again there might not.


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