TR: Kings Island - 4/28/12
Trip Report: Kings Island April 28, 2012 Mason, OH "We had a beautiful March, which explains why Opening Day was so bad" Here in Southern Ohio, we were just patting ourselves on the back for cheating Old Man Winter and getting to April without laying one layer of ice melt, or shoveling one swath of snow. Now, in the last weekend of April its cold and rainy. Just perfest for Opening Day of Kings Island. Sure, Sunday may have been better, but the park was closed for a private party on Sunday. That was the reason that we would go to the park, voluntarily, on a Saturday. I mean we went last opening day when it was a perfect day, and opening day was extremely crowded and not that pleasant. With that we waited out some bad storms, and Dave Althoff reported driving down through sleet to get to the park. With the late start, we got to the park around 2:30, but on the bright side, it would be nice and dry the rest of the night. We pulled into the lot and used our season pass to park rather than pay the obnoxious $12 parking fee, and soon discovered the Gold Pass lot has been eliminated, although "Premium Parking" remains. We managed to find a spot in row 2, almost all the way out by the main road, but 2nd row none the less. Both of us had used instant renewal, so we walked right past the season pass processing center and all the way to the turnstile. Wait, what happened to security? Ah, the entire security checkpoint has been removed. So, we dodged the photo ambush and headed right for Diamondback. Well, Diamondback had a full queue, so we walked past it for now, and noticed the Rivertown Junction Dining Hall (buffett) was closed, and hey you don't see that everyday. A bobcat, as in the construction equipment, was sitting in front of the buffet counter. Walking further around the park revealed the lines for Beast and Backlot Stunt Coaster were long, and observation noted Diamondback was only running two trains. We headed on around the park looking for a quick ride, and found one at Vortex. The line for Vortex was just to the end of the queue railing, so thats 20-30 minutes tops, probably a bit less. The big news at Vortex is the new Fast Lane entrance, Fast Lane was an experiment last year at Kings Island to sell an upcharge "Express" program that allows you to skip all queues at participating rides. This year, Cedar Fair is rolling the program out chain wide. To get Fast Lane riders to Vortex, they have built a bridge over the lift approach, so you enter next to the ride exit, climb up over the track, then back down into the queue house, then you walk around the perimeter of the queue house until you get to the center, then you merge in right before the station gates. The upshot of this is the former split between front of the train and back of the train is gone, becuase the standby line enters through the former "back of the train" lane, and Fast Lane through the front of the lane side. Vortex was running pretty good, maybe a bit faster in the second half than in prior years, but it was pretty much the typical Vortex ride. The belt was a bit snugger fitting, but then I am wearing three layers. We hang around the ride exit, and meet up with Sam. We look over at Windseeker, but it is obviously not ready as there were toolchests sitting in the ride center. We walked down Coney Mall, and ducked into X-Base and noted the two X-Base rides had their usual long line, that the park has switched to Bavarian pretzels throughout the park, and they lockers are now electronic. We continued our tour of the park, and took a look at the new Outer Hanks Burrito Shack, we didn't order one, but they looked pretty good, and may even be a good value. Also, in the area the Coca Cola zone, is now the Coca Cola market, which is a fruit stand (yeah, like those Florida parks do) Fresh fruit, veggies, salads, healtier beverage selections. I'm usre it will do great in the summer, as it was doing pretty good right now with people buying watermelon cups. I had a watermelon cup, maybe a bit pricey at $3.50, but it was refreshing. We next headed for Adventure Express which was another short line, I mean the queue area was mostly full, but on Adventure Expres, that's not bad. In this case Fast Lane enters by the exit, but then cuts over to the entrance side and runs parallel to the entrrance all the way up and into the station. Again the merge is right before the seat lanes. Adventure Express was also running about on par but the audio loop was playing in the final lift hill tunnel, which is a nice touch. After Adventure Express, we watched Sam take on the Extrmee Skyflyer using a $5 ticket he bought earlier in the day when the weather was worse. Flight Deck had closed down right before we got there, but was reopened by the time Sam finsihed his flight. Flight Deck is one of the few rides that escaped the Fast Lane treatment, not that it needed it as the ride was a walk on. The landing strip themeing they applied to the brake run a year or two back has been applied to the station. Flight Deck was, of course, its usual self. We started heading back towards civilization, and noted the haunt was still setup in Son of Beasts station, and made a stop by the Ice Scream Zone, to try that new Bavarian pretzel. Said pretzel may have been really good it wasn't served not just cool, but it felt like it wasn't long out of the refrigerator. That was $4 down the drain on that deal. We checked out Festhaus, new show and a new Yuengling bar, but not much change really. Up by Tower a Minute Maid Smoothie bar has gone in next to Starbucks. We headed to Diamondback, and met up with April. This time the line was only through the second queue maze, and it looked like all three trains were back on. In this case Fast Lane replaced the former single rider program, and the big benefit to that is they are not assigning seats. Which meant it was straight to the back seat for us. Diamindback was everything I hoped it would be after 6 months with no coasters. Good strong airtime on several hills, a nice smooth ride. Yes, this is still the best ride in the entire park. From Diamondback, we went and took a lap around on the train ride and got a glimpse into Soak City. Looks like several slides got a colorful touch up. Once back in the main park, we walked to Beast, but still throught the line was a bit long. We played a few games of Bowler Roller, and I got 2 prizes, which I traded in for a medium size prize. From there we took a spin on Backlot Stunt Coaster. Here the former Gold Pass Speed Lane entrance was an easy conversion to Fast Lane. Now the line is being held back at the merge point and they were assigning seats. We got some lousy seat assignments and too a spin. A year or so ago, most of the decoration was stripped from the trains, today the lights on the police cars weren't working, but a bunch of new LED lights were added tot he show scenee. And the flame effect still works, so its got that going for it. With that we continued on around through Coney pausing to look at Juxe Box Diner, before April got some coneys from Lunch Basket, and the stand at the top of Coney tried to sell Sam some COLD fresh cut fries. I'm noticing a trend with food being served that isn't quite ready to be served. After the snack break, Sam and I went to ride Firehawk. Here Fastlane goes through the ADA queue bypass, but it was only a 30 minute wait, so we waited it out. I'm glad we did as I had one of the better rides I have had on Firehawk. From Firehawk we took a look through the arcade and then met back with Dave and April at Racer. Here Fast Lane has a new entrance setup that runs along the perimater of the queue house, then goes up the former Backwards (or RED Racer) lane, and now the standby line all uses the Forwards or BLUE racer side. Not to matter, becuase once into the station, the center fence is GONE. You walk into a much less congested station and can select a seat on either side. What's more Racer is running better than it has in years. I think I even sensed a reasonable amount of airtime. We then ducked through Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, which had so many lights and speakers out, we proclaimed it to be in sad shape. We then went back to Diamoindback to finish the night with three more rides on Diamondback, all in the back seat. At night the line never got past going under the lift approach, so yes almost a walk on. A great end to the night. We then proceeded to wait nearly an hour for Sam and April to get their Beast ride. All in all it was a better than average opening day, yes the park still has the usual "opening day gitters" but it seems like the start of a great season. WE then went to Red Robin for burgers, beers, and steak fries.