My brother Kevin and I went to King’s Island on Saturday. It was the first time either of us had been in more than ten years. Here is a review.
We had free tickets, a free buffet lunch, and a five-dollar vouchers that could be spent anywhere in the park, so money wasn’t a factor for us. With normal adult admission somewhere in the vicinity of $45, and food prices very high (2 slices of pizza for $5.95, a bottle of Desani water for $3.65), I wouldn’t normally consider going. If, however, I had $150-$200 to spend on a one-day getaway for a family of four, I’d certainly consider it. The park was well-kept and clean, and attendants were plentiful. I had a lot of fun.
King’s Island opened in 1972, and the general layout hasn’t changed. I was pleased to see many of the same features I recall from my first visit in the mid-Seventies, such as the massive topiary clock near the Eiffel Tower, and the huge row of fountains along International Street.
The parking lot, sadly, is no longer divided into Hanna-Barbera character-named sections. One can no longer park in Boo-Boo Row 20, or Quickdraw Row 41. We parked in Face/Off Row 42. I assumed that the sections are named after Paramount movies, since until last year Paramount owned the park. It just occurred to me, though, that the sections could be named after park attractions, and Face/Off is the name of one of the rollercoasters.
Kevin and I both noticed that most of the graffiti that had been scratched into the railings around the attractions, the result of untold thousands of youths waiting in lines for millions upon millions of man-hours over several decades, was gone. The wooden railings all over the park, once heavily adorned with intials, dates, and wads of chewing gum, were in many cases replaced entirely and always painted in a heavy layer of glossy enamel.
It was hot. Despite the awnings over many of the waiting areas, the longest lines always had their tail-ends in the sun. For popular attractions, the tail-end is long. The most grueling part of the day was our wait to get on the FireHawk rollercoaster; that was nearly an hour long, and most of that was in the sun. It would have been fine if it had been in the seventies, but it was in the nineties, and there were no clouds. Park attendants set up a stack of coolers with cold water and plastic cups, which was a great idea. I got the last plastic cup. I hope some cups arrived for the people behind me. One girl in line, evidently suffering from the heat, was being aided by friends and park employees.
The Racer: This was our first ride of the day. It’s 45 years old, and has been at King’s Island for 35. This was probably the first “grown-up” rollercoaster I ever rode, and it’s the yardstick by which I measure all the others. It’s fast and lurchy but fairly painless. There was almost no queue at all, which was a great bonus.
The Beast: Still ranks as the best rollercoaster I’ve been on. The violent beating one takes on it isn’t quite bad enough to keep is speed and drops from topping my list. Kevin and I individually noted the sensation of the meat on our calves vibrating: Wub-wub-wub. I got slammed back and forth quite a bit, but not enough to really remember the pain. Which brings me to…
Son of Beast: Sounds like a kiddie coaster, right? Like a miniature version of The Beast? Holy crap. Constructed from an entire forest’s worth of lumber, its speed and drops are exceeded only by its violence. We both felt sharp pain in our lower backs when we hit the curve at the bottom of the second hill, and then could do nothing but hang on and watch in dread as we continued the horizontal curve and hit the same sharp turn again. This ride kicked my ass, and more than half of that was in the bad way, not the good way. I won’t ride it again.
Flight of Fear: Like Son of Beast, this ride does some unpleasant chiropractic work, with the added terror of working you over in a dark enclosed warehouse. It’s like a gang fight with strobe lights. It’s fast and loopy and worth riding once, but I’ll avoid this one in the future. Which is what I said last time I rode it. I just forgot.
Firehawk: This coaster, the park’s newest, is a “flying” coaster. One is strapped in very securely, then the car flips and you spend the entire ride hanging from your harness. You’re flat on your stomach looking down at the ground. It’s light on the bone-crunching, but heavy on the “Oh-God-I’m-Going-to-Die” feeling, so I rate it highly. This had the longest line we waited in.
Top Gun: Not a bad ride, but one must endure the movie-themed junk all over the place. The ride is relatively smooth and fast. The fact that it’s a hanging coaster may once have been a nice gimmick, but it’s not so novel now and the supports from which it hangs tend to obscure the view. Note so self: If I ever ride it again, try to sit in the very front car, where I’ll be able to stare death in the face more clearly.
Delerium: This ride is similar to that swinging galleon ship ride, but on a grander scale. About fifty people sit all around the edge of a saucer, which hangs from a tall support beam. Then the saucer and beam start to rock, going higher and higher as the saucer slowly rotates. Shortly, one finds oneself being giddily lifted well past vertical, then plummeting earthward, over and over. Peaceful yet terrifying, I think this is the best ride there.
Someone else's pic of Delirium
Some very old favorites are still around. The Monster and the Scrambler are still there, and still fun. We didn’t go an any water rides.