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Kings Island (KI) Discussion Thread

p. 832: Camp Snoopy announced for 2024!

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Another webcam pic of Windseeker. 2 cool things......The support frame is up and they are starting to attach the seats, and second, it's 8:30 at night here in Ohio and they are still working!!! I know it's blurry, just the way it was. Looking at the arms holding the seats, they seem to be about 20 feet long. So as it spins, you will be about 30-40 away from the main column. I think what they need to do is put plexiglass above the area directly underneath the ride so those waiting can avoid any vomit, urine or poop falling from the sky!!


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MASON - Make your way along Kings Island Drive and the towering wooden track can't be missed.


But this summer, as other nearby rides are filled with screaming patrons, Son of Beast will again be silent.


When Kings Island opens Saturday, wooden coaster lovers will have one less choice - for the second season in a row. The troubled coaster, once a signature feature at the park and the only looping wooden coaster anywhere, will not be operating.


Son of Beast isn't included on a list of rides for this season filed with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Erica Pitchford, a spokeswoman with the department, said that means Kings Island has not applied for a permit for this season and can't legally operate it.


"It's probably disappointing when people go there and don't know or haven't ridden it recently and see that wonderful coaster up there and wonder why they can't ride it," said Russ Johnson, southern Ohio regional representative with the American Coaster Enthusiasts.


Kings Island has little to say about the coaster or its future.


"No decision has been made concerning the ride's future," spokesman Don Helbig said. "It would be inappropriate to speculate on when a decision might be made.


"There's nothing else to talk about."


Accidents, closings, repairs, five lawsuits, settlements and one trial have beset the ride. The roller coaster hasn't operated since June 2009, after a Mason woman complained about getting hurt about 2½ weeks earlier while on it.


All those who settled did so for undisclosed sums.


"I think they're still wading through issues that have troubled the ride and I think they have a lot of planning to look at to see what it would take to remove that ride and then what they could do with all of that," said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc. in Walnut Hills, an amusement park consulting firm. Speigel said he based his opinion on conversations with officials in the industry.


"It's not going to be a cheap effort to take that down," he said.

Fanfare, then problems


The lack of public comment about the ride from Kings Island is a quite a change from May 1999.


That's when Kings Island (then owned by Paramount) announced it planned to build the world's tallest, fastest and only looping wooden coaster called Son of Beast, costing more than $10 million. Its top speed was to be 78 mph. Television personality Montel Williams showed up for the announcement. The park timed festivities to celebrate the 20th birthday of The Beast, a classic wooden coaster that still runs.


"We wanted to have the project of the millennium and I think we got it," a Kings Island official said at the time.


The ride opened in late April 2000 for just a day as officials found a rough 15-foot section of track during an inspection.


Kings Island removed the ride's signature loop after a July 2006 accident that hospitalized about 30 people. Until then, it had been a prototype - the only wooden looping coaster anywhere.


The roller coaster re-opened in July 2007 without the loop. To this day, there are no wooden coasters with loops.


A 2009 deposition in a lawsuit against Kings Island owner Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., sheds light on what has plagued the roller coaster. Jennifer Wright of Defiance, Ohio claimed she suffered a hip injury on the ride during the July 2006 accident. She won compensatory damages after a trial, but later settled with the park for an undisclosed sum.


Forensic engineer Richard Schimizze said Kings Island took "kind of (a) Band-Aid style" approach to fixing the ride, according to a transcript of his deposition in the Wright case.


"In other words, fix one area, see what happens and then fix another area and see what happens," he said in the deposition.


Schimizze wrote that Kings Island went through a process of trying to address the problems piecemeal rather than having one "global" solution.


The state hired Schimizze of the Columbus-based engineering firm SEA Limited to examine the ride after the July 2006 accident.


"Well, clearly, the ride had too much flexibility in it and I think ultimately that's the real problem here," Schimizze said in the deposition. "You have a wood structure that is not capable of withstanding the kind of flexible movement. They were in the process of trying to stiffen the ride which I think was something that had to occur."


He said the problem with stiffening the ride without knowing what the effect is on the other parts is "where the problem comes in."

What's next?


The ride's future is uncertain.


Kings Island didn't include the roller coaster on a park map of attractions last year or this year.


Amusement parks are not required to file anything with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to tear down a ride, according to Pitchford. She said there might be local permits that parks have to obtain to demolish a ride, but officials with the city of Mason said no permit from the city would be needed to tear down the ride.


To open the ride, Kings Island would need to obtain a permit from the state and it would need to be inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture before it could operate, Pitchford said.


Experts are hopeful the ride can be fixed.


Speigel said if the issues can't be fixed, the ride should be dismantled.


"If they determine that they could be fixed, then it's still a stellar ride. It would just need adjustment," he said.


Lance Hart, owner of Screamscape.com, a theme park website, said the best move now might be to bring in another company to examine a drastic remodeling.


Hart suggested Kings Island reuse portions of the existing ride such as the lift hill and remove others such as the giant helix - a double turn. He said a new layout would be built using a mixture of new track sections and some old ones. He said newer technology could be incorporated that improves the wooden coaster experience.


"In general, I think transforming the ride's layout to perhaps be more like El Toro (a wooden coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey) with more hills and less giant helix turns, along with a new name and a proper re-launch, and they could have a huge hit on their hands," he said.


Speigel said it might be cheaper to repair it than tear it down and build a new ride.


Kings Island spent $22 million on its Diamondback roller coaster that opened in 2009.


Johnson, with American Coaster Enthusiasts, said the park has a lot of money invested in the Son of Beast and it's a beautiful structure. He would like to see the ride return. He said if the ride is slower, it won't be as hard to ride for the general public. He said he doesn't know if they'll put brakes on it to help it or just replace as much of the track as possible.


"There's nothing wrong with it. It just needs some tweaking," he said.


Kings Island does not release attendance figures, but experts doubt Son of Beast has had any negative impact on the bottom line. The park has numerous other attractions, including 14 other roller coasters. Windseeker, a large swing ride, and a walk-through dinosaur park with 56 animatronic models are new features this season.


"The biggest negative impact on having Son of Beast sitting there closed, however, is that it has become, quite literally the elephant in the room that no one wants to address," Hart said. "It causes a lot of questions. Why it is really closed? When will it open? Will it ever reopen? What can they do to fix it? Can it even be fixed? And so on."


The most troubled ride Kings Island had before Son of Beast was The Bat, which, like Son of Beast, was a prototype.


The Bat was a steel coaster with suspended cars that swung wide on turns. It opened in 1981, but suffered so many glitches and problems that it was dismantled after the 1984 season. No one was ever hurt on the coaster, but it spent most of its life closed.


Flight Deck, which opened in 1993 as Top Gun, is a newer-generation suspended coaster.

A fun ride for some


The Internet is full of commentary about Son of Beast. There's even a Facebook group called "Save Son Of Beast!" with frequent posts.


Those who enjoyed the ride describe a thrilling experience that would one expect from a big-time amusement like Kings Island. Others describe a forceful coaster that rattled them.


Speigel said the coaster was a great ride both with and without the loop. He said it was exhilarating and he never felt unsafe.


"You knew you were on something quite special ... when you rode the ride," he said.


Hart rode Son of Beast in 2003 when it still had the loop.


"I wanted to like it but it really did bash you around quite a bit," he said. "The best part of the ride was the loop itself. That section was glass smooth and enjoyable."


Roller coaster lover Thelma Gratsch, 88, of Mount Lookout, rode Son of Beast once when it opened. She said the ride "kind of shook you up" and the more it was used the worse it became. She said Kings Island should tear the ride down, saying it's not repairable.


"You just didn't feel safe on it," she said.


Hart said if the ride can't be fixed, it should be removed, letting it "pass on into legend."


"I know my kids are budding coaster nuts themselves now and every so often they ask me if anyone could ever make a wooden coaster perform a loop," he said.


"I can look them straight in the face and tell them about the one ride that did make it work and that I rode it."

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^I love how the genius from ACE says, "There's nothing wrong with it. It just needs some tweaking," when you've got an actual engineer earlier in the article describing major structural defects with the ride. "Just needs some tweaking" is exactly what KI tried after the big 2006 accident. What was the result? Additional rider injuries and lawsuits.

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Interesting read, I sure hope we hear something from the park in the near future. While I doubt they'd change it completely to an El Toro-type ride, they have a lot of freedom for modifications and I hope they figure something out soon...

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^^ I was thinking the same thing...wtf? A little tweaking??


I like Lance's response much better and I'm sure most of the people on here feel the same way. This coaster needs some Rocky Mountain treatment with a huge layout change after the first drop. Bring back the loop, call it the largest wood/steel looping hybrid with a hot gravy splashdown and be done with it already!

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"It's probably disappointing when people go there and don't know or haven't ridden it recently and see that wonderful coaster up there and wonder why they can't ride it," said Russ Johnson, southern Ohio regional representative with the American Coaster Enthusiasts.
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Son of Beast... what hasn't been said about S.O.B.


Seeing somebody make an absurd statement about "It's not that bad" (No matter WHERE they are coming from) is one of the -dumbest- things I've ever read. If a ride isn't that bad, then why couldn't it be fixed quickly?


If anything, I keep reading that RMT will solve the problem. Not entirely. You still have to deal with trains that were shaking themselves like a wet St. Bernard, structure that was -way- underengineered to begin with, and numerous miscalculations of assumed forces and sizes that were too great to begin with.


While I'd love to see S.O.B. reborn, I suspect that you'll be able to walk on it again someday- as S.O.B. brand Mulch for gardens and pathways. The number of changes that have been mentioned (and noticed, for that matter) by our members and those of others is staggering. And each one of the changes to S.o.B. will cost big $$$$- and if you add them all together, I'd put a pretty healthy guess that it's New ride/Coaster vs. S.O.B Renovation.


Which do you think a park is going to do first? "Here's our old coaster, but it's better now" or "Look at our new coaster!"



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It also looks as if there's a lot of potential land behind S.O.B. If they took it out, they could fit a lot of expansion in the land it's standing on and all the land behind it.


Also, Google Earth now has 3D models of the Eiffel Tower and Drop Tower. Pretty cool!


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That article is all over the place. One example: it sounds like the loop caused the accident, so they removed the loop. It was the smoothest part of the ride


The timing of this article is interesting with a recent opening in Texas. I know I'm stretching that connection, but I'm willing to bet it will happen with SOB.


SOB has the potential to become the most popular ride in the park.


That's worth the investment. Salvaging the sound parts of the ride and replacing the problematic areas would still cost far less than a total tear down and rebuild. The loop was great, but I wouldn't plan to see it return.


Random Concept: Go old school ... in Cedar Fair style!

  • - Create a new section on the backside of SOB if possible, SOB Plaza, if you will.
    - Create a major path through the structure allowing coaster overhead interaction with riders and non-riders. Can you imagine looking up at that structure right below it? That's a [insert # here more than 7] World Wonder.
    - Showcase the transformation on permanent displays along the walk. At least some GP will read this and learn it's a different coaster.
    - The entrance should be at the back of this plaza (i.e. like milk and eggs at the grocery store)
    - Add a couple of family flats and another tower style ride.
    - Make this the wooden hyper it could be ... an airtime machine.
    - Put an awesome lighting display on that massive wood structure (i.e. Millennium Force)


IMO, this would have greater long term reach than a new multimillion steel looping thingy with a similar investment.

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^Milk and eggs???

A grocery store's dairy section is usually located toward the back of the store, meaning you have to explore the whole store to get to it.

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I'm not surprised considering it's a Mondial. They typically have some carni-style lighting on their park models in addition to the typical floodlights. According to Wonderland (I can't remember who exactly said it), the floodlights will be coloured. I guess that's why there's so much white on it.

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