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Kings Dominion (KD) Discussion Thread

P. 766: Haunt Has Risen from the Grave

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58 minutes ago, anonymouscactus said:

Nah you haven't lived until you wait in the i305 line that goes farther back to the dippin dots stand.

Seriously though, good luck. We went last Saturday and it was insane (and hit capacity) we left pretty early just to get the hell out of the mass of people



Thanks!  Luckily tomorrow is my full day at the park, tonight was just a little bonus after checking in to my hotel.  I don't think I've ever seen I305s line that long, even opening year.

In the two and a half hours I was there, I managed to get on:

-Intimidator 305 (23 minutes including ride time for back row)
-Blue Ridge Toll Way (3 cycle wait)
-Drop Tower (1 cycle wait)
-Dominator (20 minutes for row 2 left wing)

I also got a bowl of Mac & Cheese from Mac Bowl, and took in the Ruckus show after skipping it on my last trip here.  Not bad, if you think about it.  It was busy, but not to the point where you were always shoulder-to-shoulder with people on the midways.  Hell, they didn't hit capacity tonight (unlike last Saturday).

I took off around 11:00 to beat the crowds out of the park (I've been up since 5 AM and really didn't feel like sitting in an hour of traffic to get out of the park haha).

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Photo TR: The End of Haunt 2021

After working one of my University's football games, I made the 4 hour drive down to Doswell for my last Halloweeny amusment park trip of the year.

But first, a note about my hotel:  With the on-property Travelodge being closed for the year, and a disappointing stay at the Days Inn across VA-30 at the beginning of the month, I decided to stay a little farther away this time, and chose the Best Western Plus Thornburg in Woodland, VA.  A quick 20-minute drive down I-95 from the park, this hotel was worlds above any of the places right near Kings Dominion.  Quality rooms, breakfast buffet (that was actually operating, not "closed due to COVID" still like many other hotels), and there's actually more than a Burger King and 7-11 right near by.  Highly recommended.

Anyway, I got to the park on Saturday around 8:30, and found the lot more full than I've seen in a long time.  Making my way into the park, I found this line for Intimidator 305:


Yikes.  I'd never seen the line for this ride that far back, even during opening year.  Even the Fast Lane line was nuts:


It proved to be a 23 minute (wait-and-ride) for a back row experience.  Still awesome.  I did a lap of the park, coming back to Blue Ridge Tollway for a 3-cycle wait.  Unfortunately, not a Haunt this year, but still a bit eerie in the dark woods.  I love how this one weaves through the forest, unlike the drive-'em cars at some parks (*coughKingsIslandcough*).

I was quite hungry, so I decided to stop in Mac Bowl for some delicious custom mac & cheese (got with shredded cheddar and bread crumbs).  Though tasty, this is probably my biggest disappointment about Kings Dominion:  in years past, $12 would get you two scoops of mac, three if you weren't getting a protein.  Now, $15 gets you one scoop of mac, regardless as to if you're getting protein or not.  I get it, budget crunch blah blah blah, but seriously?

Next up I decided to take in the Ruckus show, which I had skipped on my last visit due to not recognizing any of the musical acts listed in the show description.  Which was probably the right move, as I in fact did not recognize any of the songs in the 3-song, 7-minute long set.  Definitely not my preferred genre of music.  That said, the dancing was on point, so it was decently entertaining.  Here's some photos and videos of the show:


Continuing around the park, I decided to hop on Drop Tower (one-cycle wait).  It had been a while since I went on this parks drop tower, and it was a lot more intense than I remembered.

I then made my way back up to the front of the park, and got a ride on Dominator (20 minutes wait-and-ride for row 2, left edge).  Always a solid ride, and probably my favorite floorless that I've been on.  This was the standby queue:


I also noted that the park was playing a song that sounded a whole lot like the Mystic Timbers queue music in the Dominator area; I'm not 100% sure it was the same song but if it was, nice touch.

At this point, it was 11:00, and having been up since around 4:30 AM, I decided it was time to beat the traffic out of the park and make my way back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

The next day, I got to the park at 12:45 (for a 2:00 opening) to be greeted with this sight:


Hooray for another busy day.

After parking (I was the first car in the season pass lot, at least), I made my way to the designated smoking zone and kill some time (and some more lung cells) and snapped this awesome picture of Dominator testing:


Once inside, I noticed the preparations for Winterfest have begun.  Planet Snoopy and Candy Apple Grove had many of their lights strung up, and the conversion of the fountain into the ice skating rink has begun:


One of my goals for today was to hit all of the adult flat rides.  First up on that agenda was Berserker, a walk-on for row 7.  Decent cycle with two complete rotations.

Next up was another ride on Dominator, a half-train wait for the back row, left edge.  Amusingly, this ride was triple-stacking the entire early afternoon.  It was clearly the end of the season and employee enthusiasm has dropped off from earlier in the year.  Though, I did get to snap a pic of the Tiki Twirl supports and some track in the parking lot:


Now that the rest of the park was open, next up was a ride on Woodstock Express, a one-train wait for back row.  Chatted with another enthusiast with a Kings Island shirt on, whose first visit to Kings Dominion was today, and then made my way back to Intimidator 305, for a 20 minute wait-and-ride for front row.  This is definitively the place to ride this coaster.  Made my way down the back half of the park, grabbing an Auntie Anne's pretzel, and then hit Rebel Yell (right side) for a two-train wait for the front row.  Next up was Twisted Timbers, with a one-train wait for the back row.

I then decided to try Delirium for the first time on my life.  I had a bad (read: sickening) experience on a ride that spun me sideways in the past, and have generally avoided anything that does since, but since trying out some spinning coasters earlier in the year, I figured I'd give this a shot.  Had a one-cycle wait, and wow this was a lot of fun.  The spinning is so slow that I didn't really notice it.  I really need to try some of the bigger versions of this style of ride now.

Hopped on Bad Apple, their Troika, for a walk-on ride.  These are always so much fun.  Twisted Timbers was next, a 25 minute entry-of-line-to-retrieval-of-phone-from-the-locker for front row.  I really can't decide if front or back is better here, both present such intense rides but in different ways.  Then I got on Wave Swinger for a half-cycle wait, and then made my way to Grizzly for the busiest I've ever seen this station in years:


This provided a 19 minute wait-and-ride time for the front row.  Still not as bad as it used to be in years past.

Next up I decided to take in the Blood Reign Haunt opener and the Heads Will Roll Show, honestly my biggest drive for coming back to the park again.  This show is just so incredible.  I'll spare you more pics and videos of it, since I captured it pretty well in my report from October 3rd, but yeah did not disappoint.  Okay I lied, here's a quick clip of their rendition of Roar by R.O.A.R., showing off the female lead's stellar pipes:

Now that it was dark and Haunt was in full swing, I took a stroll through the Safari Village scare zone, uprising, and then a quick ride on the Scambler (walk-on) with it's way-out-of-date lighting package.


I then took in the 8:30 performance of Heads Will Roll, capturing the entire show on video utilizing an actual camera and mini-tripod clamped to one of the stanchions holding the velvet rope.  The video came out incredible, even if the audio wasn't as good as recording on my phone (WTF?).  It's a little big to upload here, but if anyone is interested in seeing it, PM me and I'll try to find a way to get it to you.

After that, the park was nearing it's 10:00 PM closing, so I decided to try to grab another walk through of the Grim Woods maze, and did so as a walk-on. That said, they weren't really holding people or grouping them, so it ended up being one big conga line through it.  Still, lots of actors, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them actually using the oven prop at the end of the Hansel & Gretel section as a hideout for an actor.

And that was about it for my trip.  I left after that, deciding to head back to my hotel since I needed to be on the road early.  Thanks again, Kings Dominion, for the best Halloweeny park experience of the year.  Bring back the Skeleton Key rooms, and it'd be a solid 10 out of 10.


See you in a few weeks, KD, for Winterfest!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Photo TR: November 27th, 2021

On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I hit up Kings Dominion for their Winterfest event.  Disclaimer:  I generally hate Christmas music, but do appreciate a good stage show and very much dig Christmas lights (fun fact:  I once decorated my office at work with 4,700 lights in an area like 350 square feet).

So, Google maps tells me that Kings Dominion should be a 3 hour drive from my home.  Knowing Virginia traffic can be nuts just south of DC, I left at 12:45 for a 5:00 opening, thinking I'd still be able to get there around 4:30.  How mistaken I was...the traffic was even worse than normal, and I arrived at the park at around 5:05.  Though still twilight, the main entrance was nicely decorated.



Grabbed my Fast Lane band (yes, Kings Dominion does offer FL during Winterfest and honors the all-season pass add-on), and made my way to the bandstand just in time for the end of the Tree Lighting Spectacular show.





Made my way down Artisan's Alley, where various craft-makers were selling their wares...


...and across the Old Virginia bridge, where the skull was replaced by a glowing sphere....



...ducking past the Kings Dominion Theater momentarily...


...for a quick lap on Blue Ridge Tollway (walk-on), which for the holidays is transformed into 12 Days of Christmas.  This drive-through features light-up decorations for each of the 12 days, and I actually managed to sync my timing with the song, which plays on an endless loop.  I feel bad for those employees LOL.

After that, I took in the Charlie Brown's Christmas Spectacular show, which while no different from the last time I saw it in 2019, was still a nice production featuring a ton of costume changes.  Here's a bunch of pictures:











After that, I strolled down to the entrance of Candy Apple Grove and the Twisted Timbers area...


Unfortunately these LED sequenced lights that are on the trees were not as well synchronized with the music as in 2019.



..to take in the Holly Jolly Trolly show.  Impressive enough, but yeah remember the disclaimer above?  Not really my scene musically.  Nice costumes though.


I also hung around for The Mistletones show which immediately followed, but apparently neglected to grab a picture.

I took in some more of the sights...


See, we're not just about Christmas!  Hard to tell because of the light, but left to right that's a dreidel, a menorah, and a kinara.  Note that these were the only non-Christmas decorations in the entire park.  Get with the times, KD...I want to see a Festivus pole next year!


Grabbed a bite to eat at Mac Bowl (er, "Vixens Fixins") and made my way back up to the front the park, passing through the Jack's Frost Zone (yes, this is what it's called...I think the possessive is in the wrong place too).


There he is...


They had some cool plaster snow angels in various sizes for various people:


Here's a shot of where you can rent an igloo, which I guess is a thing?  Personally I didn't see the point...the event is only 5 hours long, and if you want to see all of the shows and get on some rides you really don't have a lot of time to spare.


They had these completely-open fire pits scattered throughout the park.  How the Fire Marshall allows this, I'll never know.


The Four Drummers Drumming show.  Live drummers playing to a techno backing track.  Entertaining enough, but not enough for me to hang around.


Now this really impressed me.  The area seen in the next photo is way off the beaten path, en route to the designated smoking zone, outside the park gates, and is probably only viewed by a handful of people each night.  Still, KD decided it was worth it to put some lights here...a very nice touch.


Cool Yule Christmas was a show.  Tons of typical Christmas songs, with a couple of nice lyrically-tweaked renditions of The Chordette's 1958 Mr. Sandman (modernly known for it's role in Back to the Future), and The Flintstones theme.  Talented singers, and nice costumes with plenty of changes, but again...not really my thing. Here's some pictures and a few quick videos:







The Flintstones theme rendition:


I then took a trip into Planet Snoopy, which was decorated as per usual, with the dim but huge lights up in the trees...


...and light-up Peanuts character bushes.



The next show on the agenda was Tinker's Toy Factory.  Though clearly aimed at kids, it opened with some Trans-Siberian Orchestra music, so how could I not love it?  I had never seen this before and was impressed with another KD show with a cohesive plot.  Lots of renditions of Christmas classic songs, but some original songs too.  Despite its target demographic, it was a very cute story and I even teared up once.  Bonus?  The male lead was the awesome performer who was also the male lead in the Heads Will Roll Haunt show!  Enjoy some pictures and videos.




I just love this guy.



After that, I ducked back up in to Old Virginia to take a look at the Jingle Jazz show.  Again, not my taste in music, but talented enough performers.


I grabbed a walk-on ride on Bad Apple, and then some Auntie Anne's pretzels (which was my longest wait of the day at 20 minutes).  It was now nearing 9:00, so I staked out a good place in Candy Apple Grove to watch the Winterfest Wonderland Parade


Very well done, with a ton of floats, characters (including some from every stage show), songs, and audience participation (sing-along and candy canes being thrown at you).  Here's two clips containing the entirety of the parade show, for anyone not able to make it.  They stop twice, once in Candy Apple Grove and then again around the Eiffel Tower.



Now that I had taken in almost all of the shows the park had to offer (I completely skipped the Sounds of the Nativity and Peanuts' Guide to Christmas shows), it was time to hit some coasters!  Er...maybe not?  Twisted Timbers was totally dark, without even a greeter at the front of the queue to tell people what's going on.  So, I made my way back to the front of the park to see if I might have better luck at Dominator, and grabbed this cool clip from inside the base of the Eiffel Tower:


Captured some of the cool blue lighting in the Berserker/Dominator area...



And then was greeted with this sight:


*sigh*  Oh, Cedar Fair.  It was only 35 degrees.  So yeah, if you're planning on going to Winterfest with hopes of riding either coaster that's running, I highly recommend you do that first thing upon arrival lest the ambient temperature drop below 40 (confirmed with guest relations) and Kings Dominion does its nonsensical thing.  I could rant here about Six Flags and operating temperatures, but there's really no point.  Cedar Fair is gonna do what it does and be happy about it.  And you know what, that's okay too.  Not everyone is a coaster enthusiast, and this event is clearly not for coaster enthusiasts.  Judging by the crowd, they're doing just fine with that decision.

I did some shopping at the vendors, and bought a funny tote bag and a cute bracelet...


...made my way out of the park...


..and began my three hour drive home.

Overall impressions of Winterfest 2021?  Very well done.  Much better than the "Taste of the Season" event from last year, bringing back all of the shows (and then some) and lighting effects of pre-2020 years.  Though as I said, I'm not a fan of Christmas music, all of the shows were entertaining, and the lights were great.  I'll definitely be back at least one more time before the season's through.

Thanks for reading, everyone!


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