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Kings Dominion (KD) Discussion Thread

P. 767: WinterFest Media Night Report

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Heading to the park for the first time this Friday and Saturday, any recommendations on decent hotels close to the park?

Thanks

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Everything right near the park is kinda lower mid-grade, if that bothers you.  I used to stay in the total shithole right on property, simply because you can walk across the parking lot to the park, but that hasn't been open for years.  I now typically stay about 20 minutes north on I-95 in Thornburg; there's a Best Western there that is quite nice.

Since you're coming from the south, I'd look in Ashland right off the highway.  I see a Hampton Inn, a Tru by Hilton, a Days Inn, and a Quality Inn, so there's a good spectrum there.  As a plus there's actually bars and restaurants nearby, whereas the Doswell exit off 95 near the park has a Burger King, a 7-11, and that's about it.

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I can vouch for the 'avoid the KD exit stuff'.  We like the Hampton Inn Ashland. Bonus points for a ton of food options right around it.  Check out Pepicelli's Pizza, it's a local place that's really good. 

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The Country Inn that's across the street from KD wasn't always terrible, and it used to be our favorite place to stay near the park, but like so many other midrange hotels during the pandemic, their level of care and quality has really fallen off. Their rooms are definitely not worth the amount they are currently charging for them, and the lack of basic amenities ("bEcAuSe CoViD") is an active strike against it. I probably wouldn't stay there again until I hear they've improved.

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Personally, I always now stay in a cabin at Camp Wilderness Resort.  They have a free shuttle.  It's fairly quiet apart from the freight train at night, and the rooms usually are prices near what a hotel costs.  I too used to stay at the Best Western in the parking lot, but far prefer the cabins at Camp Wilderness.  Don't overlook this as its only on the other side of the park past where Volcano used to be.

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The campground is a great option, as long as you plan on cooking your own food. Again, the only food options in Doswell are KD, Burger King, 7-11, and gas station fried chicken. Ashland is 1 exit south and has plenty of food options.

 

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7 hours ago, jazma said:

 It's fairly quiet apart from the freight train at night

I'm reminded of that time last year when I made a last minute trip to Cedar Point over Memorial Day weekend, and the only hotel in the area that wasn't $500 a night was the Maples Motel....about 5 miles down US 6 east of the park, and the only thing separating the hotel from the double-line freight tracks was US 6, and the hotel was right near an intersection that crossed the tracks.  Literally every 30 minutes a train would roll past and blare the horns.  The proprietor, who was admitted awesome, was gracious enough to offer ear plugs on check in.

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On 5/17/2022 at 9:33 PM, coneyislandchris said:

and the lack of basic amenities ("bEcAuSe CoViD") 

Are most hotels still doing this? I just stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in rural Arkansas for work and they had their breakfast and all usual amenities open. It IS rural Arkansas, but I feel like even here in Kansas City most things are back to "normal" in terms of general operational practices that were changed due to COVID.

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11 hours ago, CP_RULES said:

Are most hotels still doing this? I just stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in rural Arkansas for work and they had their breakfast and all usual amenities open. It IS rural Arkansas, but I feel like even here in Kansas City most things are back to "normal" in terms of general operational practices that were changed due to COVID.

It's weird and really seems to be location by location. I can't even say it's chain by chain at this point, because I had stayed at a Country Inn in San Jose last August and they had their pool and breakfast buffet open. Then I stayed at that Country Inn in Doswell the following month only to discover everything, and I do mean everything, was still closed. Similarly, when I went down back in the beginning of April to Busch Gardens, I stayed at the Mainstay Suites near the park, and again it was another case of no breakfast and all the amenities closed. Then we flew out to California again and stayed at the Cambria in Anaheim, and they had a huge breakfast buffet that was jam-packed, their fitness room, and their pool and waterslides all open.

The only guaranteed thing that seems to be out the window no matter where you stay is that you don't get daily room cleaning anymore, and I think that's just a thing of the past at this point.

 

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@Mike240SXNot to derail to topic but I always stay at Maples for Cedar Point! Saves me enough money to buy fast lane. I'm a sound sleeper so it was never a problem, but when I used to go with my dad he would get woken up literally every time. Definitely an odd location for a hotel.

There's a Waffle House north and south of KD which IMO is really good for the money, but yeah avoid everything else around there. The southern one was closed, hope it's reopened by now. Great way to get a cheap start to a day at KD/BGW

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I am going to the park for the first time on Friday June 3rd. I already purchased a fast lane pus for that day. Where do I go in the park/at the gate to redeem my ticket and get my wristband? Also when do the gates opens and/or can I get my wristband (the park opens at 9 am). I'm trying to get a quick start in the morning since I can only stay at the park until 3 pm. Thanks for any help in advance!

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You can redeem your FL purchase at any store that sells it, but the easiest way if you get there at opening is to go to the upgrade center booth immediately to the right after entering the main gate.

If the park has a posted opening time of 9:00, the main gates should open at 8:30, along with Dominator and Berzerker.

Note that quite a few rides are not on Fast Lane at this park.  For adult-rideable coasters, that's Anaconda, Apple Zapple, Tumbili, Racer 75, Woodstock Express, and Grizzly.  If you're concerned about getting on any of these, I'd hit them first after the rest of the park opens at the posted opening time (especially Apple Zapple, Woodstock Express and Racer, in that order.).

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Thanks for the advice Mike! If I do those 3 rides in that order, what time do you think  I would be done with both those rides? Not sure what to expect for wait times. Also should I consider including Tumbili in that group because it's the new/popular ride? 

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My usual plan of action at this park if I'm trying to hit everything as quickly as possible is as follows:

-Dominator and Berzerker during the pre-opening operation period.
-Woodstock Express before the line of kids gets too long...this will never have beyond a 30 minute wait but I feel a little weird as a nearly-40 year old adult waiting for a "kids" ride.
-Tumbili
-Reptilian (it is on FL, but it has horrible capacity).
-Anaconda
-Racer 75
-Apple Zapple
-Grizzly
-Twisted Timbers (two laps to make the most of the locker situation)
-Flight of Fear
-Intimidator 305

Then I start on flats that I'm interested in that don't have FL, followed by flats that do have FL, followed by re-rides on coasters.

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We visited the park last Saturday. Operations in the park ranged from pretty good at Twisted Timbers to "meh" at Racer, Dominator, and Reptilian to absolutely terrible at i305 and Flight of Fear. I've always liked KD but if I had been living under a rock for a year and you told me Six Flags bought it, I'd believe you.

We had the benefit of FL+ as we do pretty much everywhere we go, so we still got as many rides as we wanted for the most part. It was also my first time riding i305 since 2019, as we were unlucky enough last spring to visit on a weekend it was down. i305 is still a religious experience and a top like 3 coaster. But wow were operations appalling and the coaster looks like crap. Almost every time, they'd just be locking restraints when the other train stopped in the transfer block. There was no station control whatsoever so the wait for Fast Lane was about the same as the regular line. Getting into a row was a shit show. Half the day, the person at the entrance either wasn't trained in the loose articles policy or didn't care, so bags kept making it into the station, causing conflicts between guests and staff that could've been avoided and making the wait time even longer. i305 also looks like it's aged 10 years in 3. The track paint is badly faded and the trains looked like they needed a pressure wash or 3.

However, i305 was running amazingly, so if all their budget goes into keeping it running well, who cares about the paint. We got about 5 rides throughout the day and I can't believe how smooth it still is 12 years on. I really hope Intamin manages to sell another Giga coaster one of these years.

I also always seem to forget how wild Dominator is. It has an intensity unmatched by any other B&M flourless and generally kicks ass. Same thing here, though. The trains and restraint covers looked like they'd just been shipped in as used items from Six Flags America. Operations here were better but the crew still got flustered if there was any situation such as someone not fitting in a seat, and operations would slow to a stop for a few minutes because of it.

It's like all the training went to the employees running Twisted Timbers. They'd count down the gates closing, instruct people to do the usual "seat belts first, lap bars second", and 4/5 times they'd be dispatching by the time the other train was returning. I also finally found a way to enjoy the coaster a lot more. I love airtime as much as the next person but there's a repeated violence to TT that's always been a bit much for me. If you ride in the second to last car, it becomes way more re-rideable.

Now, some photos.

 

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The entrance plaza, signs, and Eiffel Tower with trees in full bloom.

 

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I accidentally made my bf a little bit nervous to ride i305 for the first time, so we warmed ourselves up by getting Dominated first.

 

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I love this coaster so much. Parks think we want more B&M Gigas, but what we really need is more of these.

 

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Nothing like a little booze to take the edge off the shit operations.

 

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Getting Twisted after getting a little twisted.

 

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This cat just hanging around in the park was the highlight of our day.

 

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Another view of Dominator. This seriously blows the rest of the B&M floorless coasters away.

 

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We actually forgot to get the credit on Tumbili. But from what I've read it wasn't on Fast Lane anyway.

 

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It's a photo finish! I love i305 so much and overall we had a good day at the park. But they need to do some serious work with employee training. And Cedar Fair should give them some paint/pressure washing budget.

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We went to the park today and it was pretty empty because of the rain chances.  Pretty much everything was a walk-on.   We were the 1st people in line for I305 and there was only 3 or 4 of us on the train.  Did a re-ride immediately upon getting off.  The station was still pretty empty but they made us walk all the war around for a 3rd ride.  They were have issues with one of the trains not showing all the seats closed.  They were finally able to get it out of the station but with no riders.  They took it off after it went around.

We were able to get 3 rides on Twisted Timbers after that and then on a few other coasters before the rain hit at about 11:10.  It rained for almost 3 hours after that.  We were able to get quite a few rides on everything else after 2:00.  The park was still pretty empty with just a few school groups. 

It ended up being a great day even with the rain.  We were able to do everything we planned with an hour to spare.  Ride operations were excellent at all the rides.  Staffing was quite good with quite a few supervisors working.

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^ I was at the park yesterday too. That's funny, both from the Phoenix area. I'm in Ahwatukee. Lot's of restaurants closed. Tough to find places to eat. I'll be back today with a buddy. I305 was closed for most of the "post rain" period. I ended up marathoning Dominator.

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We are actually live in Chandler.  I hike South Mountain on a regular basis from the Ahwatukee side.  We did Busch Gardens Williamsburg on Thursday and today.  Was really packed today but we did get a decent amount of rides in the first 2 hours.

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My son and I will be visiting the park on the second Tuesday in June on our way home from Busch Gardens.  Is it advisable to go ahead and get a fast lane for a Tuesday or just wait and see what the crowds are like once we get there?

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Visited the park for the first time with my wife this past Friday 6/3, had a great time! Biggest negative was that the park stated upon entry that the park was in "limited operating mode" due to "staffing issues". Due to this about half the dining locations were closed around lunch time, leading to some lines for food. Additionally, Flight of Fear was closed all day along with the Rapids and some kiddie rides. We stayed in the park until 5 pm, we got the fast lane plus prior to our visit (figured on a Friday after memorial day with only 2/3 of the day at the park), but we didn't need it at all! Lines were no more than 5-10 minutes on all the coaster all day long. Here's what we got done:

Dominator (1), Tumbili (2), I-305 (10), Anaconda (1), Backlot (1), Reptilian (1), Woodstock Express (1), Racer 75 (1), Grizzly (1), Apple Zapple (2), Twisted Timbers (5)

Obviously we prioritized getting a lot of rides on I-305 & Twisted Timbers. Also did a ride on the antique cars and the log flume, which happened to be the biggest lines of the day and the only ones we benefited from Fast Lane Plus on. 

 

A few thoughts on the park/rides: 

1) The park is very pretty! I was impressed with the landscaping and theming, specifically in Candy Apple Grove and Jungle Xpedition. 

2) The park has great merchandise! Really had to avoid the temptation of buying a bunch of stuff. 

3) Staffing was overall very friendly and helpful throughout the day. 

4) Operations weren't the best, but were alright and not too noticeable especially given the short wait times. Most rides were running multiple trains, the 3 wooden coasters only had one train. I agree that the ops for Twisted Timbers are great and it seemed like the staff for that ride was well trained. 

5) I-305 and Twisted Timbers alone are worth a visit! I had wanted to go on I-305 ever since it opened and it was always a top-5 bucket list coaster for me, and it didn't disappoint! I had heard a bunch about the intensity and it's definitely true! I enjoy intense rides so it wasn't a problem for me, although I was only able to ride 3 times in a row before my body started telling me I needed to take a break. I had also heard about the relentless airtime on Twisted Timbers, but man that thing still caught me off-guard! Probably the most laughs I've had on a ride on a long time! That ride definitely exceeded my expectations. 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Planning my first visit to this park on Monday, July 18th.  Should I expect a crowd?  I will likely purchase FL+ anyway to make sure I get to ride everything.  My visit to this park will follow on the heels of my first ever visit to Kings Island last summer.  That park did not disappoint.  How does KD stack up against KI?  Orion @KI was amazing but it sounds like I-305 might just surpass that.  

I have already read the great advice on hotels earlier in this thread.  Looking forward to reading some pro-tips and adding another park to my list!

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2 hours ago, Lotologist492 said:

Planning my first visit to this park on Monday, July 18th.  Should I expect a crowd?  I will likely purchase FL+ anyway to make sure I get to ride everything.  My visit to this park will follow on the heels of my first ever visit to Kings Island last summer.  That park did not disappoint.  How does KD stack up against KI?  Orion @KI was amazing but it sounds like I-305 might just surpass that.  

I have already read the great advice on hotels earlier in this thread.  Looking forward to reading some pro-tips and adding another park to my list!

Sadly, KD doesn't really hold a candle to KI, and I say that as KD being my home park.  I305 and Twisted Timbers are amazing top-tier rides, Reptilian/Avalanche is awesome, and Dominator may be the best floorless, but after that the coaster collection really falls on its face.  Otherwise they pretty much have the same collection of flats.  KD has a little more shade, but KI has the better food options and operations.  Fast Lane/Plus is also nowhere near as effective at KD, and isn't offered on quite a few rides.  Twisted Timbers now has the same stupid locker setup as Steel Vengeance, making FL be much less effective than it used to be.

Crowd's shouldn't be too bad on a non-holiday Monday, but anything is possible in this post-COVID world.

Oh, and I305 absolutely blows Orion out of the water; you will definitely be impressed.

I think you won't be disappointed, but temper your expectations.

As for strategy:

-I highly recommend FL+, even if it is less effective here than KI.  Note that you can redeem your voucher or buy it at almost any gift shop, not just the redemption center up front.  The following strategy involves working around that.
-Dominator and Berzerker (inverting ship) open a half hour before the rest of the park; if you get there at opening and are towards the front of the crowd, you should be able to bang both of these out with minimal waits.
-After that, once the rest of the park opens, start a clockwise circle by heading to Woodstock Express (not on FL, and standing in long lines with a bunch of kids is weird), Tumbili (not on FL) and Reptilian.  Even though the latter is on FL, the capacity on the ride is horrible.
-Next, head to Anaconda.  Not on FL, and not worth any kind of wait.
-Your next destination is Racer 75; not on FL and the line splits at the very start of the queue, unlike Racer at KI.  Might only be running one train on a Monday.
-Next is Apple Zapple; not on FL.
-After that, Grizzly.  Also not on FL, and though it won't get too much of a line all day, still not worth any kind of wait.
-From there, you can do what you want.  I'd suggest reversing the circle, and hitting the rides that you skipped because they were on on FL for the first lap.  By this time, Twisted Timbers has worked through its normal morning jitters and should be running consistently.

If you plan on doing the water park, don't forget to walk all the way to the back of it; there's a whole 'nother section back there that's kinda hidden.

Let me know if you need any further tips.

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