"Isn't it great that Six Flags bought the place?"
I don't know how many people I had to correct during the day. Everywhere I turned, people were commenting on Six Flags' recent purchase of Kentucky Kingdom, oblivious to the fact that they had it exactly backward. After all, it is more accurate (though less precise) to say that Kentucky Kingdom actually bought Six Flags.
I entered the park and noted the Warner Brothers cartoon figures standing around the fountain and the Animaniacs music on the PA system. I would probably be an Animaniacs fan, if only the show were aired at a time when I can actually watch...
I headed for the Vampire, a Vekoma Boomerang with an Arrow train. I rode in the back of the train, and it was a much smoother ride than I remembered. I did think it interesting that the exit gates snapped open as the train flew through the station at about 50 mph, though...
In the past, I have referred to this park as "Vekoma Kingdom" because of a preponderance of Dutch rides...the Vampire, the Quake, the ferris wheel, the Roller Skater, and of course T^2. But perhaps that is not so accurate. I rode Bluebeard's Bounty (Pirat), the Skyrider (Rainbow), and the Enterprise, and suddenly realized I had just ridden three consecutive Huss rides. And I hadn't been back to the Bee Bee or the Break Dance yet. Five Huss rides in one park...that's a heck of a collection!
I did notice that they've added a tether strap to each of the doors on the Enterprise...the strap wraps around the release knob. I don't know; something about that just doesn't look right to me.
I crossed the bridge and took a ride on Chang. Some shade in the queue would be nice. So would a second train. Interesting: I waited about 30 minutes in the blazing sun as they ran one train. When I returned to the ride later in the day, the ride was a walk-on...running both trains.
Chang just felt slow to me. It looks a lot like Mantis, but to me, it seems that Chang feels slower, less violent, and less interesting than Mantis. I realize Chang is a bigger ride, and it has a higher top speed, I simply like Mantis better. Of course, the other problem is that my favorite spot on Mantis...the S-curve...does not exist on Chang.
After my first ride on Chang, I wandered over to...
Load: 14 (7x2)
Ride Time: 2:10
Hourly Capacity: 536 pph
See, T^2 was running two trains by the time I got to it, so I managed to get capacity figures for it. Fortunately, the two-train operation and small crowd made for a brief wait in the unshaded queue. It is worth noting that the Vekoma SLC scores over the B&M inverted coasters in one important regard...T^2's height requirement is a mere 52" rather than the usual 54". Now on to the ride...
Yipe! An SLC that rides like Iron Dragon! T^2 is the ride directly responsible for the term "hang & bang." Easily the worst in its class, T^2 gives new meaning to the term "headbanging", made worse by the oversize ear pads on the shoulder bars. I am not kidding...T^2 makes The Outer LIMits: Flight of Fear look like a mild ride in comparison! On Outer LIMits, the headbanging is due to the ride profile. On T^2, it is severe mistracking. Those cars do not follow the track properly at all. Yeesh! Ouch! Yow!
In related news, someone said something about the T^2 sign having been taken down. This is not the case, but I can see why one might think this. At the ride entrance, there is a yellow canvas sign with the height requirement and related information. The T^2 sign is missing from this sign, along with many of the other letters. But the gigantic "T" planted in the flower bed in front of the station is still there in all its glory. Personally, I suspect that by the end of this season, the height signs will all be replaced because many of them are in bad shape.
Another flat ride note...
Great Race (under construction): This ride appeared a year or two ago behind the Carousel, and is now being moved to a location behind T^2. I've never seen it operate, but I mention it because it looks like a giant-size kiddie ride. In my PKI report I said, "I begin to worry that PKI's next major flat ride will be built on a Hampton center!" This prompted at least one person to comment that he thought it might be kind of neat provided it was adult-sized. Well, I don't know for sure, but it looks like that may be happening at Kentucky Kingdom.
Chaos: I've never seen a black Chaos before. As previously noted, this ride does not have the usual Chaos signage
Twisted Sisters - Stella:
When I approached the Twisted Sisters, Stella was running; Lola was not. The Gerstlauer trains are certainly interesting, and they have good and bad points.
Good: The trains have adequate space. There is sufficient legroom, and there is no seat divider. In fact, inside, the cars remind me of a late-1970's Arrow Runaway Train. The rear axle on each car is clearly able to bank left or right, seemingly with more clearance than a PTC axle. I couldn't tell if anything else can rotate or not, but for the moment at least, these trains track well. The ratcheting lap bars have nice strong return springs so they stay where you put them. They are also not double-acting...when the release is hit, either with the plunger in the station or via the foot pedal at the back of the car, they spring open. No torque-lock here! The cars are really neat-looking...you just want to drive one of them home. The seat backs are just the right height, and I actually like having all the exra hand-holds above the sides of the seat.
Bad: The cars have Fiberglas shells and are apparently fairly lightweight. The ratcheting lap bar is about 2" too narrow for my comfort, but it isn't too bad. The chassis appears to be so similar to the PTC that these don't have a lateral swivel, either. Not a problem on this track, but it is the kind of deficiency which can eventually result in torn-up track. The headlights are apparently non-functional. And the seats are unpadded. Well, they are covered with that useless hard-foam stuff, but they are mostly unpadded. If the track starts to get rough, this ride will generate complaints at a lower threshhold than Thunder Run will. But on brand-new CCI track, that isn't a problem. Not just yet. Oh, and the head of the rear-axle spindle protrudes into the rear footwell and has a sharp edge...a plastic cap over that head might be a good idea.
Bottom line: I kind of like them, but they are far from perfect. They're not the answer some of us have been waiting for.
Stella is a neat ride, most definately a back-seat ride for seat-yanking airtime and very strong laterals. Definately a "theme-park woodie" though...she just doesn't have the gravity-defying intensity of a Raven or Shivering Timbers...overall, she feels like a slower ride, more like Hoosier Hurricane.
They finally got Lola running, so I headed for the back of the train. Er, no, I forgot about the Sisters' unique station design, where the trains travel through in opposite directions, so I ended up in the front seat. Up front, there is minimal airtime on the first drop, but the top of the second hill is an ejection followed by a float all the way over. This is more like it! Up, down, left, and right, Lola treats her riders to an extravagant display of roller-coaster affection. She's even wilder in the back. This is where a bit of padding on the seats would be nice. I mean, granted I'm not the world's most physical guy, but when I landed hard I near to broke my spine riding Lola.
The dueling nature is interesting, consisting of three spots on the ride. The trains pass each other heading up the lifts, then head straight towards each other on the first drop. The rides go their seperate ways, and meet again on a couple of turnarounds. Pity there is a railing between the tracks as they pass by each other in what would otherwise be a neat hat-passing moment. Another interesting by-product of the layout is the design of the station. As on any racing coaster, the tracks pass through the station side by side. They are loaded from the outside, and unloaded to the inside. The trains are brought in and out with advancing wheels, as the station is perfectly level. The reason for this becomes obvious when you realize that while the trains are side by side, they are heading in opposite directions!
Looking at the structures around Twisted Sisters...Could this be a future Yukon Territory? The Zeppelin ride has been moved back near Twisted Sisters, along with a couple of games joints and a food stand and a gift shop. The Huss Bee-Bee, called Thriller Bees, is also back here. It is a neat ride, basically a small version of Kennywood's Swing Around.But Huss screwed up with this one. They molded protrusions into the seat which can make for a rather uncomfortable ride if you don't happen to be exactly the right size. Why not stick with a flat bench seat??
Thunder Run is running well, but I had forgotten just how potent the airtime was right after the high-speed turnaround. I got launched from my seat with such force that I was grabbing for any hand-hold I could find. Wow! I remember this ride being good, but not THAT good! And this was in the second car! Early in the day, Thunder Run's crew was dispatching trains about as fast as humanly possible with only one train, behavior I had also witnessed on Twisted Sisters. I was wondering what everyone on r.r-c had been complaining about. But I never got to ride in the back of the train because when I returned to Thunder Run late in the day to ride both ends, a different crew was working. Ah. This was the problem. Two people with bad attitudes moving slow as molasses, watching the line build and dispatching trains at about a (no, I'm not kidding) ten minute dispatch interval. Wow. What a difference a couple of hours made. Worse yet, the waterpark had just closed, so the crowd had suddenly grown larger. I took a ride, then went back to Twisted Sisters.
A few more random notes before I wrap this up...
Kent....er...Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is still a medium size regional park. It has a long way to go before it can be considered a world-class amusement center, but they're working on it. Kings Island had better be careful, because the Kingdom is starting to do things right. This park is one to watch for the next few seasons...and certainly worth a visit if you happen to be in the neighborhood even now.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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