"I'm having fun, dammit!"
I didn't arrive until about 9:50, so I missed the The Beast walk-back. Instead, I got in line with the mob at the limit-rope. We waited there until precisely 10:00am, then proceeded in an orderly fashion back to The Beast.
Load: 36 (6x3x2)
To ready brake: 4:11
To station: 5:14
Hourly Capacity: 945 pph
Notes on interval:
Dispatch to arrival of next train: 1:13
Dispatch to safety brake: 0:29
Dispatch to base of lift: 0:40
Time for load/unload: 1:04
In other words, while the load time is too long (should be closer to 0:40), the long interval is not entirely the fault of the crew...the computer program is FAR too conservative for reasonable capacity.
Well, it's long. Except for a little washboard action between the helix and the station, it's smooth. Of course, when the whole tran is lifted from the rails and sliding on a brake skid, it is going to naturally be pretty smooth. It just works out that way. The Beast wants to have a nice moment of airtime going over the second hill...and in fact the wheels do leave the track there. But the train is far too slow at that point, and the only reason it lifts wheels is because of the brake skids. The Beast pretty much stinks today. 8-(
Outer LIMits: Flight of Fear:
Load: 20 (5x2x2)
To ready brake: 1:15
To station: 1:40
Hourly Capacity: 907 pph
Why does Kings Island do this? They have this extensive pre-show in the air-conditioned queue house, then they shunt everyone right past it, leaving most people waiting outside in the summer heat watching QTV. About the only queue theming we get to see or hear is that awful rumble from under the stairs leading into the saucer. I wonder if the harmonic vibrations are inducing structural damage into those steps. The rumble is THAT LOUD.
This ride would be amazing if it weren't for the shoulder bars. Shoulder bars do not belong on this ride. Shoulder bars are causing injuries on this ride. Shoulder bars are UNSAFE on this ride. This needs to change. The ride gets smoother every time I ride it, but it still hurts. I really REALLY want to like this ride, but every time I get off, I hurt. Now I have a sore upper arm four days after riding. I don't know if it is because of Outer LIMits or something else, but that ride can't have helped, and the sore spot is right where my arm gets pinned in between the car body and the shoulder bar. Please, Paramount, get creative. Get rid of the shoulder bars. PLEASE!
note - April 1, 2002:
Load: 30 (5x3x2)
To ready brake: 2:02
To unload: 2:50
Hourly Capacity: 864 pph
OUCH!! Dammit, that HURT! I can now say with certainty that under the thick upholstery, the Racer has the same solid-foam seatbacks as Mean Streak. And if you are jammed against it tightly enough, it is just as painful. Racer tracks pretty well, though it is slightly rougher than The Beast. The crew is a little slow but good about not jamming lap bars. Pity the train refuses to maintain the favor, dropping lap bars at unexpected moments such as while I am deliciously airborne. Grrrrr.......Anyway, this is followed by a nasty jerk as the brake on the turnaround catches the last two or three cars.
I failed to take any measurements on the recaR, but its statistics should be similar. Can you believe that the Beastie has a higher hourly capacity? I think that any time the dispatch interval is longer than the total ride time on a multi-train ride, there is something wrong.
Trains: 2 (#1 was sitting on the storage track)
Load: 30 (5x3x2)
Ride Time: 2:39
Hourly Capacity: 1048
The new brake is NOT...repeat, is NOT...being used to slow the train on this ride. In fact, the only brakes on the course are the transition brakes for the lift hills. The new brake is operating, though...if you watch the caliper from the queue, you can see it close after the train passes and re-open when the train gets well onto the first lift. It is worth noting that on The Beast and on Racer, the brakes just ahead of the transfer switches behave the same way.
Of the three Runaway Train coasters I have ridden, Adventure Express is by far the best. I also think it interesting that running two 30-passenger trains, Adventure Express moves more people per hour than the three 36-passenger trains on The Beast. The "creaking" noises on the first lift were working, but there was no mist, and the spears didn't pop out of the tunnel walls. This is one of very few coasters that can usually elicit a blood-curdling scream from me, right when the train starts down that incredible drop from the second lift hill...
Load: 28 (7x2x2)
To safeties: 2:20
To readies: 2:40
To station: 3:51
Hourly Capacity: 1095 pph
The first half of Vortex is running a lot better than it did the last time I rode it...faster and smoother. Another thing I noticed was that while I still hate shoulder bars, the ones on Vortex are a lot less annoying and painful than the ones provided by Premier, B&M, and Vekoma simply because they don't extend above my ears. There is a little lateral hunting, but only one moment...as the train falls out of the first corkscrew because it isn't going fast enough...where the wheels are squeaking. Vortex is a pretty good ride...I'm beginning to understand why it seems to be the prototype against which all Arrow multi-loopers are judged.
Load: 28 (7x2x2)
To readies: 2:04
To station: 2:47
Hourly Capacity: 924 pph
This is a wonderful ride. I wish Big Bad Wolf and Iron Dragon had the kind of smooth ride that Top Gun has...it tracks really well, it is fast and quiet, and it is just an incredible coaster. Unfortunately, it is also very SHORT, only about 50 seconds from the lift to the brakes. Imagine what kind of a ride it could give if it actually used up some of that energy the train has when it slams into the safety brakes. The other problem with this ride is its location. It's a REALLY long walk from the entrance to the platform. On a positive note, this ride is getting some much-needed attention. The 'phantom' hoist is operating again, there is themed audio in the queue house again, the computer display showing aircraft status is working again...the way things are looking for that ride, I wouldn't be suprised if they bring back the smoke on the loading platform. Note that while the theming on the ride is being rehabbed, the crewmen still do not return salutes from civilians. 8-)
Load: 24 (6x2x2)
To station: 2:15
Hourly Capacity: 919
For the first time in a long time I actually managed to get the shoulder bar to close a bit because I ended up with the seat too high. Not so high as to cause...ummm...discomfort, but high enough that I didn't fit quite the way I usually do. I ended up a little less stable than usual, and suffered some minor body-banging as a result. I don't think King Cobra is going away anytime soon...and I don't just say that because of Buck's recent comment. But I wonder if King Cobra might not be up for a name change. I noticed quite a bit of new "Cobra" merchandise...could Republicanism be sweeping into Paramount's Island, resulting in the downfall of the long-time monarchy?
note - April 1, 2002:
King Cobra was, in fact, removed...but just before the start of the 2002 season, 3-1/2 years after this report was written. And until the day it was removed, it was still called King Cobra.
Load: 20 (5x2x2)
To station: 1:41
Hourly Capacity: 900 pph
I still can't believe they put a trim brake on this one. Or that its capacity is almost typical for a Kings Island coaster. It's still fun, and it scores points for having the only traditional lap bar in the whole park.
Scooby's Ghoster Coaster:
Load: 2 (1x2x1)
To brakes: 0:55
To unload: 1:08
Hourly Capacity: 150 pph
The day this unique ride opened, the operators were shoving the single cars through the station as fast as they possibly could, resulting in an hourly capacity of 96 pph. With the addition of a fourth car and some tweaking of the elevator, the ride time is down by seven seconds and the capacity is up by more than 50%, to 150 pph. Still pathetic for a coaster until you realize that each car only holds two people, and that this coaster has the shortest dispatch interval of any coaster in the park!
Finally, some notes on the park and my visit there...
First of all, an area where Kings Island has improved dramatically. The ride attendants are still somewhat less than fully efficient, and they still load trains wordlessly. But in the few instances where I actually talked with park employees...mostly in food service, where I expect to find surly people who hate their jobs...I encountered some of the most pleasant, friendly people I have met in parks this season. Let me extend a special recognition to the young woman who sold me a corndog under the Racer.
But all is not well in the Kingdom.
It certainly appears that one of the most important activities that Kings Island is working on is per-cap spending. I had a bratwurst lunch for a very reasonable $4.30 (though the $2 small beverage is outrageous, as at almost all parks). But the park is filled with extra-pay activities...extremely expensive games, shops, food stands, and the $7 climbing wall. To my suprise, people actually pay these prices for this stuff. It occurs to me that perhaps the real key is that Kings Island sells lots of season passes, and that people who didn't just fork out $33 to enter the park are more free-spending once inside.
But while PKI works to cut costs and increase per-caps, they seem to be neglecting their obligations in the "fun" department. The Beast was CRAWLING. I walked off of Outer LIMits with a headache and possibly an injury. A ride on the Racer had disasterous results. By Noon, I was reminding myself that I was supposed to be enjoying myself. But it seems to me that if I am reminding myself that I am supposed to be having fun, obviously I'm NOT having fun. It isn't fun to be injured on a ride because of ill-conceived "safety" measures. And it isn't baseless whining when coaster enthusiasts complain when a park mistreats a ride. We coaster nuts complain because we know that things can be better; that things don't have to be the way they are. The majority of the park visitors don't complain to the park because they DON'T KNOW any better, and because they assume that there aren't any other options. And the parks assume that everything is OK. So why do I hear customers getting off of coasters complaining about the same things we enthusiasts complain about? Why do I hear customers grumbling about the $2 drinks? And more to the point, why don't the parks seem to hear...and act on...these grumblings?
I don't have the answers. All I know is that I spent a day at Kings Island and emerged battered and bruised from riding coasters, many of which simply weren't that enjoyable. Sure, Kings Island has its good points. But it seems to me that a lot of the FUN is missing from that park. And I find that disturbing.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Next: Cedar Point
Back to the 1998 Park Visits index
Back to Dave's Adventures
Back to Dave's page...