"This is pathalogically stupid."
This would be a very unusual visit to Kings Island. My Mom had a meeting to attend in the Cincinnati area early on Monday morning, so she called up and proposed a trip to Kings Island. Now I have been to Kings Island quite a lot already this season, but why would I even consider turning down such an offer? Mom rounded up Dad, I rounded up the best ticket deal I could find, and on Sunday morning we platooned our way down to Kings Island, stopping at their hotel to get them checked in and to drop off one of the cars. Then it was off to the park to re-enact our own version of a Brady Bunch episode.
The park had a rather light crowd, unexpectedly light given that it was a rather nice day (apart from a light rain shower across town). We made immediately for the Italian Job: down International Street, left at the clock, around the ride, past the burger joint. When we got to the ride, Mom complained about all the walking. I pointed out to her that at Cedar Point we wouldn't be down the main midway yet. We discussed the park layout and the fact that it's not terribly huge, but there is an awful lot of walking around stuff.
When we got back to the ride, we were denied access. Instead, an attendant was handing out timed tickets. Meanwhile, the ride, which was running all three trains, was running half-empty. Our tickets indicated that we should come back in an hour. I noted that Kings Island had apparently learned nothing from Cedar Point's disasterous "Ticket to Ride" program on Millennium Force five years ago, and we headed over to ride Flight of Fear.
When we got to Flight of Fear, the queue house hanger was nearly full, meaning we had about a 40-minute wait. If ever a ride needed operational help, this is it. I don't know what the problem is, but it takes far too long to load and check the train. Once it is loaded and checked, then it simply takes way too long for them to get around to actually launching the train. A lot of the trouble seems to be related to the safety belt: people don't know that it is supposed to attach to the lap bar, it is in an awkward location, and it's not especially easy for an attendant to check. I wonder if that couldn't be replaced with something simpler, maybe a swing-down latching arm something like the secondary on a Chance Inverter...
Anyway, we rode in the front of the train. I noticed that they've eased up on the mid-course brakes a bit; I wonder if they are tweaking the launch speed and then adjusting the mid-course accordingly over the course of the season. We pulled into the unloading station, and I do believe Mom and Dad actually liked it. But it was time for our appointment with the Italian Job.
When we got to the Italian Job, the ride was still running with three trains, and was still running half-empty. There was a steady stream of ticket holders arriving at the ride, but they were not arriving fast enough to keep the ride busy. To make matters worse, ticket holders were being directed to the main queue entrance and forced to walk all the way down past the launch track, around the queue maze, and back up the hill to the ride entrance right where they started, the across the bridge and into the empty station, where the attendants were assigning seats. I couldn't understand any of this. The ride was built with an express entrance directly from the entrance, across the bridge, and into the station...why were they not using it? In addition to saving everybody a whole lot of walking, using that ramp might let them get people up to the station fast enough that they could actually fill the trains. And then, given that there was no wait for the ride, why in hell were they not letting people choose their own seats?
I managed to finagle us a ride in the first car. Predictably, Mom and Dad liked the ride, and wanted to ride again, which, of course, we couldn't do. We picked up three more tickets, which told us to come back in three hours. Meanwhile, an empty train cruised down the launch track. Dad and I shook our heads in amazement.
The three of us took a ride on the train, where we learned that today was a gold-pass preview day for the waterpark. Rides followed on Rugrat's Runaway Reptar Roller Coaster and on the Beastie. Two more coasters, two more good reviews. Only trouble was, we were getting hungry. This meant lunch at Bubba Gump's, where the Fish and Chips is a better deal than the fish sandwich, and the food is about the best Kings Island food you'll find in the park.
We finished our lunch with just enough time to spare to get back over to the Italian Job for another ride. On the way we tried to stop at Adventure Express, but that ride was mysteriously closed. That seems to be happening a lot this season; I wonder what is up with that. Italian Job was once again an excellent ride, although this time we didn't get shot at. So I guess it is still in a "technical rehearsal" of sorts. It was still a walk-on with not enough people to fill the trains, thanks o the ticket system...and it was still running all three trains. Of all the new coasters Kings Island has put in, this one seems to be the most trouble-free this early in the season. It's also the first Kings Island coaster in a long time that looks like it has a fighting chance at running 'on interval', which is to say at something resembling its theoretical hourly capacity. That is to say, it could possibly approach capacity if they would let people actually get in line for the damned thing. When we got off, tickets were still available, but for very late in the day, when it was far from certain that we would still be in the park. We'd had to circle around to this ride three times already to get our two rides. Instead, we went around and rode Scooby Doo, where all three of the guns seemed to be malfunctioning and we all got lousy scores. It's a shame, too...Dad and I both dislike Scooby Doo, and he would have enjoyed blasting the living crap out of that miserable mutt. 8-)
We went up the tower for a good aerial view of the park, then finished up our tour with a ride on Top Gun. Mom and Dad both had bad things to say about the long walk back to the station and the ririculously short ride. They also agreed that it was a decent coaster. I'm just not sure they agreed that it was worth the walk. In fact, the walking was taking its toll on all of us. We took a moment to watch Congo Falls in action, and as we watched, we saw a young monkey standing up in the boat on the drop, then climbing over the seats as the boat cruised back to the station. This was the most egregious example of rider misconduct I have seen in a long time, so I grabbed Mom's digital camera and snapped a photo, then beat it for the ride exit in an effort to get there before the kid did. Lucky for him, I didn't quite make it. I showed the operator, who had seen this kid's stunts, and I was a little annoyed to learn that the only action taken was to tell him not to return to the ride for the day. Grrr...it's idiot kids like that who ruin rides for the rest of us.
We walked through the sad shell of what was once the Festhaus, we rode the Carousel (and noted that if the song playing on the band organ didn't have different lyrics from the ones my grandfather taught us, then it wasn't entirely family friendly!), and Mom took a tour of the Emporium gift shop.
Mom was disappointed that we didn't get another ride or two on the Italian Job, and quite frankly, so was I. This was a case where the park instituted a queue management system which had the effect of cutting the rides we could take, diminishing ride capacity, and in our case increasing the amount of walking we had to do in the park by such a significant amount that it actually reduced our time of stay. For the most part we had a good time, but we were worn out, and the one ride we all wanted to ride again...we couldn't. So we cut the day short at around 8:00 and went to Culver's for dinner.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
Back to Trip Reports 2005
Back to the Trip Report Archive
Back to Dave's Adventures
Back to Dave's page.