Diamondback debuts at Kings Island
Published: April 17, 2009 at 11:31 PM
Every once in a while though, a day comes along, and I'm reminded that sometimes it's not so bad in Ohio. Today was one of those days.
Today was media day at Kings Island, and I previewed one of the biggest rides to hit the park. Diamondback is an out-and-back hypercoaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, the company responsible for several of the highest rated coasters in the country. Strangely enough, this is the first B&M coaster at Kings Island. Many fans see this one as a long time coming, as previous management had always seemed to avoid using them for new rides.
Here are the numbers for everyone:
Height: 230 ft
Angle: 74 degrees
Track Length: 5282 ft
The first thing that caught my eye about Diamondback is the way that it's draped across the midway in Rivertown. The first drop and last helix pass over the main walkway between the Beast and Nick Central, giving pedestrians a close up of its height and speed. For those of you wondering, there is no theme here. There are no video screens or special effects... no storyline, nothing but gravity and power, which quite frankly is all this ride needs.
Entering the station, the thing I noticed the most is the new train design. The seats are reclined a bit and staggered, giving the cars a roomier feel. After being seated, most feet do not reach the floor, giving the ride a floorless quality even though there actually is a floor to the train. The trains also have absolutely no sides....not an inch. Quite simply it looks like a couple of stools bolted to a metal floor. This feature adds a very real element of apprehension for some riders, even though the trains are safe. The cars add an element of freedom to the ride, almost as if there is actually no seat at all for you to sit in.
While on the subject of sitting in seats I'll say this. You will spend as much time out of your seat as you do in it on Diamondback. The airtime provided by the 12 steep drops on the ride is some of the longest air I've ever experienced. From the top of the first drop to the end, the front seat seemed to be one continuous negative G, only putting you back in your seat at the very bottom of the hills and firmly planting you there during the helixes, and the inverted turn at the back of the track...affectionately known to coaster fans as a "hammerhead turn". Even the back seat provided some air, although the out of control feeling of being pulled rather than pushed is what people will like about the back of the train.
Rider reaction was pretty much unanimous. Everyone loved it...well almost everyone. I caught a glimpse of Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory after his ride. I don't know what photo of him will appear in the paper, but I'm thinking he was there for the publicity only, because he didn't look too hot when he stepped out of the train. Most were blown away by the ride, and quick to deem it the best ride in the park. Some Beast fans may take exception to that, but even they had to admit that Diamondback is indeed an amazing ride.
As for me, I was more than amazed. The best comparison I can make is this: It's Apollo's Chariot on steroids. It's taller, faster, steeper, has more airtime, and the train adds an X-factor that sets it apart from its peers. Half of the track is hidden from view, the helix and splashdown provide an exciting ending, and the reride value is off the charts. Kings Island has hit the proverbial home run with Diamondback, and I predict that it will be at the top of many coaster lists for years to come.