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Diamondback debuts at Kings Island

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Published: April 17, 2009 at 11:31 PM

In Ohio, the economy is in the toilet, and the winters are too cold. The orange road cone is the state plant, and the roads on which they grow still don't seem to be fixed. Ohio is way behind the times in most respects, and seemingly refuses to catch up. Truth be told, a lot of the time Ohio is just plain boring.

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
Speed: 80mph
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.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on April 17, 2009 at 11:51 PM
Thanks, Derek, for that great report! Sounds like it was a fun day. Did they have any information about the ride's hourly capacity, or do you have any sense what kind of waits folks can expect for the ride this summer?
From James Rao on April 18, 2009 at 4:23 AM
Sounds like an awesome coaster, Derek. Thanks for the great report, nice pictures, and the tongue-in-cheek intro. Good stuff.

So, how does D-back compare to your beloved Millennium Force?

Anyway, not sure when I will get the family to King's Island (probably not until at least both boys reach the magical 54" mark), but when I do you can bet I will be among the first in line for Diamondback that day!

From Derek Potter on April 18, 2009 at 5:40 AM
No question that people will flock to this ride, so expect the line to be long. The hourly capacity rating is 1600 riders. Given that the ride lasts a full 3 minutes, I think that they will be able to keep at least 3 trains on the track and keep people moving as quickly as possible. Despite a few hiccups, trains were dispatched very quickly. They also have a single rider line, and will likely do a lot of assigned seating to combat the lines. One note to passholders, you get early access to Diamondback (and Beast) daily this year. I highly suggest you use it.


One incident of note that I forgot to mention is a tribute to management and park dedication to safety. The ride ops stopped the train before mine in the middle of the first lift. One of the ops spotted someone with a camera on the ride, tied off to the safety cable, walked up, and took the camera away. They promptly started the ride back up after he got down.

To answer your question James, the jury is still out for me on which is better. Diamondback's first drop isn't as tall, steep, or fast as Millennium, and the design is a more traditional out and back style that pays attention to hills, rather than the "flying in a jet" kind of style of Millennium. I likes me some airtime though, and Diamondback deals it out heavily. That front seat is something else.

Put it this way, if Diamondback and Millennium cross each other in next year's tournament...I will agonize greatly over which one to pick.

From steve lee on April 18, 2009 at 5:46 AM
You mean to tell me people were trying to sneak cameras onto the coaster at flipping Media Day?!? How idiotic.

Great report, Derek. I'm filled to the brim with steaming hot jealousy.

From steve lee on April 18, 2009 at 9:47 AM
Folks currently in the park are reporting that the line for Diamondback is snaking (sorry) through the Nick Central area out to International Street, then heads up International Street to where the entrance to Beast is. I just heard from one person who was in line for 3.5 hours.
From Derek Potter on April 18, 2009 at 10:16 AM
There haven't been lines like that for a long time. I'm reminded of when Vortex opened in '87. It's in the back of the park, and the line stretched clear to the front of the park. I was just a kid, and I still remember that. I wonder if that's an indication of how full the park is, or an indication of Diamondback's popularity...or both perhaps. It's a beautiful day for the park today.

To be fair to the media, there were other people at media day as well. A lot of them were friends/family of the construction company or park management. I'm guessing they were the likely culprits.

My wife and I shot video and took pictures from all angles. Security was good enough to escort media into some restricted areas to allow some filming. I saw a few camera phones pass by on the backstretch.

From Mark Mahoney on April 18, 2009 at 11:13 AM
Apollo's Chariot on steroids? Wow! That's a lot to live up to!
From Joshua Counsil on April 18, 2009 at 11:40 AM
This looks fantastic. Great report.
From Erin B on April 18, 2009 at 12:23 PM
I need to stop reading about this coaster and watching POV videos, it's making me so anxious to ride it! Thanks for all the info!
From Todd Houts on April 18, 2009 at 3:03 PM
Derek, from what you describe, sounds like it may be closer to Behemoth at Canada's Wonderland. Riding that put Apollo's Chariot to shame. Can't wait until I get the chance to try out Diamondback as that is a lot closer for me than Toronto.

Thanks for the report!

From Derek Potter on April 18, 2009 at 4:43 PM
It is very similar to Behemoth. I just figured that most on TPI would have a better understanding of an Apollo comparison.
From Brandon Mendoza on April 18, 2009 at 7:09 PM
I have only one word... WOW
From steve lee on April 18, 2009 at 7:11 PM
In what has to be the most amazing piece of news I've heard in the last ten minutes, apparently the folks at KI know how to efficiently run a single rider line! A friend said he used it this morning and was on and off the ride in ten minutes (while the regular line was running around to Beast).

Considering my ladyfriend doesn't ride the coasters, this might just be bearable!

From 75.179.157.92 on April 18, 2009 at 8:10 PM
I think Kings Inland will have a very good year. We waited 1.5 hours Friday night (the day before the park opened) just to get our picture taken for our season passes. They were supposed to close by 8:00, but we were done at 8:30 and the line was still at about 1.5 hours.
From Ty Mullins on April 19, 2009 at 9:58 AM
Mistakes made...

The kids' area within the park is Nickelodeon Universe, not Nick Central. It was redone in 2006.

Also, the coaster does not travel over the midway between Nickelodeon Universe and Rivertown. All of Diamondback is located in and above Rivertown- Nickelodeon Universe is a good 70-yards away from Diamondback's first drop.

From Derek Potter on April 19, 2009 at 2:14 PM
I always love it when my knowledge of the park I've attended several times a year for 25 years is called into question.

The first drop travels right over the walkway, as does the helix to the splashdown. Unless you are blind Ty.. or didn't really read the report and just decided to throw your two cents in, you know that people walking between the Beast entrance and toward Nick Universe, (my apologies for using the old name Nick Central, the names are just so different) got a nice closeup view of the coaster. If you want video or pictures from several angles, I would be happy to post them. Also, The Wild Thornberries River Adventure and the Phantom Flyers (both Nick Universal rides) rest rather close across the way to the entrance of Diamondback, which is behind the Rivertown Junction Grill that used to be called Wings Diner, which prior to that was called the Columbia Palace before Ty was born.

Yes, the ride is in Rivertown..which I believe I mentioned in the report, but the entrance is close enough to Nick Universe to describe it as "in between", and people who have never visited Kings Island (or don't know it that well) would perhaps like a little more description than "The ride is in Rivertown".

I'm curious though Tombraider Ty (or should it be The Crypt Ty)...o'young moderator of KI Extreme (which is a great site by the way), how did you like the ride?

From James Rao on April 19, 2009 at 5:09 PM
PWND? Don't mess with Derek - he'll bring out the horns everytime! ;)
From 205.188.116.68 on April 20, 2009 at 9:13 AM
I sure hope a coaster like this is in the future for
Carowinds in 2010
From steve lee on April 20, 2009 at 2:34 PM
Judging by the response to Behemoth and Diamondback, I think this is almost certainly the way they'll go with the 2010 project. I'm not sure about the location, but I hope they manage to make the park visually appealing (it's supposed to be close to the front, so here's hoping no parking lot moments).

I'd like to take a moment and point out that I was wrong. Back when Cedar Fair bought the Paramount parks, I steadfastly argued that this was exactly what they weren't going to do (drop hypers in each park). Looks like I was wrong. That doesn't mean I'm thrilled with CF being in charge of the joint, but I'm most assuredly eating crow.

From Charles Reichley on April 20, 2009 at 8:03 PM
This looks cool, and I'm looking forward to riding this summer. I'm hoping the ride lines will have died down a bit by them, but at least we should get one good ride in the morning before the crowd gets there.

Are they managing the ride line for those who get there before the park opens? For the Behemoth, they were (sometimes) trying to set up the line before they opened the area, and then walking the line to the ride.

I've ridden Apollo's chariot and Behemoth, and except for the seats on teh Behemoth being really cool, I like Apollo's chariot a bit more for the overall ride.

Plus it is kind of fun to sit with the entire family in one row......

From Derek Potter on April 21, 2009 at 1:27 PM
There's another sign pointed towards one of these babies for Carowinds next year. To add to all the rumors, some new different colored track has been spotted at the Ohio factory that manufactures track pieces for B&M. With the success of Behemoth and the apparent success of Diamondback, it makes sense. A new coaster like this at Carowinds would do great things for their attendance.

From what I've heard and read, the line for Diamondback moved very quickly and was rarely more than 3 hours. Given the size of the lines as seen on fansites and the webcam, I would say that they did a pretty good job. I don't expect the lines to let up for this one anytime soon.

From 74.202.50.82 on April 22, 2009 at 2:32 PM
I was in line for Diamondback around 9:45 right before the park officially opened to non-passholders. We were right past the entrance to The Crypt and it only took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to weave around the park and get on the ride. We stayed the whole day and the line was never even close to that length again...so I don't know how people could have possibly waited 3 or 3 and a half hours.

Anyway, great roller coaster with amazing air time. It's right up there with The Beast as one of the best coasters at Kings Island.

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