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Kings Island closes Son of Beast

By Robert Niles
Published: June 22, 2009 at 1:48 PM
Just got a report that Kings Island has closed the Son of Beast roller coaster amid a state investigation of the ride.

Son of Beast at Kings Island

A 2006 accident sent two dozen riders to the hospital, and was later found to be the result of broken timbers on the wooden coaster. The ride closed then for an extended state investigation and repairs. New trains were installed in 2007, but the ride continues to suffer a painful reputation.

Kings Island fans, what are you hearing?

Readers' Opinions

From 98.212.83.236 on June 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM
Was it the design of the cars that caused the timbers to fail? If not, why replace the cars when the timbers were the cause of the accident. Why wouldn't they fix and check the wooden timbers. Doesn't make me feel secure enough to ride it again...
From 166.137.132.138 on June 22, 2009 at 2:37 PM
They took out the loop. So they no longer needed trains capable of inversions.
From 98.25.162.18 on June 22, 2009 at 2:56 PM
I have not been on this ride for around 5 years nor will I ever be on it again! Worst headache afterwards ever from riding a coaster! 1 and done for son of beast! Now The Beast, That is one of the sweetest coasters ever!
From 72.49.153.47 on June 22, 2009 at 3:00 PM
I was on the ride a few weeks before it broke in 2006, and then again in 2007 with the new trains. Personally, I think the loop was the best part because it was a break from the roughness.

However, I liked the coaster overall. In and of itself, it was a really magnificent. If they decided to take it out, I'd base my reaction on what would go in its place. Another wooden coaster would be nice. Maybe one designed by GCI?

Still not quite sure what to think. :\ I'll wait and see.

From Eli Katzman on June 22, 2009 at 4:26 PM
Oh no! I'm not a KI fan, but I like to keep up with my amusement parks... (I followed diamondback's construction for the WHOLE time) anyway, I'm also going later this year or next to KI for the first time! I had always thought that the first trains they tried were too light, and couldn't get around the track because the loop slowed it down too much. So, they tried heavier trains, which worked. Later in '06, it got slightly derailed (because the trains were too heavy) and a lot of people got injured. KI was forced to take out the loop, so they could put in lighter trains. NOW-- I think that the heavy trains eventually messed up some of the timber. I don't know about you, but that's what I think!
From 70.13.141.157 on June 22, 2009 at 5:29 PM
It is closed due to a woman having a head injury from the ride.
From 67.83.35.16 on June 22, 2009 at 5:59 PM
While the ride is really just a shell of its former self now that it is "loop-less", I can't imagine it being closed down completely. It is still the tallest and fastest wooden rollercoaster in the country and while my girlfriend hated the ride because of the unbearable amount of pain that it caused, I was thrilled with the speed and jarring turns. While I usually try to hit Cedar Point every year (from NJ) I was planning to go back to KI for the first time in 4 years and this is slightly disappointing if the ride is not in operation.
From Derek Potter on June 22, 2009 at 6:01 PM
It says right in your link Robert. A woman called in and reported that she hit her head while riding. Kings Island in turn contacted state inspectors and they are investigating the ride. It will be closed until they are finished.

My question is this. According to this story, the woman waited two weeks to report the incident. She rode on May 31st, and reported on June 16th. Most people who hit their head on a ride would report such a thing immediately. Don't get me wrong, I hope she is okay and all, but if you bumped your head, something likely would have happened immediately or the next day, be it a concussion or a bruise. Why wait 2 weeks to contact the park?

As for Son Of Beast, it became a much better ride when the trains were replaced and the loop taken out. The ride is still intense, as it was meant to be, but I now have more leg room and can actually enjoy riding instead of fighting to keep my knees from hitting the bar. I used to avoid at all costs, but now I ride every visit.

SOB (as it's affectionately called) however, seems to have been cursed from day 1. In 9 years the ride has been retracked twice, had part of the structure rebuilt, had it's loop removed, has had excessive amounts of maintenance necessary to keep it open, an accident due to cracked supports, and now this report. At one time the park filed suit against the designer and some of the contractors for all the issues they have had. I'm not sure what happened with it.

Personally, I think that the design was flawed from the beginning. The trains were too heavy for the structure, and the structure couldn't handle the weight without excessive strain on the supports. The lighter trains have remedied many of those problems, and also have increased rider comfort. I don't think the ride will be closed for the year. Still though, if Kings Island continues to have problems, perhaps it's time to call in GCI or The Gravity Group and let them build a winner.

From Anthony Murphy on June 22, 2009 at 7:18 PM
Why did it take so long to close down due to the injuries?
From Andy Guinigundo on June 22, 2009 at 7:28 PM
I just rode it a few weeks ago with my 7 yr old daughter.

I was leery to ride it since the 1st experience on it was bone-jarring. It was the roughest coaster I had been on - in a bad way.

I was pleasantly surprised that the ride (sans loop) was very fun and not nearly are rough as it had been years ago. So I was quite surprised to read that story today.

I do hope the ride re-opens.

Here's a link to a story from the Hamilton Journal News:
http://tinyurl.com/p4b5pk

From Andy Guinigundo on June 22, 2009 at 7:37 PM
@Anthony Murphy - the person apparently didn't come forward until more recently.

According to Don Helbig (PR director), although the incident happened weeks ago, KI took the complaint seriously and shut it down and informed the OH Dept of Agriculture (who is responsible for Ohio ride safety). The Dept of Agriculture will be inspecting the ride.

It strikes me as odd that the woman now comes forward weeks later - not sure what she hoped to gain, although I hope she's ok.

From 98.28.226.92 on June 22, 2009 at 8:41 PM
well it was broken timbers in the large helex what they call the rose bowl but why change the trains and remove the loop why not just replace the timbers but its closed again in 2009 and i love kings island and i hope it reopens its one of my favorite rides but the loop made it even bettter but its still a good roller coaster
From 98.28.159.113 on June 23, 2009 at 12:06 AM
I have never been on the ride personally, but I think the experience one has is all up to the rider. Any person with common sense should be able to figure a 200+ foot tall roller coaster made out of wood will hurt. I've heard people complain about Vortex, a steel coaster that's much shorter than SOB.

I also think part of the problem is people today. Honestly, people won't hesitate to file a lawsuit against someone for the stupidest stuff. This woman could be blowing up her injuries bigtime, after taking two weeks to report it. However, if she did sustain major injuries, best wishes to her and her recovery.

Personally though, I'm not sure if I trust this ride enough to go on it.

From Randy Clover on June 23, 2009 at 5:35 AM
I was on it three weeks ago. It is a shame that it is closed. It is a very rough ride, but still made for a great wooden coaster. Since that was my first trip to KI, I did not experience SOB with the loop. I think it would have been great.
I would imagine that it will only be closed until the claim can be reviewed. I would also imagine that a person would not wait a few weeks to report an injury. Heck in today's time, I would not be surprised if someone called their lawyer from a cell phone before the ride was finished. I hope the person is alright, although it would be tough to prove it was from a ride after the amount of time that has past.
From Andy Guinigundo on June 23, 2009 at 6:14 AM
Cincinnati 11:00 News on Channel 5 - NBC had the story as one of its "Top 5" stories last night. Really they had nothing to add other than what we already knew from the Newspaper (online) article and the Channel 12/CBS report.
From 24.53.162.184 on June 23, 2009 at 6:23 AM
I rode the Son of Beast a couple of weeks ago and found the ride to be very rough. I mean it is a wooden coaster so I did expect it to be a little rough, but it was a very rough ride. Worse than even the Mean Streak at Cedar Point. If it was not so rough and jarring, I would say it is an awesome coaster, but unfortunately its just too much. Maybe KI will smooth it out some while its shut down and make it more enjoyable.
From 68.60.71.195 on June 23, 2009 at 6:51 AM
I was just on the ride a few weeks ago. I thought it was fine. It was a lot smoother than the beast. Not really sure why they would close it down.
From Don Neal on June 23, 2009 at 8:13 AM
While I question the woman waiting two weeks, I also know that some injuries do not always result in immediate trauma or pain. And can build over days as fluid collects, pain increases, and bruising becomes visible. A doctor visit a week later, a legal consultation, and then the formal report could all add up to a two week window pretty easily.

Hate to see the SOB suffering through another setback. I haven't road it since they re-tracked it and with the new trains but was happy to hear of people's feedback that it's been smoother. Last time I rode ith with the loop, I had a pretty good headache for the day and my dad didn't ride any other rides the rest of the day.

Unfortunately Vortext and Flight of Fear have gotten rougher year over year as well. Very happy to see Firehawk and Diamonback on the scene offering newer, smoother rides. I am still amazed at how smooth Flight Deck aka Top Gun is after all these years. Not big on thrills but always one of my favorites when we visit the park.

From Robert Niles on June 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM
Don Neal nails it. There's a huge difference between making a phone call to the park and making a formal complaint, backed by a medical evaluation and a lawyer. Two weeks to do all that is not long.

Frankly, at some point one must wonder whether keeping this ride provides any PR benefit to Kings Island. If the ride is not bringing in more fans than it is turning off, then it has become a liability and KI is better off closing it... and even better off replacing it.

Having monitored this ride's reputation for years now, I would not hesitate to recommend to KI... keep this closed permanently, then give GCI a call.

From 69.135.188.15 on June 23, 2009 at 11:28 AM
I rode the SOB a number of years ago when the loop was still in place...it was the worst roller coaster ride I had ever been on. We were shaken side to side (a few in my group, including myself) and all complained of our ears being smashed up against the upper side head restraints. The compression on my spine in going through the loop was bad as well...I swore I would never go on the ride again.

Fast forward to this year...I know someone who moved to the Cincy area this year, and got the entire family a Season Pass. Brian (the dad) took the family, and they rode SOB. His reaction, without the loop, was the same as mine. He mentioned he would never ride it again as well.

It might be the biggest and tallest wood roller coaster, but it is simply not a great ride...I'm surprised more people haven't complained to KI. However, I don't have any suggestions for KI on how to improve the ride. I can just tell you that I don't head to KI with the idea of riding the SOB...it's not a draw at all for me.

From Don Neal on June 23, 2009 at 12:22 PM
Yeah a new GCI would be nice. Close SOB 2009. Tear it down 2010. Start 2011. Open in 2012. Even 2013 wouldn't be that long. I know us park junkies can't wait 2 years for a new ride but 4 years to replace a eye sore and bad PR moneypit like SOB with something new and exciting would be great!
From 24.210.231.211 on June 23, 2009 at 12:27 PM
I have been to kings island many times and buy a pass every year. I rode the Son Of Beast when it had the loop and it was the roughest thing i had ever expirienced. I literally had bruises on my knees and felt like my lung was collapsed. The loop was cool but i was glad when they took it out, it made the ride alot smoother, even though it still gives me a migrane everytime i ride it. Personally i wouldn't care if they never opened it again, as long as they replaced it with a taller, faster, smoother coaster than that one had ever been.
From Alex Gamso on June 23, 2009 at 12:46 PM
Here is what I have heard (more like read):
A woman rode the roller coaster on May 31st. She reported her head injury to King's Island on June 16th. They closed it and are investigating.

I am sorry, but I have to throw this in. It is a WOODEN coaster. Duh, you are going to get thrown around a bit and hitting your head on the headrest is no big surprise!

I was the park a few weeks ago it was running fine. The Beast was having issues. Trains were going up the lifts supper slow and sometimes stopping. Someone was taking away by an ambulance.

Also they took the loop out when it was closed before because guests complained it was ruff.

From Eli Katzman on June 23, 2009 at 2:29 PM
Ok, lets slow down.

First off, I hope they re-open it this summer, THEN take it out.... (I'm going later this summer) still, if they do take it out, they won't get another coaster from cedar fair for a while... at least 2-3 years. Think about it- CF already gave them a new coaster this year, and they are giving the other past paramount-owned parks new ones, and most likely huge ones at that. What do you expect?

From Don Neal on June 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM
Well ruff is an understatement, 27 people were taken to the hospital and the ride closed to an accident.

And not all Wooden Coasters have to thrash you about, slam you into the sides, shake the heck out of you or otherwise. Voyager at Holiday World is a great example. As is the new Terminator ride based on videos and people's feedback.

From 69.223.66.55 on June 24, 2009 at 2:48 PM
Doesn't surprise me. I love coasters, but that sucker left me and my friend feeling like we had headaches. It's a little too rough for its own good.
From 216.23.121.160 on June 25, 2009 at 9:19 AM
I went to KI yesterday and the Vortex stoped on the first hill. Everybody had to walk back down. Someone said it was a safety check because the waterpark rides were shut down for a bit too. I still dont know if it was the coaster or safety.
From Eli Katzman on June 25, 2009 at 12:15 PM
The son of beast was closed yesterday, right?
From 64.12.116.68 on June 25, 2009 at 5:02 PM
I am so thinkin why wait 2 weeks to report this ? Is this woman out for money ? Sounds like it to me , I personally have never rode the ( SOB ) and never will . I am not a loop coaster or being jarred form side to side and yanked arround like a slaughtering pig ... Thanks but no thanks there are plenty of other things for me to do at Kings Island ...
From Eli Katzman on June 25, 2009 at 8:05 PM
It doesn't have a loop anymore...
From Mark Kausch on June 26, 2009 at 6:27 AM
"I am sorry, but I have to throw this in. It is a WOODEN coaster. Duh, you are going to get thrown around a bit and hitting your head on the headrest is no big surprise!"

Yeah, Alex, but not everyone is a coaster enthusiast and many people who ride coasters once in a while (or less) wouldn't necessarily know that.

From 99.135.15.3 on June 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM
I have had a season pass at King's Island for years. When Son of Beast first opened, I rode it many times and thought it was absolutely awesome. I rode it 3 weeks ago. It was horrendous!! THE MOST painful experience on a coaster in my 46-year life. My brother and I both got off and said, "Never again!" It doesn't surprise me that it's closed. I was at the park yesterday and a park employee told us that the ride is closed for good and is going to be scrapped. That doesn't surprise me either. You expect some jolts, but when it becomes painful and people are getting hurt, it's time to tear it down. It's just not worth the risk. Apparently wood and speed just do not combine well. It was an expensive mistake. And I think most of the issues have arisen since they made all of the changes, including removing the loop. On a side note, the Diamondback is an incredible coaster and has the Beast and Son of Beast beaten, hands down. They have finally designed a coaster with speed and height that makes you want to turn right around and get back on.
From 65.189.161.83 on June 26, 2009 at 2:37 PM
My 8 year old daughter and I rode SOB for the first time 2 weeks ago. When we got off we both said NEVER AGAIN. I had bruises on my arms and both of our backs ached for days afterwards. My wife was the smart one, she wouldn't even get on it. This is the same reaction I had the first time I rode the Mean Streak at CP. As was said before "wood and speed do not mix". There is just to much force and inertia on the tracks at that speed, materials will not hold up well. The tracks are relativly thin steel plates nailed onto laminated layers of lumber. This will not hold up as well as a steel track.

Even after thirty years The Beast is still one of the best coasters around. It is the right combination of speed, length, and environment to make for an excellent ride.

We regularly go to CP and this was our first trip to KI in 20 years. What surprised me is that even though KI is now owned by Cedar Fair, the maintenance and upkeep on the rides is not up to par with CP. Neither is the saftey procedures. We were there while it was raining quite heavily and the coasters were still running. CP shuts down at the slightest sprinkle.

The new Diamondback is OK, Millenium Force at CP is better in mine and my daughters opinion.

From Mark Hollamon on June 27, 2009 at 4:48 AM
SOB was labeled the biggest waste of wood by most people that were regulars to the park the week after they cut the ribbon on this ride.

It is nothing but a painful experience and I would venture to guess there are many more one time riders than repeat riders.

It is my humble opinion this ride must (and will) come down.

From Eli Katzman on June 27, 2009 at 9:02 AM
I don't really care how rough it is; i just wanted to try it! I'm not going to KI this year...
From A.J. Hawkey on June 27, 2009 at 5:28 PM
I think they should close it down for about six months an find out what is going wrong because this ride is a classic with the firs wooden rollicoaster with a loop.
From Charles Reichley on June 27, 2009 at 8:10 PM
OK, maybe it just got really rougher this year, but this is my favorite wooden coaster. I rode it last August, and don't remember it being any rougher than usual, and it wasn't nearly as rough as the Grizzly at Kings Dominion, which is my example of one of the roughest wooden coasters.

Of course, I tend to ride near the front of wooden coasters where it is less rough, because my back is "sensitive". And I ride on my toes to take the pressure off my back.

But in the front seat, SOB is one of the best rides around.

I hope they get it back open quickly. My first trip to Kings Island was in 2006, unfortunately after the shut SOB down and took out the loop, so I never got to ride the only looping wooden coaster in the country.

So, does everybody think it just got really rough this year, or is everybody riding it in the back?

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