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Robert Niles
Editor

Ohio official blasts Kings Island over Son of Beast roller coaster

Published: November 9, 2009 at 4:57 PM

An Ohio state ride inspector blames Kings Island management for negligent construction and design practices on the park's troubled - and widely panned - Son of Beast roller coaster.

Son of Beast roller coaster at Kings Island

The coaster, the first wooden roller coaster to feature an inversion -which was removed in 2007, closed earlier this year following yet another injury accident involving a rider. The ride also closed for the months in 2006 following a busted timber that led to a wreck which sent two dozen people to local hospitals.

Rick Schmizze of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (which inspects amusement rides in the state) testified in a case brought by one of the injured riders in that 2006 accident. In a videotaped deposition reviewed by a local newspaper, Schmizze detailed a list of failures by the park's managers over the years, including the use of inferior wood and a failure to develop computer models to test load stress on the track and its supports. Those failures led to a structure that swayed too much, loosening bolts even in areas which did not fail in the 2006 accident.

Son of Beast was built by Roller Coaster Company of Ohio, which then-owner Paramount Parks fired before the ride was completed. Kings Island, along with the rest of the Paramount Parks chain, was sold to Cedar Fair two months before the 2006 wreck. Schmizze testified that he urged Cedar Fair to develop a computer model to test the track and make repairs, but that was not done, to his knowledge.

When it was open, Son of Beast ranked among the lowest rated attractions in Theme Park Insider's listings, with riders criticizing the coaster for a "rough ride" and "headsplitting" experience. Kings Island's overall rating on Theme Park Insider jumped up significantly when the ride closed, as the negative ratings against Son of Beast were dropped from the voting.

And yet... Kings Island has not yet confirmed that Son of Beast is closed for good. (Double entendre intended.)

Replies (13)

65.2.31.29

Published: November 9, 2009 at 5:05 PM

I think that they're not going to close the coaster JUST because of the accidents. I believe that it may not re-open at the beginning of the season next year as it will under-go heavy refurbishment. Son of Beast is a great ride, however it's rough. Tearing it down would be a waste - IMO
70.24.167.82

Published: November 9, 2009 at 5:13 PM

Hm. To be honest, I think this ride will just end up like the ill fated Bat. Too many problems, lawsuits... It just might become a part of Kings Island's rich history, for good.
74.97.254.130

Published: November 9, 2009 at 7:49 PM

While I did enjoy the ride the first year that it opened, I later woke up to reality. I always WANTED to like the ride more then I actually did. I applaud Kings Island for pushing the boundaries with the vertical loop on a woody; but the layout of that coaster was boring, and the experience rough!

The ride has been faced with too many troubles, and to much bad press. It is time to retire the coaster. Recycle what wood they can for a ride that is not the tallest, fastest, or second longest-- but FUN!

Although seeing how Cedar Fair has kept the Mean Streak standing for this longs lets me think that SOB just may be here to stay.

Andy Guinigundo

Published: November 9, 2009 at 8:16 PM

It's done. There's too much at stake. Local news is reporting that KI has $30 million in. Nonetheless, how costly is bad press?

If you saw the clips from the video deposition, it'd make you sick. There were nuts so loose that the official could loosen them with his bare hands. There were accusations of cheap timber.

I admit, that with the newer heavier cars, the ride is more stable. You pull some wicked G's in some of those curves. My 7 year old loved it. I liked the changes having not gotten on it since the loop was in place. I rode it once back then and thought to myself, well - that's enough. I guess we are glad that we rode it earlier this year a few weeks before it closed - for good(?)

Steven Lee

Published: November 9, 2009 at 9:50 PM

I'm going to agree with Andy.

The bad press alone is enough to close the ride and replace it with a BETTER BUILT and TESTED ride. Showing the computer generated models and scale models to the public at the park and on there website to help people feel safer.

Derek Potter

Published: November 9, 2009 at 10:04 PM

It's tough for me to place the blame on the shoulders of Cedar Fair for this problem. Son of Beast was a problem from day one of design. The blame lies with the designer, the builder, and the management who hired said designer and builder to construct such a complicated and groundbreaking ride. Yeah they canned (and also sued I believe) the company responsible, but by that time the ride was already under construction.

I saw Son of Beast in action up close and personal during a backstage tour. Wooden coasters are designed to give and sway a little, but I've never seen a structure move like that. The forces exerted on the structure by the original, much heavier trains were pretty unbelievable. Watching entire sections of the first helix sway several feet back and forth after the train had passed through them was enough to tell me why they have had so many problems. The old trains were poorly designed, and trust me when I say that the ride on those trains was vicious, especially on taller people because there was little leg room and little padding for said legs. Those trains were much too heavy for a comfortable wooden coaster ride, but they had to be heavy because of the loop, and the structure took a beating from them, which goes back to the designer.

When they removed the loop and started using lighter, more standard wooden coaster trains, the ride vastly improved for me. It was intense, but in a good way...not as rough and far less painful, and I actually enjoyed the ride. I was sad to see it close, and I wish I would have gotten another ride.

I think that there comes a time when something just isn't working anymore. Son of Beast has been plagued with problems and injured more than it's share of riders. It now is gathering bad press and hence a bad reputation and I think the damage is done. Cedar Fair tried once to fix it with a reprofile (that was approved by the inspectors) and the curse continues with another injury. I can't imagine Cedar Fair continuing to pour resources into the SOB money pit, when people are likely going to hesitate to ride because of negative attention, regardless of the improved ride quality. I see a wrecking ball in SOB's future.

Or they could save the first drop, which is a good one, and build a whole new coaster after it. That's not out of the realm of possibility. I liked my last ride on SOB, and would ride it again, but I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority on that one.

Franklin Smith

Published: November 9, 2009 at 11:31 PM

I hafta admit that SOB was a VERY rough ride the first time i rode it, i thought i was gonna have some broken bones, didn't, but did end up with a couple bruses. then they removed the loop, changed the cars and the ride smoothed out some. I would hafta say that i enjoyed SOB every time i rode it.

Derek, I too would ride it again!

The biggest thing i dont understand is that after every inspection the Agriculture department did on the ride it was always cleared to reopen with out further repairs being needed each time. Was someone missing some things or are there gremlins hangin out on the coaster causin problems????

I can't blame Cedar Fair for the rides problems, those fall on the designers, construction team and Paramount.

I think Cedar Fair has two options, Pull the plug on SOB or perform some major and drastic surgery to compleatly revitalize the ride. If i had to make the decision i would unfortunatly hafta pull the plug and call in a new ride to take its place... and stay away from relating it to The Beast.

The above is just my opinion, i may be wrong and the balcony is now closed!!

74.97.254.130

Published: November 10, 2009 at 6:04 AM

Gravity Group is located in Cincinnati-- Id love to see Cedar Fair hire a local business to either "fix" SOB or tear it down and design a new one.
Larry Zimmerman

Published: November 10, 2009 at 7:38 AM

I didn't get to ride it while the loop was in place, and I might have liked it then. But after riding it -- once -- last Spring, I believe KI would be better served by going the way of Gemini, and putting tube steel track on the wooden structure. I'm not an engineer, but I believe the steel tubes would provide sufficient rigidity to unkink the rough spots while providing a smoother ride. Yeah, it would take it out of the "woodie" class, but I think the track layout and length would make it a world class ride.
Jack Michael

Published: November 10, 2009 at 8:59 AM

pieces are supposed to fall off, and the ride is supposed to break, if it didn't it would not be a cedar lake company ride.
Rod Whitenack

Published: November 10, 2009 at 9:18 AM

Tear this worthless woodpile down. I rode it back in the day when it still had the loop, and it felt like I went ten rounds with Mike Tyson. SOB is more fun to look at than to ride, and almost everyone agrees it's a disappointment.
153.9.83.51

Published: November 11, 2009 at 11:29 AM

I haven't ridden on Son of Beast since they took the loop out, but before that it was the roughest ride I had ever ridden since The Beast. On both of those rides, I felt like I had ruptured my spleen when the ride was over.
Charles Reichley

Published: November 13, 2009 at 11:45 AM

It's funny how people who haven't ridden the ride since the loop was taken out say it should be torn down because it is too rough.

I've ONLY ridden it since the loop was removed, and I never found it to be too rough. In fact, it's my favorite wooden coaster. Now, I only ride near the front, maybe further back is too rough.

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