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Intimidator 305 debuts at Kings Dominion

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Published: April 2, 2010 at 7:07 AM

"Gentlemen... Start your engines!"

Those are the last four words riders of Kings Dominion's newest roller coaster, Intimidator 305, will hear before they are taken on one of the most intense, incredible, extreme rides on the planet. [Editor's note from Robert: As an IndyCar fan, I hate that NASCAR's stolen our most famous phrase.] The Intamin AG creation was previewed Thursday by the Doswell, Virginia theme park for dignitaries and coaster aficionados alike. It is definitely the most anticipated new roller coaster opening in 2010, and quite possibly the best coaster to take its first spin around the track in years.

Kerry and Taylor Earnhardt and representatives from Dale Earnhardt Incorporated along with Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel and Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling were all on hand to open the coaster, the park's 14th.

Even Duff Goldman and Food Network's "Ace of Cakes" staff drove down from their Charm City Cakes store in Baltimore, MD to commemorate the opening of the ride with their own interpretation of one of the East Coast's tallest and fastest roller coasters.

The name Intimidator 305 - similar to Carowinds' Intimidator, which took its first official rides last week – may fool visitors into thinking that the two rides are very similar. After all, Kings Dominion's monster new machine has theming elements nearly identical to Carowinds' marvelous B&M hypercoaster. From the famous black Monte Carlo in the entrance plaza, to the plaques commemorating Dale Earnhardt's Hall of Fame career, to the NASCAR replica front end on the coaster trains, if you weren't looking at the coaster tracks themselves, one might assume the two are pretty much the same.

The style, an Intamin giga-coaster, might convince others that this coaster is just a slightly smaller copy of the famed Millennium Force at Cedar Point. Millennium Force, one of the world's highest rated roller coasters, features the same incredibly fast and efficient cable lift system, 300-foot first drop, sweeping turns and massive airtime hills as Intimidator 305. So what about this new coaster is going to make coaster fans sit up and take notice?

Basically, you need to experience this coaster to believe it. As you leave the station, the cable lift system speeds you up the 305-foot lift hill. Before you even have time to catch your breath, you're dropping 300 feet down at 85 degrees. Once the train negotiates the paralyzing first drop, it enters a sweeping, somewhat benign-looking right turn. Those familiar with Superman: Ride of Steel at nearby Six Flags America might think this 270-degree banked turn would be pretty similar to Superman's two helix elements, which are exciting but not earth-shattering. At 94 MPH, though, this turn is incredibly intense. Unless you happen to be an experienced fighter pilot, plan to experience a near-blackout/greyout sensation just before the train lifts up into the second 150-foot tall airtime hill. Let this be a warning to all who take on this ride, because this turn WILL be one of the most intense positive G experiences on a coaster you will find without somehow coaxing Six Flags Magic Mountain personnel to turn off the mid-course brakes on Goliath.

After a great shot of air over the second hill, the train enters a not-nearly-as-intense left turn, a couple of quick crossovers, and another sweeping right turn before entering another huge airtime hill. This third big hill features magnetic trim fins, which slow the train just a bit, making passengers in the front few rows feel like the train is going to fly off the track.

Another quick shot of air follows the third big hill, and then the train goes through a couple of quick turns with a crossover in between and a strange over-banked left turn before entering the final brake run.

Intimidator 305 features Intamin's 2nd generation trains, with over-the-shoulder restraints similar to Six Flags Great Adventure's Kingda Ka and Cedar Point's Maverick. Larger riders that have been unable to ride older Intamin trains featuring T-bars and seat belts should be accommodated by the significantly improved restraint system on this coaster. However, the restraints and high-sided trains do not offer the same freedom or open-air feeling found on a B&M hyper. Some guests may also be frustrated by the shoulder pads that can be rough on riders' neck and shoulders as the train races around the 5,100 feet of track and insanely wicked crossovers. Guests with earrings would be wise to remove them, lest they be removed for them by Intimidator 305.

This coaster is not for the casual theme park goer, and that goes for the average-run-of-the-mill NASCAR fan as well. This is somewhat unfortunate, given the proximity of this ride to Richmond International Raceway, and a large local contingent of motorsports enthusiasts. Rather, Intimidator 305 is a coaster that will be known for speed and intensity- perhaps more intensity than even the most seasoned coaster fan is accustomed to experiencing. As well, the high speed, head-jarring crossovers will catch many first-time riders by surprise. Hands-up may only be a mantra for repeat riders, and enthusiasts might find their ride experience enhanced by actually holding on to the hand bars!

Intimidator 305 represents a $25 million investment by Kings Dominion, the largest in the park's 35-year history, but for whatever reason, all that money could not buy a nearby restroom. Given the long lines that come with a new roller coaster, be forewarned - it is a lengthy walk from Intimidator 305 to the Congo and the nearest facilities. Still, if the biggest complaints about Intimidator 305 are that it might be too intense for some people and that there is an overly long walk to the nearest restroom, that says a lot about what kind of coaster it really is. Here's the bottom line: this is a potential top-5 roller coaster just waiting for people to ride it!

Let's take a ride:

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on April 2, 2010 at 7:41 AM
Russell, my jealousy knows no bounds. I do hope, however, that the grounds around I-305 are tidied up a bit before I hit KD in July. I'd like a little scenery to go with my blackout event!
From Derek Potter on April 2, 2010 at 7:56 AM
Looks like a blast to ride. I may have to make a trip for that one. I haven't been to Kings Dominion in a while anyway.

When I watched the POV rendering the first time, I figured that some of those low turns would be pretty intense, especially the one out of the first drop. I also immediately compare this coaster to Millennium Force, given the similarity. One difference stands out to me, and that is the train and it's restraints. Millennium Force has open sided cars and T-Bar restraints. Intimidator's cars seem more closed off and they have the over the shoulder restraints.

While there have been accidents and accusations involving the old T Bar system, it remains in place on Millennium Force at Cedar Point. It's a sort of discriminating system that works fine, but doesn't allow disproportionate or obese customers to ride because they don't fit into the restraints safely. It does absolutely without question contribute to the thrill factor and the quality of the experience for those customers that do. By contrast, I305's restraints appear to hinder the quality.

If this newer restraint system is going to have the same type of rider requirements that the T-Bar system does, then in my mind there's not much reason to use it. My question is this. Is this restraint system definitively one that can handle larger riders and will they be able to ride?

If so, I understand why they did it.

From Mark Migliaccio on April 2, 2010 at 8:04 AM
Derek, the new restraints are still lap bars, but they just go over the shoulder. It should accommodate larger riders who could not fit in the old T-bar style seats.
From Robert Niles on April 2, 2010 at 9:03 AM
Awesome report, as always, Russell! Thank you so much for reporting this.
From Will Chilcote on April 2, 2010 at 9:32 AM
Great to see KD finally has a new coaster. God Bless you, Cedar Fair.
From Russell Meyer on April 2, 2010 at 2:44 PM
As far as the landscaping goes, the grass around the supports will grow in with time. Those not local to the area need to understand that the Mid-Atlantic received a record amount of snowfall this winter, and it's amazing Kings Dominion was able to get this coaster open for the first official day of operations. I'll cut them some slack and trade for not having pretty grass and landscaping along the ride right now for the chance to ride this amazing creation.

On the subject of restraints, the Intamin t-bars have more or less been retired. Not only do the new over the shoulder restraints provide greater accessibility to larger guests, but they are safer. Coasters with the old t-bar system had to be retrofitted with seat belts that are not only inconsistent in length, but are not a true failsafe to the t-bars themselves. The OTSRs have a belt that does act as a failsafe in the event the restraint does fail. Really it comes down to whether you'd rather get stapled into a t-bar, thus pulverizing your crotch and thighs (and possibly wait in line for hours for a seat where the seat belt is one inch shorter than the test seat and not ride at all), or have a relatively loosely fitting OTSR (compared to Arrow, Vekoma, or even B&M OTSRs) that are slightly restrictive to your arms and shoulders, making them a bit sore. Personally, I'd take a little shoulder soreness over getting squashed in the groin.

From Dan Barnes on April 2, 2010 at 3:24 PM
The problem with Intamin's OTSRs is that for shorter people like me, if your shoulders don't go all the way up to the bars you end up getting smacked in the head violently during every direction change. I walked off I305 with bruises on my jaw where I kept hitting the restraint.

I don't know what the answer is, but there's got to be a better way.

From Squid McGlamery on April 2, 2010 at 4:53 PM
The Intamin OTSR system is by far my least favorite. The t-bar style absolutely rocks, but I'd take any other manufacturer's version of OTS over Intamin's.
I have never experienced such pain from a restraint, and, at 6' tall, the bars sit at such a spot on me as to be VERY distracting visually.

Sad they had to go that route.. will probably ruin the ride for me.

From Scott Sanders on April 2, 2010 at 5:37 PM
Rode it twice, almost blacked out both times. The turns were a bit rough also, and hurt my neck on the OTS restraint on one of those turns. The theming is nice and I like the NASCAR highlights showing while waiting in line, but I don't think I'll ride it again.
From Charles Reichley on April 2, 2010 at 6:20 PM
I hate those maverick-style restraints. I'm shorter, and my head whacks those things on my ears.

It would be trivial to pad them like, say, any of the hanging coasters. But no, they make them hard and with sharp corners. I don't hardly ever ride Maverick because it was just too painful. Sorry to hear they are so stupid that they want to put people in cars that hurt the riders.

Anyway, I might bring some ear muffs. It really can help, if they don't force you to take them off. I know they are picky about hats, maybe I could wear a bicycle helmet or something.

When I DO ride these kinds of restraints, I push myself up in my seat until my shoulders are tight against the restraints -- that sometimes helps.

From 24.90.249.214 on April 2, 2010 at 6:49 PM
Thes bars are just like the ones on Farenhight at hershey pa. also these restraints have been seen on maney modern coasters like kingda ka and also stormrunner hershey pa. These restraints can be very uncomfretable I found it hard to breath with it being so tight over me. I have seen heveyer people try to ride rides like this and they do close but not easaly.

Ps what is the old Tbar system anyway?

From James Rao on April 2, 2010 at 8:43 PM
So far this coaster has a "5" rating out of "10" on this site. I have a hard time believing that rating is correct after all I have read and seen.

If you have not done so already, please rate this coaster for TPI: Intimidator 305.

From 98.231.174.254 on April 2, 2010 at 10:18 PM
Great coaster.I also had a grey/black out on this wonderful new coaster. Basically, all I hope for at this point is that they dont make any changes to slow or modify anything about this high speed gem to satisfy those who might complain of something as wonderful as a greyout on a rollercoaster. Didn't think they would ever design something so fast into such a small area basically forcing alot of high speed, high g turns. When I got off the ride a boy about 15 was trying to get himself together after an obviously tramatic ride as he was trying to stand up after falling out of the car when the train came to a stop.It wasnt pretty but I now have a good idea of how this ride may affect some people.Its GREAT !
From 68.225.82.210 on April 3, 2010 at 6:05 AM
I'm still a newbie to the site, but this "almost blackout" portion of the coaster has me worried. Is this something that riders should legitimately be worried about before riding? I've been on more than 150 rollercoasters, and my only "almost blackout" was during and right after the pretzel loop on Superman Ultimate Flight at SFGAdv... can anyone compare the intense portion on I305 to the intense feeling of the pretzel loop?

And, if there are reports of "near blackout," why didn't Intamin take this into account when designing this coaster? Do people enjoy the feeling of almost blacking out?

From James Rao on April 3, 2010 at 8:56 AM
Quick question: is the height requirement for this coaster 54" or 48"?
From Russell Meyer on April 3, 2010 at 10:49 AM
The blackout potential is very real, so if you weren't crazy about that sensation on Superman: Ultimate Flight, I would probably think twice about this coaster.

As far as the height, the park map they were handing out on media day stated the height restriction for the coaster was TBD. However, considering all of the other big coasters at the park (Volcano, Dominator, and Flight of Fear) are 54", I would expect the same for this. Only Anaconda, Backlot Stunt Coaster, and the woodies are 48".

From Robert Niles on April 3, 2010 at 11:41 AM
Um... "blacking out," or losing consciousness, even for a moment, is a *bad* thing. No coaster that does that to a significant number of riders will stay open long before being closed for track and possibly restraint modifications.

Looking at the video, I saw one point where the train appeared to be pulling substantial G's as well as what looked like a potentially nasty head whip at the end. I haven't been on the ride, so I can't offer a confident prediction, but this coaster looks like it might be too extreme for many potential riders.

From Tyler Stover on April 3, 2010 at 1:03 PM
Does anyone else find it ironic that these Nascar themed roller coasters feature right turns?
From Charles Reichley on April 4, 2010 at 3:30 PM
OK, we ran down to ride this thing this morning (it's about all we did, 4 rides total and back out of the park).

I didn't think the ride was too rough, or too fast. We were on the 2nd run of the morning, and the first time they loaded us the car wouldn't go so they unloaded us; but they put us on the next train and things were working again. Also got a free t-shirt that I wasn't expecting.

Didn't black out, grey out, or get my head beat up by the restraints. They seem a bit more padded than the Maverick. Sure was fast.

Didn't sit in the front, and I see a problem with the way they are loading -- when we went in, the operator clearly ordered us to a specific seat, even when I asked if we could go the the 2nd row which was empty, he forced us back to 12.

BUT, there were already two groups waiting for the front. Which means he let SOMEONE go up front and get in line. If they do that all the time, nobody will ever get randomly assigned to the front, and the only people who get to ride the front will be people who insist on going up there even when they are told to go to another row.

That's not a good way to operate. Either let people pick their own rows, or assign it randomly, but don't let those who ignore directions win at the expense of people who listen to directions.

From 96.255.147.124 on April 4, 2010 at 9:15 PM
Just came home from KD today and rode this beast 3 times, went back only the 3rd time to be able to hop up front. Being Easter Sunday the lines were pretty much irrelevant. There wasnt a "line guide" until late in the day i could literally see people begging to be able to sit in front however this woman was very adamant about not really caring and moving people to their assigned row. This was about 645pm. I had heard people throughout the park speak of this so-called "blackout" and didnt take it seriously until i got off the ride....
As we made our way down the ramp i noticed a mother leaning over her child (probably 13-15) asking if he was ok and he was holding his nose which was bleeding. I could see how this would beat up on shorter people, I rode the whole ride with my arms up and regret it (im 6'3" 225)

When we finally got down to the photo section we were browsing up top and there we see the same kid knocked out completely in the picture, literally hunched over in his seat passed out!! Once we pointed out the picture, it spread like wild fire, i requested to buy the picture and the girl said it was too late bc the next train pics had come through.

Cody

From Eugene Koh on April 4, 2010 at 10:26 PM
This MUST beat Milleniunm Force in the Top 10 of the Golden Ticket Awards! The Intense Gs and airtime will do the job.
From David Kirby on April 4, 2010 at 10:49 PM
I'll admit I've yet to ride Intimidator or Millenium Force but one of the things that bothers me about these rides are the cable lift system. I guess I'm one who loves the slow ascent of a roller coaster and feeling like you'll never reach the top. It also always looks like you're going to fast once you finally hit the crest and begin your descent. There's something about that slow crawl that I love. Random complaint, I know.
From 24.46.190.96 on April 5, 2010 at 3:55 AM
We rode The Intimidator on opening day (Friday) and it was amazing. I have been on Kingda Ka, so it wasn't the tallest coaster I have experienced, but it was intense, incredibly FAST and very smooth. The day started without a glitch. Many people had early access to the park due to online bidding to be the first riders. (Not us, though.) We were probably among the first 100-200 people to ride it. No crazy wait time (we waited less than 1/2 hour as a family of four and my teen sons got on immediately as single riders when they wanted a second ride). There was a band playing, T-shirts were distributed to the first riders, and there was a feeling of excitement throughout the park. I have not been to Cedar Point but a KD employee told us that Intimidator is more intense than M Force. Looking forward to testing his theory! -- Paisley from NY (too lazy to sign in today)
From Dave Stroem on April 5, 2010 at 6:47 AM
We were at KD for opening day and Saturday morning for my 223 coaster credit on Intimidator 305. I got a total of 6 rides including 1 front seat ride and 3 in row 16. This ride is intense, but IMO not that much fun. The drop is great but is followed by a hard right turn that make you think of the rides namesake before he hit the wall in Daytona.

I grayed out on most rides before being slammed into the should restraints on the forceful ejector air filled second hill. This ride left me battered and bruised.

The rest of the ride did not offerer much air but was filled with VIOLENT transitions that I predict will result in a broken neck by the end of the season.

The hard core coaster junkies will rave about this ride for the adrenaline rush it offers but the public will find it too much.

Intimidator 305 is the new Son of Beast IMO.

From Sean McAvella on April 5, 2010 at 9:15 AM
A lot of good comments here as usual. I'm not in any hurry to ride this coaster. I hate these restraints too. Just like Maverick, these restraints are sure to crush your thighs, hurt your shoulders, and leave you with a headache. I ride Maverick once per trip, but that's about it as the pain exceeds the enjoyment. I much prefer the restraints on Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster.
From Elizabeth Gray on April 5, 2010 at 10:18 AM
Thanks Mr Meyer for covering a local park in my area. Hey, can you make it to Kennywood and cover the SKY ROCKET launch too?
From 174.99.49.204 on April 5, 2010 at 12:44 PM
I rode this 5 times yesterday with my 11yo son. I'm a big guy (220lbs 6') and liked and hated the restraints. The "open cage" feel really let the air time come through. But whip on the "switches" is rough. I have some bruises. My son said it hit him in the side of the head. Some actual padding would be welcome.

I love the fast lift hill. I'm terrified of getting stuck on lift hills (has happened to me twice on chain lift hills on wood coasters) so 16 seconds from bottom to cresting the hill is welcome.

The first drop is amazing and even though it is listed as 85deg, I was out of my seat for most of the drop. And the high-G turn is awesome. The greyout didn't bother me. It happened each time. Seemed worse at the back than when riding in the front. My son said it was mild for him. The first airtime hill is amazing - I've not been to CP so can't compare to Maverick or MF. Of the coasters I've ridden, this had the most. I could do without the tight "twists" or switches. The last one, right before the camera, is brutal. Painfully so. I hope no one with neck problems rides.

Amazing coaster. Glad to see Kings Dominion becoming a nice park. Thank you Cedar Fair!

Mark in Raleigh, NC

From 71.63.87.50 on April 5, 2010 at 6:11 PM
I rode this once on opening day and then three times on Easter. We got in early opening day because of our season pass and we were one of the first on after the charity auction riders. By the time we got off the line was over an hour. Sunday morning the line wasn't even five minutes. Easter is normally a slow day, we ere there early, and they seemed to be managing the ride loading much better.

There are a couple of snaps that are not nearly as violent as other rides in the park, most notably Anaconda, a harsh-riding Arrow coaster. My 13yr old daughter had some grayout issues and I had a moment of blurriness. Quite frankly I thought nothing of it. I sometimes had a similar experience in the initial upward spiral of the the kiddie-coaster Backlot Stunt Coaster, which is a launch coaster. I heard from a park employee elsewhere that a number of people blacked out. I assume that this was a momentary thing, otherwise with loss of body control you could get your head bashed around pretty good.

Didn't notice the bathroom issue. What I did anticipate when I saw where they were building this and proved to be of so true is now a helluva lot more people know where Flight of Fear is since you past it to get there and now the line is much longer. Drats!

It would be a shame if they slowed this down at all.

From 209.47.32.2 on April 6, 2010 at 8:21 PM
From what I am reading here, it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured on this ride. This won't be good. I am getting on in age and unfortunately, some of the more intense coasters (Behemoth, Ride of Steel, even Italian Job Stunt coaster) are making me sick. I have been looking forward to taking another trip to KD but from what I am reading, I am not so sure I will be able to handle this ride. Anyone who is in there upper 40's having this problem?

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