Kings Island debuts Banshee, the world's longest inverted coaster
Published: April 18, 2014 at 9:19 AM
Yesterday was a day of celebration for a few reasons. First, it seems that after a final gasp, the never-ending crappy winter weather has finally subsided in this part of the country. Second, after a whirlwind five months or so, I (along with my lovely wife) get a couple of much needed days away from life, a chance to recharge the batteries. There aren’t too many places in the world better for me than the park. Finally, it seems Kings Island had much to celebrate, for they’ve hit another home run with Banshee
The name is a bit curious. Once upon a time about 20 years ago it was even controversial, dumped at Cedar Point because people were offended by its connotation. In Irish folklore, the Banshee was a spirit; a wailing woman who would weep and mourn for the dead or soon to be dead family member…subsequent cultures would paint the character in a much darker and malignant tone. Perhaps it’s a more fitting name this time around, given it now sits where the much maligned (and now deceased) Son of Beast once terrified coaster riders and Kings Island’s accountants and lawyers. The graveyard in the queue even pays tribute.
And then there’s the ride: 167 feet, 68 mph, seven inversions, billed as the longest inverted coaster in the world at 4124 feet. These aren’t necessarily mind blowing numbers when you compare them with the others. The B&M inverted coaster concept certainly isn’t new. It’s been over twenty years since the first one, and Kings Island is one of the last major parks to build one. All that being said, design is everything. With Banshee, ride designer Bolliger and Mabillard pulled everything out of the bag of tricks. Elements old and new are present, combined with newer trains and low profile restraints that give more mobility to riders and free them from the bondage of head knocking giant bars over shoulders.
The end result is pure, nonstop coaster goodness. Banshee is absolutely relentless from start to finish. After a sharp first drop that ambushes even the most seasoned coaster rider, the train sails majestically through flawless elements with lots and lots of power. Taking full advantage of the hilly terrain, the train doesn’t reach top speed until halfway through the ride. The slowest portion contains a zero gravity, low speed, heartline roll in which one literally floats inside their restraints before barreling into the final helix.
There isn’t a straight piece of track in the course, and the front seat (my preference) is about the closest most of us can get to being a fighter pilot. In the dark, Banshee takes on a whole different look thanks to extensive use of lighting effects, taking the haunted graveyard theme to another level. Don’t look for any Disney-like storytelling themes here, just unbridled, unapologetic thrills. Riders should beware of two things…the assigned seating (GAAAHHH!) and the inexplicable lack of storage bins in the loading station. If you are a backpacker or have loose articles, you’ll need a locker.
Bottom line, when it comes to coaster thrills, Banshee delivers the goods in a big way. It is an absolute must ride for thrill seekers, and fans of the park will love it. There is little doubt it will be at the top of many lists for best new ride of the year. As for its place among the inverted coasters, it likely goes straight to the top. Kings Island scores big with this ride.
Published: April 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM
Thanks for covering this for us, Derek!
Published: April 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM
When you say "assigned seating" do you mean that you can't request front/back rows? Because that would be a little irritating.
If it's just a grouper, then I'm all for it. I know it is generally unnecessary for seasoned theme park goers, but having a grouper can dramatically reduce the stress of a guest who's just trying to get on the ride as quickly as possible.
Sounds like a phenomenal roller coaster...definitely high up on my hit list.
Published: April 18, 2014 at 10:24 AM
smooth like jazz
Published: April 18, 2014 at 10:49 AM
We're hoping to get to Kings Island later this summer. I find it interesting that it's the longest invert in the world, but doesn't have an MCBR. For any coaster aficionado, that should signal that the ride is pretty intense.
I love the return of the loop through the lift hill that was a trademark of early B&M designs, but I'm a little disappointed that the course features a second loop (elements shouldn't repeat in my book). That last slow barrel roll looks pretty awesome, especially with the visual of being so high off the ground. Dorney Park's Hydra with its "Jojo roll" is pretty cool, and I would imagine this slow roll element is equally impressive.
Was the "batwing-esque" element near the end of the course intense at the bottom between the 2 inversions? The inverted batwing is by far my favorite element on B&M inverts (Afterburn and Montu), but Banshee's back-to-back inversion element looks quite different, and not quite intense from the POV.
Also, I'm assuming that the restraints are the same OTSRs B&M has been using on their fliers, minus the ankle clamps.
Published: April 18, 2014 at 11:17 AM
I'm here for opening day. It's pandemonium here today. The line for Banshee stretches across the park up international street, past the Eiffel Tower and into the kids area. It's not for lack of capacity. There's just that many people here today. One word...fastpass.
Yes, there is a guy in the station assigning seats. Not just grouping. With lines like that, you'll definitely need a good song and dance to get the front seat.
Russell, you are correct about the restraints, and the batwing is actually where the ride hits top speed. The second vertical loop doesn't disappoint, even though it repeats. You are so disoriented by then to notice.
Published: April 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM
Isn't Kings Island where they assign seats for their laying-down coaster (Firehawk?). Hopefully when it isn't crowded you'll be able to wait for the front.
Published: April 18, 2014 at 6:08 PM
Terrific article! I remember how excited we were at Cedar Point last year to try out Gatekeeper- I know you were just as excited to experience Banshee! Lucky for you the weather was better this year- not nearly as cold as last year's opening was for us up north!
Published: April 18, 2014 at 8:55 PM
It's kind of weird to me that this is the longest inverted coaster because it really just does not seem that long.... but maybe its just traveling so fast.
Published: April 19, 2014 at 3:05 PM
Thanks so much for the in depth analysis and review, Derek.
Banshee looks amazing, like an inverted version of my favorite steel coaster, Kraken. I cannot wait to ride it later this summer when the Rao Family makes a pilgrimage over to Mason for this delectable delight.
As for the assigned seating, if the lines are insane it makes a whole lot of sense. I wish more parks would implement such crowd control measures when lines are long. Nothing is worse than seats going to waste in a four across coaster. As lines die down, I am sure the assigned seating will be phased out too.
Derek, how does Fastlane work with Banshee (or Fastlane+, I guess)? Is there a separate line all the way to the ride, or does it merge in at the load house? Is it worth the expense? I think it would be better to go to the park two days than to spend the extra for Fastlane+, but you're the KI expert!
Also, what is your suggested touring strategy with Banshee in the mix? Head to Beast and Diamondback early while folks are otherwise occupied with Banshee, or race to Banshee first thing?
Lastly, did you go on a night ride? If so, how was it? All those loops in the dark would be so disorienting!
Published: April 19, 2014 at 5:41 PM
Wow, that looks unbelievably good!!! King's Island is only 2 hours away for me and I vow to go at least once this summer, but the lines you described are insane! I wonder if I could ride it twice if I got there on a Tuesday morning 30 minutes before the park opened. Any tips on when a good time to go might be?
Published: April 19, 2014 at 10:26 PM
I actually got on the ride today and only waited a half hour in the middle of the day. For a comparison, I waited 1 hour for the Beast and 45 minutes for Dimondback. The ride ops really seemed organized and on top of their jobs. They do select the seats for you but a simple request and I was sitting in the front row on the next train out. The ride itself was very good, intense from beginning to end.
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