Trip report for King's Island 7-4-08

Kings Island: A disappointing July 4th trip to King's Island

From Tony Stevens
Posted July 19, 2008 at 10:25 AM
Trip Report for Kings Island 7/4/2008
Sorry for my lateness on getting this in, but I have been busy with work.
I will preface this report by saying I judge any park by the gold “Disney” standard.
It has become a July 4th tradition for me and 2 of my friends to make a trip to Kings Island. On the way from southern Indiana to the park we wondered how the de-Paramount-ization of the park was going to evident. We got to the park about 10:30 am in a steady rain. Fortunately that would go away for the most part as the day went on. As we entered the park there was a sign saying that the Eifel Tower and Firefox were closed. This was disappointment number one for the day since I didn’t get to ride it last year because of weather and mechanical problems. Once we made our way past the maze of photographers at the front gate we headed to “Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle.” The first thing noticed was that the lights were up in the queuing area. In the past the lights were off and the area illuminated by colored and black lights. The mood was definitely not set by this setting. We then made our way to the “Backlot Stunt Coaster.” (Formerly named “The Italian Job.”) This is where we really started to become disillusioned with this day. The line was much shorter than we had encounter in the past, but it moved much slower than any line before. As we got closer to the front we saw that instead of using two trains to speed the loading and unloading process only one was being used. This was also evident in the next coaster I rode, “The Vortex.” It was send the train off and then wait the 5 minutes, give or take, for it to get back to station and then unload and reload then send it off again. It definitely slowed the process down. I was just glad it was a light crowd day or I may still be waiting. Next was into the “Action Theater” to see the Sponge Bob Squarepants 3-D Film and get out of the rain. While the film is ok and it is entertaining I think it is time for a change. This one has been running for a few years and it is getting old. Another option is to use the second theater and have a choice of shows. We then made our way to “Flight of Fear.” This is where the lack of theming really became evident. In the past the lights were dim and a movie setting the mood was shown. The queue area was fully lit; the movie was playing but with the sound muted. (The good thing about this was the lack of screaming every few minutes when the lights would go completely off.) With the lights off it was easy to see that housekeeping was not a priority. You could also write your name in the dust. On a good note this line did move quickly and the ride still packs a thrill.
We then headed over to the Action Zone area and rode Vertigo (formerly Face Off). This line was short and moved quickly. I can’t complain about the number of trains on this ride. Since it an out and back coaster there is only one for this ride. The ride was just good as always. Next was to Flight Deck (Formerly Top Gun). On the way to the ride we noticed that some vandals must have gotten into the park because a shed with graffiti on it and some new boards for a fence. Also there is a large yellow and black sign that is painted on the entrance way that says “Danger Zone.” It was peeling and obviously hadn’t been touched in years. When we got to the ride itself we noted how black the concrete was from all the years of build up and the lack of paint on the gates. At this point I’m wondering does the maintenance department at the park even look at these things or not. The ride itself was still good but I am getting to the point that I was glad I went to Kroger the day before and paid $20.00 for my ticket. On exiting the ride I looked at the line for Son of Beast and it looked like it wasn’t moving and based on what I had seen at other coasters I decided to skip it.
We then made our way to the ride that we were most curious about: “The Crypt (formerly “Tomb Raider).” The theming of this ride had to be changed since there could be no movie tie in. The decor through most of the line was skulls randomly placed along the sides of the path. When we got to the section that used to have a video preshow that had been replaced with something that was could be best described as a flying gargoyle/harpy mutation, and it being Independence Day someone had stuck a small American Flag in its mouth. On the other side of the line was a similar figure. Once we were allowed into the ride area itself we noticed there were only two rows of seats compared to the three from last year. I will commend Kings Island on this ride. I guess with one less row of seats and the decrease in weight they were able to kick up the intensity of the ride. There was more spinning then in the past. On one reverse spin we stopped so suddenly I thought my legs were going to snap off at the knees. On the down side all the music, water effects and effect lighting had been removed. After this it was time for me to ride the Beast alone. The line on this ride moved quickly as there were actually 3 trains going. I did notice that signs telling about the history and records of the Beast had been removed. After this we decided to call it a day and head back to southern Indiana.

Other thoughts and Impressions
The grandson of high wire acrobat Curt Walenda did a couple of walks that day but I would have never known it except I had heard it on the news that morning and I got it in an email from Kings Island. I never heard an announcement and there were no fliers handed out when you entered the park. Granted the crane set up outside the park and the wire attached to Eifel Tower were a clue something was going to happen. (He set a new world record for the longest walk.)
As I mentioned several times maintenance as far as the appearance of the rides doesn’t seem like a priority. Paint is peeling, dust is where it shouldn’t be and after over 30 years in operation the park is starting to show its age. There are TV monitors all through the park and about half of them don’t seem to work and the only things shown on the monitors were 1980s music videos. After a while the same ones kept playing over and over. That music got to be annoying. I wish King’s Island would get some type of happy background music to play in the park.
If I had to grade the park I would give it a “C”.

From James Rao
Posted July 19, 2008 at 1:43 PM
Thanks for the trip report, Tony. I enjoy reading about other people's adventures and getting some insights on the various parks scattered across the nation.

One thing I tend to do when I travel to an iron ride park like King's Island is "change my standards." Instead of using the "Gold Standard" set by Disney and Universal for theme parks, I try to evaluate the park knowing ahead of time I am just going for thrills and not immersive narratives and theming.

That being said, there is no excuse for a lack of upkeep, something I would not expect from a Cedar Fair park. Six Flags for sure, but not CF. I would chalk up the maintenance woes to mid-season wear and tear and cross your fingers that your trip next year will be much improved from that perspective.

Anyway, thanks again for the report!

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