In August I went to KI for the first time since 2007, I thought it was a really good park back then so this is one I was looking forward to quite a bit especially after seeing how much KD had improved in my most recent visit last year.
We arrived a little after park opening after having breakfast at Big Boy. Thought it was cool that once you exit the highway you drive past the entire park and its skyline before you can turn into the parking lot, and it's a huge parking entrance with lots of lanes. Not sure if this has been re-done recently but it certainly looked like it was. Another thing that surprised me was that the Great Wolf Lodge is right up against the parks entrance, it may as well have been an official KI on property hotel. Talk about prime real estate.
After parking the Infiniti that I rented on Turo right under the KI highway sign (it was comfortable but I would never buy one considering it would start shaking at like 70mph...IMO of all the Japanese cars Nissan to me appears to be the most questionable in terms of build quality, but that shouldn't be a surprise considering they are owned by the French) we walked up to the entrance, which looks pretty much exactly like it has since the 70s. Like many other parks they got rid of the turnstiles but the entrance itself I always thought looks kind of blah...just a big brown building and under it the whole thing is lined with TV screens that show advertisements. Not really any landscaping going on in front of the park i'd say the entrance statement overall is pretty lackluster for such a major park. International Street itself looked fine, we didn't do much looking around as we wanted to get the rides in before crowds.
We headed straight for Banshee and waited just one train for the front row. It definitely has the Cedar Fair invert vibe going on...
Cool entrance sign with ride logo - check
Giant unthemed queue house that would suck to wait in - check
Station that looks straight out of a Lowes suburbia garden display - check
The ride itself i'd say was decent but over rated. I've never been a big fan of the vest restraints as it seems like I am the perfect height to feel like i'm getting choked by them (the new Space Mountain trains at Disneyland Paris are the worst). The drop was really good and had a surprisingly great negative G feeling, but the ride seemed to die out pretty quickly. It also had a really substantial vibration for being such a new ride, we were in the front so i'm sure it was probably worse the further back in the train. Overall i'd rate Banshee above Silver Bullet but I still like Batman, Raptor, Dragons etc better.
Next up was the Bat which was a walk on. The queue path for this one seems to go on forever and the ride itself is out in the middle of nowhere. The queue is also badly in need of a repaint and freshen up as there were lots of weeds and all the walls/railings and everything seemed rusted out, this experience seemed more like a SF park than CF park. SOBs queue and station are also clearly visible when walking through the queue which looks sad. The ride was rough and jarring but its an old Arrow so that was to be expected.
Next up was Drop Zone which was a one cycle wait and pretty good, as i've gotten older i've grown more of a fondness for these huge drop towers as I love the views. Next we went on Adventure Express which I remembered being one of my favorite rides in the park...and talk about rides I have grown a fondness for as i've gotten older, that definitely does not include Arrow mine trains. I remember really liking this ride on my first visit to this park, but now, ouch. My body doesn't care for those 70's Arrow transitions much anymore.
After coming off the Arrow Mine train feeling like we needed a visit to the chirporactor we decided to skip the Vekoma hang-and-bang-boomerang. Oddly enough I absolutely love the Giant Inverted Boomerangs IMO they are great rides, but the other variations of boomerangs and suspended boomerangs not so much. We walked the Coney Mall pathway and rode Racer, which once again, ouch. Flight of Fear, and once again, ouch. This park isn't doing so hot in terms of enjoyable coasters as at this point we had ridden 5 coasters including a new B&M and they were all rough (and we skipped one we knew was going to be rough). We decided to skip Vortex for that reason and go on something that we knew we would enjoy so we walked around for a bit looking for Diamondbacks entrance. After going the wrong way, turning around, turning around again, after some time we ended up over by Mystic Timbers so we figured we'd give that a try.
Finally we got on a really good coaster that wasn't rough. I hope KI does a good job maintaining this because with how fast it does all those turns and transitions there is a lot of opportunity for it to get rough, but as of now it is still tracks really well. There wasn't much in terms of airtime (at least compared to all the RMCs we have ridden the past few years) but there were a couple pops and the ride is really, really damn fast. It was easily the best coaster in the park.
Next we got on Diamondback which was the longest wait of the day at about 20 minutes or so. It was running 3 trains but the dispatch times were bad with all 3 trains stacking almost every time, and waiting in line was pretty annoying as the microphone guy was extremely flamboyant and doing the whole "Enjoy your ride on the Raptor! Enjoy your ride on the Millennium Force!" etc. It was at that moment I realized that this was our first experience in this park being subjected to stereotypical Cedar Fair microphone guy which was a nice streak while it lasted haha. There were a few people that didn't fit on Diamondback while we were waiting in the station and had to do the walk of shame. You know I always give my town (Orlando) a really hard time for having such a problem with obesity but Ohio definitely another another place that loves its junk food and sedentary lifestyle as well.
This was my first time on Diamondback but I have ridden almost all of the other B&M hypers (except for the few new ones in China) and Diamondback was by far the biggest letdown of them all. Was really looking forward to it as it looks like a great ride, but the vibrations just killed it for me. It didn't seem to have much airtime (at least in the back), it just kind of meandered around its course, and the vibrations made it feel like the caps were going to fall out of my mouth. Maybe it was just having a bad day, but dang that was a letdown. Now that I look back on it I really wish we had taken the time to give it another chance further up in the train, but didn't really care at the time so I feel bad rating it so poorly based off one bad ride.
At this point I was pretty dissapointed with the park, I had hyped it up to my wife as a great park but all of the coasters (with the exception of Mystic Timbers) were so rough it really took the enjoyment out of it. We explored around for a bit and rode the Boo Blasters dark ride, skipping out on the two coasters in Planet Snoopy (wasn't in the mood for a mini Vekoma hang n bang), and did the Eiffel Tower. This experience was the definition of "blah," it was running one elevator so it took a while to get on (in their defense it wasn't very busy and we got on the first one that came down), the areas that guests can walk around badly need to be repainted as the tower is faded and rusting out, but the kid working it was probably the most memorable thing about the day.
KI being such a major park, you think they would want people that can look at people and announce things with some confidence on their biggest/most famous family attraction. This kid they had working in the elevator was staring at his toes "uh...welcome...yea...uhhhh...the tower is 300 feet tall...uuhh...yeeaah....ummm...park is open until 8:00...uhh...yea...if you have any questions let me know." Then someone asked "hey is that a new roller coaster being built over there?" Now this was before Orion was announced and he was like "Uhhh...I don't really know the park doesn't really tell me anything about that" which may be true, but come on dude at least make yourself a representative of the park not some kind of outsider, your wearing a nametag.
We spent the next hour or so walking around looking through the park and the stores, as well as going on a couple of the old family flats. The main store on International Street had an impressive selection of clever stuff (though some of it was blatant ripoff of Disney's merch but that's to be expected).
I still wanted to ride the Beast but was nervous my wife was going to hate it because of the roughness, so I took her on the front row. I personally didn't think it was that bad but she absolutely hated it lol. The ride was highly trimmed which kind of ruined the pacing on some of the more intense parts, but yea it was still pretty damn rough. Personally I didn't mind the roughness because, well it the Beast and we were in the front row, but I could tell it was time to leave after that. It was a hot August day and we did everything we needed to and the roughness of all the coasters kind of put a damper on the day.
Overall we got on everything except for Italian Job (which was closed when we walked by it and didn't feel like walking back since I have ridden it before at several parks), Face Off (which I had been on before and don't care for), Vortex which we didn't ride because we had no appetite for another rough coaster, and the two coasters in Planet Snoopy which I had also been on before but didn't care for. Best coaster by far was Mystic Timbers and it was also the only coaster in the park that wasn't extremely rough. I did enjoy the Beast as well and probably would've been the best coaster without so much trimming, I would've gladly ridden again but my wife not so much. Biggest disappointment of the day by far was Diamondback.
And yea, that's about it. I feel that this park needs an intervention of some sort, it's a big famous park but it felt dead and soulless, and almost all of the major rides were rough and the B&Ms both had really bad vibrations. It's a mixed bag of sorts, Cedar Fair has put some money into it with new B&Ms but at the same time it feels like they also sucked the soul of out with their stereotypical Cedar-Fairness.Tweet