Trip Report: AJ's Epic Theme Park Summer-Part 3 (Kings Island)

Edited: October 2, 2014, 3:44 PM

For those of you just joining us, check out my previous reports on Cedar Point and Coney Island.

Part 3: Banshee Bash at Kings Island-July 25th, 2014

The first full day of the TPR Mini New Hotness tour was arguably the best (only one day really challenges it), as it was Banshee Bash at Kings Island. I've been to a number of TPR bashes throughout the years, and although some are better than others all have been great. Banshee Bash ended up being somewhere in the middle: It doesn't quite match the recent Knott's days of West Coast Bash or Leviathan Bash two years ago, but was definitely better than Bizarro Bash in 2011.

Although our hotel was not far from Kings Island (outside of walking distance, but within taxi distance), we still had an early departure at 7:45 A.M. We arrived at the park approximately ten minutes later, received our schedules, tickets, and Fast Lane vouchers, and then waited to enter the park.

Kings Island

Of all the parks on this trip, Kings Island was probably my most anticipated for several reasons. The park was the biggest park in the country I hadn't visited yet, as well as the last large park in the Cedar Fair chain. It also completed a number of sets for me, including the former Paramount parks and all associated duplicate coasters. However, I had heard from a lot of people that Kings Island really wasn't that great of park and only had a few noteworthy rides, plus crowds were nearly as bad as Cedar Point. Perhaps it was due to Banshee Bash, perhaps it was due to Fast Lane, or perhaps it was simply due to those I hung out with for the day, but I was not disappointed in the slightest.

Banshee Bash began with an hour of morning ERT on Banshee, Bat, and Delirium. During this time, I did ride Bat a couple times, but most of it was spent on Banshee. All the coaster reviews are below, but for now I'll say this about Banshee: Best new ride of 2014 and best new B&M since Tatsu. Following this ERT, we were given a half-hour on Diamondback before the park was opened to the general public and we were free to roam.

When ERT ended, I joined up with Caroline, Judd, and Nathan and we all decided to head to Beast, then see how many credits we could pick up before lunch at 12:30 P.M. We didn't quite get to all of the credits, but did manage to get on every major coaster except Invertigo, plus we did a couple minor ones as well. Lunch consisted of fried chicken and hot dogs once again. Not the worst of these on the trip, but not quite as good as Coney Island's. During lunch, we also had a Q&A session with park management and got to hear stories about Beast and Cedar Fair TV.

After lunch, it was time for backstage tours. The first tour was a basic photo tour of Banshee, not too interesting but it allowed everyone to get photos from some unique angles.

The second tour took us out into the woods around Beast and Diamondback, and was much more interesting as those areas cannot be seen from within the park.

It wasn't until doing this tour that I realized how hilly the terrain around Beast actually is (the base of the second lift is probably a good 50 feet below the station).

Once the tours ended, we had free time for a bit, so we got the remaining credits out of the way, did a few re-rides, and tried out some of the park's non-coasters.

At 7 P.M., we had reserved seating for Cirque Imagine, Kings Island's new show for this year. I'm not much of a show person, and there are only two theme park shows I consider must-see attractions (Aladdin and Waterworld, excluding nighttime spectaculars), but this was actually pretty decent. There is no dialogue in the show, and it is essentially a 30 minute Cirque du Soleil act. We also got to talk with the cast of the show afterward, which was interesting. After the show, we grabbed dinner, then did a few more rides until it was closing time. After watching the fireworks from a private viewing area in the International Restaurant, we were released into the park for night ERT.

Night ERT began with an hour on Banshee. I wasn't sure how much difference the darkness would make, but it was best riding in the dark. Once Diamondback opened, we headed over there but only managed to get two rides in before the ride was closed for the night. Finally, it was time for Beast ERT. We had a full hour for the Beast, which was just the right amount of time. Once again, I don't want to spoil my Beast review, but I will say this: You have not experienced the Beast until you have ridden it under the cover of darkness.

Beast ERT ended at midnight. Once the final train returned to the station, everyone took a brisk walk/jog out to the parking lot to take the bus back to the hotel. It was a very late night after a 16 hour day at the park, and with a very early departure the next morning I doubt anyone got much sleep. However, though the day at Kings Island had been extremely tiring, I knew it would be difficult to top.

Coaster Reviews:

It is difficult to classify Kings Island's coaster collection. In terms of variety, only Six Flags Magic Mountain seems to have a more diverse line-up of coasters. In terms of quality, however, Kings Island's line-up is fairly average outside of their three headliners. There is definitely a skew at the park toward kiddie and family coasters, as half of the park's coasters fall into that category. In fact, Kings Island's collection contains a lot of the same issues Cedar Point's does, minus the lack of a quality wood coaster, which I feel gives Kings Island the better line-up overall.

Banshee:

It is a fact that B&M has lost their reputation with many enthusiasts. I, however, am a B&M fan, so when Banshee was announced I expected it to be a good ride, probably on par with Raptor. However, the ride blew me away.

Not only was Banshee the best new credit I got this year and one of my top five coasters on the trip, it also became my favorite inverted coaster and one of my top five steel coasters (top ten overall).


The coaster is just right in so many ways: long with no dull moments, good drop, good speed, good layout, good number of inversions, etc. and it has one of the fastest crews I've ever seen (seriously, 45 second dispatch on an inverted coaster). If there is one complaint I have about the ride, it is that the ride has a bit of rattle, but it is not enough to significantly detract from the coaster.

Lastly, while Banshee is great during the day, it is absolutely a top ten ride at night. A

Bat: As far as Arrow suspended coasters go, Bat is somewhere in the middle. It is reasonably intense, yet tame enough to be a family coaster. The ride also has a good amount of swinging, definitely more than Iron Dragon. However, it is a short ride. This was the last Arrow suspended in North America for me, and I would probably rank it second (better than Ninja, not as good as Vortex). C+

Diamondback:

Most people I talked to though this was the best coaster at Kings Island. While I really enjoyed the ride, I personally found it somewhere in the middle of the B&M hypers.

In my opinion, the first half of the ride was good but the second half didn't really do much for me. Perhaps I had too high of expectations, as this is often considered the best of the Cedar Fair hypers, but although I still consider it a top tier coaster I do prefer Intimidator, Leviathan, and Nitro.

Maybe I just need to ride it more, as I only got four rides total on Diamondback and didn't get to try everywhere in the train. A

Beast:

I'll be honest...after my first ride on Beast, I thought it was just okay. Sure, the ride is unique and very, very, very long, but other than the first drop and the helix it felt more like a high speed train out in the woods than a roller coaster.

After riding at night, however, I can see why the coaster is so highly regarded. At night, the Beast is, well, a Beast. In the dark, you can't see where you're going, so running out through the woods on an out of control train is a very thrilling experience. In fact, Beast is probably the second best night ride (after Boulder Dash).

If the ride was more interesting, I would give it a higher grade, but just because the coaster is slightly above average during the day I have to take away some points. A-

Racer:

Racer is not the most exciting coaster out there, but when the ride is racing it may be one of the most fun coasters. Who would think taking a simple out and back and adding a second track would make the ride so much better. Now, I did get the chance to ride both racing and non-racing, and while it is a fairly average family coaster with one train, this is a top five in the park with both trains running. The coaster probably has the most airtime in the park (excluding Diamondback), and while it isn't the smoothest ride out there, racing your friends on the other train is so worth it. C- with one track, B when racing, averages out to B-.

Flight of Fear: I expected this to be like the Kings Dominion version of the ride, and it more or less was. However, the Kings Island version is inferior for four reasons: 1. less dark, 2. rougher, 3. much stronger midcourse brakes, and 4. no Fast Lane. Other than that, it was the same short, intense, disorienting spaghetti bowl in the dark that Kings Dominion has. Also, this ride seems to have problems with overheating, as the crew was waiting two minutes between dispatches. Shame the 45 minute wait meant we could only get one ride. B

Firehawk:

Many people will tell you this ride is terrible. However, I really enjoyed the coaster. In fact, I would take Firehawk over the Superman clones. While Vekoma calls this ride a flying coaster, it is really more of a lay-down coaster as you spend most of the ride on your back. This leads to some very interesting maneuvers, and for first time riders it can be a terrifying experience (seriously, the motion of the first drop totally feels like you are plummeting to your death). Maybe it's because I only rode in the first row, but I thought this was one of Vekoma's best rides and wish there were more of them. B

Vortex:

Every coaster park has a dreaded coaster, and at Kings Island that is typically Vortex. However, I am one of maybe three people on the trip that didn't mind the ride. No, it is not great, but I didn't think the ride was terrible either. Yes, it is true that the ride has a good first drop and you more endure than enjoy the remainder, but unlike some others I'd ride it again on a return visit. C+

Backlot Stunt Coaster:

Of the three Backlot Stunt Coasters, this was the best because most of the effects are still in use. Yes, the coaster is still just a short family coaster (almost like an outdoor Revenge of the Mummy, actually), but it's still a fun ride if you can get on with a short wait. B-

Invertigo: I'm not the biggest fan of shuttle coasters, so while this was better than a standard boomerang it was still my least favorite coaster at Kings Island. The ride wasn't too rough, but wasn't as smooth as CGA's version from what I remember. I do think the seats make the ride, however, and with a standard SLC train these wouldn't be much fun at all. C-

Adventure Express: Not the best mine train, but one of the better ones IMO. The ride is a total family coaster, but that's all it needs to be. I like that there is actually a bit before the first lift hill and the fact that the ride has a lot of tunnels (I think I counted four), but hate the ending as it seems to be building to something other than a brake run. In fact, this replaces Revenge of the Mummy for the most WTF ending. C

Flying ACE Aerial Chase: I've now been on four of the suspended family coasters. This one is the original, but I think it is the best. The coaster is a bit jerky, but the restraints are wide enough to prevent headbanging and for a family coaster the ride is mildly fun. I'm glad this coaster has Fast Lane as the wait looked quite long with only one train. As a side note, this was credit #300 for me. C

Woodstock Express:

A family wooden coaster, and the last of four for me to ride. This one was probably my favorite of the four, as it was smooth (although not very memorable). Good family coaster, but not worth much of a wait (no Fast Lane here, either). C+

Kings Island Coaster Ranking:

Must Ride:

1. Banshee
2. Diamondback
3. Beast

Good Coasters:

4. Firehawk
5. Flight of Fear
6. Racer
7. Backlot Stunt Coaster

Average Coasters:

8. Bat
9. Vortex
10. Woodstock Express
11. Adventure Express
12. Flying ACE Aerial Chase
13. Invertigo

Non-Coaster Summary:

Like Cedar Point, Kings Island has one of the best non-coaster collections of any major park. Due to time constraints, however, I did not ride many of them, but I enjoyed most of those I rode.

My favorite non-coaster ride at Kings Island is Drop Tower. It isn't the world's best drop ride, but it is an above average one and the rotation adds something unique to the attraction. The only other flat ride I rode was Windseeker, which is pretty much the same as all the others (though I do like that they still play film music at Kings Island).


Even though we had ERT on Delirium, I did not ride as I am not a huge fan of this type of ride. In addition, I did try Kings Island's dark ride, Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. The ride itself was better than the other Boo Blasters incarnations I've tried, and thanks to a unique omnimover system the line seemed to move fast, but unfortunately we found the guns didn't work so well on this ride.

I also rode Race For Your Life Charlie Brown, a fairly average log flume with an acceptable amount of wetness, and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower for some nice views.

In addition to what I rode, Kings Island has a number of other flat rides, two other water rides, and what appeared to be one of the best kids areas in any park.

Now that I've been to most of the Cedar Fair properties, I would say Kings Island probably has the best non-coaster collection in the chain, excluding Cedar Point.

Overall Thoughts:

I went into Kings Island expecting to find it just okay, but after visiting I would say it's my second favorite Cedar Fair park and one of my top ten parks overall. For rides, the park has a decent coaster selection (including three top tier coasters), a decent dark ride, a great collection of non-coaster rides, and one of the best kids' areas in the industry. The park is also very well landscaped (with plenty of shady areas), reasonably themed, and has employees who are not only friendly but also fairly efficient as well. The only significant issue I have with the park is one I have with many Cedar Fair properties: food quality. While the lunch wasn't bad (probably the best group lunch I've had at a Cedar Fair park, Mrs. Knott's chicken excluded), the chicken strips I got for dinner were pretty mediocre with a side of slow service and my friends had a poor experience at an in-park Subway. The one food exception is the Banshee ice cream, which is quite good (though not the best ever) and is something I would probably get on every visit. Overall, however, I really enjoyed Kings Island and would definitely go back. If a few minor issues were fixed (excessive braking on some of the coasters) and the park received a couple needed additions (one or two new slide towers for the waterpark and one more top tier coaster), Kings Island could be the best thrill park in North America.

Ride Totals:

Adventure Express: 1
Backlot Stunt Coaster: 1
Bat: 2
Banshee: 5
Beast: 5
Diamondback: 4
Firehawk: 2
Flight of Fear: 1
Flying ACE Aerial Chase: 1
Invertigo: 1
Racer: 4
Vortex: 1
Woodstock Express: 1
Boo Blasters on Boo Hill: 1
Drop Tower: 2
Eiffel Tower: 1
Race For Your Life Charlie Brown: 1
Windseeker: 1

Total: 35 rides in 15 hours (2.33 rides per hour)

Next Up: The tour heads to Kentucky for visits to both Kentucky Kingdom and Beech Bend.

Replies (4)

October 3, 2014, 9:30 AM

I had the same impression of Banshee, and I did find the rattle particularly annoying. I think with the more robust trains, they had to cut some weight, which is where that rattle comes from. I think the biggest improvement in the trains is the added elbow room.

October 4, 2014, 10:41 PM

Yeah, I'm assuming the Banshee trains are lighter than the older Inverted trains, and usually lighter trains tend to have more vibration in them. It's not too bad, especially since the trains are a prototype, but for a brand new ride to be noticeably shaky only half-way through the season shows that improvements could be made. I do wonder how Banshee would run with the old style Invert trains, but it's such a good ride already I doubt the ride would be notably better.

Edited: October 5, 2014, 6:22 PM

You and I are pretty much spot on in agreement when it comes to King's Island. I will go so far as to say that on our recent family trip the days we spent at Kings Island were more enjoyable than the days we spent at Cedar Point.

Interesting comment about Back Lot Stunt Coaster being like an outdoor version of Revenge of the Mummy. I never considered that comparison, but you are correct. Very similar ride, though RotM is a superior experience. However, I rated Back Lot a bit higher than you, above both Racer and Flight of Fear. It is a very good family coaster.

Curious why you didn't try some of the local flavors at the park (LaRosa's or Skyline) instead of just getting the standard eats? While even that food is not particularly great, it is a step above traditional Cedar Fair food.

Oh, and one more thing, Gratz on #300, bro!

Edited: October 5, 2014, 11:25 PM

Kings Island is seriously only one step below Cedar Point in my opinion (if I were to rate them, Cedar Point gets an A and Kings Island is right on the A/A- border). It is a really nice park that would probably get a lot more recognition if it wasn't in Ohio. I'll also say that I lucked out with crowds at Cedar Point, and I wouldn't enjoy it much if I was stuck waiting 60+ minutes for each big coaster as can sometimes happen.

Backlot Stunt Coaster would outrank a non-racing Racer ride for me, but a racing ride on Racer outranks both Flight of Fear and Firehawk, so I have to give it at least one additional place. Mummy and Backlot are a good demonstration of how you can take a good coaster and make it a great ride by adding good theming, as while the layout and trains are different, Backlot is essentially Mummy stripped of its building and dark ride section.

As for your question on food, James, lunch was included so there was no choice there. For dinner we considered LaRosa's and Skyline, but as it was already 8 P.M. and both had lines out the door we opted for something quick. Next time I'll get to one or both.

Flying ACE was my #300, but wait until the end of the trip when I ended up getting #350. What was it? You'll have to wait and see.

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