Dominator debuts at Kings Dominion [with video]

May 20, 2008, 9:04 PM · It’s billed as the longest floorless coaster with one of the tallest vertical loops in the world, and the 4,210 foot long B&M creation does not disappoint. Typical guests won’t realize it, but the Kings Dominion’s newest addition is not new at all.

It’s a coaster that was installed at the now defunct Geauga Lake (formerly known as Six Flags Worlds of Adventure) in 2000, as Batman Knight Flight. Six Flags operated the coaster for 4 years until Cedar Fair bought the Aurora, OH park in 2004. The newly renamed Dominator operated at Geauga Lake through last year, when Cedar Fair made the announcement that the park would operate exclusively as a water park for the 2008 season.

Kings Dominion became the biggest benefactor of the transformation of Geauga Lake, as their most valuable asset, Dominator, made its way 400 miles southeast from central Ohio to central Virginia. The move is likely to pay off for Cedar Fair, as Kings Dominion continues its success drawing fans from Virginia, Maryland, and the Washington, DC area, while Geauga Lake’s popularity wanes.

Dominator gives Kings Dominion its very first B&M roller coaster. It is also a coaster that can handle large crowds, a trait that is not seen in any of the other coasters at Kings Dominion, particularly the now dismantled Hypersonic XLC. Dominator also features more inversions (5) than any of the other coasters in the park, bringing the park’s total inversion count to 18 between the 13 roller coasters.

Aerial view of Dominator

Dominator is conveniently located near the front of the park, just a short stroll off of Main Street. The coaster is readily visible from the main parking lot, and the roar of this steel beast will likely taunt guests before they even walk through the front gates. Unlike Geauga Lake, where the coaster track was predominantly over water, Dominator is situated at Kings Dominion around a large pedestrian plaza, where guests not wanting to ride can observe virtually the entire ride. The only problem with the placement of Dominator is that bathrooms are a bit of a hike, with the closest ones all the way back on Main Street or in Kidzville. It’s likely that the park will do a brisk business during the hot humid days of summer selling cold beverages with no water fountains nearby, especially considering the majority of the queue line is not covered.

Those who rode the coaster in Ohio will not detect any changes. Dominator features five inversions, a 135-foot tall vertical loop, a cobra roll (2 inversions), and an interlocking pair of corkscrews. Fans of B&M designs will be very familiar with these inversions, but will likely be surprised by the intensity of the twists and turns between the inversions. The coaster starts out with a 157-foot drop accelerating the floorless trains to speeds approaching 65 miles per hour, making Dominator the second fastest coaster in the park behind Volcano: The Blast Coaster. Riders are then sent through one of the largest vertical loops in the world before negotiating two highly banked turns.

The coaster then goes through a cobra roll, which provides the best opportunity for “foot-choppers” in the front row, before reaching the mid-course brake.

After the brake, riders are given a rare treat on a looping coaster, airtime. The drop after the brake provides almost a full second of airtime that is best experienced in the back row. The train then sends riders through two interlocking corkscrews, a common element on B&M looping coasters, before going through a tight helix and back to the station.

Let's ride...

My impression of this coaster hasn’t changed much since its move from Ohio. The coaster is pretty intense, particularly for a B&M, but with only five inversions and a layout that doesn’t really take advantage of the floorless trains, it still falls behind Kraken and Superman: Krypton Coaster in the floorless coaster hierarchy. Its billing as the longest floorless coaster seems deceptive, since there are parts of the coaster at the beginning and end that seem like filler to achieve the length record. However, the unique layout sets it apart from other coasters, and fills a needed void at Kings Dominion by offering a high capacity, high-thrill attraction that will keep guests coming back for more. Dominator will open to the public just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 22, 2008.

Replies (8)

May 20, 2008 at 10:14 PM · Great report, as always, Russell. Thanks!
May 20, 2008 at 11:41 PM · Another great ride report!

While the area around the coaster looks a little short on eye-candy, foliage, or anything other than dirt, the coaster itself looks like a lot of fun.

I may make it out to KD towards the end of the summer when I fly back to Annandale, VA to visit some friends. If I do make it to the park, this coaster definitely looks like it would be the first stop on my KD Touring Plan!

May 21, 2008 at 3:47 AM · KD, always a contender in the coaster category, adds a top-flight attraction to its repertoire of rides. I loved this ride at Geauga Lake, and now it's another reason to go back to Kings Dominion. Perhaps they should have named it "Dominionator."
May 21, 2008 at 5:59 AM · I was on a coaster run in Ohio last August and stopped at Geauga Lake on a Thursday just one month before it closed for good. It was like my own private amusement park for the first few hours as the park was nearly empty. Once Dominator opened for the day (operators arrived about 30 minutes after the park opening) I rode it six times in a row - four of those as the only passenger. I'm looking forward to trying Dominator in its new home when I get to visit Six Flags America, King's Dominion and Busch Gardens Europe while tacking a short coaster outing to a brief business trip to DC in mid-June. (Although I'm most excited about my first-ever trip to BGE.)
May 21, 2008 at 6:37 AM · Your report puts mine to shame :)
May 21, 2008 at 9:04 AM · I've been watching the progress of this all winter long as we, too, have a planned trip to BGE (first trip ever), Six Flags America and purchased our tickets to Kings Dominion about a month ago. We're excited to visit this park. This coaster looks awesome and we can't wait to ride. Woo Hoo!
May 21, 2008 at 5:28 PM · KD has a winner here. I've ridden this one several of the best B&M's in the country. I don't necessarily agree that it's inferior to Kraken. It's pretty neat that they surrounded it with pathways though. Maybe a little more development around the coaster would look a little better.
May 25, 2008 at 10:00 PM · I rode Dominator today - front row and back row, (and got the free T-shirt!) It is an excellent ride; the best KD has to offer. It's best described as an "up-close-and-personal-coaster". All of the cue lines and the station are part of the experience as Dominator makes multiple passes within a few feet of guests waiting for and departing the ride. It is very loud (in a good way) and the ground shakes noticeably when the train is near. The "noise" seems to be due to both the proximity of the track to the spectators and the design of the box-beam rail which produces that hollow roar even when the train isn't nearby.

The front seat had the novelty of absolutely no floor but the best ride was in the back row. The inversions are very much like those of the inverted Alpengeist (at BGE) and similar in intensity. The ride is "B&M smooth" but a little "shakier" than other B&M's (but not jerky, in any way). The arrangement of the relatively long track and various features into a compact area is well done. The lines moved very quickly; something KD has never seen. My favorite sensations were the first drop (back row), the tall loop (back row), the general nearness to the ground/people/structures (front row) and the resulting impression of speed and change of direction. Seats were comfortable and attractive. The view of the track from anywhere and everywhere and the constant roar (again, a GOOD sound) are unmatched. All seats are "good seats". Decent, brief air-time is experienced on the 1st hill and after the MCBR, but the strength of Dominator is in the inversions and uniqueness of the layout.

Negatives: There is no theming and no scenic/landscaping value at this point. Painting has not been completed. The attendant made me remove my tightly strapped-on prescription glasses on my SECOND ride. (No explanation.)

Ride it!

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