Giga coaster Orion leads Cedar Fair's 2020 attraction reveals

August 15, 2019, 9:30 PM · The Cedar Fair parks are gearing up for National Roller Coaster Day tomorrow with a bushel of new attraction announcements.

The big one comes from Cincinnati, where Kings Island announced its largest investment in park history - and the fastest, tallest and longest steel coaster in the park - the Giga coaster Orion, with a 300-foot drop and a top speed of 91 mph along a 5,321-foot track. Here's the concept POV:

Elsewhere, two of Cedar Fair's top parks will be celebrating major anniversaries next summer. Knott's Berry Farm will celebrate its 100th birthday with "A Knott's Family Reunion" in 2020. If you're surprised to hear that the park is that old, well... it's not. (Okay, that pun works a lot better if you say it aloud.) Next year's 100th anniversary actually commemorates the 1920 founding of Walter Knott's original berry stand — the Knott's Berry Farm that over the years evolved into the theme park we know today.

A Knott's Family Reunion
Images courtesy Cedar Fair

Knott's is promising "festive park decor, themed food items, unique entertainment, exclusive merchandise and special surprises along the way" for the event, with more details to follow in the coming months.

Meanwhile, flagship Cedar Point will be celebrating an even bigger anniversary in 2020 — its 150th birthday. The Ohio park will celebrate the anniversary of Louis Zistel first ferrying guests to Cedar Point in 1870 to visit its new bathhouse and beer garden... and the beach.

As for the festivities next year, "guests will enjoy a fully-immersive nighttime celebration along the Main Midway, try new, delicious and innovative food options (along with a few throwbacks of old), take home new memories with a complete line of nostalgic souvenirs and merchandise, step into a reimagined Town Hall in Frontier Town and climb aboard a river expedition for a new generation," Cedar Point said in its press release. Again, more details to come.

Carowinds and Worlds of Fun will be adding new mat racing water slides to their water parks in 2020. Boogie Board Racers at Carolina Harbor will be the longest mat racing slide in the Southeast, while Riptide Raceway at Oceans of Fun will be the longest in the Midwest, according to the company.

Boogie Board Racers
Boogie Board Racers

Kings Dominion also is focusing on its water park in 2020, with a renovation of Soak City's Coconut Shores area. Improvements will include Lighthouse Landing, multi-level sprayground play structure, and Sand Dune Lagoon, a mini wave pool with a two-foot water depth and one-foot waves.

Replies (19)

August 16, 2019 at 2:43 PM

Well, well, well ……… Cedar Fair are sticking with their crown jewel at Carowinds, and SWE looks like they're coming in and taking all the glory over the next couple of years ….. :) (If the latest BGWfans reveal is to be believed ??)

This has me pondering a change to my vacation plans for next year. Pantheon certainly has me more interested than Orion, and with Cedar Point disappointingly not showcasing any new coasters for 2020 and it’s 150th, a BGT visit, followed by an east coast trip, looks more and more likely. Now, all we need is for BGT/SWE to announce something, anything ??, about Gwazi unleashed (LOL … :) ..) and I’ll be set.

Very underwhelmed about Orion to be honest. Is it likely to be Cedar Fair’s 5th best Giga ??

August 16, 2019 at 8:11 AM

Cedar Point, the self-described America's Roller Coast, isn't going to build a roller coaster for its 150th Anniversary? And to top it off, the only additions are going to be some tweaks to Frontier Town and what sounds like some more intricate theming to Thunder Canyon similar to what Knott's did to Calico River Rapids. Sorry, color me unimpressed, and I expected a lot more from Cedar Point for this "big" anniversary year. At the very least they could have installed a much-needed dark ride that has been rumored for this park for well over a decade.

Orion looks decent, but doesn't really break any new ground. For a coaster that has been in development for at least 2+ years, you would think Kings Island would be able to find some hook to make this coaster unique. There's not a single underground tunnel or any other unique maneuver based on the concept video, and the layout aside from that high speed, low-slung airtime hill after the big turnaround, looks meh when compared to Fury 325 and Leviathan.

Waterpark additions are always underwhelming, but are necessary at theme parks where the waterparks are connected and part of a theme park admission. I will note that Kings Dominion's Soak City waterpark is not only a far walk from the front of the park and parking lot, but has a majority of its attractions buried even further back behind Racer 75, but it sounds like the new attractions will add some much needed things to do near the entrance and main locker room area where the old Tornado water slide used to be. However, I do wonder why a waterpark needs a THIRD wave pool when they rarely have both existing wave pools open at the same time. The kid's splash structure also duplicates a feature already found in Soak City, though perhaps this one may be targeted at a specific demographic. While I didn't expect them to announce Volcano's replacement would be open for 2020 (Cedar Fair seems to be on the 2-year plan these days when building major coasters), but I felt that they should have taken the opportunity to at least say that a roller coaster would be coming in 2021 and perhaps identify a manufacturer and coaster type (my money is on a B&M flier). Volcano is completely gone, and it looks like they have survey markers all over the site to begin construction for whatever is going into this spot.

Overall, I think Cedar Fair really missed the mark this year with their one big addition looking mediocre compared to existing similar installations within the CF portfolio, and they definitely dropped the ball with Cedar Point's big anniversary year. The ball's in your court SF, but from the sounds of it, I have to agree with Makorider that Sea World is definitely winning 2020 right now based on what's been announced thus far.

August 16, 2019 at 10:33 AM

I agree that Pantheon looks more interesting than Orion. Orion is not something we haven't seen before and not something I'd make a special trip to Kings Island to ride. When I think of the roller coasters I've ridden which opened last year, the two that stand out - apart from Steel Vengeance, which is in a class by itself - are Time Traveler & Wicker Man, notable for their striking originality.

August 16, 2019 at 1:54 PM

Anyone know the manufacturer on this one?

August 16, 2019 at 2:15 PM

Looking at Orion, my thoughts can be summed up as "It looks great, but it doesn't look unique." I've never been a fan of Cedar Fair adding B&M gigas to parks that already have B&M hypers as it seemed redundant, but at least Carowinds made an effort to ensure Fury 325 and Intimidator were very different rides. Unfortunately, the same can't be said here. For those who live within a couple hundred miles of Kings Island, Orion is certainly a big deal, but beyond that distance it has minimal drawing power. I do look forward to riding it the next time I visit the park (and will probably consider it a top 2-3 there), but it does nothing to bump a return trip to Ohio higher on my priority list.

As for the rest of the chain, it seems that the smaller parks were the real winners for 2020 while the larger parks were mostly mild disappointments. In particular, California's Great America and Michigan's Adventure are getting outstanding additions given the size of the parks. That said, I'm happy to see that every park in the chain is getting something new next year, and I'm sure most will appeal strongly to the local market. Cedar Fair said they were planning to spend less on high-budget rides and more on interactive guest experiences, which is clearly what they are doing here. Hopefully it pays off for the chain.

August 16, 2019 at 2:27 PM

I agree AJ .... very localised interest for sure.

Will Gwazi be the same though ? Are we getting to the point where B&M gigas and RMC hybrids are looked upon as somewhat blah ??

Never thought I'd ever say that, but there it is !!

August 16, 2019 at 4:58 PM

Makorider, that is the main reason why I'm thinking Pantheon is likely to be my most anticipated 2020 coaster (unless Six Flags pulls out something amazing). There are enough RMCs in the US now that new rides need something to set them apart, and if RMC Gwazi doesn't have something that can't be found on the other IBoxes, I've got a feeling there will be a lot of disappointment. The main difference is that BGT doesn't need something to pull people to Florida, they only need something to pull people away from Disney and Universal for a day. I think the ride will have enough superlatives to accomplish that, especially if accompanied by a promotion in the area. Kings Island, on the other hand, seems to be marketing their ride to people who would likely visit Kings Island anyway, which will make it difficult to gain enough additional attendance to recoup the cost of a $30 million B&M.

August 16, 2019 at 6:00 PM

If RMC Gwazi wasn’t in my back yard, I would be thinking about it in the same way as Orion ... I’ll ride it next time I make it to the park.

As with a few of us on here, Pantheon holds most interest for me. As Russell mentioned, SWE is seemingly out in front of the pack for 2020 coasters ... but then again he’s the lucky one with Pantheon in his back yard .... :)

August 16, 2019 at 10:19 PM

Maybe it's me but most parks typically dont add a major new attraction during an anniversary year, they let that be the anniversary in itself along with special shows, food and celebrations be the attraction. Not sure why people had those "new coaster" ambitions. I for one won't be complaining about Orion, it seems to be offering a different experience compared to the parks current hyper coaster. Just like Leviathan and Fury, I'm sure this will be an incredible ride, even with a park with a hyper. Not sure about comments on the marketing stand point of KI just targeting local attendance, it's hardly been 24 hours and the announcement alone has been saturated with coverage by major news/cable/political networks.
@Russell the wave pool in the back of the park will he closed and demolished leaving the current and the new kid wave pool

August 17, 2019 at 3:35 PM

The RMC Gwazi is going to be larger than Steel Vengeance. You can’t possibly tell me it isn’t the most anticipated coaster of 2020, especially for those of us in Florida who have never had an RMC anywhere near us. Agreed on Orion, not a needle-mover for me, but I’d be thrilled f I lived in Cincinnati.

And Makorider, you’re in luck...the SWO 2020 coaster is mooted to be a near-clone of Pantheon.

August 19, 2019 at 12:01 AM

The "theme" of this ride is hilariously cringeworthy.

August 19, 2019 at 7:53 AM

"And Makorider, you’re in luck...the SWO 2020 coaster is mooted to be a near-clone of Pantheon."

Nope - All of the rumors for Sea World Orlando's new coaster (under construction near Wild Arctic) is that it will be similar to the jet ski-style coaster, Wave Breaker, at Sea World San Antonio. The Orlando park desperately needs more family friendly thrill rides. Antarctica is barely what I would call a "thrill ride", while all the other coasters aside from Journey to Atlantis have height requirements that alienate younger thrill seekers that need something more exciting than the kiddie rides in Sesame Street Land.

August 19, 2019 at 8:29 AM

It's odd how SWE are keeping the 2 Florida coasters out of the limelight, yet announcing the arrival of the others outside of the state.

BGT issued a video on Friday to commemorate roller coaster day, and it included a very quick snippet of some RMC Gwazi on-ride, but apart from watching the structure rise higher and higher, and seeing all the bright purple track lying around the new ride, we don't know a lot else.

Orlando is even quieter, although I agree with Russell, it's definitely not a clone of Pantheon. A family ride for sure. Footers are going in, so that one's coming along slowly. Rumours circulate that it's a Premier ride, but we still haven't seen a 100% confirmation on that either.

August 19, 2019 at 11:59 AM

The leaked layout I saw had a similar triple launch to Pantheon, along with a top hat element and potential inversions. I suppose we shall see.

I am confident that the BGT addition will be the 2020 world headliner.

August 19, 2019 at 1:14 PM

SWO's coaster is a Premier...that is confirmed by track that is now on site. It will have a similar triple launch to Pantheon and a top hat (though much smaller), but the rest of the ride is not going to be as extreme. Intensity-wise, I'm thinking it will be on par with Cheetah Hunt...not crazy, but not a family coaster either.

As for RMC Gwazi, it will be slightly taller than Steel Vengeance but only about 2/3 the length. I expect it to be a great ride, but I do not expect most to consider it the best RMC.

August 19, 2019 at 1:32 PM

Steel Vengeance is obviously the coaster they had been building towards for years and it'd be very difficult for the BGT ride to top it, but I think it would take really being in our little theme park bubble to think that RMC's popularity is fading or that this BGT coaster isn't going to be a massive addition to the world roller coaster scene.

August 19, 2019 at 11:44 PM

Evanweston, I'm not saying that RMC Gwazi won't be a big deal, but given the prevalence of RMC rides now I don't know that it will make as big of a splash as it would have 3-5 years ago. Gwazi will be RMC #20...by the time it opens, not only is there at least one in every other theme park region in the United States (with most hosting 2-3), but there are also RMCs in Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden. For those who live in Florida, or those planning a trip to Florida, this is going to be a must hit ride. For others, unless it is substantially different than their local RMC coaster, there won't be a huge rush to get to Florida.

August 20, 2019 at 7:29 AM

AJ .... agreed, RMC Gwazi will be a huge hit for us Floridians, but, as with Orion, if it was being built in another state, I would not be planning my next vacation to go to a park and ride it.

As an aside .... Midway posted some pics last night ..... there is a piece of purple track on the wooden structure of RMC Gwazi !!

To be honest, I'm not even sure what type of ride/coaster would make me plan a vacation for the sole purpose of riding it. I think Gatekeeper was the last one that I had watched being built and then booked a vacation at CP to specifically ride it.

The bright orange track at SWO is definitely of Premier design, and we're all aware of what the ride is going to be like, but until SWE officially announce something, all we have to go by at the moment is the Tigris colored track.

August 21, 2019 at 11:31 PM

New Gwazi will definitely be a much better coaster than Orion, I say that will full confidence knowing basically nothing about Gwazi other than its an RMC. I've been on most of the RMCs and most all of the B&M hyper/giga coasters. No disrespect to Kings Island I think their new coaster will be a fine addition for them.

The thing about these massive B&M coasters is that they are so expensive that they are just not going to be very long because of the cost to make them so tall. So my expectations are pretty low going into these things, I liked Fury but wouldn't put it anywhere near my top 10. Almost all of the RMC steel "re-do" coasters I have ridden are in my top 10.

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