Despite dire predictions from Punxsutawney Phil and a “bomb cyclone” that coated the mid-Atlantic in an inch or more of snow Saturday, Kings Dominion surprised guests during opening weekend by debuting the park’s newest coaster, Tumbili. The 4-D Free Spin roller coaster from S&S Sansei had been sitting unassembled in the parking lot since mid-2020, and did not start going vertical until the beginning of 2022, so to have this coaster debut on the first official operating day of the season is quite an accomplishment. I was lucky enough to have an early season visit planned to Kings Dominion this Sunday and happened to stumble upon the new coaster fully operational (the previous day, the coaster reportedly only ran for a few cycles due to heavy wind and cold temperatures).
While the coaster was running pretty consistently after a delayed opening, it was clear that there is still some work to do. The queue area is not complete, and even on a day when there probably weren’t more than 2,000 guests in the park, the line for Tumbili snaked all the way to The Outpost Café (former Outer Hanks restaurant). Also, there weren’t any large signs to identify the new attraction, though new signs and thematic elements were installed throughout the land. However, there was quite a bit of theming already present on the coaster. The coaster supports are painted to look like a giant bamboo structure, and the surrounding area has plants, lighting, and other features to reinforce the jungle theme. Also, a percussive soundtrack with primate noises is synchronized with the train’s assent up the vertical lift.
As with other S&S 4-D Free Spin coasters, the load/unload station has two sides, which requires an employee to control guests going to each side of the station to keep the lines even. Because this is a smaller version of this coaster, there is only one load/unload platform, and only two trains operate on the track at any given time with eight riders per train (four on each side of the track), so even when the coaster is running efficiently, guests can expect the line to move pretty slowly.
Once seated, guests are secured by over-the-shoulder restraints with ratcheting vests and redundant seat belts similar to current generation B&M OTSRs and what you will find on other S&S 4-D Free Spin coasters. The seats are comfortable, and the restraints are not too restrictive while still accommodating larger guests (guests must be between 48” and 77” tall to ride). When the train is cleared for dispatch, riders ascend the 112-foot vertical lift hill. Because of the train design each pair of seats can spin/flip freely based on speed, momentum, and weight distribution, as riders can go head over heels while the train progresses down the course. A series of magnetic brakes helps to manage the speed and encourage spins at different spots along the course.
The brakes are most noticeable as the track doubles under itself on each of the four layers of track. Because of the free spinning nature of the coaster, the ride experience can be highly variable. However, based on my observations, the back row appeared flipped more frequently than the front. On our one ride of the day, Zach and I completed two full flips in the back row (both on the top layer), while my wife never fully flipped seated in the front row. After less than a minute, the blur of an experience is over.
The coaster itself is pretty fun, mostly because of the unpredictability of the flips, but there’s a pretty big difference between Tumbili and larger versions of this coaster like Joker at Six Flags Great Adventure, where it’s common to get three or four flips per ride. However, the theming here is far better than the other 4-D Free Spin coasters I’ve seen and fits extremely well in the new Jungle Expedition land. The smaller size also dramatically affects the throughput of this ride, which means this operates much closer to a small flat ride than a typical roller coaster. Perhaps that’s why Kings Dominion didn’t put a lot of fanfare behind the debut of this new attraction.
Tumbili is the first new addition to the park’s rethemed Jungle Expedition land, which used to be called The Congo.
While the Jungle Expedition name is new for 2022, the transformation from The Congo began in 2018 when Volcano, The Blast Coaster closed. The removal of the unique Intamin launching inverted coaster necessitated the removal of the surrounding iconic mountain, which triggered the thematic change for the land. As part of the change to Jungle Expedition in 2022, Avalanche (Intamin bobsled coaster) has been repainted bright orange and renamed Reptilian, while the Scrambler flat ride has been renamed Arachnidia.
Tumbili takes the place of The Crypt (formerly Tomb Raider Firefall), which was a highly themed Huss Top Spin flat ride removed after the 2020 season. The size and throughput of Tumbili is probably on par with The Crypt, and guests should approach this new coaster more like a flat ride than a typical roller coaster that can carry over 1,000 riders per hour. The expectation is that whatever is eventually installed to replace Volcano will ultimately anchor Jungle Expedition and have a much higher capacity, but for now guests may be frustrated with the slow-moving lines for Tumbili. Kings Dominion has yet to announce what will take the place of Volcano, but construction equipment in the area would suggest that prep work for a future anchor attraction is on the way. Let the speculation begin.
But until then, let’s take a look at Tumbili in action....
Robert's note: For a review of that bigger Joker ride, check out Bobbie Butterfield's The Joker wreaks havoc at Six Flags Great Adventure. And for my take on the somewhat similar Intamin ZacSpin model, here is my review of the now-defunct Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
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