As the 2014 season at Kings Island comes to a close, the decision to renew my Gold Pass ended up being an easy one, with a perk. The park began offering a free Fast Lane Plus on a Sunday for renewing a Gold Pass before the end of the season. Considering I had just been to Cedar Point a month prior, a trip to Kings Island didn’t look to be happening for the rest of the season until the promotion convinced me to go one more time before resting up and getting ready for the next season.
I drove into the park area at around 10:00AM, with the understanding that they would open up early for Gold Pass holders at 10:30. Right around that time, they opened up and I immediately received my Fast Lane Plus band that would allow me to skip any lines for the day. Now, being a Sunday in the fall, there weren’t many lines in the first place but the guarantee is sure nice to have. Especially at essentially no extra cost to me.
With my band and Gold Pass in hand, I headed into the park to get some early ride time in on Banshee. Every other time I had been to the park this season, I always felt quite a bit queasy getting off of Banshee. I don’t know what it was this time, whether it was the repeated rides, environment, or what have you, I did not feel the slightest bit of motion sickness leaving the ride. This made me very happy as I love riding Banshee, just not the aftertaste that comes with it. So I rode it again. Still, no feeling of awkwardness that I’ve had in the past. I hope this trend continues and I can ride Banshee many more times next season than I did this one.
Getting off of Banshee twice during early ride time, I remembered that I still had not ridden Drop Tower, Kings Island’s rotating tower ride. They appeared to be doing early ride time on this ride as well, so I made the quick walk over there to give it a ‘spin’. Drop Tower was a nice ride, though I do wish I fit better in it. I am quite a tall guy, and I appeared to just barely fit into the restraint. With that fact alone, I probably won’t ride this again without someone else prompting me to.
The Bat is also close by, and I felt I needed to get a ride on that before a line could start forming. To not much surprise, there was no line to be found and I was able to hop on a train instantly. Being there in the fall, The Bat‘s new theme really stands out and makes the coaster feel that much fresher. My experience riding it always seems to change every time as well, with my opinion seeming to be different each time.
As I happened to be leaving The Bat, I had a funny feeling I don’t recall ever feeling before. I appeared to actually be craving Vortex. Vortex has always been one of those rides at Kings Island that I have wanted to love but every ride has felt quite a bit unimpressive to me. Not that it’s been bad at all, just mediocre at best. On the way however, I decided to try Firehawk again because I had only ridden it once before. I did not enjoy my second ride as much as the first, though it was still pretty enjoyable overall.
Stopping near the front of Vortex, I also came to the realization that I had never ridden Windseeker, a ride that takes you up high while spinning you around to give you great views of the surrounding area. Windseeker excelled at what I expected it to do, and didn’t feel all that thrilling even though it was quite high up.
Being next to Vortex, I could hear its lift hill and it just made me want to ride it that much more. I rode somewhere in the middle of the train this time, and it was a surprisingly great ride. I loved it, and I have never said that about a Vortex ride before. The small head-banging, the crazy inversions, they just added to the whole experience more than I ever remember.
Hunger took over at this point, and LaRosa’s Pizza was close and fit what I was looking for at the time. I didn’t eat much but enough to satisfy my stomach until later. The Beast beckoned for me not too far off, and I could not deny its call for me. Either my perception is off, or The Beast is running better than ever this year. The final helix off of the second lift hill has felt insane this year, with me being almost certain that the train is about to fly off the tracks. Rarely do I feel a thrill like that but The Beast has managed every time I’ve ridden it this year.
Being not too far off, Diamondback was a good fit next with its awesome airtime and great speed. While I enjoyed the ride as much as I ever have, I didn’t really feel much desire to ride it again on this trip. Maybe it was that Vortex had impressed me so much, or that I had already ridden it so much this season. Whatever the reason, I’m sure I’ll be ready to get back on by the time the park opens in 2015.
After a quick trip to gobble some famous Blue Ice Cream, I rode Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. I had read on many discussion forums that this ride had been tuned up sometime during the season, so I decided to give it another go-around and see how it compared to last time. Unfortunately, the ride appeared to be about the same, with the blasters still not managing to hit targets as well as you’d hope. Maybe a whole new system needs to be put in place because the system they have now just doesn’t seem to be working.
Leaving it, I decided to eat something more substantial and ate at the Panda Express in the Festhaus building close to Adventure Express. The food is about what you’d expect, nothing more. Being close by Adventure Express, I decided to give it a quick ride. This had been the first time in the entire season that I had seen this ride with absolutely no line. I’m not complaining, it was just plain odd to see. The experience was a bit more forceful this time, with the turns taking more of a toll than I remember.
The day began to wind down as the sun began to set, and I knew I’d have to pick my next rides carefully. I was feeling a bit fatigued, and I had a two hour drive ahead of me to get home. For the first time I can remember, I wanted to ride Vortex again. I dare say the experience was even better the second time. Before this trip, I never would have even recommended Vortex to someone else visiting the park. Now, I think I might just have to ride it every time I’m there.
Before I left, I had to have one last ride on The Racer. The red train had been held up by another guest, but I was able to get on quick. The unfortunate part is that I jammed the lapbar down too far and the entire ride was uncomfortable as a result, with my knees banging into the bar every few seconds. This was not the usual experience I have on the ride, and I’m sure I’ll have better ones in the future just as I did all season.
As the evening drew closer, I made my way over to the Grand Carousel, as I don’t think I’d ever taken a look at it up close. This old ride is a beautiful one, with detailed horses, carriages, and decor all around that make it feel important. In the area were some spooky decorations put there for the Halloween Haunt event Kings Island holds, which were a fun sight to see.
Leaving the park for the year is never all that fun to do, simply because it would be nice to have this much fun all year but I’m sure the next season will provide all sorts of new thrills and spills like never before.