KI Opening Day 2013

KI Opening Day 2013 Review

MAY 12, 2013 AT 10:33 PM

Hi, my name is Tom, and it’s an honor to be posting this as a KIfansite fantributor! This year, my opening day started when my alarm woke me up at 5:30 that morning. I live about 20 miles from the park, but I wanted to be one of the first cars at the parking gate. When I got there at 7:30 am I was the ninth car in line. I also saw runners line up for the 5K that happened before the park opened and also begin the race from the parking lot. The gate didn’t open until 8:30 so I passed some time talking with some friends from Milford, Lexington, Cleveland, and even Washington, D.C. When the gates opened, my platinum pass was scanned, and I parked my car.

When I got to the front gate, I met up with my friend, Jeff, from Dent, whose ride dropped him off at around 8 o’clock. Then, my friends from Lexington, Angie and Rob, met back up with us. We then chatted about where we had been at parks this year. Jeff and I went down to Dollywood late last month for three days, and we actually met up with them down there on the last day. Not only had they been to Dollywood, but also to Knott’s Berry Farm and to some parks in China (I can’t recall which ones offhand) and Japan (Tokyo Disneyland and Fuji-Q Highland). They told me that they really enjoyed Fuji-Q’s 4th dimension coaster, Eeejanaika.

There was some confusion at 9 o’clock when the national anthem played for the front gate entrance plaza because we all knew ERT started at 9:30. As soon as the national anthem stopped playing, I turned around and saw no one at the turnstiles. An employee from Guest Relations then told us that the park would open at 9:30.

For the next 10 minutes or so, friends came up to chat with us that I hadn’t seen since last season. It’s always great to talk with other friends that are coaster enthusiasts. Then, suddenly, the turnstiles opened without warning at about 9:10. My pass was scanned and I went to the entrance to Planet Snoopy and waited about 20 minutes for ERT. At that time, our passes were looked at, and we all ran to Diamondback to try to get first train of the year. I succeeded and sat in row 13 by myself. Even after riding it over 200 times, Diamondback still delivers for me when I ride it now. I LOVE the speed and airtime it gives me no matter where I sit. When I got back in the station, I heard my friend, Adam Wasiljov, yell my name a few times. He was a single rider in line for row 15, and asked me to ride with him. I then exited the train to the right, waited for the people behind me to exit, and then sat in row 15 with Adam for another great airtime-packed thrill ride! I then thanked Adam for letting me ride with him and went down the exit ramp.

If you know me well then you know my KI guilty pleasure is Backlot Stunt Coaster. I decided to get in line for the rope drop near the edge of Coney Island in Rivertown which was just before LaRosa’s. Jeff was waiting for me there since I told him I wanted to ride BLSC after Diamondback. While waiting I snapped this pic of some of the first riders of the season on Diamondback.

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Then, at 10 o’clock the rope dropped and Jeff and I ran with everyone else, but almost no one immediately went to Backlot. Jeff and I got first train of the year with me sitting with someone in row 2 and him sitting in row 3. When I got on the train, I noticed that BLSC now has no seat belts. I always enjoy my ride on Backlot. Over 200 rides later I still love the ride for its intense launch and helix, the lateral inducing first little twists and turns, the fire and simulated gunshots from the helicopter, and especially my favorite coaster element, the tunnel! When we were coming back I noticed that red, white, and blue bins were added to the exit platform. Finally, when coming off the exit ramp, I noticed that my guilty pleasure finally got the paint job that it’s needed for the past few seasons at least. It’s the same color black, but without the nasty looking wheel lines that lacked paint for so long. All in all, I was impressed with the improvements, both subtle and major, that were made to this ride.

We then walked through Coney Mall on the way to get tickets for my favorite flat ride at KI, SlingShot. I was amazed at how dead Coney was. If I had to guess, there were only about 50 people in total on both sides of the midway at that time. Jeff said that almost everyone was probably at Diamondback and The Beast. I agreed.

After buying our SlingShot tickets for only $5 apiece, we headed into Action Zone. The first noticeable difference was that the tower that used to be the centerpiece in Action Zone was gone. I’ve since been told that Jim Bonaminio bought the tower for one of his Jungle Jim’s International Market stores in the area. To me at least, Action Zone doesn’t look that much different without the tower. You actually notice the On Location gift shop more which will hopefully bring even more business to the shop.

SAMSUNGThe next noticeable thing that Jeff and I noticed was a tall wooden fence in front of the former Thunder Alley go-kart area that had banners with a yellow and black warning sign stripes as the backdrop. In front of the stripes was a picture of a surveillance camera with the words: WARNING VIDEO AND AUDIO MONITORING IN PROGRESS. Due to the increasing occurrence of mysterious and bone-chilling screams, it has become necessary to close this section of the park until the cause of this evil phenomenon can be identified. I took a pic of the banners on the fence.

I got a few shots from the Action Zone midway that showed the lack of a humongous wooden lift hill and drop that I had seen for thirteen seasons in the past. It looked SO weird not seeing this now.

 

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Jeff and I then decided to ride Flight Deck. I took this shot from FD’s station.

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I’ve always liked Flight Deck, but this ride was unique in a weird way. If you look at the chassis on the trains, you’ll notice that SAMSUNGsome black nylon hangs down from the chassis in a kind of weird shape that looks almost like half of an oval. It also had a small hole that points down towards riders. We noticed when we got on the train that the seats were a little wet. The guy that was on the ride before us said, “Oh yeah. It’ll get ya wet!”  I believe the night before in The Mason area it had rained and water just accumulated in the nylon. The ride after the lift hill had the extra fun of getting squirted with water from the hole with every drop and turn. We went into the brake run laughing hard due to our slightly soggy experience. Overall, it was a great ride that won’t be forgotten soon. Coming off Flight Deck I took this shot of the former Son of Beast area.  It looks strange not seeing SOB’s rose bowl double helix any more.

After that, Jeff and I decided to take a ride on Adventure Express, mostly to check out SOB’s former area from the first lift hill. By this time, the park was getting busy in areas other than Rivertown and Adventure Express had almost a full queue. I’d waited in a line about this long before and remembered it was only about a 20 minute wait. We got to the station about 15 minutes later and rode in the fifth to last row. SOB’s former area looked completely barren from the lift. AE gives the same ride as before, but it interacts with SOB’s area at least two or three times throughout its course. Both from the lift and with every interaction, I caught myself saying, “WHOA!” due to seeing just barren dirt from where, in my opinion, a great wooden coaster used to be.

We then decided to go to SlingShot and wait a little over an hour. On the way there we noticed new planters to the entrance of the bar behind Hank’s Burrito Shack that looked really good. Also, the awnings that used to be over the seated area of the bar are now gone letting rays of sunshine freely into the area, While in line, Jeff pointed out a hole in the fence where preliminary footers could be seen for the 2014 project and he took a pic. I also snapped a pic, but it didn’t come out too good. SlingShot always delivers a great ride! I love the feeling of being launched 270 feet in the air and flipping multiple times… only this time we didn’t flip at all. I think I got a little overzealous trying to REALLY flip the cage at the top of the launch, but it was still a great ride.

After we got off SlingShot, we met up with my friends Lillian, Pete, Aaron, and Aaron (yes there were two Aarons) and went to Action Zone to investigate SOB’S former site. We all agreed that something HUGE would be coming to KI next season due to the earliness of the teasers on the wooden fence. After that, we went up on the Eiffel Tower to get a better look and take some pics. I got one good shot in, and my phone battery became too low to take any more pics. This shot gives an overview of the former SOB and Thunder Alley go-kart areas.

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Jeff and I then decided to eat some LaRosa’s pizza in Rivertown, and let my phone charge next to the squirt gun game for a while.

While my phone was charging, I met up with my friend, Josh, and chit chatted a little about coasters and parks in general. We then decided to go back up on the Eiffel Tower to get some more shots of the SOB area. Here are some that I took:

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If you look closely there are a few stakes right behind SlingShot and what look like they could be footers for transfer track in the former go-kart area.

The former lift hill and drop area.

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The former rose bowl area.

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Thunder Alley’s go-karts lay dormant near Firehawk.

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We then decided to go to Vortex. This is when I realized how busy the park had really gotten. On the way to Vortex, I noticed that Monster had a full queue and Scrambler also had a full queue with 20-30 people in line spilling onto the midway. I can’t remember the last time I saw that at the park. Josh, Jeff, and I then got in line for Vortex… at about the end of the Sprite basketball game (I think it’s called “Nothing But Net.”)/the back of Jukebox Diner. This was probably a good 50-60 feet behind the official entrance. It took about 35-40 minutes to get to the station building, but the line moved fast once we were there. We also noticed that some of Vortex’s station queues (near the boarding platform) had been taken out since they’re not used as much nowadays. This made the station a little bit more comfortable and roomier. Once on the ride, I enjoyed it, but not like I did near the end of last season where it pretty much became another guilty pleasure of mine. I’ll still gladly ride it again if I’m by myself or with a group that wants to ride it though.

Next was Blue Racer. This had almost a full queue, BUT DON’T LET THIS KEEP YOU FROM RIDING! It looks like a God awful line, but it only takes about twenty minutes to get through tops. In fact, I think we waited about 15 minutes total. Racer had a few changes to report. I believe the top of the entrance building was painted because the bluish-green color looks a little more vibrant to me at least. Also, the overhead coverings over the ramp to the station are now gone. Finally, Racer’s station is pretty much like Gemini’s (at Cedar Point) in that you choose which side you want to ride on in the station itself. This was accomplished by removing all the fencing that formerly separated the individual sides. I try to ride Racer every time I go to KI pretty much and very rarely get a trimless ride on either side. I was fully expecting the trims to grab as we climbed up to the turnaround, but it didn’t happen. As a result, we got some noticeable airtime on the hills that lead back to the station which is never a bad thing.

Next, Josh suggested Adventure Express since we were close by. I don’t mind the ride and Jeff was up for anything so we took a second ride. It still amazes me not seeing a giant wooden structure where one stood for 14 seasons. Flight Deck was next also due to proximity. For such a small coaster, FD packs a punch to me. I try to also ride it every time I go to KI.

By this time, we were all getting hungry, and my phone needed to charge again. I got some orange chicken form Panda Express inside Festhaus with some steamed rice. Good food, but it had some spicy kick to it. After my phone got enough charge. Josh decided to go home since his iPhone was getting low on battery too. Jeff and I decided to go to the new Reds Hall of Fame Grille to get some good shots. Let me just say that if you’re even remotely interested in baseball, you will LOVE this new addition to the park! Here’s what you see on the wall when you walk in.

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There are artifacts in certain sections of the restaurant that will grab your attention right away. Here’s one I took a picture of.

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There’s also a case that has a few old Louisville Slugger bats. There are important dates in Reds’ history all throughout the restaurant on the wall. The tables and the bar top itself are encased with tickets, programs, and baseball cards just to name the bare minimum. There are even historic photos of players encased on table tops. Here’s a pic of the bar area.

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If you’re more into roller coasters than you are baseball then you’ll want to venture out onto the new patio area. Diamondback’s lift hill is within 50 feet and provides some great shots like this one.

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At this point, I wanted to ride Drop Tower to check out the former SOB area even though it had gotten dark. We checked out the line and it was only about a 5-10 minute wait so we hopped in line. While on the ride, I spotted our friend, Phil, watching us as we were having our restraints checked. Jeff and I couldn’t see too many details at all really of the former SOB site, but Drop Tower really is a spectacular night ride. I love being able to see the majority of the park from the height that DT provides. All the lights from across the interstate, Great Wolf Lodge, and the surrounding neighborhoods make this visual experience simply beautiful. I always enjoy the three second speed rush Drop Tower gives me and this ride was no different. I’ll be riding it a lot this season to see the progressing developments in the 2014 project.

After DT, Phil joined us and we went over to Invertigo to find it had about a 15 minute wait. I like Invertigo, but this ride was unique because we sat in rows 12 and 13 right underneath the where both the catch car and release car grab the train. We heard and saw the catching and grabbing more vividly than I’d ever experienced before. If you’re quirky like me and are interested in ride mechanics and how they work then I definitely recommend these rows for you in the future. Invertigo delivered an always intense ride at night for us.

Finally, we saved the best night ride at KI for last: The Beast. We got in line about five minutes before the queue was closed. Jeff, Phil, and I also discovered that the fireworks come with a warning this season. Much like kids counting down the park opening that started last season (I believe so anyway.), the fireworks started with a child that was chosen to count down to the start of them. I thought this was cool because including kids and making good memories at the park is always a good thing.

After the fireworks stopped, we discovered that the bottom queue house was full. During our time here, I spotted my ride op friend from Cedar Point, Kari. I tapped her on the arm a few times and as soon as she realized it was me got surprised and gave me a hug. I then asked her what ride she’d be working this season at The Point. She said that she got offered Corkscrew but turned it down to work at CastawayBay and Kalahari. Hopefully I’ll get to see her at least once this season at CP as a guest.

Then, I saw my friends Jesse and Shawn about two turnstiles ahead of us in the queue house. They asked me if I was going to GateKeeper’s media day and I said that Jeff and I would be there. Having heard this, the guy behind me said that he’d be going too. His name was Jason and Jeff and I talked about our past park experiences with him. I’m looking forward to talking to him more at Cedar Point next week.

When the time came, Jeff, Phil, Jesse, Shawn, Jeff, and I decided to hold out for last train of the night while Jason decided to ride a train or two before us. Jeff and I rode in 5-2, or the fifth last row of the train. While I was on the ride I noticed a light fog covered the low lying areas around The Beast, this made for an even better than usual night ride. On the second lift, Jesse tried to tell me something, but I couldn’t hear him due to the anti rollbacks as we climbed the hill. Out of the 114 roller coasters I’ve ridden, The Beast still has my personal favorite ending to any coaster. I LOVE tunnels and helix combined at the end makes me feel like a kid again. The almost complete darkness and the loud noise of the train constantly reverberating of the walls of each of the tunnels make it worth me riding The Beast again and again! Needless to say, I enjoyed my ride on the world’s longest wooden roller coaster.

When we got off the train, Jesse explained to me that he felt that the ride banked more going into the helix finale. After thinking about it, I agreed that I thought it did too. I’m gonna have to ride it again for this added reason on an upcoming visit because of this. After we exited the park itself, we talked for a good 15-20 minutes. I finally said that I had to go and we all dispersed to our cars after that. I then drove Jeff back home to Dent and myself back to Fairfield. I wound up getting home at around 12:40 am.

Opening Day Ride Count:

Diamondback – 2

Backlot Stunt Coaster – 1

Flight Deck – 2

Adventure Express – 2

SlingShot – 1

Eiffel Tower – 2

Vortex – 1

Blue Racer – 1

Drop Tower – 1

Invertigo – 1

Beast – 1

Last Friday, May 3rd, I decided to go to the park for a few hours after I got off from work. I eventually got to the park at around 5:30 pm. I’ll keep it short and sweet by saying that I decided to ride some rides and also talked to a few friends that I saw on opening day. Also, the lines were considerably shorter than on opening day as expected. I got some shots of some progress in SOB’s former area from the Eiffel Tower. The footers from opening day got worked on a little more. There are also a few more footers in more places and there’s work being done right behind SlingShot. I also decided that I’m gonna try to ride Drop Tower at least once a visit because it provides unique views and angles of the former SOB area that no other ride can give. I saw more footers clearly on DT that I could barely point out on the Eiffel Tower. Finally, I decided to end my night like I normally do – on Diamondback! My friend, Jesse, and I rode it four times in the last hour and got last train of the night in row 14. I had a great time in the 4 and a half hours that I was there and will probably go back at least one more time this month. Enjoy some pics!

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Friday, May 3rd Ride Count:

Eiffel Tower – 2

Adventure Express – 1

Drop Tower – 1

Flight Deck – 1

Backlot Stunt Coaster – 1

WindSeeker – 1

Beast – 1

Diamondback – 4

Thanks to all whom I shared my day with on opening day and last Friday, especially Jeff for staying with me throughout the day on opening day. Friends always make park visits more enjoyable! Until next time, thank you all for reading this blog, and I look forward to my next entry!