I started seeing commercials for King’s Island about a month ago, just like every May, and I noticed that it is no longer called “Paramount’s King’s Island”. The “Paramount’s” has been removed, which prompted me to check out the website and see what happened. A couple hours of wikipedia research, a sandwich, four Beer 30s, and many tears later, I learned more about King’s Island than I ever cared to know, but some of it was interesting especially since I was practically raised by the amusement park. I’ll let you in on the most interesting things I’ve learned about King’s Island history.
One word of advice: if you haven’t been there, this post will be the most boring thing you’ve ever read. I think it’s a pretty popular place that most of us have experienced at one point in time, especially since it’s a mere 2.25 hours away. Still, I thought I’d warn you in case you think King’s Island is actually an island owned by Elvis or the King mascot from Burger King.
Here’s a little taste of my awesome trivia: Did you know the Son of Beast used to hold the record for being the only wooden coaster in the world with a loop?
You’re thinking whaaa??? what does he mean by used to? This n00b is messing with us.
Without further ado, I bring you the top five things you didn’t know about King’s Island.
5. It’s No Longer Paramount’s Island
That’s right, it’s back to good old King’s Island. To me, that’s a special thing. It would be like changing Verizon Wireless Music Center back to Deer Creek or changing the RCA Dome back to the Hoosier Dome. According to Wikipedia:
On June 30, 2006, Paramount’s Kings Island, along with the rest of the Paramount Parks chain, was purchased by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., for approx. $1.24 billion.
This means that the people who own Cedar Point now own King’s Island. Brilliant! From here on we can expect 5 to 7 record-breaking roller coasters to be built at King’s Island every month. Have you ever been to Cedar Point? From far away it looks like a big dome of twisted steel with little mice crawling around on the beams. It’s ridiculous. That’s too many roller coasters. Stop it, you crazy thrill addicts, you’re going to kill us. I bet you wake up and fall down your stairs every morning just for the “thrill” of it. And then you set your house on fire and try to escape just to experience the rush. Calm down.
4. You Can Buy ‘King Cobra’ – If You Even Want It
It’s a stand-up steel looping roller coaster, and it’s only $3,000,000. Get out your checkbooks! On second thought, it’s been sitting in an access lot somewhere out in the woods behind King’s Island for about 5 years, so I would probably only offer them $2 mil. It was actually a good ride, despite how short it was, how long the line was, and how often it was broken. They built Delirium on top of it, and you can’t tell there was ever anything else there.
The King Cobra trains are actually inside the Outer Limits building, and I’m going to try to find them next time I ride it. I think I found where they’re storing the actual track. The three potential storage sites are in red (I think Site 2 is where they launch their evening fireworks):
3. ‘The Bat’ Did Not Actually Kill Anyone
I grew up hearing tales of an old roller coaster called The Bat that had long since been demolished due to deaths and injuries caused while riding it. I always ate every word of these rumors, and I wished I knew where it was, what it looked like, and what it did to people. Well, after finding pictures of The Bat and reading up on it a bit, the stories have lost their power. I pictured this old rickety ride that only the bravest thrill seekers rode at their own risk. It’s really just the Top Gun roller coaster of the 80s.
They closed the ride due to poor engineering and built The Vortex on top of it. Apparently, the cars were causing too much stress on the track, according to Wikipedia’s article on The Bat:
The problems that plagued the ride and ultimately led to its closure included:
- Excessive stress on the supports and track due to unbanked track.
- Excessive stress on the wheels due to brake fins being mounted at bottom of the swinging cars.
- Excessive stress on the trains’ shock absorbers due to violent swinging.
- Hairline cracks on wheels and chassis.
I can see how that’d make for great stories about people getting thrown off the ride or slammed into supporting beams. Sadly, (what am I saying? happily,) no accidents ever occured:
Contrary to urban myths, the coaster never had an accident nor were people injured or killed riding The Bat. The most popular floating rumor says that the uncontrolled swinging led to cars slamming into a concrete support pillar ultimately crushing riders. This is simply false since The Bat used steel support beams and the train could in no way swing far enough to hit one.
It does make you wonder if that’s really true, or if officials at King’s Island off’d the families of the victims and tampered with the article. I’m such a retard.
I found this old, vintage video of The Bat. The music is terrible, but you get to actually see it in action:
2. Three People Died in the Same Day
The Bat may not have killed anyone, but the Flight Commander did. What’s more, two other people were killed by electrocution at King’s Island that same day, just an hour before. According to kiextreme.com:
On June 9th, there are three deaths at the park on the day known as Black Sunday. Around 8:00 PM, a 20-year-old man entered the Oktoberfest pond, apparently to retrieve a lost hat. He was electrocuted instantly, and two people entered the pond to rescue him. Both the man who originally entered the pond and one of the rescuers died at a local hospital, and the other rescuer had serious injuries. The accident was linked to a faulty water pump, which had short-circuited, electrifying the water. An hour later, a woman boards the Flight Commander ride in Coney Mall, which allows riders to pitch the cars and flip them upside down. When her car flipped upside down, she lost consciousness and slipped out from underneath the shoulder harness, falling 50 feet onto concrete.
I rode the Flight Commander a few times, and I remember thinking to myself how easy it seemed to die while riding it. I was right.
1. Son of Beast Lost It’s Loop
I been sayin’ it. I been sayin’ it for 10 damn years! (Name that movie)
This ride is crazy, and I vowed never to go on it again due to the injuries I sustained from it. It looks like I’m not the only one. A bunch of people were injured on it when a vertical beam split on a downhill section and jammed into the ride, jarring everyone on board. According to rideaccidents.com:
(Sunday, July 9, 2006) – At Paramount’s Kings Island theme park in Kings Island, Ohio, 27 people who were riding the ‘Son of Beast’ roller coaster were injured when their train jolted abruptly. Riders complained of chest and neck injuries when their train returned to the station after the ride. Witnesses say that the riders were holding their chests, and some of them were seen bleeding from the mouth.
I guess they’re going to remove the loop so they can use lighter trains that will put less stress on the tracks. Can they still claim the world record of being the only wooden coaster with a loop if they remove it? How does that work?
In doing my research for this post, I came across a myriad of facts about King’s Island’s history, mostly taken from kiextreme.com as well as Wikipedia. I don’t feel like referencing each of these facts worthy of honorable mention, so I thought I’d just throw those two links at you and let you figure out where I got them for yourself.
- You can still see parts of The Bat, including concrete footings, access stairs, and clearance holes in the storage shed doors of the Vortex.
- The Vortex uses the same station and queue line built for the Bat
- For several years, remaining train parts from The Bat were left hidden in storage crates underneath the (now) Vortex station. The parts have since been scrapped.
- Two trains collided on The Beast near the station as passengers were unloading.
- One of the trains on Top Gun hit a service truck before the park opened and smashed the first three cars.
- To help compensate for the excessive closures of The Bat, the park decided to turn one train of The Racer backwards for the 1982 season only, and it was such a hit that they have never changed it back.
I hope I didn’t scare anyone out of going to King’s Island. It’s a real swell place that will probably get even sweller now that Cedar Point owns it. I’m going for a two day stay on July 3rd and 4th, so I’ll update this post with anything I find. If I die on a ride, God forbid, I’ll have someone else update it for me.
Here’s some good reading if you’re curious about the world of amusement park accidents and such:
Ride Accidents – an archive of amusement park accidents. Remember that carnival ride called the Zipper? Yeah, people have definitely been hurt on that ride in the past.
Kings Island Fatalities – a discussion of deaths occurring at King’s Island. Some of the posts appear to be from people who actually knew the people who died and were there when it happened.
Defunct Rides – a listing of all the defunct (I love that word) rides at King’s Island, with photos. They’ve even got a photo of the Smurf ride – remember that?
King’s Island’s History – a complete history of King’s Island.
Roller Coaster Database – this is where I got the pictures of new and defunct coasters alike.