The second day of my latest trip started a lot earlier than the previous one, as we descended on the park at about 9:45 AM. Kings Island’s normal operating hours list the park as opening up at 10 AM, so I figured we would make it a little early and then walk briskly to Firehawk for my first ride.
To our surprise, the park allows gold pass holders to get into the park early so we were able to make our way into the park much earlier than I expected. As we entered the park early, we also discovered that only certain areas of the park actually open early. The barrier we were stuck at was next to Adventure Express, so we patiently waited for the park to officially open for everyone.
Right at 10 AM, the park opened and I walked quickly to the X-Zone, ready for my first ever ride on Firehawk. Getting on the ride, I could see why it has much lower riders per hour than most coasters. Firehawk has a quite complex restraint system that must be checked and locked in first, and then the train flips you on your back so you are essentially riding lying down for a good chunk of it.
I had never ridden Firehawk before now due to the line always seeming to have a longer wait than I wanted, and my concern was always that the wait would not have been worth it. I am glad to say I was wrong. Firehawk blew away my expectations in being a very fun ride, providing the awesome flight experience I had never had before. This is now on my list to try as often as I can when in the park.
Getting off of Firehawk, I determined that I was not going to repeat the mistake of the day before. Since we were going to be here for essentially an entire day, I decided it was time to try out the Fast Lane program. Fast Lane is very similar to many other park’s programs where you can pay a one-time fee to gain access to a much smaller line. On most rides, this means no line. While the price was steep, I decided that waiting hours for one ride just was not worth it. I’ll give you my full thoughts on this later.
Grabbing the Fast Lane, I walked the 20 feet to Flight of Fear, a ride mired in controversy lately. Flight of Fear was open and working great, albeit with the last two rows of the ride not in use. I recall this ride had a Fast Lane line in May, and this time it did not. I don’t know why the change was made, the ride seems to be quite popular when the park is busy.
Moving on, I was aching to take a ride on the Beast but the Scrambler was not too far off of the X-Zone so it came next. This is your usual Scrambler ride, though more intense than I expected it to be as I had not ridden one of these in many years.
Walking to the Beast, I did take notice of how complex Vortex is. For a ride built in 1987, it sure twists you around a lot. I knew I wanted to take another spin on this, a second chance .if you will After all, the coaster was practically screaming at me to ride it again.
I got into the Fast Lane line for the Beast, which takes you through the ride’s exit until halfway through. I mean, they were forced to shoehorn it in when they added this feature, so I guess it works. I ended up being the only one in the Fast Lane line and made my way directly into a seat on the Beast the minute I walked into the station. You’d never know by looking at it, but the Beast gets better with age. Flying around the turns, flying up and down hills and through tunnels seems to get faster and more intense every time I ride it. The Beast remains an absolute blast and is still my favorite wooden roller coaster.
A trip through Rivertown is not complete without a spin on Diamondback, which I believe has the longest wait in the park (Banshee’s capacity is that good). Diamondback is so smooth, it’s scary. Last time I was here, I remember thinking it wasn’t running all that smooth so maybe they pulled out the grease in the meantime. The Fast Line lined had about 10 people on it but I was able to get on the very next train.
Getting off of Diamondback, I did not feel all that well. All of the constant riding with little break had taken its toll on my stomach and I decided it was time to settle down and eat. Right next to the Diamondback’s queue line is the Reds Hall of Fame Grille.
Reds Hall of Fame Grille has the look of your typical sports bar, which does catch you off guard when it’s in the middle of Rivertown. I ordered the Homer Burger, which seemed to be their standard american burger fare. The burger and fries both tasted just fine, though I wouldn’t go out of your way if it’s not convenient. Prices were reasonable though, and having a full service restaurant is a nice convenience when you’re on your feet all day.
Not wanting to churn the food in my stomach too much yet, a trip on the Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad was a good option. Unlike the trip in May, this time the train made a stop at the Soak City station which allowed me to have a look at the water park in operation. I’m not much for water parks but this one seemed to have a decent selection of slides, worth checking out if it fits your bag.
Another ride on the Beast served as my test for the next set of rides. If my stomach can’t handle the Beast, it certainly couldn’t handle Vortex. Luckily, the test passed with flying colors and I decided to take the plunge and try out Vortex again. This time, I did not smash the restraint down on my shoulders and it made for a much more pleasant ride. My head did not bang, and I got off of it feeling as if I could ride it again if I wanted to.
Knowing I needed to get home at some point, I knocked out the Red Racer and Adventure Express. Adventure Express still strikes me as a very interesting ride because it’s much more intense than I ever expect it to be every time. The line is also always deceptively long, though my Fast Lane eliminated that this time. Adventure Express also has a great view of Banshee from the station.
Upon leaving Adventure Express, I saw that Banshee’s line seemed to be quite long and I wanted to check out one of the other pieces of “new” in the park this year, The Bat.
Built in 1993, The Bat is hardly new but its theme is. For the 2014 season, Kings Island decided to revive the Bat name and theme for the ride previously known as Flight Deck and Top Gun. The Bat was the original suspended coaster back in 1981 at Kings Island (located where Vortex is now) but it had mechanical problems that caused its early demise.
The Bat is nothing new to me besides the new coast of paint, which does look very nice. This area of the park was severely lacking in both care and theme ever since Son of Beast stopped operating so it’s nice to see Banshee breathe new life into it.
After another trip for that famous blue ice cream, I decided it was time to actually leave the park. I had ridden so many rides that I felt I had my fill for the time being, and the day was not getting any younger. This was a great trip that took me to places I didn’t expect to, and I’m already planning in my head what my next trip might look like. As for Fast Lane, spring for it on a busy day if you can afford it. Not only will you have more time for more rides, you’ll be significantly less tired at the end of the day.