That's Soooo Cincinnati

30 Years of Island Fever

Jul 14, 2004 at 2:06 pm

Urban legend, if you believe that sort of thing, holds that the first time they put crash test dummies on The Beast roller coaster to check it for safety they all came back headless. Thus was born Greater Cincinnati's thrill headquarters. Simply put, when you want a good scare or a seat-wetting experience, you drive up I-71 and buy a ticket to Paramount's Kings Island.

The Beast remains the centerpiece and, despite celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, it hasn't grown old. The pungent smell of grease and the chinking sound of the chain as it pulls you up that skyscraping first hill is every bit as nerve-wracking today as it was the first time you rode it. Still touted as the longest wooden coaster in the world and the longest coaster period in the country, The Beast alone is easily worth the trip to the park.

But Kings Island still has an assortment of other adventures, whether or not you're taller than 60 inches. The Racer is an old-school gem, allowing folks to ride backwards or forward and race against their friends in the red or blue train. Visible for miles, The Vortex lacks the clunky charm of its wooden counterparts but still is a worthy ride. (A Skyline Coney or two is not recommended before riding.

Believe me, I know.) The Son of Beast, while enjoyable, is no substitute for the original.

In recent years, since Paramount branded the park, a large handful of other big-kid rides have sprung up. Drop Zone, Face/Off, Flight of Fear and Top Gun are all fun diversions and good filler material for a day-long trip. Local Gen-Xers probably in their hearts still miss the old Screamin' Demon, King Cobra and infamous Bat rides. This same generation likely enjoys telling the younger set about the great Kings Island Brady Bunch episode too, when Mike's important architectural drawings got accidentally swapped with a Yogi Bear poster. The baton-passing race in the episode's finale seemingly showcases the whole park.

The fact that Kings Island is as enjoyable now as it was when opened in 1972 is a testament to the "onward and upward" mentality of original owner Taft Broadcasting and later Viacom. Each year a new reason to visit is built, and 13 million people do just that.

Remember, however, that line-jumping isn't a sport. It could get you ejected from the park. And that would be sooooo Cincinnati.

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