If you’ve read these reports in the respective parks’ threads, there’s not much new here for you, but I figured I’d compile my July 2020, COVID-pandemic-influenced, amusement park road trip into one place for your enjoyment. I’ll be cutting out a lot of the COVID-procedure stuff from this report, and there will very likely be more pictures here than in those threads, with one exception. Enjoy!Kings Island Day 1 - Friday, July 10
If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that I originally had quite the grandiose plan for this year – a 21 day, 22 park whirlwind that would’ve taken me as far south as Atlanta, as far west as Indiana, and as far north as Canada. Needless to say, reductions of time off from work cut that trip down to 16 days and 18 parks. Then COVID hit, and the world ground to a standstill. But, as June ended, there was a glimmer of hope…two of my favorite parks would be opening in early July. So, to make the most of what I could this summer, I made a plan for a week of social distancing, face masks, and coasters at Kings Island and Cedar Point.
I had intended to be on the road to Mason, OH, super-early but of course over slept, not getting on the road until slightly before 8 AM. I am proud of myself though, as I made the nine-hour Google Maps estimated drive in a tad over seven hours and forty-five minutes, even with four or five bathroom stops, arriving right around 4 PM. Got checked in to my hotel, set up my computer, and checked the KI website for a reservation – sweet, I could get in at 4:30. So I did, and found very light crowds. Quickly in to the park, to Guest Relations to activate the drink plan on my Platinum Pass, and then off I went.
From there, it was into the park. As you can see, very, very dead International Street at 4:40. Made my way to Area 72, got my boarding pass for Orion (5-6:00 timeslot), and decided to kill some time on Flight of Fear. It took 21 minutes, including ride time, from entering the queue to walking off (all of my "ride wait times" will be in this format). When I was done, it was time to ride Orion for the first time! They took the boarding pass right at the start of the queue, and honestly didn't seem like they were even looking at them, so I'd guess that any pass would work at any time. This took me 15 minutes for the front row. What did I think of it? See HERE
for review and HERE
for a ton of pictures of the new Area 72. When I left, they were no longer handing out boarding passes, and I would later be able to walk right in without a boarding pass.
Next up was Beast, which was awesome as always despite it being daytime. 20 minutes total for the front row. I feel like they added a new trim to the first uphill after the initial drop and turn, but I could be mistaken about its newness. From there, it was over to Mystic Timbers (skipped due to line, estimated at 20 minutes), Diamondback (skipped due to line, estimated at 20 minutes), and decided to cool off with a ride on Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (7 minutes).
I'm sure I've been on this as a kid when I came here with my parents in the '90s, but I couldn't recall being on it as an adult, so figured what the hey and went for it. Great flume, though with only me at the very back of the boat, there wasn't too much splash. Luckily the "surprise" at the end got me sufficiently cooled down. From there I went to grab a grilled cheese from Tom + Chee, and checked Diamondback's line again - same length. So, I made my way back to Orion and got my second ride, this time in the back (10 minutes).
By the time I got off the ride, it was 6:45, so I started making my way back towards the front of the park and grabbed a walk-on ride on Backlot Stunt Coaster, which is worth it when you don't have to wait. All effects were working, even the fire. On the walk out, I had 5 minutes before closing, so I glanced at Mystic Timbers line and still found it unreasonably long, so I called it at night and headed back to my hotel. Not a bad trip for two hours and twenty minutes.
Some additional pictures from Day 1:
Poor old Vortex spot...
I guess that's one way to enforce social distancing - only install 1/3rd of the seats!Kings Island Day 2 - Saturday, July 11
I’m there early, walking through the gates as soon as my 10:30 reservation would allow. I figured I'd make my way towards the Planet Snoopy side for the rope-drop to be able to get Mystic Timbers and Diamondback in early...only to find the entire park open to wander through. No rope, no security, no nothing.
So, I camped out in a shady spot in front of Mystic Timbers and waited 25 minutes for the ride to open it. I was first in line, so the front row was mine. I even got the snake monster/"She's a Man Eater" ending, which I hadn't gotten before in all of my previous rides. Made my way over to Diamondback, on and off in 15 minutes for the back row).
Then it was off to the Miami River Brewhouse to get my all-day dining wristband and my first meal of the day. As it turns out, they don't sell the all-day dining there (at least at the bar where I was seated), but I could buy it on my phone. Which I did, and of course the employees and supervisors had trouble getting it to work, but let me eat anyway. Ordered a pub burger (double-cheeseburger), which took ten minutes to come out, and a couple of adult beverages and I was on my way.
Proceeded over to Action Zone for Banshee, which I got the back row as a walk-on. Awesome as always. The Bat was next; got row 11 and it took 15 minutes including the hike to no man's land to ride it (only like a two train wait once I made it to the station). After that, it was Drop Tower time (30 minutes on-and-off). I can now proudly say that I've been on every non-tilting version of an Intamin drop tower that I know of - Gen 1 at SFGAdv, Cedar Point and now Dorney; Gen 2 at Carowinds, Gen 3 at Kings Dominion, and finally the Gyro Drop at KI. For some reason I always thought it was just a regular Gen 3 at KI so I always skipped it.
Moving on, after that it was time for another meal (every 90 minutes with the all-day dining plan, and I get my money's worth), so I decided to give La Rosa's Pizza in the Festhaus another try. Took ten minutes from when I walked in to when I sat down with my food. Terrible mistake...the breadsticks were okay as they usually are, but the pizza was over-sauced with their tangy crap and horrible as usual. You'd think I'd learn my lesson from prior experience at KD and KI, but every now and then I figure...hey, they might have learned. Being a New Jersey shore area native, I'm very sensitive about my pizza. Also of note, my dining pass also would not properly scan here, so once again a supervisor was called over. They gave me a wristband and "tied it to the dining plan," or so they said. Also worth noting, the animatronics on the front of the Festhaus were stationary all day.
Continuing on to more rides, next up was Adventure Express, which took 30 minutes start to finish, rode in row five. Next up was Racer. I ended up on the red side, front row, on-and-off in nine minutes. Notable here is that the entire turnaround has been re-tracked and rode very well. You can kind of make out the re-tracked area here:
The rest of the ride, eh it's Racer. You know what you're signing up for. After Racer it was around 2:30, and I swung by Orion to get my boarding-later pass, which was for 5-6:00.
Queued up for Windseeker, waited three minutes, and as they were bringing down the previous cycle, "Sorry guests, Windseeker is closed due to high winds." I'm not sure if it reopened at all today, but I did see it cycling empty a few times. I had some time to kill before my next meal, so I took a lap on the KI & Miami Valley Railroad (seven minutes waiting).
Next meal time was up, so I headed to Tom & Chee for their awesome grilled cheese...except now neither my wristband nor voucher on the phone app would scan as valid. The girls there sent me up to Guest Relations, where after ten minutes or so, they sorted the problem and out I walked with a valid all-day dining wristband for the first time of the day. Back to Tom & Chee, and the grilled cheese took about five minutes to come out. Shot up to Woodstock Express, seven and a half minutes on-and-off in row seven, and then checked out Flying Ace Aerial Chase and found it with a long wait, so skipped it. For now, it would remain the only adult-rideable credit at this park that I didn’t have.
Decided to try to give Windseeker another shot, as the wind at ground level had at least calmed down, but it was still closed so I took a lap on Kings Mills Antique Autos (nine minutes). One cute thing I just noticed - the license plates on each car spell out a ride name and the year it was installed.
After that, it was around 4:15...I still had another 45 minutes to kill before my Orion reservation. Checked the park app for wait times, and Beast was only 30 minutes and not that far from where I was, so there I went. I should not know not to trust those wait times, since it took me 54 minutes, on-and-off, for a ride in row 14 (if I can't have the front I need a non-wheel seat, and 5 and 14 were the only ones they were filling).
Got off, and it was 5:30, time for Orion...or not, as I saw an approximately 40 minute wait in the queue. Gave my pass to the attendant manning the entrance and said "here you go, for someone who might come up without one," bought an Orion shot glass for my collection, and made my way back to Miami River Brewhouse for another pub burger to get my fourth meal (came out in around seven minutes), and made my way out of the park at around 6:15.
The park was a lot busier today, but still less than a normal summer Saturday. When I got back to the hotel, I added Orion to my spreadsheet-o-coasters, and realized that it was #148. If I could add one more new coaster before getting to Cedar Point, Steel Vengeance would be my 150th, which is kinda cool. Thus, I made it a mission to get a ride in on Flying Ace Aerial Chase the next day.Kings Island Day 3 – Sunday, July 12
My reservation today was for 11:00, but I was still at the park before 10:00 just to be safe. My goals for today were to hit what I didn't on the past few days (including that lap on FAAC) as well as get second rides on Banshee and Mystic Timbers, and a third/fourth on Orion and/or Beast if possible. The weather forecast when I left called for thunderstorms starting at around 3:00, so let's see what I can do with that.
I'll admit that I tried to sneak in before my reservation time at 10:25, and was promptly rebuffed. So, in I went at 10:55 and made a bee-line to Orion to try to snag boarding passes. Upon arrival at the entrance to Area 72, they were holding the crowd back in the Coney Mall section until around 11:15. Oh no!
Orion was stuck - one train about 1/4th of the way up the lift, one just before the station, and one right at the start of the 100-foot-tall break run. Upon approach, the crowd was informed that Orion was down and that they weren't issuing boarding basses at this time.
Oh well. Off to Racer Blue side, which was a walk on for row 11. The turnaround does not appear to have been re-tracked on this side. Up into Action Zone, for Invertigo. I normally skip Vekoma boomerangs of any variety that still have the old restraint styles, but figured what the hell. Walked on to row 10 (backwards facing for the first half) and it wasn't as bad as I remembered. From there, to Banshee, which took 22 minutes on-and-off for the back row, including two empty trains cycled through for cleaning.
From there, it was now after 11:30 so off to Subway to buy my day's dining plan and get the first meal. 15 minutes, including line time, for a turkey sub. I glanced to Orion and saw it still stuck in the same spot, so off to the other side of the park. On my way, I saw Flying Ace Aerial Chase with a minimal wait, so I hopped on and got all adult-without-a-kid rideable credits at this park and ensured that SV would be #150. Took a total of 15 minutes for row 9; I could have gotten the front row but figured I'd let the child behind me enjoy that - it might have been their first coaster ever.
It's now right around noon, and I make my way over to Mystic Timbers to try to get my second ride of trip, only to find it down. Oh well. On my way to Beast, I see that Diamondback and White Water Canyon are also closed, and an employee is standing out front of all food restaurants. As I approach the Beast's walkway, I see the arcade is dark - power failure on the entire south side of the park, from the start of Rivertown by Planet Snoopy all the way to the start of Coney Mall. Perfect.
I glance over to Orion and see it still stuck in the same position, but Windseeker is running with people. I'm on and off within 20 minutes (one cycle wait). I make my way back into Rivertown, find it still without power (I've still got 20 minutes until my next meal availability anyway), so I kill some time with a walk-on lap on the KI & Miami Valley Railroad.
When I get off, I see that power has been restored but both Beast and Mystic Timbers are still down, so grab a grilled cheese at Tom & Chee and I decide to walk a whole lap of the park. While passing Area 72, I see that Orion is still closed, so I make my way to the Miami River Brewhouse for some tasty adult beverages until my next meal is available, and grab a pub burger (if you can't tell yet I'm a very picky eater, often being likened to a five year old). Once done, around 3:15, Mystic Timbers is still down but Beast's line was around an hour, so I decided to call it a day. Orion had started cycling empties at this point, but my two rides on Friday were enough. On a positive note, the weather held out and it was beautiful all day that I was there.
And that wraps up my two and a half days at Kings Island, my first real amusement park trip of 2020. All in all, a great trip over the two and a quarter days spent there, with multiple rides on my favorites, and another “giga” under my belt. It was off to bed early to try to make it to CP for opening on Monday. Would it happen? Stay tuned!