Day 1 -- Kings Island / Banshee BashFriday, July 25, 2014Scorecard:
Pipeline Paradise (Straight) (x2)
Pipeline Paradise (Curved) (x2)
Pipeline Paradise (Straight)
Flying Ace Aerial Chase
Boo Blasters on Boo Hill-- Lunch --
The Great Pumpkin CoasterBanshee TourBeast / Diamondback Tour
Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad
Eiffel TowerCirque Imagine
Racer (Blue)-- Fireworks --
Beast (x4)The Report:
I can guarantee that I've never before spent 16 consecutive hours in an amusement park. Banshee Bash was the proverbial "first time for anything."
So, pull up a chair and stay a while -- this report is going to be a lengthy one.
The longest park day in my history can only be described as a worthy test of endurance. The agenda for the event was very full, to the point that almost every other Banshee Bash trip report included the phrase "pulled out all the stops." Let me put it a little bit differently: after 16 hours in the park, I still had more things I wanted to do. That's a sign of a good event, but also a sign of a great park, and Kings Island easily qualifies.
I should note that Kings Island is my local park. I live just 25 minutes away, and drive past the park on I-71 at least once a week, on average. Despite that, I rarely stop in, and I don't own a pass. Perhaps that helped keep the place fresh for me -- the sixteen hours of Banshee Bash went by quickly, and I found plenty of reasons to make the horrendously-long journey
to come back in 2015. Banshee Bash was actually my second day at Kings Island in 2014, as I also attended Banshee Media Day
in April. The seeds for Banshee Bash were planted on media day, and the plans for the event blossomed from there, continuing to grow right up until the event was underway!
Rather than write a giant unbroken narrative, let's try something different -- an hour-by-hour look at a sixteen-hour day in a world-class amusement park.Prelude
I think I woke up at around 6:30 AM. At 7:45 AM, the TPR bus departed our hotel -- the Hampton Inn just off Kings Mills Road -- and made the short drive to the park.Hour 1 -- 8AM to 9AM
Our 45-ish participants added to an already-growing crowd
of TPR members outside of the main gate. It wasn't dissimilar to our wait outside the park before media day, though it was about a hundred degrees warmer.
An hour-long ERT session on Banshee began at 8:30 AM. Though the line to get in was long, the ERT session thinned out quickly, and the Banshee crew was flying through trains about as fast as I've ever seen.Hour 2 -- 9AM to 10AM
My strategy for Banshee was originally to get as many rides as possible. However, I started keeping track of where I was riding, and eventually made it my goal to get one ride in each row. I succeeded -- the hour long ERT session provided me eight rides on Banshee, perfectly split among each of the eight rows. The back is still my favorite.
After Banshee ERT was done, we acquired our Fast Lane passes for the day, and headed to our next coaster. Diamondback ERT began at 9:30 AM, and kicked off with the very rare thrill of having park security lift the "Area Closed" rope for us to walk through. With an enthusiastic ride staff, I easily picked up four rides in just a half hour.Hour 3 -- 10AM to 11AM
Once the dry side of the park was open for business at 10AM, I headed over to Soak City for TPR's water park ERT, which began at 10:30 AM. As it turns out, very few TPR members participated, and I thought this might be a good thing for my efforts on the park's surfing simulator.
That might not have been a good idea.
On the 2013 TPR Texas/Midwest trip, I participated in two FlowRider ERT sessions, eventually figuring out enough of the basics to stay upright and move around on the fast stream of water. Unfortunately, the Kings Island ride (Pipeline Paradise) is set up on a very rough concrete surface. The stream of water was less uniform than on the soft tarp surfaces I tried in 2013, which made it harder for me to keep my balance. Yes, you can probably see where this is going. Five attempts led to five wipeouts on hard concrete, and I walked away (well, limped away) with several minor injuries. Damage to one big toe left me hobbling a little for the next couple days of the TPR tour. Heck, a nasty gash just above my left hip is still scarred to this day! My lesson has been learned -- stick to the tarp FlowRiders, and leave these things to the professionals.
Injured but undaunted, and with a little help from fellow Texas/Midwest alumna Stacy, I pressed ahead. The fast pace of a TPR tour requires such an attitude. I also gave Mondo Monsoon a spin, but shortly thereafter we returned to the dry side of the park.Hour 4 -- 11AM to 12PM
On our way out of the water park, it was time to pick up the first new credit of the day -- Flying Ace Aerial Chase (#159). This may have been the best use of Fast Lane all day long -- we waited two or three trains, but the regular line would have easily been at least a half hour. This coaster isn't worth a half hour.Hour 5 -- 12PM to 1PM
After collecting some things from the front of the park, we headed to Boo Blasters for a quick spin on the ex-Scooby Doo shooting dark ride.
At 12:30 PM, our group lunch began in the Delirium shelter behind Planet Snoopy. I shouldn't even need to declare what was being served, but for those of you who aren't aware, our veins were filled with fried chicken and hot dogs by the end of the Mini New Hotness trip. We did have one exclusive item at the Banshee Bash lunch -- a cake made specially for the event! Snoopy was there too -- posing for pictures, not on the menu.
As lunch continued, we were introduced to three members of the Kings Island staff. First, Greg Scheid (General Manager) discussed the process of building Banshee. Greg got the biggest cheers of the event, lobbing a softball to the enthusiast audience by asking the crowd's preference between Gatekeeper and Banshee. Greg agreed with our selection. Next, Don Helbig (PR / Social Media) took the stage, sharing stories about The Beast. The final speaker was Howard Newstate, who manages and produces Cedar Fair's FunTV network. All FunTV broadcasts originate from a control center at Kings Island, which acts as a central hub for the system. According to Howard, more original content (including games and POVs) will be coming to FunTV in 2015.Hour 6 -- 1PM to 2PM
"Does anyone want to borrow my son for the Great Pumpkin credit?"
Not the kind of thing a credit-counting coaster enthusiast simply overhears and ignores.
I didn't know if I'd be able to finish off the Kings Island coaster list, because I didn't know if I'd be able to get on the Great Pumpkin -- a credit as elusive as its namesake from the Peanuts cartoon. Thankfully, I got an in from Mark G (aka "Whodey") -- a TPR member I was fortunate enough to sit near at lunch. I didn't have to ask, and I didn't have to be creepy. The offer was made, and I graciously took it. I rode the Great Pumpkin Coaster (#160) and did not do so alone -- aside from my new friend, I had several spectators watching, and probably laughing. Is the joke on the people who failed to collect the credit, or the person who took the time to ride it? That left me with just one credit to go at my local park -- Woodstock Express, which we left for later in the day.
I doubt many people rode the Great Pumpkin, but I know I wasn't the only one
(as at least one TPR member made a contribution to KT's ever-growing college fund).Hour 7 -- 2PM to 3PM
At 2PM, our next special event began -- a backstage photo tour of Banshee. With a group of our size, we couldn't really go toward the back of the coaster's circuit, but we did get access to the paved area between the lift hill and Delirium. This provided our coaster-geek congregation with several close-up photo opportunities with the first few elements on the ride.
I traveled with Mark K for another photo opportunity at around 2:30 PM. We exited the park and headed out to the parking lot, taking some distant shots of the rides, and also getting pictures of the Kings Island LED sign near the main road and the highway. I'm pretty sure that we're the only people who captured images of the TPR Banshee Bash graphics that the park was displaying as part of the advertising loop.Hour 8 -- 3PM to 4PM
Our second official TPR photo tour began at 3PM, with backstage access to The Beast
. This tour brought us much deeper into the paths for both coasters, providing extremely rare views of The Beast in action, and some great hilly vantage points over Diamondback's back half. This was a big highlight of the day, as both of these coaster sections are impossible to view from the open areas of the park.
What do you mean we're only at the halfway point?Hour 9 -- 4PM to 5PM
We started the second half of the day with a ride on the Kings Island and Miami Valley Railroad. The full circuit only took about 15 minutes, but gave us a short break to rest our feet.
Next on the agenda was a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, which (along with its twin in Virginia) is my favorite observation tower at any park on the planet. Why? It's open air, it doesn't move, it doesn't have a time limit, and the safety bars are spaced wide enough to fit a camera lens through. I was up there for 40 minutes and took 320 pictures. No, I'm not posting all 320 of them.Hour 10 -- 5PM to 6PM
Several TPR members gathered in the Festhaus for dinner. While we were treated to Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets, a singing performance on the Festhaus stage, I took some time to relax.Hour 11 -- 6PM to 7PM
After dinner, we headed over to the Kings Island Theater to meet up with the big group in advance of the Cirque Imagine show. We were let into the theater at 6:15 PM, 45 minutes before showtime. Our group had several rows reserved
in the front -- the best seats in the house!Hour 12 -- 7PM to 8PM
What a show! The Cirque Imagine performers dazzled us by doing things we'd all snap our necks attempting. After the show ended, we stuck around to meet the performers. Many of them are from Canada, which makes sense -- the show had run at Canada's Wonderland in 2013, and moved south of the Great Lakes for 2014. A few prizes were awarded, and we did a group photo
before leaving the theater.
The first stop after Cirque Imagine was Woodstock Express (#161), finally completing my run of the credits at Kings Island (obviously not all in the same day).Hour 13 -- 8PM to 9PM
After a ride on Surf Dog, the first signs of sunset began to cast the entire park in an orange glow. It was an almost-comically photogenic denouement to the day, bordering on flat-out cheesy after a rainbow made a brief appearance.
How best to enjoy the stunning colors in the fading sunlight? A 300-foot high ride on WindSeeker, perhaps.Hour 14 -- 9PM to 10PM
Our final non-ERT coaster of the night was a spin on the blue side of Racer. After that, we headed back to the front of the park, and were ushered into the former International Restaurant space above the main entrance. We had private seating
for the evening's fireworks show, and while the glass-windowed building setting wasn't ideal for photography, I pulled out my mini-tripod and made the most of it.Hour 15 -- 10PM to 11PM
We oohed and aahed, and when the fireworks were over, the ERT was set to begin.
After checking with a park employee to make sure I could, I left my items in a locked compartment near the front of the park. I'll come back to that.Banshee
was first on the ERT schedule at 10:15 PM. I rode twice, including once in the front. While Banshee is a back row ride for the overall experience, the visuals make it a preferred front row ride at night.
ERT on Diamondback
began at 10:30 PM. Most coasters improve at night, and after two rides, I can say that Diamondback was no exception.Hour 16 -- 11PM to 12AM
The final hour of the day was simple, with just one item on the agenda -- The Beast
. Is there a better way to close a day at Kings Island than to have an hour of exclusive time on The Beast at night? As if that wasn't enough, Kings Island opened a nearby refreshment stand and offered free drinks for the final hour of the day.
I rode The Beast four times, and though I never made it to the front row, it was certainly an experience to remember. Banshee and Diamondback may be better coasters objectively, but it makes sense to close out such an epic day on Kings Island's most important and influential ride.Postlude
As it turns out, locking up items near the front of the park wasn't
actually a good idea -- they swept 'em clean after the park closed to regular guests. Had Stacy not rescued the items from guest services, I may have gone without a camera for the rest of the tour, which would have meant that my New Hotness / East Coast trip report would have ended here!
Thanks to Stacy, I was able to continue taking way too many pictures
for the next 11 days and beyond.
It was 12:30 AM by the time we got back to the hotel. Thankfully, following such a long and tiring day, we were all able to sleep in soundly.
I'll give the other tour participants a moment to collect themselves after that joke.
Right. We had to wake up in 4 hours to leave for Kentucky. Bash one day, back on the road the next morning. Thy Kingdom come, even if we might not be awake to see it.The Attractions:Banshee:
I rode Banshee seven times on media day, and ten more times at Banshee Bash. After seventeen rides, I think it just keeps getting better. It's a rare coaster that combines inversions (with substantial positive G-forces) with the sense of travel that only a long ride can really provide. The layout is remarkable and rather unique, and uses the terrain exquisitely. The intensity doesn't let up until the inline twist near the end. Further to the coaster's credit is the lack of a cobra roll -- one of my least favorite coaster elements. The first drop is easily the best on any invert I've been on, especially in the back. Finally, the theming is top notch for a traditional amusement park, and the whole area surrounding the coaster is stunning at night. The end result is that I have to commit an act of near-blasphemy and declare Banshee as my #1 invert over Montu, a coaster I've called one of my favorites for over fifteen years (though I'd bet that both will stay in my top ten steel coasters). What a fantastic job by everyone involved with this ride.Diamondback:
This ride is a floater air machine, and really filled a huge gap in Kings Island's lineup. It's really hard to imagine the park before Diamondback and Banshee were installed -- they're both great rides that give the park a very potent 1-2-3 punch. For some reason that I can't figure out, I'm not sure that I really love Diamondback -- though I like it a lot. I think my favorite B&M hypercoaster is Apollo's Chariot, though Diamondback and Nitro are not far off. Diamondback is definitely a back seat ride, while I thought Nitro was outstanding in the front row. Apollo in the back seat might be the best experience out of the three. Regardless, Diamondback is a very good ride, and my second favorite in the park.The Beast:
I've lived in southwest Ohio for almost eight years, and yet never had a true night ride on The Beast -- mainly because I never went to the park on the busy summer days that keep the place open past dark. Well, thanks to the Banshee Bash ERT, I rode The Beast four times between 11PM and midnight. Yup, it's worth the hype. Even after some of the incredible wooden coasters I'd ride for the first time later in the trip, I expect that The Beast will still keep a spot in my top ten wood coaster list. It's not forceful (outside of the laterals in the finale), and it has virtually no air time at all. What it lacks in traditional enthusiast benchmarks, it makes up for with something rather unique -- a lengthy journey through the forest, and an awesome nighttime experience. It's a reminder that a coaster can be loads of fun without pushing for records or intensity. It'll remain Kings Island's landmark for decades to come.Racer:
Not much to say about this one -- a classic out-and-back racing woodie, which was smoother than I remember it being in the past. That's good, since I'll be marathoning the thing as part of Coasting For Kids this June.Flying Ace Aerial Chase:
Maybe I expected too much out of a Vekoma. I thought it looked like a fun and perfectly agreeable family coaster, but there was something about it that just didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was the layout, or the awkward transitions with a lengthy train. Glad to have the credit, but now I never have to ride it again.Woodstock Express:
Nothing wrong with this ride, on the other hand! It's a classic junior woodie -- similar to Teddy Bear at Stricker's Grove -- and fun for all ages.Great Pumpkin Coaster:
A check mark in the toughest empty box at Kings Island. There were easily a couple hundred TPR Banshee Bash attendees, and I'll guarantee I was one of just a few to pick up the credit. Quite frankly, it's a better ride than any of the Zamperla kiddie coasters I'd try out later in the trip.Boo Blasters on Boo Hill:
Have to be honest -- this ranks below average as far as shooting dark rides go. I know the loss of the theming rights probably hurt things a bit, but even if they were still in place, I'm just not sure it's as imaginative (or as fun) as some of the others I've been on.Cirque Imagine:
I'm not a "show
" guy, but I am a "do everything offered special as part of a TPR event
" guy. So, I happily went to Cirque Imagine, and enjoyed the heck out of it. It's everything you could want from a theater-scale Cirque production -- fantastic talent, remarkable performances, and just enough of a story to tie the whole thing together.Mondo Monsoon:
It's fun, but the big tornado slides aren't among my favorites. The really thrilling part only lasts a few seconds, and the rest isn't any more exciting than a standard family raft slide.Pipeline Paradise: