When Joel at The Coaster Critic asked me to take part in the “best ride experience of 2012” series, I thought for a while before deciding. My stellar 2012 coaster season included riding both of the new U.S. wing coasters (Wild Eagle and X-Flight). While both were great coasters, another coaster stood out in my memory as I deliberated. My recollection of this ride, however, was a dark blur. The memory was a nighttime ride on Kings Island’s legendary wooden Beast on a chilly October night. That was my favorite ride experience of 2012.
If you’ve ridden the Beast at night and in the daylight, you know the difference between the two is, well, night and day.
The Beast’s secluded, wooded setting provides an interesting ride experience, regardless of the time of day. However, as the sun sets, an already-disorienting coaster becomes even more disorienting, as the ability to see what lies ahead is lost.
I last visited Kings Island in the midst of the park’s Halloween Haunt event. I knew long lines were a guarantee. After an hour-long wait, I settled into my seat for a journey into Kings Island’s forested outskirts. Departing the station, I said goodbye to bright lights and civilization. I soon realized that the dimly lit, 110-foot lift hill was the last illuminated object I would see for the next three or four minutes. The ascent into the black sky brought cooler temperatures, but the adrenaline pumping through my veins over what was to come offset the chill in the air.
The agonizingly slow lift to the top of the hill was seemingly never-ending, but I wasn’t complaining. I wanted to enjoy every second of the ride. After cresting the top, the train plunged over 13 stories into complete darkness, aside from the flashing on-ride photo cameras and a lone service light. However, once the train emerged the tunnel, everything was black. I struggled to see the heads of the riders in front of me. All I could do was listen to the roar of the train and the howls of my fellow riders.
The train kept close to the ground as it raced along the sloping terrain. With nothing but the light of the moon and stars aiding my vision, I found it difficult to gauge the train’s speed. It seemed faster than when I rode earlier in the day.
© Kings Island
A short breather in the form of the coaster’s second lift hill gave me a chance to collect myself. A light at the top of the lift hill made me squint—I had grown accustomed to the darkness. With no steep drop after the second lift hill, the train gradually accelerated towards the partially enclosed, 540-degree helix. The enclosure of the helix suddenly amplified the riders’ screams and the train’s thunderous roar. Although I attempted to keep my hands up, I found myself repeatedly gripping the bar in front of me to brace myself during the jolting upward spiral.
Shortly after exiting the helix, the train ascended and sped into the final brake run. The ride was over. My hair was blown back and my eyes were watering to the point it appeared that I was crying (I wasn’t this time). The only word I could find the breath to say was “again.”
The Beast will celebrate its 34th year of operation in April of 2013. Visit Kings Island’s website to learn more about this great coaster.
See what others have said:
- The Coaster Critic – 2012 Best Single Ride Experience of the Year
- ThemeParkRides.org – Most Memorable Ride Experience of 2012
- Coasterblog – My Single Favorite Ride of the Year
- The Coaster Guy – My Best Single Ride Experience of 2012
What was your favorite ride experience of 2012? Share in the comments section below!