Will Son of Beast ever reopen?

Here’s an interesting article from Cincinnati.com that questions the current status of the Son of Beast at Kings Island and if it will ever reopen. The ride as you know has been plagued with problems ever since it opened, even after the removal of its vertical loop.

MASON – Kings Island’s luckless 13th roller coaster, shuttered for about half of last season, faces an uncertain future.

Hints abound that Son of Beast may never reopen.

Unlike its venerable father – The Beast – the hulking, wooden Son of Beast has not led a charmed life brimming with accolades.

sobThere were ill omens from the start. Even before the 7,000-foot-long behemoth that cost $20 million opened nine years ago, the roller coaster’s superstructure was damaged during construction by rough winter winds.

Just one day after its April 2000 superlative-laden debut – world’s fastest wooden roller coaster at 78 mph, tallest wooden roller coaster drop at 214 feet, first wooden roller coaster with a loop – Son of Beast closed. Inspectors had discovered a rough 15-foot section of track.

Three weeks later, heavy rains delayed Son of Beast’s planned reopening by almost six hours. It has been closed numerous times since, most recently June 16 after a woman said she was injured on the ride. Son of Beast has been idle since.

Now, after dozens of riders over nine seasons have said they were hurt on the ride, Son of Beast’s survival is uncertain following a recent trial in which a jury awarded a 40-year-old Defiance woman $76,364 in compensatory damages for her injuries sustained on the roller coaster three years ago.

Kings Island attorneys, whose case included surreptitiously filmed footage of the woman, Jennifer Wright, as evidence against her alleged disability during the trial, struck an additional settlement with her minutes after the jury’s verdict to avoid possibly paying punitive damages.

Wright said she would not have accepted the settlement unless the video testimony of forensic engineer Richard Schimizze were made public.

In his testimony, the engineer said that Kings Island officials knew about extensive problems with the ride since 2000 and attempted to fix the issues on a case-by-case basis that increased stresses on certain components of the ride, leading to wooden supports snapping and causing accidents that injured Wright, and a reported 27 others, on July 9, 2006.

“I would feel like garbage if I held on to this information and then a year from now somebody was really hurt bad,” said Wright, struggling to control her voice through tears. “I’m not saying that’s going to happen, I’m just saying, ‘What if?'”

Wright, a single mother of four, was forced to quit her long-time job at Campbell Soup Co. because of a hip injury she suffered after the car she was riding in hit a span of track that had separated.

“When we hit, immediately it was like hitting a brick wall,” Wright recalled. “You just know, wait a minute, that’s not part of the ride.”

She remembered the sound of the seat restraint clicking down four times, pinning her in an awkward position before her body was wrenched through Son of Beast’s 118-foot loop. “I was thinking, oh my god, we’re going to die. We’re going to die.”

The loop was removed following the accident, when Cedar Fair, new park owners, spent millions of dollars to repair the ride.

Schimizze said the ride has been plagued by “excessive lateral motion,” meaning the track sways side-to-side as the train passes along certain stretches of the track. That contributed to loose timber connections, rapid bolt hole wear, track misalignment and unanticipated vibratory effects on Son of Beast. Stiffening the wooden frame and fixing problems locally, Schimizze added, simply moved and concentrated the load on other parts of the ride.

Efforts to repair Son of Beast were made in “Band-Aid” style, Schimizze said. “In other words, fix one area, see what happens, then fix another area and see what happens.”

The engineer recommended that Kings Island build an extensive computer model to determine a comprehensive fix for the roller coaster rather than relying on the local simulations run thus far.

Kings Island spokesman Don Helbig declined to comment about Son of Beast’s future, except to say that a decision on what steps to take regarding the ride won’t be made until later this off season.

Duff Milkie, attorney for Cedar Fair, did not return a call asking for the company’s response to Schimizze’s interview.

A federal appeals court in 2008 reversed a lower court’s decision to award Kings Island $20 million in its lawsuit against Son of Beast designer Roller Coaster Co. of Ohio. Kings Island first filed suit in 2000, seeking damages for alleged defective or negligent workmanship.

Roller Coaster Co. Ohio is now defunct. A lawyer told The Enquirer in 2006 that Kings Island built the coaster with its own employees, rather than with the company’s more experienced builders.

Wright said her pursuit of her case was never about money and she isn’t leading a “crusade” against Cedar Fair. She is sympathetic to the company in that it inherited Son of Beast from Kings Island’s former owner, Paramount Parks, a subsidiary of Viacom.

What Wright wants, she said, is to make sure what happened to her and others doesn’t happen again.

Her attorney, John Scaccia, said Wright has suffered beyond her physical ailments because people see someone suing and assume the worst without knowing all of the facts. Wright remains the only rider who didn’t settle her lawsuit before trial, and the only case in which Kings Island admitted liability.

Scaccia said Wright deserves respect for making sure people can learn what happened.

“We have an area that is so attractive to the public, there comes with it a commensurate responsibility to serve that public interest,” Scaccia said. “Let’s hope that is what ultimately occurs.”

Son of Beast is one of the fifty roller coasters listed in 50 Legendary Roller Coasters That No Longer Exist.


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21 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    I’m thinking no…

  2. J says:

    Ditto what Nick said.

  3. people say that son of beast is a bad roller coaster, but i think the coaster is amazing. it is my favorite wooden roller coaster. it is great who would think its bad. but my dad and me like it. i miss it being open. i heard it will be open next year. im excited.

  4. i love son of BEAST its my favorite wooden roller coaster. i love it

  5. mr. me says:

    i hear it will be torn down and a dragster like coaster will be built

  6. Zzach says:

    Honestly I think they should reopen… I’ve been to ki a ton and that’s the only ride I haven’t been on… It’s looks like it could be a really cool roaler coaster.., why can’t the ki dudes just put a couple million in to put some steel in there… They definitly have the money.., heck it’s cedar fair!

  7. Josh says:

    Well, shoudn’t they make it smoother???

  8. Mommyof3 says:

    Would be nice if you could spell Cincinnati correctly.

  9. zach says:

    reopen i dont even want to go anymore because they wont reopen

  10. ryan volkman says:

    I agree with everyone who thinks they should reopen SOB. Its the only ride i havent been on there & I really want to get a chance to go on THE WORLD’S TALLEST AND FASTEST WOODEN ROLLER COASTER! SO EVERYONE SHOULD NOT GO TO KI UNTIL THEY ARE FORCED TO REOPEN SOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Nick says:

    No, no they shouldn’t reopen it. Trust me, it’s a boring ride. Even if changed to a steel track, the layout still sucks.

  12. sixflags says:

    I don’t think it should. I live near KI and although personally I never rode it many of my friends have and none of them enjoyed it. It was just too rough, and now it has such a bad rep it will be a hard sell.

  13. Not a fun ride. There are much better coasters out there. Early retirement for Son of Beast.

  14. allen says:

    i never got to ride it before it closed.i really wnat to…re open it!!!!!!!!!

  15. jake says:

    just open it

  16. me says:

    I really want to ride The Son of The Beast i never got to ride it but i LOVE The Beast.I just wish they would open it again.

  17. i hope they re open it and if u know ur gonna get hurt durring the ride ………….DONT RIDE IT it is as simple as that

  18. Breinblue says:

    They need to re open it. They suck for closing it. It is a good ride 🙂

  19. Bruce says:

    My 3 sons and I rode this coaster in 2001. It was amazing. The loop was huge and the only smooth part of the ride. Wooden coasters are ALL rough. The taller and faster, the rougher. The son of beast is just what it should be. Please bring it back.

  20. san antonio plumber says:

    I have to say that for the last few of hours i have been hooked by the amazing articles on this website. Keep up the good work.

  21. eli says:

    I like looking at a bunch of rumors of what would happen to sob 13 years after the fact.

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