From Tame To Thrilling: Kings Island Roller Coasters
During Coasterstock at Kings Island, roller coaster enthusiasts from around the country had the opportunity to experience all 14 of the park’s roller coasters during the two-day event, filled with behind the scenes tours, Q&A sessions, and arugably most importantly for those enthusiasts, ERT (Exclusive Ride Time) sessions.
While many people focus on Kings Island’s neighbor to the north, and fellow Cedar Fair park Cedar Point, as the amusement park in Ohio for roller coasters and thrills, the roller coaster lineup at Kings Island provides not only a wide range of experiences, but can also serve as a “natural progression” of sorts for those who might need to ease into the idea of riding roller coasters before conquering the Orion giga coaster and plunging down the 45-degree first drop of the Beast in the middle of the pitch black woods.
To help potential Kings Island visitors out, I’m going to attempt to create the natural progression of each of the Kings Island roller coasters, so that even if someone is apprehensive about riding roller coasters, they can eventually work their way up to “the top.” (And by top, I definitely mean Orion’s 300′ tall first drop.)
This list will be broken into four categories: Thrill Seekers In Training, Thrill Seekers, Thrill Junkies, and Extreme Thrills.
Level I: Thrill Seekers in Training
1) Great Pumpkin Coaster
Seemingly every park has one, but the most basic level of roller coaster is the “kiddie coaster” and Great Pumpkin Coaster (formerly Scooby Zoom, Top Cat’s Taxi Jam, and Little Bill’s Giggle Coaster) at Kings Island is certainly a great example. Standing just 8 feet tall, if you stretched out the entirety of the coaster’s 199.3′ long track, it would fit comfortably under Diamondback’s 215′ first drop. Don’t let the photo fool you — you typically need a child with you to ride, making it the ideal coaster for thrill seekers in training!
2) Woodstock Express
We add about 30′ of height with the next roller coaster on our list, Woodstock Express. Built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, this John C. Allen designed wooden coaster is an original park attraction, having thrilled riders for nearly 50 years. Woodstock Express has a top speed of 35 mph, and provides mild thrills for those looking for their “first” wooden coaster experience. True enthusiasts know that these woodies (similar models exist at Carowinds and Kings Dominion) can pack a bit of a punch for some surprise fun!
3) Adventure Express
Adventure Express has been thrilling riders at Kings Island since 1991. But this “mine train” style roller coaster from Arrow Dynamics isn’t just a “leisurely” stroll through the woods. While the coaster has the same top speed as Woodstock Express, it is taller, and features more banked curves and tunnels, making it slightly more thrilling than its predecessor on this list. We won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s unlike any other coaster we’ve ever been on!
4) Flying ACE Aerial Chase
These family suspended coasters from Vekoma are perfect for thrill-seekers in training who want a little more sense of adventure than your traditional sit-down roller coaster. While dangling your feet, riders ascend to heights of 50′ and a top speed of 26mph, while traveling through more than 1,100 feet of track where nearly every maneuver feels like a banked curve. While not as fast as Woodstock or Adventure, the feeling of dangling feet was enough to put this slightly head of both Expresses on this list.
Level II: Thrill Seekers
5) Backlot Stunt Coaster
Not the fastest or tallest roller coaster at Kings Island by any stretch, the first coaster in the “thrill seekers” category achieves this status by treating riders to a 0-40mph launch in the first three seconds of the attraction. Riders accelerate into a spiraling helix and several other elements, including an overbanked turn, before coming to a quick stop for some special effects and descending into the darkness of a show building, emerging from the signature Backlot Stunt Coaster billboard viewed by guests in the ride’s queue. It’s all over in just about a minute.
The first of Kings Island’s “big” wooden coasters is actually two different rides. Opened with the park in 1972, the Racer features a “red” side on the right, and “blue side” on the left. Both coasters have more than 3,400′ of track, reach heights of 88′ tall, and a top speed of 53mph. With identical statistics, you’d think that the coasters would finish at the same time, but that’s rarely the case, given the name. Recently, The Gravity Group retracked portions of the historic coaster, setting it up for the next 50 years of racing!
The “Swing”‘s the thing at The Bat, one of just five remaining operating Suspended Coasters from Arrow Dynamics. Tucked into a back corner of the park, The Bat climbs a 78’ tall hill and swings riders with each curve and dip. There are some great lateral movements on The Bat, resulting in a very thrilling experience without being too intense. Fun Fact: This is actually the second iteration of The Bat at Kings Island. The first Bat was actually the first-ever Arrow suspended coaster, but operated for just three seasons from 1981-1983. The “current” Bat was known as both “Top Gun” (during the Paramount years), and “Flight Deck,” before taking on its current theme in 2014.
Level III: Thrill Junkies
8) Mystic Timbers
What’s in the shed? We’ll never tell. Kings Island’s newest wooden roller coaster opened in 2017, and provides the wooden coaster thrills that the ride’s manufacturer, Great Coasters International, has become known for. Mystic Timbers’ top speed feels much faster than its advertised 53mph, especially during rides at night. Mystic Timbers utilizes the surrounding terrain well, and its steep, curving 109′ drop is followed by numerous low-to-the-ground hills and banked elements. Mystic Timbers is the perfect roller coaster for someone who wants the thrills of a “big” coaster, but doesn’t want to be that high off the ground after the initial drop. But, we have to reiterate. Do not go in the shed!
For the first time on this list, we’re going upside down. Not once, not twice, but a total of SIX times in a relatively short period of time. Everyone knows the “Boomerang” coaster — you go backwards up a hill, through a cobra roll and loop, and do the whole thing in reverse. Invertigo takes that concept, but adds to it the elements of hanging below the track, and with the exception of the first and last row, getting to see your fellow riders’ reactions. Don’t let the relatively short height and track length fool you, Invertigo is deceptively intense!
10) Flight of Fear
Located in Area 72’s “Bureau of Paranormal Activity,” not only does Kings Island’s Flight of Fear launch you at a speed of 54mph and send you through four stomach-churning inversions – a cobra roll, a sidewinder, and a corkscrew – it does both of those things, in total darkness, while pulling 4.5x the force of gravity. Celebrating 25 years this season, Flight of Fear continues to provide extraterrestrial thrills, and firmly finds itself on the “Outer Limits” of the “Thrill Junkies” level.
Level IV: Extreme Thrills
Writing about roller coasters can have its “ups and downs” and Diamondback has plenty of those! Over the course of Diamondback’s mile of track, riders will face six camelback hills with at least 100′ of drop, including the coaster’s 74-degree first drop of 215′. While the coaster has a running time of 3:00, it won’t feel that long at a top speed of 80mph. Diamondback is a great example of speed and airtime, and made a big splash at the park when it opened in 2009.
(No pun intended to the “Big Splash” finale at the end of the ride, okay fine, it is.) Don’t worry, you won’t get wet!
Few inverted coasters can claim the statistics that Banshee does. It’s tied for the most inversions on an inverted coaster, with 7. It’s the longest inverted coaster in the world. It’s the fastest non-launched inverted roller coaster (68mph) in the world. Point being, it’s hard to top the thrills of Banshee. With your feet dangling, you’ll encounter a dive loop, two vertical loops, a zero-G roll, a “Pretzel Knot”, and an in-line stall/twist that is certain to leave you guessing which way is up at the end of your ride.
For guests at Kings Island, a ride on The Beast, the park’s legendary wooden roller coaster, is almost a rite of passage. (Even moreso, a night ride on The Beast.”) The world’s longest wooden roller coaster is one of just three roller coasters ever built that is longer than 7,000′. Over the more-than-four-minute duration of the ride, you’ll go back through the woods, and at night, you’re alone in the darkness. The ride ends with a spectacular double helix that you better be ready for! Especially if you think you’re ready to handle the final roller coaster on our list!
ITEOTLAWKI – It’s the end of this list, and we know it. With a 300′ drop and speeds reaching 91mph, Kings Island’s Orion is the final coaster on this list. Riders are catapaulted over the first hill’s 85-degree drop, into a near-horizontal wave turn, and through a series of camelback hills and an airtime-filled turnaround.
The coaster concludes with an elongated helix nicknamed “Orion’s Belt.” At the end of 3:00 and more than 5,300′ of track, you’ll have successfully conquered Kings Island’s most thrilling of roller coasters!
But since you started with the Great Pumpkin Coaster, you’re ready for it, right?!
For more information on all 14 Kings Island Roller Coasters, be sure to visit the park’s website.
For more roller coasters in our “Tame to Thrilling” Series, Click Here!