This was such a nostalgia trip for me to read. I grew up going to Kings Island every summer toward the end of the Paramount era, starting in 1998 I think.
I was 10 when Tomb Raider opened, and I was lucky enough to be able to ride it a handful of times in its original form, including its opening year in 2002. Let me tell you guys. This ride, to this day, was one of THE best highly-themed immersive dark rides I have ever ridden. It was a perfect representation of Paramount Parks at their peak in creativity and attraction development. It would fit right at home if built at a Universal park it was that good. My only complaint for it was that the ride as a whole was a tad short. I can even remember someone yelling "That was it!?" on one of my rides on it, but it was really a minor complaint in hindsight. It was such a shame that the ride was a maintenance nightmare. I distinctly remember it being closed a LOT, and whenever it was open, the line was always at LEAST 45 mins, and my young impatient self never wanted to wait in that line. I don't think I rode it more than maybe 10 times in its life.
Before Diamondback came along, the ride's presence in Rivertown was very well executed with its lush bamboo growth and themed archaic temple-stone concrete plaza. The cave entrance was placed very well and lured people in every time. The whole area especially looked good when it was raining haha. It just made it feel that much more tropical. Then 2009 rolled around, and all of a sudden, the swan lake is gone along with all the trees around it AND Tomb Raider, and the ride's cave entrance had been recessed WAY back away from the newly-rebuilt path. It was clear that Diamondback was the new kid in town, and the (newly re-branded) Crypt very quickly lost its presence AND popularity. No one wanted to ride it anymore, especially those that rode it in its original form. When I rode it with its latest cycle (the super lame 2-flip one) I knew that Kings Island was going to remove it sooner rather than later, and I was right. Now that building sticks out like a sore thumb, both physically and as a sad reminder of what once was.
Tomb Raider's demise was the victim of many circumstances outside of Kings Island's control. Had Kinzel decided to buy the rights to the Paramount IP, MAYBE it would still be around today. We won't know, and I'm ok with that. Rides come and go. Nothing we can do about it.
I personally would rather see the building just go away completely, and that lot be used for something else. No one wants to see a huge, disused, beige box just sitting there, but if Kings Island decides to put a new attraction in there, I'd be ok with that, too.