Since the vast majority of workplaces utilized Monday the 5th as the recognized work holiday this year, I decided to take a chance and attempt an O-C at KI on Friday the 2nd in hopes that it would escape the brunt of the weekend crowds. As a non-necessary explanation to the "So you took your ball and went home?" crowd from my post regarding Memorial day, I have fairly severe crowd anxiety as well as PTSD as Indyguy4KI can attest, and unless I am with someone as a calming influence I do not do well in large crowds. I can say I was certainly not disappointed, as I was quite pleasantly surprised to find a nearly empty Kings Island Drive as I exited I71. After navigating what looked to be a sizable line of vehicles at parking tolls that turned into roughly 5 minutes for me (thank you self scan line and nearly everyone in front of me not having a pass) I walked through turnstiles at 1045. After a quick bit of contemplating, I chose Banshee as my first ride instead of Orion, because for some reason I was feeling rather timid about the height. I really cant explain this because my go-to first ride at CP is ALWAYS Millie, but I digress. First ride of my season was a walk on in row 8 right seat, and by the time the train exited the vertical loop I felt many months of deep-seated stress and darkness leaving my body and I had the best feeling ride on that coaster since my first on her opening day. If anyone from this forum happened to be on that train, I was the one in the rear that sounded like a cross between The Joker and Ivan Moody from 5FDP . I exited the ride feeling 10 tons lighter and knowing it was going to be an incredible day, and let me say right now I was absolutely right.
My Spirit cleansed and my mind and body ready, I made my way towards Orion, making note of how surprisingly light the foot traffic was in the park at the time, especially considering the fact I noticed Security was no longer holding non-passholders by the fountain at I Street during ERT. I am not a regular visitor to KI so I am not sure if that is a new, post C procedure change or if it was just for the Holiday weekend, but regardless I think it is a sound idea to avoid the asinine running of the bulls at park open. A quick note related to security at the park while Im on the subject, they have done a nice job of increasing presence throughout the park, as I was never in an area of the park where I counted fewer than 2-3 SOs making rounds, as well as two sworn Police Officers patrolling Coney Mall and Rivertown. As a former LEO I applaud park management for stepping up with a proper response to previous incidents. Back on subject... SQUIRREL... I got to Orion at 1057, just in time to slip into the queue before ERT ended. I reached the back of the ERT which was inside the hanger/show building just in time to hear the dreaded "Attention guests waiting in line for Orion...". Thinking this would be my best opportunity to ride without a colossal wait, I decided to stick it out and I am very glad I did, as it was up and running again in about 15 minutes to the loud cheers of the waiting riders. I requested row 4 in order to have an apples to apples comparison to my first ever ride last July, which the slightly surprised separator (the look on his face when I actually requested a middle row was priceless) readily granted. I posted an updated review in the relevant post already, so I will just say here that it rides as well as it looks.
After getting my Funpix, I made my way across the park to Mystic Timbers to add some wood to my day. Even with a 15 minute ride stoppage, I was happily seated for a row 12 ride in less than 45, and again Im glad I waited through the delay because I had a great ride! It was unfortunately my only ride on her for the day, as the line quickly grew to an hour+ for the rest of the day and evening and I had other things I wanted to do more. I was then off to Beast, and once again the second I stopped at the back of the line over the speaker comes the "Attention guests currently yada yada yada".... . I was now starting to feel like KDD walking up to a closed Freestyle building, and this time decided to bounce and head to Diamondback, since the line for Backlot was pretty deep into the switchbacks. After about a 25 minute wait (NO DELAYS..WOO HOO) I took a row 8 ride to compare its mid-train experience to Orion's. The thing I really noticed the most every time Ive done this is how after riding Orion the body is expecting to keep falling when DB enters the rollout into the second hill due to the shorter lift and drop, and its just one of those quirky things I enjoy. I did it in reverse order in the evening, this time going directly from DB to Orion, and that is a great experience.
Making my way around to Coney, I stopped for a ride on Shake Rattle & Roll, and that ride never disappoints. What separates it and makes it better than Troika at the Point is its longer ride cycle, and thats A-OK with me because I Love the ride. I was going to follow it up with a Scrambler ride, but since the line filled both switchbacks (that and the Tiques had the longest line of all the flats through the entire day) I made my way back over to Orion for ride number 2 of the day in row 8. Once off, I decided to give the retracked Racer a shot and see how much it had been improved. I rode 5-2 Red after less than 10 minutes in queue, and let me say THANK YOU GCI, no more spine compressing jackhammering!!!!!! I didn't ride Blue (why I still dont know with the line being short all day) but I certainly will on later trip(s) to the park and Im quite happy this is no longer a one and done coaster. Now that it was approaching 3pm, I headed to Skyline on I Street for a late lunch, and with the exception of one individual in the prep line who obviously wasn't keen on being assigned those duties for the day, it was all good. Since I left with a nearly full drink I didn't want to waste and needed to let my food settle, Boo Blasters seemed like the ideal next ride. Even though the AC wasn't needed due to the PERFECT mid 70s temps, the line was just long enough to take care of both reasons I went there, but Ive got to say the blasters... all 3 of them... in the ride vehicle I rode were janky. I scored a dismal 390, and I absolutely NEVER score lower than 1000 on any of the light blaster rides. Two of the blasters wouldn't register on the targets at all, but I enjoyed looking around at the props all the same. After exiting the building, I figured since I was already in PS Id head to Surf Dog to knock it out. Hehe, silly me, as PS was the most crowded part of the entire park and SD had what was likely a 30 minute wait which I bypassed with the thoughts of heading back later in the evening.
After peeking into MT's queue as I walked by, I made my way back to Beast, this time determined to ride her regardless. A nice, smooth, delay free 25 minute wait later, I was dispatched in 1-2 (1-1 was occupied) for my traditional silent tribute ride to a Friend and former poster here who lost his battle to cancer in 2012. Beast is running very well this year for sure, and I know Keith was smiling down on me the whole time. After getting my Funpix and taking a moment for reflection while looking up at the lift hill, I headed towards Flight of Fear in order to complete that side of the park before heading back up to AZ. Once i found the estimated wait at 90 minutes, and knowing Id be back in Area 72 for more Orion rides, I decided instead to make my way to AZ for a Bat flight and a swing on Delirium. In regards to Delirium, that is a ride I wish I hadn't been afraid of for so long, and am thankful that I finally had the courage to get on MaxAir at Failmania 15 because it is now one of my favorite flats ever. Once getting off and briefly contemplating and deciding against a re-ride, I headed back to Banshee for ride 2 of the day before concentrating my time in Area 72. It was another great ride, quelled only by me having to ride it like a rodeo rider with one hand up. I had zipper pocket shorts on, and I checked my phone just before getting on the train, realizing only after the restraints were fastened and locked that I had neglected to zip that pocket! While I knew that the odds were good it would stay in my pocket or at least get trapped safely between my hip and the seat if it did make its way out, I decided to play it safe and ride with my hand down against it. Plus, it made for a humorous Funpix, lol. After retrieving said humorous Funpix, it was off to Area 72 once again for FoF. By this time the wait was down to about 50, and I got a great 1-2 ride on a ride that never disappoints me. Unfortunately the camera was lagging a bit, and it didn't capture the front car of the train so I have STILL never gotten an on ride photo from FoF, grrrr. As I left the building and started to turn left to begin an Orion marathon, I remembered I hadn't yet ridden Backlot, and couldn't neglect my guilty pleasure! It was now down to around 25 minutes, and it didn't even seem like that, as I spent some of it being quite entertained by two young men who were wearing blue stuffed floppy eared Muppet-esque hats bobbing their heads to "Hey Ya" by Outkast .
Once I got off Backlot, I decided to do my small to big back to back comparison of DB vs Orion and headed over to the Snake pit. Thirty minutes and a 1-2 ride later, it was around 1940 and time to go back to Orion for the rest of the evening. I figured by this time the line would be at least 45 minutes with people assumedly getting ready for get queued up for eventual Orion and Beast night rides, but I only waited about 25 minutes for my 3rd ride of the outing, this time in row 6. Once I got off, it was around 2020, and I headed right back in for another, with hopes of getting a 1-1 or 1-2 ride for a more genuine comparison to my 1-2 ride on DB. As luck would have it, when I made my way back up to the station there were three people waiting for 1-1, and I was fortunate enough to have my request granted for the remaining seat. Not only did I get a great sun near the horizon view of the park, but a really great exhilarating ride and a great FP thanks to the group I was riding with. Once I collected that, I started to head back towards the ride entrance determined to get a night ride, but I stopped short. I stood there briefly looking at the lift hill, and thought back to 2009 when DB opened. I went to the park at least once a week that year, and rode DB 6-8 times each time due to the wonderful SRL it had at that time, and I know that is why I am far from the biggest fan of that ride to this day. I over-rode the crap out of that ride the first 2 years it was open, and I dont want to make that same mistake with Orion. After a short bit of contemplation, I decided that Id had a REALLY good day, and it was time to go pick up a hat, a funnel cake for my Wife, and hit the highway back to Indiana.
To end this ridiculously long TR, I want to take a little time to make some observations. First and foremost, I want to give praise to the rides department as a whole, every crew on every ride was smooth, clean, efficient, and performed exactly as I like to see. I want to make special mention of the evening Orion crew, as they were kicking it! My last two ride waits were 24 and 17 minutes respectively from queue entrance to the time I sat in the seat, great job ride crew! Also, I want to again mention the security staff who were politely present and visible, and kept the park in order very well. Finally, I want to go back to the time I was in line for Backlot. While not directly related to park employees or operations, watching the two young man being silly and having fun with their fuzzy head hats on made me laugh harder than I have in a while, and it helped restore a little bit of my faith that we as humans have the capability to once again put our claws and fangs away and start to return to being normally functioning humans again.