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Posts posted by VortexBFForever

  1. [insert cliche "where do I begin" response here]

    2019 was an extraordinary end to a decade, an era, and arguably the best chapter of my whole life. I rode Vortex a whopping 536 times in 2019, including six milestones. Compare that to 2018 when I rode *only* 192 1/3 times and 2017 when I rode just 176 times. :lol: My third and final season as a WindSeeker/Vortex ride op was amazing as I got to live my teenage dream of driving Vortex for one more season, and of course test ride countless times. I ended up breaking two records - highest documented ride total on Vortex at 1221 1/3 (emphasis on documented as I know people have ridden it many times more but didn't keep count) and highest single day ride count on Vortex (93 rides on August 9, 2019, up from the previous record of 66). It's pretty cool when considering the ride held two world records when it first opened, and it closed with me holding two records of my own!

    I'm so blessed to be able to say I was one of Vortex's final riders, on both the last public train with the original crew and second-to-last train EVER alongside my crewmates (go give my Closing Day TR a read if you haven't already!)!

    At the same time, many things began, from my 5-year-old nephew's and 3-year-old niece's first visit ever to Kings Island, to the start of my current job in Tech Services -- a major step closer to my next "dream job" of working in Rides Maintenance -- which was not easy to attain.

    To cap it all off, I and several dozen fellow fans were standing right next to Vortex when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. We watched the fireworks and said one last goodbye to Vortex as part of our saying hello to a new year.

    I hope I remember 2019 for as long as I possibly can.

    -BFF, who did her absolute best to condense this into a short-and-sweet tip-of-the-iceberg post instead of a novel. You're welcome. :)

    • Like 9
  2. This was my first NYE at Kings Island; however, I was not on I-Street when the clock struck midnight.

    2020 began with me and a bunch of other people watching the fireworks from in front of Vortex. We celebrated the New Year while saying one last goodbye. Definitely a unique New Year's celebration and literally once-in-a-lifetime. This is without a doubt my favorite NYE and one I'll never forget.

    • Like 7
  3. December 17 happened to be a day I was off work, so of course I had to spend it...at Winterfest as a guest. In 30 degree weather. Fun, I know. :P

    I reached out to several of my friends to find out if they too were planning to attend Winterfest the same night. Three of them said they were coming. Perfect! I already could tell that this night was going to be fun. As much as I like going by myself, planning out how I spend the evening gets challenging when the park is open only five hours and time to see a favorite ride dwindles by the day. Since I had friends coming, I no longer needed to stress over planning beause now I could play it by ear and make plans based off on what they want to do. And no matter how those plans would go, memories would be made that we would all love.

    I arrived at the park at about 4:45 to find a nearly deserted International Street. We would later learn that the park would look like this for the entire evening. It was a Tuesday night, it was cold, and some schools were still in session this week.

    I milled about International Street before joining the waiting group at the rope just before 5:00. What ensued was the calmest, most orderly running of the bulls I had ever seen. In fact, no one was running at all so it was more like Walking/Speedwalking of the Bulls. If every rope drop was like this, it'd be a lot less stressful for sure! :D

    I hit Mystic Timbers first just in case it got more busy later. I rode three times, with bats twice and snakes once. One of my rides was in the front seat and it was (literally) cool to see snow on the track as I flew past White Water Canyon and the train tracks. It was about 5:30 after my third ride and I hoped to be on Troika at just the right time to see the Eiffel Tower tree light up as I was riding it. I sang along to "You Make It Feel Like Christmas" as I skipped past Vortex.


    However, Troika was down...but the Antique Autos were not. So I hopped on them instead. Even though it was nearly 5:30, I was their first rider of the evening and had the entire track all to myself. I had just crossed the bridge and rounded the turn to where I had a clear view of the tree as the countdown flashed and it lit! Kings Mills Antique Autos is officially the first ride from where I counted down and watched the park lighting ceremony!

    Upon returning, I saw two other guests in the queue who happened to be two of the three friends I would see tonight. They were about to ride and I had just gotten off, but I was able to join them and ride again. Essentially, I got a reride on the Antique Autos. Fittingly enough, we ended up in car 1, the one with Vortex (VRT-X87) on its license plate! This was my first time riding Antique Autos as a passenger, so I had to get used to not driving. My double ride on Kings Island's current newest ride was fun.

    I must mention that many of my Vortex crewmates are still here working Winterfest. Most of them work at either Antiques/Troika or Coney Flats (Carousel/Scrambler/Dodgem/Zephyr), though a couple are also at Skate Rental. Seeing them every time I pass or ride the Coney Mall rides is always a highlight.

    The first ride we rode together was the train. We sat toward the front so we could be closer to the steam which in turn would feel warmer. We sang along to every song!

    Mystic's line was still nonexistent, so we rode it a couple of times together. Got more bats and snakes.

    All of us were hungry, so we decided on dinner at Coney BBQ. I had not eaten there all season so I was excited. I remembered people saying great things about the rotisserie chicken, so I tried it this time. I liked it! It was tender, had just enough seasoning to add to the flavor, and it was filling (which was a given since it was half a chicken!). I missed eating at one of my favorite in-park food locations (and I don't eat there often because it's expensive) but eating there again with several friends made it more worth the $12 I paid for the yummy rotisserie chicken, brussel sprouts, and of course the free hush puppy. I had never thought that brussel sprouts were a food option at Kings Island, let alone any amusement park, but I am glad to be wrong and actually eat healthy here! :lol:

    During our meal, we discovered that the horse carriage rides were having a special where it was $10 per ride instead of the usual $40. Since five of us (me, my three friends, and one other friend who happened to be here as well) were present, we had an ideal opportunity to ride the horse carriage together while being easier on our wallets since $10 for five of us means $2 for each of us. It would be my first time riding the carriage, which was something I hoped to do but wanted to do with other people to make the price more worth it.

    The carriage ride was nice and a unique way to see Coney Mall. I would say it is worth the $10, especially if you're with friends.

    Next came the main reason I wanted to see if my friends are coming. If you read my Closing Day trip report, you may recall reading about a "support group meeting" we conducted during the last hour of operation. The three friends with me were also there that day, plus one more who couldn't make it tonight. Two of the three friends were also on the last public train with me and the original Vortex crew (and of course were recalling that night as we walked by).

    As a refresher, the "support group meeting" I speak of is just an informal getting together by Vortex's support that touches the midway. On Closing Day, we were there taking pictures by it just like how any group of friends would get a group picture (and yes, Vortex is included as a "friend."). We agreed that we should conduct another such meeting during Winterfest, and since most of us were together again, tonight was the perfect night for the Winterfest edition.




    After more reminiscing and friend group pictures that included our favorite Arrow looper, we rode Troika now that it was back up. In the queue line, I showed them a friend I had made the previous day:


    I kid you not: I had enough free time during my previous shift to build a little snowman at Vortex. I decided to build it by Troika's queue to see if many guests would notice it. In the picture it's slumped forward a bit due to the previous day's rain, wind and sun, but on my next shift I touched it up so that it once again stands tall, much like the ride behind it. I can now check "build a snowman by Vortex" off my Winterfest 2019 bucket list! :lol:


    We ended up getting Troika all to ourselves. During our earlier picture-taking we were making remarks about how loud Troika's riders were screaming...and now we one-upped them. There may have been only three of us on the ride (one friend didn't ride), but we sounded as loud as a full cycle. I'm surprised my throat didn't give out. My ride op friends who were running the ride played trivia with us and interacted with us as if there were more than three of us on the ride. Another fun time!

    Earlier, I had suggested that we try the blue hot chocolate. Thanks to my consulting the 2019 Winterfest Experience Guide a few weeks back, I knew that Graeter's isn't the only location selling blue hot chocolate. Blue hot chocolate is also offered at the funnel cake stand in Rivertown, which is where we headed. We each got a blue hot chocolate (and we all LOVED it!) and shared a funnel cake. Sugar high impending...



    We sat by Vortex and continued to sip our blue hot chocolate, which was another item to check off my aforementioned bucket list.

    After we were mostly finished (and to keep moving since it was getting pretty cold) two of us went to ride Scrambler while the other two would meet us back at Antiques. By this time, the sugar kicked in and so we were definitely excited to ride Scrambler! I can say with complete confidence that I have never laughed so hard during a ride. The only other experience that comes close is from July of 2013 when I rode Vortex right after drinking a souvenir cup full of root beer, which had me laughing from the first drop all the way to the safety brakes.

    We met back up and rode Antiques again. This time, each of us had our own car for another nice drive around the track.

    Next, we rode Zephyr, as no other riders were there and I wanted to give my ride op friends something to do. This became our third (and my fourth) zen ride of the evening and it was COLD! Dare I say it felt as cold as I remember my 9-degree ride in 2017! Since we were somewhat crazy (and still feeling the rush from our sugar-filled desserts) we rode again! Both times were fun, though we did end up ducking into the arcade to warm up. Closing time was drawing near, and we wanted to get another ride on Mystic, so we took off skipping (literally SKIPPING). It's amazing what sugar can do. :lol: The Mistletones had just started performing since it was 9:30, so we stopped to watch (and sometimes dance to) them. It was fun for all of us.

    When they finished, we headed back to Mystic for our last ride of the night. Since there was no line, they had closed off the regular queue and were letting people in through the single rider line to minimize the time spent walking to the station. Still no tree ending, but still a fun, face-freezing ride nonetheless.

    What a fun five hours on one of my favorite off days! Taking advantage of no crowds with friends is always fun.

    +Mystic Timbers: 6

    YTD: 23

    Total: 53

    +Kings Mills Antique Autos: 3

    YTD/Total: 17

    +Train: 1

    YTD: 12

    Total: 60

    +Troika: 2

    YTD: 18

    Total: 67

    +Scrambler: 1

    YTD: 8

    Total: 38

    +Zephyr: 2

    YTD: 13

    Total: 51

    • Like 2
  4. When I would ride Vortex in the back, I often allowed a few inches of space between me and my restraint, which would cause me to almost stand up on the first drop! Other times I would tuck my knees up and "cannonball" down the drop.

    Vortex's first drop definitely had the strongest ejector air of all of Kings Island's coasters. The only other ride to even come close is Diamondback, and hopefully Orion. I hope I never forget that feeling of flying out of your seat on Vortex's first drop.

    • Like 3
  5. It goes without saying, but I don't think I'll be ready either for what's coming...I bet seeing Vortex come down will feel as surreal as my final ride.

    But for now, as long as Winterfest goes on, I'm enjoying it still being there and not focusing on its impending doom while I (and we) still can. :)

    • Like 10
  6. We had just gotten back in the Fast Lane line for another ride, but then we realized...we still had yet to hug the support! It was 6:20 at this time. So instead of riding again, we hopped out of line (we were not yet to the bridge so it was easy) and went all the way back past the batwing to the famed midway support, where we proceeded to take pictures of us hugging the support. We literally had a support group meeting, featuring an actual support. I discovered how to listen for a train by putting my ear against the support and listening to how loud the rumble was (and it was crazy loud when a train passed overhead!). That was cool.



    Someone had written "We Love You" on the support, which was sweet! I got the picture as a train entered the batwing, which is barely visible beyond the foliage. But it's in the picture. :)


    It was 6:40 by the time our support group meeting concluded. 20 minutes left! As much as we wanted to squeeze in another ride, we didn't want to take any chances. We wanted to enter the line right before 7:00 so we could at the very least be on any of the last ten trains.


    Kayleigh and I got our picture in front of Vortex's ID sign, joining the ranks of many others who were doing the same for the same reason.

    Now it was starting to get crazy. The line had grown to where it wrapped around the Urgent Scare ambulance and back toward WindSeeker's entrance. Security personnel were beginning to show up so nothing ugly would happen. We joined an entire GROUP of 30-40 people who were standing and waiting for the exact same reason we returned: to hop in line right before/at 7:00. We knew a number of people in the group, so at least we got to reminisce some more. All of us had one common interest: to get on the last train or at least get close to it. There were definitely more than 28 people here so I had no idea how this would work out. As 7:00 drew closer, the line got longer, and our anticipation grew. In just minutes, Vortex would close for the last time.





    In the meantime, the setting sun brilliantly colored the sky, with the dominant colors a fitting blue and orange. Vortex was riding into not just any sunset, but one of its own colors. Even the weather was assisting in its sendoff.

    Suddenly, people started scrambling to get in line. My group got swept up in the action as we tried to find a spot as close to the back as we could get. However, many other people had the same idea. My group ended up trying to find the back of the line twice until we decided to stay where we are. We ended up in line next to the restrooms, with the end of the line now by Antique Autos (where the brick wall ends).

    I looked at my Fitbit, on which the time read 7:02. The park was now closed for the season, and Vortex was now closed forever. We weren't as close to the end of the line as we hoped, but at least we were in line. One of my supervisors came out with the "We're Sorry, This Ride Is Closed" sign and stood at the end of the line, with several security guards. One other guard stood in the middle of where the line wrapped around by WindSeeker and the restrooms. I saw a group of WindSeeker riders exiting and marveling at how long the line was. I wondered if any of them were hoping to get in line for Vortex by closing. This massive line was and always will be the longest line I have ever seen for Vortex.


    The line had moved a little bit by the time I took this picture, as we couldn't see the end of the line from where we were at closing.


    We slowly moved around past WindSeeker and the ambulance as the line moved toward Vortex's queue. As we moved closer to the ID sign, I noticed a group of six people wearing matching airbrushed shirts that said "Original Vortex Crew" on the front and "One Final Ride" on the back. Wait...original Vortex crew!?!?! Once Kayleigh and I realized this, we got really excited. We had the chance to meet people WHO WORKED AT Vortex IN 1987. I always thought that it would be cool to meet even one person who worked there back in the day, but I had long accepted that it probably wouldn't happen because everyone would be who-knows-where at this point. But now...it was about to happen. We, members of Vortex's final crew, were about to meet members of Vortex's first crew.

    I noticed that they weren't moving with the line, but rather letting people pass them. That was good since I was hoping they wouldn't have moved on before we got the chance to meet them. Nonetheless, they were still in the same spot by the time we reached them, and we promptly struck up a conversation with them and how cool it was that members of the first and final crews were together. Of course we had to get a picture.


    The line kept moving, so our initial conversation had to be short. They told us that they would wait for us to come around through the queue entrance, as they wanted us to join them on their final ride. We were ecstatic at the thought of original and current Vortex crew members taking a final ride together! But first we had to wait for the line to take us all the way around back to the ID sign.


    Other enthusiasts/fans were in line around us which sparked even more conversations and reminiscing. We even watched a couple of NoLimits concept videos (of Arrow rides of course) together as the line entered the queue. A couple of them asked me what my count was up to. Numerous other guests in line were hyped and were sharing their excitement and appreciation for Vortex. As trains returned, some in line would shout "HOW WAS YOUR RIDE?" to the train and the riders cheered loudly in response. I heard one rider shout "Vortex FOREVER, BABY!" as his train rolled into the ready brakes. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Vortex was getting a lot of appreciation from the guests, making for a wholesome sendoff surrounded by loyal fans. Even with all of us here, we still made up just a mere fraction of over 46 million guests whose lives Vortex gripped in one way or another.

    In the meantime, we noticed the group of original crew members talking with a couple of security guards. We initially feared they would get kicked out of line, but we would later learn it was because some other guests were giving them trouble. By the time we reached them, two security guards now accompanied them, and now us as they included us in their group. They had gotten permission, and security clearance, to ensure they would be on the final public train. And since they invited us to join them...we would get to ride with them on that train. We were over the moon that we would be among the final public riders with the original crew! It felt like a dream, even though I knew and acknowledged that it was actually happening. This was real.

    While waiting for the rest of the line to pass, we asked about what it was like for them and what was similar and different in 1987 vs. today. Of course Vortex was brand new in 1987 (that was obvious) but also in 1987 the crew rotated every half hour (we rotate every hour), there was no dual dispatch (yet) and there was no exit gate (we'd get in serious trouble if we ever sent a train with the exit gate open today!). Vortex was its own crew, and it was not yet paired with a neighboring ride. The trains had no seatbelts at the time as well. Of course their favorite position was driving the ride, which is the same for us.

    Eventually, the queue began to clear, and soon the security guards began escorting us through the queue as we continued our conversations with them. They were really nice and willing to answer our bombardment of questions. We greatly enjoyed talking with each other and hearing how the same job changed so much over the years, and we especially enjoyed the simple fact that the first and final Vortex crews were meeting. Think a movie or TV crossover, but in real life.


    The station was emptying out, and we stayed in the switchback until the station was cleared. I felt a little bad for the guests who were wanting the last train but were told by security to board now or else not ride. Apparently it would be just us on the last train. Honestly I didn't care if anyone else was on our train, as long as it was the last. I took a moment to thank the security guards for their help in getting us on the final train, as surely it was not the easiest task for them to insist the guests ride now. As we continued to wait, the minutes seemed longer and the excitement seemed to increase exponentially. We were the last public riders, about to ride WITH THE ORIGINAL CREW. It felt so surreal, but still in the moment.

    Finally, we were let loose to pick our rows. Cheers erupted as we chose our seats. Train 2 was waiting for us. My friends headed for the back, but the original crew headed to the front. I had already planned to ride in the back for my final ride with the crew, so I joined the original crew, who boarded in 1-1, 2-1 and 2-2 and left 1-2 empty. I hopped into 1-2 for the momentous occasion. I looked around and saw numerous cameras pointed at us from the exit and Fast Lane bridge. Don was among the paparazzi. I was in awe of this beautiful moment, seated on the last public Vortex train surrounded by original crew members whom I thought I would never get the chance to meet, immortalized by the cameras capturing the moment that the last public riders would depart the station. I was absolutely star-struck.


    The station went quiet. The floor operators' "Clear!" calls broke the quiet. The park's loudest lift was waiting to haul its next train up the 148-foot incline.

    "All Clear."

    At 7:48 p.m., Train 2 was dispatched, with original and final Vortex crew members aboard. Instantly cheers resounded from riders and spectators alike as gravity pulled us out of the station and onto the lift in normal fashion. The cheering faded into the distance and the Arrow anti-rollback ear candy took over. I took in the view of the ride and the park. As it was nearly 50 minutes after closing, the lights on top of the Eiffel Tower were already on. The other rides sat closed and dark, even The Beast. Vortex was now the only ride operating in the whole park. I took in every moment of the 56-second ascent and made sure I was there in the moment to enjoy the final public ride, as it would never happen again. We cheered again as Train 2 crested and soared into what was the world's tallest drop 32 years ago. I screamed "Bend it like an Arrow!" going into the drop. We cheered and screamed our way through the inversions, and I enjoyed the view of what would be my last ride ever in the front car. When we hit the safety brakes, our cheers resumed and were joined by numerous others watching along the queue in front of the entrance. We waved at each other as we once again had cameras pointed at us, and started chanting "Vortex! Vortex!" as Train 2 returned us to the station where we cheered all the way to the end. I thanked the original crew members for letting them join us as they headed out the exit first. My friends rejoined me as we followed them. A whole slew of people were waiting and gave us high fives as we walked out. I felt like we were celebrities for a moment. This was all a pleasant surprise to me. I expected some excitement with it but this still exceeded what I thought would happen. It felt so good to see all the appreciation everyone was showing to Vortex, and how hyped they were to witness the final public ride. I am humbled to have been able to join six original Vortex crew members on the final public ride; it was such a privilege and a moment I, my friends, and those crew members will never, ever forget. I am truly forever grateful.

    I shared hugs with my friends as our euphoria turned to raw emotion. We and the original crew members exchanged thanks for our riding together before they headed out. Several others were vlogging the moments as they unfolded, including our emotional hugs. I wasn't crying just yet, but my friends already were and I felt them.

    The exit cleared out, I got the on ride photos from our train, and joined the rest of my crew as they "closed" Vortex. I say "closed" because we still had one event left: the associate rides night.

    We walked back towards Troika where many fellow associates were lining up to get their last rides on Vortex. The rides night was supposed to start at 7:30 and go to 8:30, but obviously that had to change due to it taking nearly 50 minutes to cycle through the line at closing. At the top of the hour, Vortex reopened for the associates. We still had until only 8:30 to ride, but I was still able to get in two more rides before then. This time, the wait was a lot shorter and we were able to choose wherever we wanted, as opposed to earlier in the day where there was no preferred seating. It was nice waiting only five minutes once more. I rode Trains 2 and 3 once each, which ended up being my last rides ever on both of them, in 5-2 and 6-2 respectively.


    After those rides, I met up with my crew at the exit as we waited to board for our final ride. The anticipation returned.

    At 8:40 p.m., the line was cleared once again, and we headed through the exit into the station where Train 1 awaited us. The same train that took me on all but one of my milestone rides would now take me and my crew on my last ride ever. I kept saying "We're going, we're going..." as we walked in to pick our seats. My three supervisors got their picture taken in the last car and, knowing that 7-1 was my favorite seat, invited me to sit with them. The train had locked when I joined them, so I got to pedal the car one last time to release my restraint. I stepped aboard for the final time into 7-1. "Last ride, here we go!" I said, trying to fend off my disbelief. "This is it, Carolyn!" one of my sups said. This last ride would be my 1,221st complete ride, so I would be ending on a palindrome.


    After buckling my seatbelt and having my restraint checked for the final time, Train 1 was on its way, with the crew on board, at 8:41 p.m. We chanted, "Feel the Grip!" as we rolled out for our last ride ever.

    "This is so surreal," we mentioned as we began our final 56-second ascent. I then proceeded to say, "I can't believe it...it's time for a thank you speech," before I proceeded to yell,

    "Vortex, thank you for an amazing 12 years, including 3 years working here and 9 years riding! You helped me become the person I am today! I know but I can't believe that I'm on my last ride ever. I'll miss you so much!"

    as the anti-rollback rang out. "You guys ready?" my sups and crewmates shouted as we neared the top. "This is it!" as we crested. We screamed our way down the first drop as the ejector air sent me up against my restraint and put a good couple inches between me and my seat. "Here we go!" I screamed as we soared through the loops. We hollered our way through the corkscrews and whooped through the batwing (posing for our pictures on the way) before hauling up the helix and hitting the safety brakes hard with an abrupt stop. We sat there for a little bit as the areas and full timers were still boarding the train behind us (they were last train, we were second to last. It was the same with Firehawk last year.). Even if we were second to last train ever, we were the last riders ever on Train 1.


    My last ride on Vortex...was amazing. I know I say that for every ride, but this one was absolutely amazing. It was hauling, it was smooth, and it ran wonderfully to finish out its last operating day. There was nothing bad about this ride. I must add that Vortex had no downtime on this day, as it should be. I got emotional while waiting on the ready brakes and heading back into the station as we chanted "Vortex! Vortex! Vortex!" once again. As we disembarked, I hugged the headrest of my seat and said "Thank you" before walking out the exit for the last time (other than when we got our picture on the train after everyone else got off).


    Maintenance took over and began to transfer the trains off in preparation for their eventual removal from the track. They transferred Train 3 into the storage shed, got Train 1 onto the ready brakes...and cycled Train 2 one last time. For one more time we listened to the lift running, the anti-rollback, the warning siren, and the "ring ring" of the bell as the train crested, after which the lift went silent for the final time.

    We as a crew made our way to the ID sign for the picture together. As we reached the sign, Train 2 came to its final stop in the safety brakes...and Taps began to fill the air as it played over the lift speakers.

    We stood silent as Taps played on. The other rides stood silent, paying respect to their fallen neighbor. All of Kings Island went silent. The only other sound was the nearby traffic on I-71. Emotions finally broke as I silently said, "Goodbye, best friend..." with tears filling my eyes. We had just witnessed the end of an era.


    After getting one last group picture in front of the ID sign, it was time for us to go.



    It was hard to walk away from Vortex. I know I will see it again for now, albeit with no trains and likely no power, but the fact that it will never operate nor take anyone for a ride ever again hits hard.

    Vortex had a wonderful 33-season run at the park, and it got to end on a high note, giving its final rides while surrounded by loyal fans. It is now time for it to join Firehawk, Son of Beast, King Cobra and the ranks of defunct coasters in roller coaster heaven. Saying goodbye is never easy, but we have to anyway. At least my 12 years of memories with Vortex will help me feel a bit better, and will live on.

    Vortex may have lived only 33 seasons, but our memories of it still continue to live on in our hearts. As long as that's true, Vortex will not be completely gone. It will live on, in some way or another.

    Thank you, Vortex. Well done on your 33 seasons and 46 million rides. You will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.

    First Ride: July 23, 2010

    Final Ride: October 27, 2019

    +Vortex: 14

    YTD: 536

    Final total: 1221 1/3

    +Linus' Launcher: 1

    YTD: 3

    Total: 6

    +Boo Blasters: 1

    YTD: 3

    Total: 13

    BONUS PIC: Brian Lamm got not only the aforementioned FYE Coasters group photo, but also this pic of Vortex where I happened to be in the second row (far side) of that train!


    • Like 17
    • Thanks 4
  7. The inevitable day finally arrived.

    Before leaving the park at day's end, I would take my last ride ever on Vortex, 9.5 seasons after my first ride ever on July 23, 2010.

    Bittersweet as it would be, I knew I was not alone in the pain of enduring Vortex's inevitable goodbye, as I would see when I would be joined by friends and even family throughout the day as we shared final rides.

    Here is what perhaps the most memorable and bittersweet Closing Day would have in store.


    I had some housekeeping to accomplish first i.e. turning in my Rides uniforms and packing my things to move out of my dorm room after the day ended, so I arrived roughly 10 minutes after the park opened. I figured it would be busy yet I was still surprised to see a HUGE line for Fast Lane, probably due to many passholders waiting until this day to redeem their complimentary Fast Lane Plus. I don't even need to say where I headed first...


    ...during Vortex's last ERT ever. The station was already filled and the rest of the queue was rapidly filling. In fact, it was full after my first ride and the temporary queues were brought out once again. As for my last ever first ride of the day on Vortex, it was a great start to the day as always.



    Before I rode again, though, I headed back to the front of the park in hopes that the Fast Lane line had shortened. I was already considering buying Fast Lane since I knew it would be a lot more crowded than the previous night. My prediction was true, as the line was less than half of its previous length. Several minutes later, I headed back to Vortex with Fast Lane on my right wrist. I had decided to not renew my Platinum Pass this year, as I realized that I had used it only as an alternate means of admission for when I didn't have my associate ID on me. If I had renewed it, I would have done it just for the free Fast Lane Plus and Bring-A-Friend ticket, which by themselves cost less. So not only is Vortex retiring this year, but my Platinum Pass (and my digital camera, more on that later) are being retired as well.








    The Fast Lane line was at various lengths, but I did not have to wait for more than 10 minutes (yet). I didn't mind waiting though, as it meant plenty of time to snap pictures from various places. I also made sure to include my crewmates in a lot of them since they wanted me to take pictures.

    I rode Vortex three more times, and then I saw a group of KICers whom were among the first KIC friends I ever made (including @IndyGuy4KI). Of course we couldn't resist riding Vortex together one last time, so I joined them for my next ride. For one particular friend, this was our first time riding together in four years, so this ride was extra special for us. And we loved every moment of it.


    I couldn't find our on-ride photo (even after the trains after us had their pictures loaded) on the kiosk, so we got pictures of us in front of Vortex just in case. I'm glad we did, as I never got the on ride photo. But we'll remember our ride nonetheless.


    We soon parted ways, exchanging numbers so we could meet up later if desired. I saw a few more friends talking in front of the batwing. We took the next ~15 minutes just watching Vortex and reminiscing while a train roared by every few minutes. By this time, the cloud cover had started to clear and the sun came out for the rest of the day.







    Vortex will be the second-most-ridden defunct ride in park history, behind Enchanted Voyage. Two Arrows now top the list of most-ridden defunct rides.




    I got two more rides on Vortex before I once again headed back to the front of the park. This time, I was meeting up with my two brothers Joel and Jon, my nephew Ezra and niece Priya (Joel's two oldest kids), and Jon's girlfriend and her kids. Joel actually used to ride Vortex with his friends in the days before I visited, and he would later tell me it was one of his favorite rides as well. Since he had stopped going to Kings Island before I started riding Vortex, we had never shared a ride on it. For Ezra and Priya, this was their first trip ever to Kings Island. Ezra is just over 42" tall and Priya is just under 40", so of course neither of them were tall enough to ride Vortex. Ezra seemed really interested in riding Backlot Stunt Coaster, Dodgem, and Zephyr (all of which are 48" rides) and I told him that he wasn't tall enough for them now but someday he would be. We all headed back to Vortex so Joel and I could get our ride on it together. While Joel and I rode Vortex, everyone else headed to the Antique Autos, which would become Ezra and Priya's very first ride at Kings Island. To minimize the time spent apart from them, I had redeemed a front-of-the-line pass Pass Perk at Guest Services when I met everyone at the gate. During our shortened wait, we talked about each of our histories with Vortex and reminisced our own memories. We had more in common than I thought; he also prefers riding in the back seat, and like I said earlier it was one of his favorite rides as well. Best of all, both of us were really happy to share one ride together.


    We really enjoyed our ride together! It brought back memories for Joel and made new memories for me as we shared his last ride on Vortex. This was what I most wanted to happen before Vortex closed, so this ride was one of the most special ever.


    We waited for everyone else to finish their Antique Autos excursion, and then we started heading toward Planet Snoopy. Ezra and Priya enjoyed their first ride ever.

    While walking past Vortex, I felt happy that even though they would never get to experience Vortex, they would at least get to see it. By the time we reached Planet Snoopy, Ezra was wanting to try nearly every ride he saw. He and I rode Linus' Launcher together after waiting a cycle. Both of us like How to Train Your Dragon, so he was excited to "fly like Toothless!" Both of us had fun. He wanted to go again but I reminded him that there may be other rides he would like to try, although we could do Linus' Launcher again if he insisted. Joel and the others suggested we ride something we could all ride together, since they would leave at 5 and it was just before 4. We headed to Boo Blasters since it has no minimum height requirement (and it seats 5 to a car and there were 5 of us since Jon's girlfriend and her kids had to leave at 4). I did warn them that the line was likely very long but should move at a decent pace due to the continuous loading. Ezra didn't seem so sure at first about riding Boo Blasters because of its spooky theme, but felt like he could do it after some encouragement and basically telling him that it is basically a big game and we would all be riding and "defeating the bad guys" together. Charlie Brown's Wind Up caught his eye and he wanted to ride that as well, so we planned to do it after Boo Blasters.

    We ended up waiting roughly half an hour for Boo Blasters. Its queue was full, including all the switchbacks. Ezra and Priya were getting hungry as was the rest of us, but other than that they handled the wait fairly well. This was the longest I have ever waited for Boo Blasters, and I usually would not think of waiting that long for it. But this time I had a reason to. Eventually all five of us piled into a car and off we went. Ezra and I had one blaster, Joel and Priya had the second, and Jon had the third. Ezra got a little nervous at some parts and murmured "This is scary" but as long as the blaster was in his hand he bravely shot at the targets and said "We defeated the bad guys!" at the end. Walking out the exit, he exclaimed, "I'm not scared anymore!" I'm glad he liked the ride. It was a nice ride for all of us.

    Since we were hungry, we got some food. Specifically, we got both my and Joel's favorite sweet treat: blue ice cream! Jon didn't get anything, but Joel and I got waffle cones while Ezra and Priya split a dish. Both of them loved their first ever helping of blue ice cream while Joel and I enjoyed our waffle cones.


    While snapping this picture of my ice cream and what little of Vortex I could see from there, a train sped into the picture at the last second without my knowing of it coming!

    After we had all inhaled our blue ice cream (at least the kids did -- Joel and I were still finishing), we headed back to Charlie Brown's Wind Up. Both Ezra and Priya rode, and it was the first ride they themselves would ride together. Both of them really enjoyed the ride with their hands up. The op played Simon Says, one of which was to roar like a dinosaur. Ezra loves dinosaurs, so needless to say he roared the loudest of all the kids on the ride. Jon, Joel, and I loved watching them on the ride. I rode this ride on my first KI visit when I was still under 54", so this brought back even more memories.

    This brought Ezra and Priya's first KI trip to a close. I would say it was a success, as they enjoyed all four rides they rode and Joel and I enjoyed our ride together on Vortex. This definitely won't be the last time they come out to Kings Island, as long as I have comp tickets on hand. :)

    After they left, I headed straight back to Coney Mall.



    It was roughly 5:10 by the time I reached Vortex's batwing, where I saw a lot of other fellow enthusiasts and fans. I had forgotten that FYE Coasters had arranged a meetup and group photo in front of Vortex at 5:15. Since it was about that time when I returned, it was perfect timing.

    Brian Lamm captured the group photo:


    I know I had missed the KIC group photo but at least I made it to this one.

    Part of FYE's plan was to have a big group ride, but that would mean waiting in the huge line. Plus I had three other friends waiting to meet me for some rides together, so I headed off to get even more rides in.

    I returned to the Fast Line to find the longest FL line for Vortex that I had ever seen. It went back almost all the way the the gray gates where WindSeeker's evacuation device is stored. I considered getting a WindSeeker flight since its line was a lot shorter, but I was already with my friends who also had Fast Lane. We waited about 15-20 minutes before riding again. This was the case for our next ride as well.

    In line for our next ride, it was 6:00 and it started to hit me: It was last hour. The last hour ever that Vortex was open to the public. It was really happening. In just one hour, we were going to witness Vortex closing for the last time.

    Thoughts of this reality flurried through my mind as I continued to grab pictures, using my mom's camera and my phone. As for my own camera (which had taken a beating over the 7 years I had it) it suddenly rendered unable to take any pictures or videos, as the shutter button stopped working. That and the failing display confirmed that my Canon Powershot ELPH 110 HS had also reached the end of its service life, and the last picture it would ever take would be of Vortex.


















    After our rides, we noticed a WCPO camera crew conducting interviews. I wanted one, but by the time I reached them it would already be time for them to pack up and move on. At least I got to talk to Don and Chad and tell them about when I hit 1200 the previous night and the day I rode it 93 times. Don told me good job for passing his count (still at 1,199).

    As I took more than 50 photo-per-post limit, there will be a part 2! How will VortexBFForever and Vortex spend their last moments together? Stay tuned...

    • Like 15
  8. I always hoped that when Vortex's time would come that they would do a send-off party similar to what Six Flags Great Adventure did for their Great American Scream Machine when it closed in 2010. But when it's nearly the end of the season with barely a month's notice, options are strictly limited...we'll see how Vortex is sent off in just a few weeks.

    • Like 7
  9. Don’t be surprised if you see me crying while at work. It’s already happened once. But even then I will keep smiling and having fun and making each last day count of the 12 years that Vortex has been a part of my life!

     I’m so glad that I took my 1,000th ride on August 2, especially since I originally planned to do it next year (on July 23, 2020, ten years after my first ride). I also broke the record for most rides in one day when I rode it 93 times on Friday, August 9.

    October 27 will quite possibly be one of the hardest days of my life. I know I will not be alone in the emotions of Vortex’s final ride. Vortex had a great 33 seasons and will definitely be missed. Losing an old friend is never easy. I don’t think I will ever be ready to say goodbye to Vortex, even though I knew I would have to at some point.


    • Like 13
    • Sad 1
  10. I know a lot of people are waiting for my take on this...I'm so shocked.

    I knew I would have to say goodbye to Vortex at some point, yet this is still sooner than I expected.

    Vortex has a special place in my heart for more reasons than one, most notably it being my first job and my first looping coaster. Because of Vortex, inversions are my favorite element on any coaster.

    At this point, I don't care for Orion. I'm still glad we're getting it, but I'm purely devoting these next five weekends to enjoying Vortex while I still can, both as an associate and as a guest.

    -BFF, who will now start bringing a handful of tissues with her to Kings Island...

    • Like 19
    • Sad 7
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