I don't need to explain Mystic Timbers to anyone here, we're KIC and I know we've all been excited for it. To be honest, when it was announced I wasn't expecting much from it. However, as the wood began to take over Rivertown and just the sheer scale of some of these things in relation to others became clear, I knew we had something special on our hands. As a massive fan of some of GCI's more violent creations such as Thunderhead and SFA's Roar, I could tell this had a shot at being my favorite.
When it was announced that ACE was invited to Media Day, I knew I had to do it. The initial plan was to host and ride down with one of my ACE friends who was planning to travel in from the East Coast, but she had something come up. Luckily Kat, my region's ACE rep, lives only a few minutes from me so we were able to ride down together!
At rope drop, we were walked back through the park, still dark and sleeping silently wrapped in the blanket of the offseason. As we neared Rivertown, the silence was interrupted by the soft sound a uniquely creepy soundtrack, the metallic clinking of GCI anti-rollbacks, and the most unsettling-sounding lift siren ever. We entered a queue line that snaked back through the woods surrounding Rivertown, past the smashed truck as its radio very audibly crackled emergency alerts for the area; something was on the loose. In the chilly air of the morning, we waited surrounded by logging equipment, faint white lighting, and security cameras on TVs giving us the play-by-play on the sketchy occurrences in the woods.
After the wait, Kat and I were in the station (which has the tiniest platform ever by the way) and ready to go! The very first thing I noticed sitting down in Mystic Timbers's trains was that the padding was harder, it's the new stuff they have on Lightning Racer. Second off, the restraints are significantly tighter than any other GCI, but it is the only ride at Kings Island where only one click on the ratchet is required. I'm not even that big and I had to yank it down with a bit of gusto to get it to lock for me. But with that, we were on! The rev of a truck's engine filled the station as we rolled out to finally figure out what's in that shed!
The slow crawl through the forest at night was the perfect way to set the stage for the moment of truth. Our train engaged the lift and began climbing up over the treetops as the lift announcement played, instructing us to turn our car around. As we neared the top of the lift, the train slowed to a crawl. "Whatever you do," the voice warned us, "don't! Go in! The shed!" The lift sired chimed out as we were dropped into the first turn, which was your pretty standard GCI first drop. And then into that first high turn over the lift, I noticed I was thrown out of my seat just as violently as Thunderhead as of 2014 was doing. And diving out of it, I noticed that the rest of the hops were practically on the ground. I knew from that exact "oh crap" moment that whatever was about to happen was to be absolutely insane. And my god it was! The main ride back by the train loop feels exactly like Voyage and Thunderhead had a baby! You get violently whipped around all over the place and irreverently kicked out of your seat for the entire ride as the train hops, skips, and jumps along the forest floor. Some nice laterals in the turnaround (this ride is seriously laterals done right, not like that garbage helix on Legend) and we were belligerently rampaging our way back to the midway, getting thrown every which way right on a collision course with that shed we were told to avoid so much. Finally, the ride itself finished off the experience by dropping us down to the water, kicking us a few more times, and then rising into the brake run with an ominous building with open barn doors like jaws loomed in front of us. "Stop," the loudspeaker ordered us, "do not go in the shed. Stop, do not go in the shed." The train crept forward as the warning garbled into static.
Like others, I had formed a guess for the eternal question that the enthusiast community ran with: #whatsintheshed? It changed as the season went on but on media day eve, I posted it on my Facebook. My thoughts were that Oakley (the tree character from the logo that looks like Angry Orchard) would be projection mapped ripping the walls off the shed to attack the train and then trigger a giant loud saw blade prop to fall from the ceiling spinning, stopping only inches from the ride envelope and scaring the crap out of riders.
As the train rolled into the shed, it sunk in exactly what was going on. I was strapped into a coaster train in an enclosed space in which it was understood something was about to happen. And I was completely at its mercy without even knowing what it was. My knuckles turned white around the restraint and I clenched my teeth in preparation for whatever was about to happen. Shot backwards, saw blade thrown inches from my head, anything. Now I won't reveal what happened publicly (if you've ridden it, please PM me for my opinion if you want it!) but all I will say is that it's a fun little twist to cap off a ride on the greatest coaster in Ohio. It's fun, it's quirky, it'll keep you coming back for more, but it isn't the selling point of the ride. Like the ride was marketed (and yes it was), the main focus is the coaster itself, not the little shed bonus at the end. And #whatsintheshed and "ride into the unknown" (on the billboard on the gate) have a whole different meaning to them now.
All in all, Kings Island really outdid themselves with Mystic Timbers. This coaster is proof that records, gimmicks, or anything of that nature is needed for a ride to be world class. Mystic Timbers was marketed as a good ride with an interesting theme and fun bonus at the end and that's all it needed. The ride experience comes from the fact that this classic traditional wood ride system was applied with the use of CAD and FEA to create a modern mechanical marvel, the perfect coaster for a park that has a tradition of pushing the wooden coaster to its technological limits and finding new ways to use the system. This is the greatest coaster in the state of Ohio and the fourth best wooden coaster I've been on, above legendary world-class wooden coasters such as Boulder Dash and El Toro. It's really violent, it throws you around, the theme is great, and the location brings it all together to complete the package. Out of 253 different roller coasters, Mystic Timbers takes #9 as the highest ranking coaster in Ohio and the highest ranking GCI.
Wanting something by which to remember my new favorite GCI (in addition to the tons of free stuff they gave us for media day) I headed over to the little four-way display they had set up. Talking to employees, Mystic Timbers didn't get a custom built gift shop like Banshee because Banshee's gets no business anymore, so they set up this little display down by the old Crypt building. This will allow you to purchase any Mystic Timbers swag your heart desires but if it puts Kings Island in the red, they can just get rid of it. But for right now, it's permanent. But I bought this shirt and it's awesome.
The coaster has a Snapchat geofilter even! It looks awesome!
Rivertown will never be the same!
Later I met up with Scott Schaffer from Upstop Media who was there to film and his friends Andrew and Michelle for another ride! Scott's great and got me some lanyards to give my girlfriend for her lanyard collection, and he even showed me his gimble and other filming equipment!
McCauley Caulkin and Donald Trump ride Mystic Timbers! It was this ride that I noticed that ACE had started the tradition of dancing in the shed!
After that ride Kat and I headed out to lunch with Scott Short (the other ACE regional rep over Ohio) and Dave Lipnicky (ACE VP) and I headed home for some rest in between events.
All of this was free with media day!
This is all stuff I bought! I love the shirt! (Special thanks to my lighthouse bedspread for the cameo in the last two photos)
After hanging out at home and freshening back up a bit, I headed back for the First Rider Auction! Traffic wasn't too bad but I got there ridiculously early, early enough to tailgate the parking gates a bit. But once we got in I got to start meeting up with people I hadn't seen all offseason and it was awesome!
Jennifer (WailsLikeABanshee) had invited me to hang with her and her boyfriend for this event so I met up with them at Red's Hall of Fame Grille with dinner. After, we headed for Mystic Timbers for their first ride!
I couldn't tell at first if she liked it because her first reaction was to ask for a glass of water, but she later admitted it was her new #1 so that's great! We spent most of the evening just power lapping the thing!
Also got to meet up with Josh (Stashua123) and Melissa (Beastie1990)! All of us went for a ride after! Met up with them and a few others and we all had a nice convo about the ride outside the gift stand.
KIC meetup! Sadly this pic didn't capture the moment when Melissa almost cracked my nose with her skull getting thrown into me (which was HILARIOUS) but we had a blast!
After that the sun began to go down and the night rides were on! One more ride was all we needed and it was insane!
Walking out was bittersweet. I was sad that the day was done, but extremely happy to have welcomed this new mechanical wonder to the world. I know it has the brightest future ever ahead of it so long as Kings Island maintains it as militantly as it deserves to be. I was already starting to hear the lovely screech of side friction wheels on the later rides, so I can tell it'll break in quickly and nicely. On the way, we passed Sweet Spot and spotted a kid with Josh's exact shirt color, glasses, and hair inside! Wanting to be jerks, Jennifer and I ran up and tapped on the glass only for a kid that wasn't Josh to look at us like we were crazy! And that laugh right there was the perfect way to close out the day.
What an amazing day full of two amazing events! Thanks so much to everyone who gifted me with this opportunity! Thank you Kings Island and ACE for Media Day, thanks to the Dalton Foundation and my donors for making the First Rider Auction a reality for me! Thank you GCI and Kings Island for installing the newest generation of a timeless ride system in my backyard. I'm so lucky to have such an amazing coaster so close to home and that'll surely make life with my home park that much more special! And a special shoutout to my ACE friend Celia for trying to make it out here, I can't wait to get you on it!
And a very special "haha you missed out!" to my girlfriend for not making the effort to get down here on the grounds of "the coaster looks lame."