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TR- Kings' Dominion 5-17 and 5-18


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This past weekend, we packed up and headed out to visit a new park- King’s Dominion. I’m in nursing school and we both wanted a trip to celebrate surviving the semester and the start of summer. After work on Friday, we were on our way.

The drive there was uneventful, but what is with these “Speed Limit Enforced by AIRCRAFT” signs all over the place? I was half- looking for an airplane with sky hooks to pick up speeders or something. We stayed at the Motel 8 in Ashland, VA. IT is about six miles from KD and considerably less expensive than the Best Western or Motel 8 that share Exit 98 that KD is on. The place was very clean and quiet. I woke up to birds singing Saturday morning and I had never experienced that in a motel stay. It was a nice change from hearing Interstate traffic. Breakfast was normal hotel food, coffee, juice, cereal and bagels, but that’s all you need for coaster-riding fuel!

KD opens at 10:30, so it was unusual for us to leave the hotel later in the morning. With trees lining the highway, there is no hint a theme park is even around until the Red, marquee-like sign peeks over the tree line. We had made it.

Platinum passes scan at the parking area. The lady at the parking toll plaza was extremely nice. She asked us if we had been to the park and pointed out where to park, where to get guest maps and where guest relations was if we had questions, then wished us a nice day. That was kind and helpful and, sadly, not seen as often as it used to.

The first thing you notice on entering the park if Dominator sitting to the left of the entrance. We had never been to GL, and it was impressive to see.

Passes scanned no problem at the turnstiles. The workers commented that they didn’t know the computers had been set up to accept passes from the other parks and were happy about it.

What struck us first about KD is green. The landscaping is gorgeous. Trees, grass, and flowers were all over. I was expecting something like KI with some greenspace, but there is such an abundance at KD that you can’t see attractions or crowds. It gave the park a real peaceful and private feeling- more like you had invaded someone’s private garden than going to an amusement park.

We had decided we wanted to ride Grizzle first. It was the furthest ride in the back of the park and we thought we’d start there and work our way around. Again, this place has a lot of trees, waterfalls, and creeks. In addition, guests are able to walk deep into the park before the roped off areas are encountered.

The wait wasn’t long. I missed the National Anthem like they play at KI. Instead, a park security guard whips out this little card and reads a disclosure statement. Then, the ropes are dropped and all guests are free to roam.

Grizzly was really close. No sign, just a large carved bear to point the way. The coaster is tucked back in the woods like Beast with narrow wooden ques to get to it. The narrow lines were a theme at this park. I can see it being a good way to keep order and cut down on line jumping, but it was not possible to walk two abreast when traveling with someone.

We read on the sign the Grizzle was modeled after the Coney Island Wildcat and that was neat as the possibility of riding that coaster no longer exists. We were in the second train. The track needs a little TLC as it squeaked at times and the cars jostled around. However, the ride is a good one. The first drop surprised me. It drops about 80 feet, so it’s not the tallest, but you do get lifted out of your seat. Then, down another drop, up, and then a drop into black, Yup, a tunnel. Took me by surprise as you don’t know it is there until you are inside. You get the whole “swallowed by the grizzly” effect they were going for and some chewing action as the track tilts back and forth while in the tunnel. After some more drops and two moderately banked curves that catch you by surprise due to the speed traveled through them. In addition, I never felt a brake applied the entire time which made for a fun ride that felt on the verge of losing control the entire time. Verdict- I liked it.

The next coaster was Rebel Yell which is KD’s racing coaster. It was changed this year so both sides face forwards. Where it was early in the day, they were only running one side. This coaster’s layout is very similar to The Racer’s. There is a good first drop with some air. Another good drop and then the turnaround. A series of bunny hops followed then a drop into a tunnel leading to the brake run. Verdict- KD and Cedar Fair, for the love of all thing’s coaster, please put some grease on the tracks and a coat of paint on this coaster! People hold their ears it squeaks and squeals so loud. It’s a nice coaster and an addictive ride. A little attention would go a long way.

Hurler was next. This is a bigger wooded coaster with high banked curves. To quote my dad the ride is “rougher than a cob.” On the first turn, I bashed Nathan’s shoulder twice with my ear and thought I had torn it off. I reached up expecting to find a bloody stub but was relieved to find a numb, intact ear. After learning my lesson, I didn’t brain myself for the rest of the ride. Verdict- it’s a fun ride and you get some air time, but I wouldn’t ride it in the back or marathon it as I like my internal organs where they are.

Ricochet was next. It’s a wild mouse coaster with a 50 foot drop. I didn’t care much for the ride because it felt like we were going to go off the side at each curve, but that’s the appeal of this type of ride, right?

By then, it was non and Avalanche was open for the day. The line was pretty long, but we wanted to take a turn on this toboggan style coaster. Yes, it’s a tight squeeze fitting two adults in those cars. Each car is painted to represent a different country. There is a lap bar that two people share. There were no seat belts. The cars “flex” when they move and that is a little disconcerting. We got our “Cool Runnings” vibe on. This was a neat ride, but I was uncomfortable because as I was the person in front, I was leaning backward and it made me feel like my balance was off.

KD has a Back Lot Stunt Coaster. We didn’t get to ride this at KI’s opening day due to crowds. KD has kept the theming up well. If felt a little faster, but I have no proof. The tunnel was really dark and in m experience, KI’s is never totally dark and that added to the ride. Verdict- I liked the ride before and this version is still fun.

We took a walk through Kiddie Land. Compared to KI, it looked a little sparse. I liked that this park had not completely kitted out in Nickelodeon. There was a Huckleberry Hound ride, car rides, plane rides, a mini-viking ship and other small rides kids would enjoy. Scooby Doo and the Haunted Mansion had a spot. Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster was next door and we took a spin. Let me say, those seats are small! I can’t confirm, but I’m sure the ride ops enjoyed watching us jam ourselves inside and share a seatbelt! It reminds me of the Fairly Odd Coaster at KI and is painted a bright blue. It was fun and I am glad the kids that road it with us were laughing and yelling. They were having a ball!

It was Choral Concert day at the park and there were lots of middle-school age people running around (I remember that age and took great offense to being called a “kid”). We decided to grab some lunch (Subway), walk around, and ride some of the flats.

I have been reading about the antique cars and the Eagles since I started reading these boards and KD has both of them and they sit side by side. We hit the cars first. The signs were the old ones and had Snaggle Tooth or some such character on them and that made me think of my first trip to KI (I am not a fan of Nickelodeon, but know Cedar Fair has to go with what is popular with today’s youth). The line was long, but all the rides were that way. I got to drive and it was fun steering through the woods. It is heavy in trees and ivy and it was very relaxing. I really got a kick out of the sign out front that stated the amount the cars were bought for and that if each one were bought today, they would be over $13,000!

Next was the Eagles. Swinging things make me uneasy, so Nathan was the Red Baron for the day. We had a good wait, but the ride op Shawn was funny and told jokes and made flying sounds when people swung by. He pronounced bird “Buuurd” and it made everyone laugh. There was a mirror mounted so you could check your form as you flew by. Those things really swoop and dive and I think we did great for our first time! What surprised me is that the ride was silent. I can see why so many people like them.

We next took a ride on the Scrambler. Those are one of my favorite flat rides and this one ran well. It was fast and it was fun to “squish” your ride partner when you get to the corners!

The crowds had died a little and it was time for another coaster. We decided to hit up Anaconda. I am not the bravest person and have to break my ride days up with flats and coasters, so we had saved this one for a little later in the day. The coaster, to me, is very pretty. It sits totally on the water and is painted to look like a snake. We had read it had an underwater tunnel and after watching it go under the water (there is a splash affect going in and out that is pretty neat) it looked like it would be fun. I was so surprised. This coaster was a blast! It goes up the lift and into two inversions that are smooth and fast enough that you don’t get that hanging feeling. Then, it straightens out and goes through some banked curves up to a mid-course brake and then down through some more curves and then the corkscrews. It was really fun and I could see this being a great coaster to take kids on to get them used to loops because I didn’t find anything about this coaster to be threatening. Verdict- A+ in my book.

After, it was getting late. We took another spin on Rebel Yell’s other track and it was just as fun. We hit up Hurler again and I saved my ears. This ride is better in the middle to get a smoother ride that doesn’t knock you around too hard.

By this time, it was about 9:00. The park closed at 10:00. We wanted to find a coaster and marathon it out for the remainder of the evening. We picked Grizzly because it was in a darker corner of the park and that tunnel would be even better in the dark. Going up the lift hill, we had a full moon and stars above our heads. That was an awesome experience. Yes, the ride is great at night. Not The Beast, but a good one none the less. We got to do 12 rides in a row on Grizzly. It was wonderful!! The ride op was great. He proclaimed that Grizzly was his baby and that the orange car was his absolute special favorite. There were several kids on the train and he told us every time that the coaster knows how much fun we are having and that we have to scream really loud because the louder we scream, the faster we go. He even let us ride one ride past ten as we were all begging “One more time! One more time!”

Afterwards, we headed out of the park with 25 rides under our belt. We were sore and looking forward to doing it all over again the next day.

DAY TWO

Sunday morning, the crowds were light all day due to drizzling off and on. That made it even better for us to get as many rides in as we could without waiting in line.

First up, we hit Flight of Fear. We both love this coaster and wanted to see how it compared to KI’s. Their que is different. There is not one inside. They have it tarped off and keep the lights really low. It was a really creepy effect to come around the corner and have the spaceship sitting there. It looked more authentic. Instead of the computers and all laying about, there were dozens of 55 gallon drums stacked all over and some other odds and ends to give guests the a real warehouse feel. When we got there, we were the only people there. They were still testing. I thought we were going to have the ride to ourselves when another couple arrived. I was sure they were going to have us wait a few minutes for some more people, and I would not have complained, but they waved us on board. The other couple and us sat far enough apart that it felt like we were riding alone. It was very cool. The inside is really dark and they play music inside and have a few colored lights. The ride is intense as always. The brake in the middle was not on very hard, so the car only slowed down a little instead of stopping like KI. Great ride as always and the little touches made it just as great (I like the lights being on at KI sometimes. It is surreal to look at all that twisted track as you are riding).

We headed back over to the Italian Job and rode it a couple times. We made the acquaintance of a little girl and her dad. She told us how she loves all the rides and the best spot is the front seat. Her favorite was Volcano in the front and she thought Anaconda was slow. She looked maybe 9 years old and you could tell her dad was so proud of her. People like that make amusement parks even more fun!

We then headed over to Anaconda, waved at our new friends (in the front seat) and headed out. It was just as fun as the day before. We had the chance to do a double, but decided against it because being flipped upside down so many times early in the day can upset any stomach.

Next was back-to-back rides on Rebel Yell. They were running one side and stayed that way all day. Fun times.

Hurler again. Yes, I forgot my lesson and tagged my ear again. For everyone, do NOT wear earrings on this thing! I had taken mine out and could not imagine what it would have felt like to have left them in.

We visited Grizzly again. It started to mist while we were on it and we hoped the rain would hold off. I always pack ponchos so we were ready either way.

Next up, we walked across and hopped on the Eagles. The ride op didn’t check our belt as it fell apart when we touched it and we put it back together quickly before the ride started. We flew a long time. The ride sits against a pond and it was fun to look down as we swung out over it and watch the rain drops fall.

As we walked down, the Sponge Bob 3-D was right there and no one in line, so we thought we would try it since it had been about a year. Just like KI’s, so nothing new to write home about.

When we got out, it was starting to rain in earnest. We grabbed some lunch (we are Subway addicts and hit it again) and sat under an umbrella and watched people get soaked on Wave Swinger. The Drop Tower shut down due to wind, Avalanche never opened and Berserker closed too (we wanted to ride it, but it did not open for the rest of the day). The remainder of the major rides stayed open. Some of the small ones closed because the crowds had really thinned out.

We headed over to Italian Job and hopped on it again. Then, went over to Anaconda. Then, we wanted something new and headed over to Shockwave. Neither of us had ridden a stand-up coaster. It looked fun and had a moderate wait. The crew did a good job processing people and they ran two trains. They took their time to make sure our seats were at the right height and we headed out. As we started up the lift hill, the rain started back again. I made the joke that we were going to be like a bunch of turkeys and drown on the way up. The man in front of me really liked that one and laughed hard. This was a good coaster and surprised me. It didn’t hurt at all and I really liked the small “hops” before coming back to the station. Nathan said his calves hurt a little in the section right after the loop, but it wasn’t overly painful. I kept my knees flexed as it reminded me of riding horses and I did the ride the same way.

We decided to tackle another flat and chose the Nickelodeon Sky Surfer ride. It is like the Eagles and you site in this cart thing with a rudder that you can turn to make the ride move around. Here is the backstory- I absolutely detest rides where my feet dangle. I don’t know what it is, but it terrifies me. I can ride the roughest nasty coasters there are as long as I am in a car or my feet are on something, but you put my feet out in the air, and I can’t handle it. We thought this didn’t look bad and it would get an idea if I could suck it up for the Crypt and Volcano. Well, it backfired. In tears before we got to the top and sobbing before we got back down. Nathan swore the little ride-op girl was going to whip him for taking me on it.

I knew we could not leave the park without doing the Crypt and Volcano. I also knew that from the above paragraph, I was only going to be a spectator. We headed over to the Crypt. Visually, this ride is sweet. They have places where you can sit and watch. I had seen video of the ride when it was Tomb Raider and it appeared that the changes they made the theming was minimal. We watched a few cycles and then Nathan took a turn. He was on the backside because they had to balance the weight, but I can spot those shoes from a mile away! When he got off, he said it was a lot of fun and we talked about the two of us trying it down the road—just not today.

Next was Volcano. This had the longest wait of the day at about an hour. I kept our stuff and sent him on his way. He road towards the back. The ride looked pretty short, but it packs a lot into the time that it has. When he got back, Nathan was all smiles and saying he may now have a new favorite ride. The launch was good, but blasting through the top of the volcano was the best moment he ever had on a coaster. They have cameras on this ride and you can buy a video of your ride or a photo. This looks to be a good ride and I am going to have to do some work to get up to riding it. Again, not today.

From there, we took another ride on the Italian Job, another on Anaconda, and a spin on the Bumper cars. Let me say, the drivers on that ride were out for blood. I don’t think it is possible to flip a bumper car, but they were doing their best!

From there, we took another turn on Shockwave. Still very enjoyable and Nathan reported that since he knew what to expect, he had no pain in his calves.

As it was 7:10 and the park closed at 8:00, we decided to ride the evening out on Rebel Yell. We got nine rides in before the park closed. That coaster is truly fun. For those who want to know, the backseat is pretty rough on the back and there is quite a bit of speed in the front.

Total rides for Sunday= 29. Not too bad.

Thanks for the patience reading through this! We had a great time and wanted to share. :P

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sounds like an adventure packed 2 days. you must be exhausted. i spent yesterday at CP(Cedar Point, not camden park). i have been spent all day today. good thing for vacation time. and that was just 1 day. i hope to make it to KD this year.

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Great TR! I've always found KD to be the superior park in terms of landscaping and such.....I *much* prefer their I-Street. Also, you are not alone in your opinion of IJ. The theming has always functioned on my rides, already giving it the edge to KI's PLUS the final booster out of the billboard IS stronger and more effective than the KI version.

- Todd

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Thanks for the comments.

I totally forgot to mention Dominator and what was going on with it. Saturday, while we were waiting in line for the Scooby Doo Ghoster Coaster, there were four men on the lift hill and another in a cherry picker painting it. That night when we walked out, we heard this whooshing sound, and they were testing it. Looks pretty impressive, if not a little spooky watching an empty coaster run the track over and over.

On Sunday, they started testing it again about an hour before closing. As we left, we drove over to the ropes in the parking lot and took video of it testing (note: we stayed in the parking lot and did not enter the restricted area). We are going to post our pics and (hopefully!) the video later tonight. :)

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Here are some pics from our trip. You can go through the whole album, but we had several duplicates. I wanted to post some of the better ones.

Eiffel Tower

The Crypt

Another of the Crypt

Avalanche

Avalanche and Volcao

Out the Top of Volcano

Top of Anaconda Lift Hill

Anaconda Splashdown

Anaconda Loop

Painting Dominator

Dominator

Dominator Loop

Fountain at Night

Nighttime

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The drive there was uneventful, but what is with these “Speed Limit Enforced by AIRCRAFT” signs all over the place? I was half- looking for an airplane with sky hooks to pick up speeders or something.

LOL... I drove from Washington down I-95 to KD and BGE 4 years ago and saw those signs. I'm sure that they mean that the Virginia highway patrol has aircraft that monitors traffic behaviors... if they notice reckless/extreme/fast driving, they'll radio to the cruisers on the ground to watch out and possibly catch them.

But then again, someone did photoshop a fighter plane into someone's side view mirror where this sign was seen...

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