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In-Depth: TOMB RAIDER: The Ride

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Wow! You're right!

 

CF really deforested the park and I never noticed!

 

 

^ To be fair, the box was somewhat better hidden before Diamondback. At the very least, it wasn't visible from all sides like it is now. Here's what it looked like in 2007.

 

Which, as I've said before, would be alright if they'd set the park up to be forested again one day. Instead, they replaced the dozens and dozens of mature trees around Swan Lake with a handful of dogwoods around Diamondback. If they'd re-planted some real trees – and a lot of them – we would already be well on our way to returning to that historical picture. Instead, 50 years from now, that'll still look like a concrete trough with a finely manicured lawn and a few small trees scattered around it. 

 

007-diamondback.jpg

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I really do think that Diamondback was a positive (and necessary) addition to the park, but the location has just always seemed a bit awkward to me.  Could be because my brain is so used to all the "big" coasters have traditionally been located in the north side of the park.  Banshee, for example, just (at least to me) feels like it's in the "right" place, like it has always been there.

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Which, as I've said before, would be alright if they'd set the park up to be forested again one day. Instead, they replaced the dozens and dozens of mature trees around Swan Lake with a handful of dogwoods around Diamondback. If they'd re-planted some real trees – and a lot of them – we would already be well on our way to returning to that historical picture. Instead, 50 years from now, that'll still look like a concrete trough with a finely manicured lawn and a few small trees scattered around it. 

 

007-diamondback.jpg

 

To be Fair, many of the trees are ash trees and the emerald ash borer has devastated this population.  If you look at the forested sections you can see the dead trees.  I'd like to see Kings Island plant for the future.

 

I have watched the ash trees die out in the park over the last few years, especially the ones between Diamondback and the RHOFG and between BLSC and the restrooms.

 

Finally, it was a dead ash tree that fell on the track of Diamondback last summer after a storm.

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The only other amusement park experience that I can think of that compares to TRTR is Alien Encounter at WDW. Both attractions delivered on all phases: anticipation of not knowing what the hell it was, a well themed queue that made the wait tolerable and even enjoyable at times, and an actual ride/show experience that really delivered. It is truly impressive that a seasonal park was able to pull that off. Sadly with the way things are today with on-ride POV videos on YouTube and social media, we'll likely never again see another attraction that can pull that off, at least for me. The HP attractions in US came close but I still pretty much knew what they would be going in.

TRTR the first time through was an experience I'll never forget, and I thank you for helping take me back to that day with this piece.

Sent from my SM-G925V using Tapatalk

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Great article.  Sad, sad, sad.  From where I sit, atmosphere and experience trump thrills any day of the week.  Unfortunately within a year, two, or three another $20M+ will be spent on a tall, fast, whatever roller coaster thrill that will in effect take bodies from the Banshee line that used to be in the Diamondback line.  Thrills come, go, and fade.  The experience is what gets people to come back and ride again and again.  

 

I had hopes that the not-so-new CEO would turn that corner.  Overall atmosphere I think they have- but ride experience seems to have stayed the same: "Build em bigger, builder em faster."  Don't get me wrong, I like Banshee- the atmosphere is great- but the theming stopped too soon.  Put some water at the base of the hill(s)- put fog in places during the ride... even if it slows the coaster down a bit.  It adds an element to the ride that you can't get at another place.  I'd love for another well-thought out ride experience like TR:TR to come along again... but I can't hold my breath that long.

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This article is what  finally made me sign up after lurking for a long time just so I could say good job and thank you. This and your Geauga Lake piece are a pair of wonderful records of the amusement park history of Ohio.

 

Signed in just to say this was really well-written. Nicely done.

 

Thank you both. Really awesome to hear.

 

The whole point of the In-Depth articles I've been writing (in my mind) are to tell these stories. I'm in my mid-20s and I grew up with Tomb Raider as a defining attraction that led to my love of theme parks. It set the bar for the kinds of attractions I enjoy and the ones I would populate my dream park with. It's what primed me for Indiana Jones Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, etc. The memories I have of it, of lowering toward the lava, of flipping up and slamming to a halt before the icicles... Those sorts of things are just indescribable. 

 

It's easy to forget that the circumstances you grew up with are not the same circumstances others experienced. A whole new "generation" of theme park fans – including many here! – have only heard of Tomb Raider and maybe even wondered, "Geez, what was the big deal?" I hope articles like this add context and really save these stories (even in a very simple, brief format) to help them understand what the big deal was. Those of you who worked on Tomb Raider or the Crypt have far, far more knowledge than I do, so it's awesome to hear that you appreciate this article or that it brings back a memory. Wow.

 

If Kings Island announced that for 2017 they were adding a new top spin into that ride, bringing back the lava, the music, the goddess, the icicles, etc., I might literally cry. In fact, I think I would. Just the idea that something so tremendous could exist at Kings Island again... yeah, I'd buy a Platinum Pass for me and for each of my friends, too.

 

Cavern of Terror alright.

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Thank you both. Really awesome to hear.

 

The whole point of the In-Depth articles I've been writing (in my mind) are to tell these stories. I'm in my mid-20s and I grew up with Tomb Raider as a defining attraction that led to my love of theme parks. It set the bar for the kinds of attractions I enjoy and the ones I would populate my dream park with. It's what primed me for Indiana Jones Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, etc. The memories I have of it, of lowering toward the lava, of flipping up and slamming to a halt before the icicles... Those sorts of things are just indescribable. 

 

It's easy to forget that the circumstances you grew up with are not the same circumstances others experienced. A whole new "generation" of theme park fans – including many here! – have only heard of Tomb Raider and maybe even wondered, "Geez, what was the big deal?" I hope articles like this add context and really save these stories (even in a very simple, brief format) to help them understand what the big deal was. Those of you who worked on Tomb Raider or the Crypt have far, far more knowledge than I do, so it's awesome to hear that you appreciate this article or that it brings back a memory. Wow.

 

If Kings Island announced that for 2017 they were adding a new top spin into that ride, bringing back the lava, the music, the goddess, the icicles, etc., I might literally cry. In fact, I think I would. Just the idea that something so tremendous could exist at Kings Island again... yeah, I'd buy a Platinum Pass for me and for each of my friends, too.

 

Cavern of Terror alright.

 

I'm a little older than you (not much, mid 30s). I grew up in Liberty twp. and KI was a big part of my childhood. I came in at the tail end of the smurfs and went there regularly through the heyday of Phantom theater and also the Paramount takeover (waiting in line on a rainy opening day to ride Top Gun). For many years we had passes and made many weeknight trips since it was only 10 minutes or so from home and a big crowd meant 'eh, maybe spend an hour here instead of 2.' I remember being so crazy excited about AE and mom holding the car steady at 35mph driving back from the grocery store so my brother and I could see what that felt like since we had read that was what 'the new coaster at KI would do!'

 

TR:TR (SOB also) came and went during a time that I had stopped going to KI because 'got too old, went to school, moved away for a while, etc.' When I moved back to Kettering a few years ago my GF and I got passes as an Xmas gift and have been renewing them since. The changes for DB's footprint were probably the most jarring for me compared to what I was used to 'from the old days.'

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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.

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For a very long time, I vilified Kinzel and company for opting out of the Paramount licensing that we believe they had the option to extend. The Interpreter confirmed once, long ago, that the option to purchase that license WAS available... for many times more than the parks themselves had cost. And to be clear, the $1.24 billion Cedar Fair spent acquiring the parks alone propelled them into massive debt from which they probably still haven't fully recovered. The idea that it might've cost even $1 billion to secure the "Paramount" name for X number of  years... well, we might not have Kings Island today at all.

 

To me, the feeling of Kings Island shifted after that transition really took hold in 2008. At the time, Cedar Fair said that the parks would now be more nostalgic, harkening back to the 1980s. Having grown up with Paramount, though, THAT was my Kings Island, and a time before that wasn't nostalgic... I can only say that after taking a few years off of parks and returning to Kings Island in 2009 – without ever having gotten a proper "last ride" on Tomb Raider or a "goodbye" to the Paramount era – the park felted markedly different afterwards. And not in a good way to me. It felt generic. Thoughtless. Tired.

 

I think the loss of TOMB RAIDER left a massive hole in the park's line-up that's still not filled today. A stunning attraction that once was, no longer is. There was good and bad about Paramount's Kings Island and good and bad about Cedar Fair's. Altogether, I suppose an objective person would argue that Kings Island today is a better park than it was in 2005. Fair enough. But I STILL think that Tomb Raider was one of the greatest rides to EVER exist, and the fact that it no longer does is... wow... a real kick in the stomach. 

 

Many of us had complaints under CBS / Cedar Fair's first year when Tomb Raider was on its last legs. But even then, we've heard it said here that "One day, THESE may be the good old days." It was true then and it's true now. Who knows what's next?

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For those that watch the shows where they fix up cars, I think that Paramount/CBS were more "Pimp My Ride", where Cedar Fair is more "Overhaulin". On PMR, they would put tens of thousands of dollars into the stereo system and paint and interior of a car, but usually do nothing with the drivetrain, brakes, etc.  On "Overhaulin'", the whole project began with stripping the car completely down, basically making it better than new.  Paramount/CBS did some very flashy, attention-getting attractions, but, I bet if the truth were known, largely neglected Kings Island's infrastructure.  

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Infrastructure like the quality, price, and service of food? Or chain-wide passes working effortlessly at each and every gate? Respecting themed areas with appropriate attractions? Tone-setting music in the park? Emphasizing quality entertainment across the park? Maintaining the details and effects that make rides special? Tower Gardens? Trams from the parking lot? 

 

'Cause I'd say THAT is infrastructure.

 

Did Paramount / Viacom / CBS score perfectly across the board in those categories? Absolutely not. And there ARE many aspects of park operations that Cedar Fair is far and away better at. Cedar Fair's doing a wonderful job with pavers, high-capacity and high-quality attractions, a balance of nostalgia, minimal advertising, and more.

 

But it's hardly black and white. 

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Big thanks everyone – the feature was just now posted to Theme Park Tourist's Facebook page, but it had well over 800 Facebook "likes" before then! That's astounding. I take it to mean that many of you shared it on your social media and got it circulating among your friends, which is pretty incredible to me. Great to see the comments and shares rolling in on Facebook... At this rate, I'd say this experiment may well be deemed a success. Thank you for starting some great discussions about it here, and don't forget to comment on the article and on the Facebook post if you have one! 

 

You all are the best!

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Fantastic article. I wasn't around during the Tomb Raider era but wandered into it after it had changed to The Crypt, not knowing what it was until the crazy thing flipped back and whipped into its spins. Nine inversions later, I was a bit shaken and (just as you said in the article) wasn't quite sure what I had just ridden, but I knew that I wanted to do it again. And again. I would have loved to have experienced the full themed ride but am glad that I was at least able to experience the ride's mechanics before its unfortunate demise.

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Awesome read. I also never got to experience the ride as Tomb Raider: The Ride. Just The Crypt. It is second on my list of former rides that I wish I could have experienced (SOB).

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It is second on my list of former rides that I wish I could have experienced (SOB).

 

Same here. 2010 was my first visit since the '90s. Missed them both. :(

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Nice article! Wow, I posted that travel channel video on youtube over 9 years ago, not too long after youtube was first launched. Awesome that people are still linking and viewing it today. Also cool that it hasn't been taken down since I clearly do not own the video, haha. Still cool to see it with all of the effects actually working; so many of them were lost so quickly. The boiler shut off at the end of 2005 and the ride never saw steam effects again. The sparker didn't even last that long. The ultraviolet paint, the shiva's eyes, the foggers at the ice fields, all lost one by one. We used to go into the control panel for the show and we'd see effects listed that we didn't even know what they were, they'd been lost so quickly. So sad.

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Great article! I was young, but I remember all the excitement and mystery surrounding TRTR very well. Such an ambitious attraction for a seasonal park, and it wasn't just "good for a seasonal park" it was just a flat out great themed attraction. I always found it a little sad how this ride that opened to such fanfare, after months of buildup had its closing announced by a single Tweet. Of course, by then it was just a shell of its former self, but I still loved riding the Crypt, if only to experience that amazing queue line and remember what once was.

 

I wish the park would give a well-themed attraction another go. The upkeep of Tomb Raider's effects left quite a lot to be desired, but the failure of the ride was (in my view) the ride system and then the complicated licensing issues. I doubt we'll see anything on the level of Tomb Raider, but theming goes a long way and, as I've said many times before, it's what always made Kings Island stand out compared to many other seasonal parks.

 

Again, thanks for the great read and a trip down memory lane of one of my favorites.

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Awesome article! Learned some things I would have never known about Tomb Raider: The Ride. I sadly only got to experience the bore of the two-flipping Crypt.

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