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April 14, 2018: VortexBFF's Favorite Opening Day by far!

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April 14 (along with the 13th) was a day for which many of us waited with great anticipation. Now, whether we believe it or not, that day has come.

My first ever day of work at Kings Island was on Opening Day, April 15, 2017, and I wanted to repeat that this year by making April 14, 2018 my first day of my second season as a ride operator at WindSeeker and Vortex!

After passing the growing line for the parking tolls that was almost backing up onto Kings Island Drive, I arrived at the park at 8:40. Apparently, many fellow associates had also arrived this early, as I had to wait in a long line to go through security and enter the park. But the line moved fairly quickly and I entered the park just before 9:00. As soon as I walked onto International Street, "The High and the Mighty" boomed over the speakers! I was so excited to hear instrumental music on International Street once again for the first time since last August (and WinterFest)!

With a warmed up chocolate chip muffin and a Mocha Frappuccino in my hand (plus the Chicken McGriddle I got at McDonalds :)) as I had not eaten breakfast prior to my long 45 minute commute, I met up with my crew and we headed back to our rides! While we were doing startups, I felt as if it had not been five and a half months since my last work day at Vortex. My experience and training had become so second nature that I could literally pick up where I left off from last year! Part of me was excited beyond belief that I was once again back at my favorite place, but the other part of me couldn't believe it had been so long, especially with how I picked up my work so easily!

At 9:50, one of the most-anticipated moments of my whole winter finally came to be: my 494th ride on Vortex (a.k.a. my first morning test ride of 2018!) finally happened! And it was so much fun! It was smooth too, as the trains have all new wheels (which is typical for the beginning of the season) which always makes for a smooth(er) ride! I loved flying through those six inversions again...aboard Train #1, the same train that took me on the first test ride last year!! :D

As the park opened at 9:58 (seriously, the park opened two minutes early! :lol:), my drive retraining got underway. I spent the first hour reviewing everything I must know about Vortex's most responsible position, and subsequently became a recertified driver. After that came my first drive hour of the season! I don't even need to mention that I was so happy to be back at the panel, driving my favorite ride. But I'm mentioning it anyway. :)

At approximately 11:30, it began to rain. Vortex runs fairly well in the rain as long as the ride doesn't get wet enough to impede safe operation, so I wasn't too worried. But I kept a closer eye on things just in case, as we were still running all three trains.

At 11:40, we got the call to close for weather. WindSeeker closed as well. Soon after that, I went on break. One thing I love about my break happening during a weather-related closure is that I can literally eat my lunch in Vortex's station, since no guests are there. Once I got my food, I took it back to Vortex to eat. However, I noticed something strange...

WindSeeker and Vortex were the only rides closed. ALL the other rides were still open. Usually when closing in anticipation of inclement weather, all the other tower rides and roller coasters close in a matter of minutes, but not this time. Diamondback, Eiffel Tower and Drop Tower (which are normally among the first to close) were still open! So why weren't we?? Once I got back to Vortex and told my crewmates, we got the matter clarified and we reopened Vortex just after noon, though WindSeeker remained closed for a little while longer. So I instead ate my lunch in the drive box, sitting on the floor out of view of the arriving guests who were eager to ride the newly reopened Vortex. Then a cool opportunity came up.

As I ate, I thought it would be cool if I got to ride, since there was still no line and a nearly empty station. So I asked if I could ride, and I got the green light! I excitedly hopped aboard the back row and I was off on my 495th ride on Vortex. It had cooled down considerably since the late morning shower, which made for a fairly chilly ride. But it was no less fun, especially with that lovely ejector air on one of the best first drops at Kings Island! After that ride, I quickly returned to my lunch since my break was almost over. Now I can say I got to ride Vortex during my break, especially since it would not have happened had we NOT closed for weather!! Talk about great timing.

My next hour was at Unload, more specifically Back Unload as we had four people working on the floor. It started raining again so I still watched the trains as they came into the brakes, ensuring everything was still A-OK (which it was, thankfully!). It was cool seeing how well the ride was operating in the rain with all three trains, as on many a rainy day we usually run only two. I loved getting to check restraints again, though sometimes my hand felt otherwise. :P

After my one hour on the floor for today, I was back at Drive! It's not unusual for me to end up with more than one drive hour; apparently last year's theme of multiple drive hours even during a single Open or Close shift (as well as working only one hour at WindSeeker and the rest at Vortex) had carried over to this year, as my supervisors know how much I love Vortex. Right as this hour concluded and we had begun to rotate, I noticed @whengodsaysgo waving from the queue line, and I also saw @NoChickens, Mrs. NoChickens, @Magenta Lizard, @MDMC01, @malem, and even @jcgoble3 among others! I waved back from the drive box and even said hello over the mic, as well as told that I was now at 495 rides on Vortex. I think I also saw @PKIVortex earlier that hour, in his usual 7-1 seat, if I remember correctly. I asked my supervisor (who was taking my spot at Drive for the next hour) if I could send one more train (which had most of you aboard), and he let me send that train and its KIC passengers rolling out of the station.

For the last hour of my shift I would be at Op-3 at WindSeeker. WindSeeker had just started a cycle when I left the drive box, so I had a few minutes before I absolutely had to be there. I chose to use that time to meet the KIC group at the exit, which was fun especially when I saw that @jcgoble3 had AGAIN come out of his Vortex retirement. :lol:

After talking with the group for a few moments, I scooted over to WindSeeker since its ongoing cycle had concluded. There I spent the next hour assigning seats (which once again felt like it had NOT been five and a half months since I did so) and greeting the riders seated in my section while checking their lap bars.

And just like that, it was time for me to clock out. Never had a six-hour shift flown by so fast. But my day wasn't done yet...

...as I had brought a change of clothes so I could be a guest and ride a few rides after work before I had to leave at 6! On my way out I noticed that Diamondback had only a station wait. A STATION WAIT on Opening Day?!?!?!!

Just after 4:00, I entered the park as a guest for the first time of this season. I decided to swing by Build-A-Bear Workshop and see if they had any park-specific apparel yet that I could get for Toothless. Speaking of Toothless...


---he got to meet his display look-a-like. As for apparel, there was some Cincinnati-themed apparel but no Kings Island apparel.

I walked up International Street as the beautiful tune "Circus Fantasy" from the "Water For Elephants" (2011) soundtrack played. I walked a little more slowly than usual so I could listen. Then I headed into Planet Snoopy and hopped aboard Log #17 on the Flume. Yes, I rode Flume. It may have been barely warmer than 60 degrees, but that didn't stop me. I was going to get wet anyway in the rain. Besides, Toothless had never ridden it so I took him on his first Flume ride! I (we) of course got a little wet, just how I like it on water rides. A little wet, but not drenched.


Next, I headed across the way to Diamondback. As Diamond-stack was living up to its name for understandable reasons, the line had grown a little but it was still only five minutes -- which is GREAT for a day like Opening Day!!




Where I was standing in this photo was how long the line was!





Since Diamondback is not a no-loose-articles-in-line ride, Toothless is able to come through the line with me. However, he is not able to ride (not even while strapped to my fanny pack) due to the open seating. So he waited in the loose article bin while I rode Row 14 on the Red train for my first ride with the new seats and clamshells, which was also my 110th ride on Diamondback! It had started sprinkling again just before my ride, which made for my official first ride in the rain on Diamondback! I closed my eyes on the first several drops, feeling the rain drops hit my face as we plunged downward. It felt so cool to float in my seat but not see where I'm going!

While my train waited on the brakes, I saw the line now reaching to below the lift where the train leaves the station. I decided one Diamondback ride was good for today as I did not have much time left. You know where I headed to next. ;)

I walked on to the back row for my 496th ride on Vortex in the rain, which had once again lightened. Another fairly smooth ride (and airtime!) ensued.

Now, you likely saw in my earlier photos including WindSeeker that it was getting pretty windy up there. I went right to WindSeeker after riding Vortex so I could get in a 'Seeker flight in case it would later have to close for wind.



What the photos show does no justice to just how windy it was 256 feet up. My first flight, in Seat 53 and to the tune of How to Train Your Dragon's "Test Drive" (quite appropriate since I had Toothless with me), was fun yet crazy because of the rain and the wind (and it was CHILLY!!). The last time I had a flight this windy was several years ago. This kind of flight is my favorite, especially since Kings Island's WindSeeker is the most reliable of its kind in the whole Cedar Fair chain, so I don't have to worry (as much) about getting stuck. :) I'm not even scared when the gondolas swing back and forth, even with the increased adrenaline that comes with having the gondola in front come within several feet of my gondola mid-flight, as well as feeling my seat slow down/speed up as the wind pushes it. I think it's exciting and adds to the thrill! Not to mention those additional shock absorbers that were installed in 2012 really come in handy for days like these. My 120th flight on WindSeeker I will definitely remember!

After 'Seeker landed me back on the ground without fail, I headed back to Vortex and rode it again, this time in 2-1 as the front row was taken, for another nice, smooth (and chilly!) ride! Then I came back to WindSeeker for another crazy flight. This time I was in Seat 63, so I was right by Op-2 where two of my crewmates were. This cycle's soundtrack was my favorite, "Flying" from Peter Pan. I enjoyed my second windy, chilly flight of the season! I loved being back on WindSeeker and seeing the surrounding area from 256 feet in the air.




^If you look closely in this one, you can see a train on Diamondback, as well as a Vortex train hiding behind the loops!








I started heading over towards The Beast to take advantage of its five-minute line, but I later decided that I should have Toothless' first ride on The Beast be at night (as it was going to be at night because I was going to ride it with Toothless at last year's Exclusive Ride Night, but that night's thunderstorm beat me to it) so I didn't go for it. Meanwhile, I discovered views of Vortex that normally coudn't be seen because the leaves would block it. So I spent fifteen minutes just photographing Vortex though the trees and enjoying those interesting views.










^I caught two trains in this photo!!


It was almost 6, so I made my way back to International Street and left the park.


By the next time I walk through the gates of Kings Island, I will have finished my spring semester (hopefully strongly) of my freshman year at Cedarville University, including enduring four final exams. I have a lot of work in between me and that day, but completing that work confidently will make my return to Kings Island more rewarding!

Though I did not do everything I had planned today, an entire season lies ahead! There will be other days when crowds are this light. :)

+Vortex: 4

Total: 497 (As of now I plan to take #500 in early May, hopefully May 4)

+Race For Your Life Charlie Brown a.k.a. Flume: 1

Total: 11

+Diamondback: 1

Total: 110

+WindSeeker: 2

Total: 121

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15 minutes ago, VortexBFForever said:

It was smooth too, as the trains have all new wheels (which is typical for the beginning of the season) which always makes for a smooth(er) ride!

So that's why I didn't get my day ruined by a headache. :P

It was nice seeing you again!

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Nice seeing you too, @jcgoble3! On a side note, did you have any trouble viewing the images or is it just me? I was just looking over in the Random Photo of the Day thread and all the images there are showing up as links too. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? :P

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Just now, VortexBFForever said:

Nice seeing you too, @jcgoble3! On a side note, did you have any trouble viewing the images or is it just me? I was just looking over in the Random Photo of the Day thread and all the images there are showing up as links too. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? :P

The KIC server is acting up. When I right-click one of the links and select "View Image" (in Firefox), I get a 500 Internal Server Error page from KIC.

Paging @malem...

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Just now, VortexBFForever said:

@jcgoble3 For me, I click the link and a new tab opens taking me to the page of the image on Flickr.

Right, I get that too. What's supposed to be there is an embedded image linked to the Flickr page. The embedded image part is failing because of the KIC server error, so it falls back to some text (in this case, the filename of the cached image on the KIC server). In either case, left- or middle-clicking brings up the Flickr page in a new tab.

Right-clicking brings up the browser's context menu. Because it's supposed to be an embedded image, one of the options in that menu is "View Image", which if the server were working properly, would load the image by itself in the tab with nothing else (you can see this working with your profile picture). Instead, doing that currently brings up the 500 Internal Server Error page.

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Nice trip report.  I notice Diamondback called diamondstack on here.  Did one of you guys come up with that name?

Yep, a few seasons ago someone started calling it “Diamondstack” in light of their recent visit where the trains kept stacking. The name has since stuck and we now call Diamondback “Diamondstack” when we see that the trains are stacking, as Diamondback is a very fast-paced ride and one who works there has to move very quickly to send the train out in time; otherwise, the trains stack.

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^ There were a lot of new ride operators at Diamondback with only 4 that I saw from last year.  Usually, the stack reasons are the riders (gotta have my cell out, want to ride barefoot, etc).  They will pick it up soon.

Interestingly, we sat through almost the complete song in the Shed at Mystic Timbers twice.  That has rarely happened to me



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2 hours ago, King Ding Dong said:

Question.  Toothless is not considered a “loose article” on WindSeeker?  :D

He's technically a "loose article," but I secure him by placing him in a loop I have in my fanny pack strap (and he fits snugly in that loop), so as long as I have him strapped to my fanny pack, he can ride most rides! So he is a secured loose article. :D

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3 minutes ago, King Ding Dong said:

OK.  So if I loop a souvenir cup through my belt it is then a secured loose article and I should be fine on most rides?   


Yes. I would recommend doing so while the cup is empty, for obvious reasons. :P But yes, I have ridden rides with my souvenir cup looped through my fanny pack strap.

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