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Remembering King Cobra

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I remember seeing King Cobra a lot as a kid, but I never got to actually ride it. In fact, it's the only Walk of Shame I've ever gotten on a coaster. The day I attempted to ride, the height checker wasn't at the designated spot, so my step-dad and I waited in line and once on board, we found I couldn't ride as the seat was pulled down as far as it could go, but I was still on my tip-toes. It didn't really faze me much (IIRC, this was the same day I braved my fear of looping coasters by riding Son of Beast), but my step-dad wasn't too happy. The removal was hard for me as I always remember it being there and then it was gone. Change was (and to an extent, still is) hard for me. 

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2 hours ago, tuxedoman52 said:

For those of us too young to even remember KC (I was born in 2000), what was the whole experience like? How would you compare a TOGO stand-up to a B&M? Was KC smooth? Also, I'm not quite sure where the entrance was. Was it right where Delirium's entrance is now? From early trip reports on Coasterbuzz I've seen that the lines for KC even during it's last few years were quite long. Was it actually popular or more a result of capacity issues?

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I ride KC a lot from 1985-1991 as a teen. 

My experiences were almost always smooth. It had a bit of an edge to it because the tall restraints felt a bit shaky, but I never had discomfort or even head banging. I also learned how to adjust the restraints quickly while boarding: equal clearance above the shoulders and below the crotch. This provided airtime up top, and protection down below.

Carefully looking at the layout photos of KC, you may notice that it has a certain elegance, and smoother transitions between elements, that Vortex for example did not. This elegance helped provide a smoother ride in my opinion. 
 

The loading was always slow. Two train stacking was the norm due to lots of customized adjustments by the operators to most every seat. Even short lines took longer than expected. 
 

One unique feature was the abrupt final brake run. I learned to relax my body right before, providing a weird forward air time. 
 

Another unique feature was a station flyby just after the helix. After exiting the train, you could stand periously close to the next train speeding out of the helix, close enough to see the contorted faces of the riders.

Another memory is the forced exit though the Safari themed gift shop. One of the fancier KI shops.

In my final analysis, KC was a fun, consistent ride, always worth a <25 minute wait. It was a great compliment to Vortex, and had great theming, especially in the early years.

I rode Skyrider in 2014, and sadly it was painful and did not match my memories of King Cobra.

 

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Of the three stand-ups I’ve been fortunate enough to ride, KC was by far the most comfortable. Mantis’ layout was a better layout but it would beat me to death the second half after the brake run. Carowinds Vortex is a short ride, but it’s got the same beat your head to death that Mantis had. KC was almost glass smooth compared to them two. What a great ride it was.  Personally it, by far, is my most missed defunct coaster. 

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Thanks for the detailed responses!

As far as my standups go, I've been on 3 B&Ms. Vortex was absolutely brutal, Mantis was tolerable, and Green Lantern was awesome when I kept my head forward. I see why standups were so popular at one time, but are quickly fading away today.

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I only rode KC once in 1999.  Of the four stand ups I have ridden I would put it ahead of Vortex but below Green Lantern and Georgia Scorcher.

One of my earliest memories of it was making a pressed penny outside the exit of the gift shop.  It is hard to believe the ride has been gone as long as it was there.

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I never rode KC. I was old enough, had plenty of opportunities, but for whatever reason, a standing rollercoaster intimidated me as a child and it was removed during a period where I rarely went to KI. 

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23 hours ago, CorkscrewMcPuke said:

Here's the King Cobra segment of the old Coastermania VHS. It sort of shows the station/queue line.

 

Thanks for posting this!

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4 hours ago, Rivertown Rider said:

One of my earliest memories of it was making a pressed penny outside the exit of the gift shop.

 

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I have rode 3 standups. Vortex at Carowinds this past summer, King Cobra and Mantis. I hate standups. Its my least favorite coaster model. Last time I rode King Cobra was likely 20 years ago and probably only once or twice a year. I do not remember it being great but I would have been under 20 years old too. If it was still around now I know my opinion would have probably changed. I now prefer intensity and airtime over anything else. 20 years ago I rarely rode Magnum simply because Millennium Force was taller and had a higher top speed. Mantis was terrible and as a floorless its much better but still a headbanger at times. Vortex reminded me why I hate standups so much after 15 + years of not riding any. 

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Back in 2006 during BeastBuzz we toured the sign shop...and the King Cobra sign was still there.

 

B0650DDE-A065-4A48-89E5-08B244476211.jpeg

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57 minutes ago, standbyme said:

Back in 2006 during BeastBuzz we toured the sign shop...and the King Cobra sign was still there.

 

B0650DDE-A065-4A48-89E5-08B244476211.jpeg

I wonder if it's still there after 14 years. Can't say there's any reason for them to get rid of it as it's not a protected IP.

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I always thought the snake name was appropriate for King Cobra because I thought it "rattled" its way around the track.  I would not describe it as rough, but it had a lot of vibration and shakiness when I rode it, mostly in '98 and '99.  The air time on the bunny hills was fantastic.  It was not a great ride, but it was not a bad ride either.  

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I never even realized there was a gift shop at the end of King Cobra. Seems ahead of its time. I wonder if any pictures of it still exist

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A few of my favorite King Cobra souvenirs...although they didn’t get very creative, just slapping the same logo...I still like them.

 

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3574BD3B-6D43-48B9-93C2-071C85C346E6.jpeg

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The Gift Shop at King Cobra's exit was the "Congo Curio Gift shop" originally built in 1974 as a part of Lion Country Safari.  When King Cobra opened, the exit was routed through it.  Later, they altered it so you didn't have to exit through the shop - rather around the building.  The current "Ice Scream Zone" is located EXACTLY where Congo Curio was - however when Action Zone was built, they demolished Congo Curio completely and built the Ice Cream stand in its place.

As far as KC...  I am pretty sure I rode it during its first year of operation... or at the very least in 1985.  It was always my favorite of any standup coaster - and I've ridden a bunch.  Let's see, off the top of my head, I've ridden King Cobra, Shockwave, Skyrider, Scorcher, Chang, Riddler's Revenge, Mantis, Vortex, Iron Wolf and Batman the Escape... maybe more.

The Togos, in general, were much more enjoyable than the B&M's have ever been.  Skyrider was on par with KC... Shockwave a distant 3.  (Shockwave suffered from a more jarring ride, especially in its second half.) The first drop into the loop on King Cobra was terrific - you got "yanked" down the hill and there was an enjoyable split-second "pause" at the top of the loop and then you got air at the top of the hill leading into the helix..  It really was a fun ride - and the most enjoyable of the bunch.  The only thing I always felt was a miss was the "trick track" portion of the ride... it just kind of tilted sideways... and was "meh."

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I always felt like KC was a better ride than its B&M counterparts because it was less extreme. I always found Mantis and Chang to be more of a stress test for my legs rather than an enjoyable experience.

A memory that sticks out to me is the KC indoor-ish queue was the first place I recall ever seeing Coke machines that took dollars, which I thought was absurd at the time. 

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I remember really enjoying KC when I had my chances to ride it. I was younger and had more of a tolerance for forces/roughness, but I don't remember ever thinking of KC as rough. And agreed on the comparison between KC and B&M stand ups. I've only ridden Mantis, but found it pretty unenjoyable. I think the stand up model was one where less was more. KC had just enough fun elements, but didn't go overboard, which is what made it a fun experience for me.

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King Cobra was before my time (or at least before I was big enough to ride anything), but I did get to ride Shockwave at Kings Dominion in 2012 and I loved it. It's still my favorite standup. I understand why many loved King Cobra - especially since some consider Shockwave to be inferior (and I enjoyed that!).

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That ride was a mainstay as a tween when Racer, Vortex, Beast and the Cobra were the only coasters. Looking at that video reminds me how small the cars were compared to the big bulky B&M cars. Although the selling point was 'upside down, standing up'--for me the drop was the real draw. You just felt so exposed standing and it made the drop real intense. Also loved the outward bank towards the end. Such a classic-RIP. 

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Does anyone know why Kings Dominion's had a modified layout compared to KI and CW's? Was it built specifically to fit that space?

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On 2/8/2020 at 11:58 PM, standbyme said:

Back in 2006 during BeastBuzz we toured the sign shop...and the King Cobra sign was still there.

B0650DDE-A065-4A48-89E5-08B244476211.jpeg

Thanks for sharing! I've never seen that sign in person, but that picture makes it look a lot bigger than I've always envisioned it. Must've been like highway signs, which are massive yet look much smaller since they're elevated up above you.

Here's a shot of that sign when the ride was still around (but apparently not operating, based off the a-frame in front) (source unknown):

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And interestingly, here's an older picture showing a different snake but the same text (source unknown). I would bet they changed the sign in 1999 with the Action Zone overhaul, but just speculating.

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And to throw one more image in, that I found when searching for the above two... from the end of the ride's life (courtesy Coasterguide):

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It's interesting to see how the first set of turns on Adventure Express were shaped to wrap around King Cobra. I'm pretty sure some of those concrete foundations for King Cobra's turn-around are still up there, as Banshee doesn't use that small plot of land.

On 2/9/2020 at 12:23 PM, Shaggy said:

The current "Ice Scream Zone" is located EXACTLY where Congo Curio was - however when Action Zone was built, they demolished Congo Curio completely and built the Ice Cream stand in its place.

I've always wondered if they were the same building - thanks for answering that!

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27 minutes ago, Gordon Bombay said:

@TombraiderTy Excellent finds and what's even more interesting... both signs happen to have different eras of "temporarily closed" signage as well. :lol:

I hadn't even noticed that :lol:

Looking at both pictures closer, I bet the "realistic" snake sign is actually the same as the "cartoon" one and they just repainted it. Both appear to be the same exact shape, and it'd make sense to just work with what they already had.

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I think I must be the only one that did not like this ride and was glad to see it go. I would take Delirium any day over KC. I was on it many times even though I did not like it. I always liked the front seat the best on it just because the best view.  

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4 hours ago, jensenracing77 said:

I think I must be the only one that did not like this ride and was glad to see it go. I would take Delirium any day over KC. I was on it many times even though I did not like it. I always liked the front seat the best on it just because the best view.  

You certainly aren't the only one. Stand-ups are notorious for putting severe strain on the lower half of peoples' bodies.

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Not sure if anyone posted this video but it show the loading station at the 6:20 mark.

 

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Sadly I was too little to ride King Cobra when it still was up, I do remember seeing it when I was younger, if I was a little taller I could have rode it.

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15 hours ago, rlentless said:

Not sure if anyone posted this video but it show the loading station at the 6:20 mark.

Oh, Backwards Racer....  I miss you so much!!!

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