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VortexBFF's 3,000th Post: A Long Lost Sister Park Tale

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The day was September 18, 2012. Just over one month after joining KIC and making clear her fascination for a certain Arrow, a young(er) VortexBFForever found herself in a dilemma as her laptop kept failing to boot. The hard drive had failed, rendering everything on it inaccessible by traditional means. Among the casualties were documentation of several epic amusement park adventures from the just-passed spring and summer, including her first (and still only) trip to Kings Island's sister park, Kings Dominion. None of the pictures and videos were backed up, so VortexBFForever attempted to grasp the new reality of her dozens of photos and videos she had lost in an instant...or so she thought.

Fast forward to April 7, 2020. Different laptop, new recovery software with a 96% success rate, a 2.5"-SATA-to-USB adapter, and the same failed hard drive all joined forces for a momentous event. For the first time in over seven years, most of these 2012 park photos and videos saw the light and were "rescued", and they are now in several safer locations for posterity. Those from Kings Dominion will now appear here as part of VortexBFForever's 3,000th contribution to the Kings Island Central community.

Now, let us travel back in time to Tuesday, April 10, 2012, via my best first-person recollection skills and my successfully recovered photos.

After a 6.5-hour drive on April 9 came the day for which I eagerly waited since the idea was first conceived. Kings Dominion had a spot on my list of parks to visit ever since my thrill-seeking side was born two years prior, thanks to a certain B&M hyper and Arrow looper at our beloved home park. I had also developed a fascination for Kings Island's past rides and hoped to experience something like the late King Cobra, which made Shockwave a priority during my visit. Kings Dominion is also home to Anaconda, another Arrow looper, which also topped my must-ride list. Say what you want about these two rides, as it won't stop me from appreciating them. Those who know me well know that I have a soft spot for rides with generally mixed/controversial opinions. :)

Mom and I departed our room at Hampton Inn Charlottesville to start our fun day. We spent the morning at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and then drove another 90 minutes east to Kings Dominion. Unlike Kings Island, Kings Dominion is difficult (if possible at all) to see from Interstate 95, and that makes for a "wow" effect of the entire park's skyline appearing at once while pulling into the parking lot! The first thing I noticed while walking into the park was the instrumental music playing on International Street. I was so used to hearing pop on I-Street (thanks KI) that it took me a little bit to get used to the instrumental music. But once I did, it seemed to fit the area better than pop music would (and that would be further confirmed in 2017 when instrumental music would return to our I-Street!).

I will say early on that I did not cover much of the park, as it closed at 6 that day and we had arrived at 2, if not a little later. Reriding my highest priority rides took priority later in the afternoon, so numerous other rides remain yet to be experienced. Fortunately, the rides I did get to ride include two steel coasters that had since gone the way of Firehawk and Vortex. Also, dispatch times were not the best, which further diminished time for the other rides. Consider this trip an example of quality over quantity, as I did enjoy what I got to do. Either way, a whole slew of rides await my first ride on them should I return hopefully soon enough.

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Taking in my first impressions of the park, I took the first left turn to what would be my first ride I have ever ridden at Kings Dominion. Seeing Dominator's station wait only increased my excitement to ride it. Dominator turned out to be the second former Geauga Lake ride I have ridden, with Firehawk the obvious first. Walking into Dominator is a treat as I'm surrounded by inversions in a moment's time. I rode in the front row on the right. The time from my boarding to my train's dispatch was around four minutes, but that was quickly forgotten once I was on my way. Moments later, my train whisked down its 148-foot drop from its 157-foot-tall summit at 65 mph and twirled through its five inversions. I know from experience that Dominator is a great thrill-seeking start to a Kings Dominion visit, especially my first!

I continued past the rides of KidzVille and eventually I started hearing drums, as if I was walking into the jungle. That's when I knew I had entered Congo. Anaconda calls this section home, so it was my next destination.

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Just before entering the queue, I watched the train on the lift hill reach its 128-foot peak, plunge down the 144-foot first drop and disappear into the underwater tunnel...with no splash. This day was particularly windy, with gusts in excess of 25-30 mph. Thanks to the wind, Anaconda's splash effect and Volcano's flame effect were turned off, and Drop Tower and WindSeeker were closed.

I headed into Anaconda's queue as the train finished its four-inversion run shortly before the other train began to ascend the lift. Like Dominator, Anaconda also had a station wait so I waited only 5ish minutes. Unfortunately, the slow dispatches I saw at Dominator were consistent across the park, as I would see similar times at the other coasters. I felt that if dispatches were quicker, the lines would be even shorter. They were already short to begin with, so I can't complain. I did not let the slow dispatch times stop me from having fun!

I queued for the front seat. I had a tradition of sitting in the front left seat for my first ride on any Arrow looper, as that was where I sat on my first ride on Vortex on July 23, 2010. I would sit in that seat for my first rides on Viper at Darien Lake (July 25, 2011), Corkscrew at Cedar Point (August 4, 2011), Anaconda (today, April 10, 2012), and later Loch Ness Monster (June 26, 2012) and Tennessee Tornado (April 3, 2013), and I still plan to do that on any and all future Arrow looper first rides.

Just before 3pm, I took my first ride on Anaconda!

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As I heard the "All Clear" over the speaker and felt my train start to move, I kept repeating to myself that I was finally riding Anaconda after waiting two years for this moment! The lift hill ascent wasn't much different from Vortex, other than the obviously different view and location. Anaconda has no pre-drop; the train careens right into the drop at the mercy of gravity, enabling the 50mph top speed to be obtained sooner. Not even a minute passed before I saw the massive drop in front of me, where I plunged 144ft into Lake Charles and up just as quickly into the loop and sidewinder before hitting the midcourse brakes. I do agree about the middle "figure-8" section being lackluster, but the corkscrews made up for the second half. Like Vortex, the corkscrews are navigated at a slower speed which means hang time! Anaconda's corkscrews have an advantage with their being over the water.

If you guessed that I hopped right back in line and rode again...ding ding ding! It was common of me on my earlier theme park visits to reride a priority ride a handful of times before moving on, which I have since changed as I found myself running out of time for other rides (and this trip was the epitome of that :)). For future visits, I would find it beneficial to hit at least all the major coasters and then return to any priority rides/favorites to reride them in the remaining time, and that strategy has proved superior.

Second ride in the second car, namely 2-1! I must have first arrived during a small influx as the line had shortened now. From this ride on it was a walk-on/stay-on.

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After another fun ride through and over Lake Charles, I heard the magic words "If you wish to ride again, please choose an empty row..." I immediately hopped out of 2-1 and headed back to claim 7-1. I really looked forward to experiencing that first drop in that seat!

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(that's me with my arms up!)

Anaconda in 7-1 did not disappoint, at least on the first drop. I got pulled up and over the top of the lift into the drop, and the loop and sidewinder were fairly intense. It was that ride that determined that Anaconda had my favorite first drop, at least on an Arrow. That title has since been challenged, but if I return sometime in hopefully the near future, I can see if that is still true.

Three rides on Anaconda sufficed for now, so I headed into The Grove in pursuit of another priority ride:

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Shockwave was a must for me only because I was interested in experiencing any idea of what King Cobra was like. I understand that many say that King Cobra was superior, and I believe that is true even though I cannot speak from experience. I wanted to ride Shockwave anyway since it was the closest I could ever get to it. Like Anaconda, I waited two years for the moment I would step aboard Shockwave for the first time.

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(peep Triple Spin and Rebel Yell in the background)

The 95ft lift climb was (and still is) by far the slowest lift hill I've ridden, and I heard that is typical for a Togo. At least there was a great view. From the first turn onward, I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of airtime. Each hilltop lifted me off the train's floor, from the first drop to the bunny hops. The circular loop proved quite intense, and remains the most intense loop I've ridden as it is still the only circular loop I have experienced. I found Shockwave fun, especially compared to Mantis (which I rode the summer before) which I thought was just okay.

I walked around again to ride a second time, and upon my train's return the queue for the second row was empty, so I rerode in that row. My three rides on Shockwave on this day would be the only three rides I got before its closing three years later on August 9, 2015.

Next was Wave Swinger. Yes, we have a ride like it, but I couldn't resist. I don't remember much about this ride (I forgot I even rode it until I found my hand-written Kings Dominion ride log) but I know I had fun on it.

Since the Carousel was nearby, Mom and I rode that next since it was more her speed. She doesn't ride big roller coasters (but rather takes pictures of my riding them) but she'll ride select smaller rides including carousels, antique cars, teacups, and occasionally Scrambler.

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As I previously mentioned. WindSeeker and Drop Tower remained closed the entire day due to the high winds. Otherwise, this WindSeeker would have been the third of its kind that I would ride. As of this writing I still have ridden only Kings Island's and Cedar Point's WindSeekers.

After briefly lamenting my inability to obtain my third WindSeeker credit, Mom and I enjoyed the view from Americana, another ride that called Geauga Lake home.

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It may not have taken us nearly as high as WindSeeker or Drop Tower, but it would have to suffice. Plus, it was one of only a few chances per year that I could ride a Ferris wheel (the other chances being Cedar Point trips and when the county fair is in town). Americana gave a pleasant ride with yet another great view.

I headed back to Congo, as only one hour remained until park closing and there were rides in a certain X-Base-esque area that I wanted to hit before I ran out of time. Of course I had to get another ride while on the way...

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...as I enjoyed another spin on Anaconda before checking out three of its neighbors.

My target ride was Intimidator 305, conveniently next to which stood Flight of Fear. I ended up riding Flight of Fear first and had fun tricking myself into thinking I was at Kings Island (which is surprisingly easy on a cloned indoor ride!). As Silly Bandz were still a thing, I was wearing a few glow-in-the-dark Silly Bandz and looking at them sometime during the ride. :lol:

I finally arrived at Intimidator 305 and joined its short line, a station wait and then some. Soon I was seated and secured in a new Intamin shoulder restraint, ready to ascend 305 feet before racing down a 300-foot drop and reaching 90 mph.

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(peek-a-boo Anaconda!)

"Gentlemen! START YOUR ENGINES!"

It took only a few moments to ascend the fastest lift in the park (its and Shockwave's lifts are night-and-day different!) and before I knew it, I was staring right at the ground. The drop was fun and I joined the ranks of riders who greyed out on the turn at the bottom. Once the next hill restored the blood flow to my head, I tried to keep my hands raised through the brief pops of airtime resulting from the rapid directional changes. To put it simply, Intimidator 305 remains the most intense roller coaster I have ever ridden. And yes, I had fun. Mom was convinced I had "met my match." I believe her.

The last of the trio brought me into a mountain and into a 20-minute line for the ride believed to be Kings Dominion's signature coaster. I was ready to have a blast on Volcano: The Blast Coaster. If memory serves me right, I was seated in row 3. The first launch started the adrenaline surge as my train swooped around the turn and back into the mountain, where I felt the second launch kick in. The next thing I kicked would be the clear blue sky as we shot straight up through the mountain's peak at 70mph and rolled out at 155ft above ground. Each of the three heartline rolls brought considerable hangtime, and I was all for it. All too soon, the train rocketed back into the mountain for the final time and hit the brakes. My only ride on Volcano was literally a blast. I loved it and it would become my favorite along with Anaconda and Shockwave.

6:00 was now mere minutes away, and what better ride for this up-and-coming Arrow nerd to end the day on than...

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...Anaconda, of course! If memory serves me right, I rode second-to-last train of the day. As I snaked down 144ft, through the tunnel, and through the loop, sidewinder and corkscrews for my last time, the setting sun made an orange glow that covered the park, as it happened to be golden hour. What a great (and beautiful!) last ride of the day on Anaconda, and a good way to tide me over for the month and six days between now and my first 2012 visit to Kings Island.

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After saying bye to Anaconda for hopefully not the final time, it was time for us to head out as Kings Dominion was now closed.

I took in International Street a good long last time.

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Peek-a-boo WindSeeker.

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Bye, Kings Dominion.

Until next time, which is who-knows-how-many-years from now (hopefully not more than eight ;)).

+Dominator: 1

+Anaconda: 5

+Shockwave: 3

+Wave Swinger: 1

+Carousel: 1

+Americana: 1

+Flight of Fear: 1

+Intimidator 305: 1

+Volcano: 1

Thank you for coming along with me on this throwback. As you return to the present, please remember to cherish your past memories, enjoy the present moment, and look forward to what future adventures have in store. Who knows how many more wild amusement park trips will transpire in VortexBFF's next 3,000 posts...

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This is an awesome trip report for our sister park! I have never heard of you being met your match with I305, that’s a really cool story, and I need to ask you about it more on our next visit to Kings Island!
Something I can directly relate to is your experience with enjoying volcano a lot, we have both experienced one of our favorite rides once, you only got to ride volcano once but you loved it, and I only got to ride Firehawk once and loved it! Isn’t it funny how that happens to us?
This really was an awesome trip report!
Keep up the awesome work!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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