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Vortex Closed 1 Year Ago Today On 10/27/19


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One year ago today on 10/27/19 KICentral members, KI fans, and Arrow Dynamics enthusiast descended on Kings Island to celebrate and mourn the last operating day for Kings Island's Vortex Roller Coaster. Vortex was a staple roller coaster coaster at Kings Island sitting at the end of the Coney Mall Midway. It dominated the skyline at the back of the park standing 148ft tall.  Vortex set a world record when it opened on April 11th in 1987 by being the first coaster to feature six inversions. In those 33 seasons of operation Vortex gave 46,030,684 rides, the 7th most in park history.  Its record year was 1987 with 2,183,642, the most ever in one year by a new attraction at Kings Island. Vortex had a cost of $4 million to the park.

The looks and awe of Vortex was not the best part of the ride, Vortex has two vertical loops, one double corkscrew and one boomerang. Vortex reused the station from The Bat (the original coaster by that name that opened in 1981).  Also, some of the stairs from The Bat were reused to access Vortex`s block brake.  Vortex was considered one of the best Arrow Dynamics looping coasters in the country.  That blue and orange coaster was one that will remain in the hearts of its fans for years to come. 

What is your fondest memory of Vortex?

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Here is the gallery from Vortex's last operating day.

 

 

 

 

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I could sit and watch Vortex just cycle all day long. It was such a beautiful coaster to look at and photograph. That first drop was my favorite in the park. It just hit your stomach in a way no other coaster has ever done for me, especially in 7-2. I always thought it had the coolest looking trains.

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I agree with that, so awesome to just sit and watch it cycle. Loved the color scheme and the inversions. My fondest memory will be our last trip when it was open, in July 2019. Obviously we didn't know yet that it would be closing, but that trip we had many rides on it, the most I'd ridden it in years, including a ride at dusk. 

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My first ride on Vortex in 1987.  I'm sure I've shared it before--but my friend and I saw the line was "3 hours from this point" (somewhere near where Coney Skyline is) so we ate some Pizza, got in line and it took 30 minutes, not three hours.  I had never been upside down before.  I barely made it to the bathroom before I threw up my pizza---we laughed it off and got back in line and rode again.

I remember then sometime during the Paramount years when I visited (I was not an enthusiast then)--I rode it and swore off it forever.

I became an enthusiast in 2014 but did not want to ride looping coasters.  In 2015, I walked off the platform of Banshee at Coasterstock.  I broke my fear of this on Thunderbird at Holiwood  Nights.  When I went back to KI, I chose to ride Vortex before Banshee and the spark was rekindled.

My last ride was one year ago today in the late morning hours.  It was such a good ride that I decided I did not want to ride again and remember this one.

 

Each Vortex ride I took was a tribute to my friend I rode with in 1987--he passed away from suicide in 2007.

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To be 100% honest, some of my best memories of Vortex came from July 13th, 2019- the last day I would ever ride it. The ride's closure hadn't been announced at that point (and we only knew of Orion from leaked blueprints) and I have not been able to get to Kings Island since due to COVID-19 and stuff. So I was just going in under normal "I'm gonna ride this" thoughts. The same thing happened with Firehawk in 2018 too- my last rides were taken without knowing the ride was closing.

It was a hot and busy Saturday in July- it was a midnight close too which generally tells you there will be large crowds. I had already ridden Diamondback (30 minute wait) and Mystic Timbers (20 minute wait)- the waits for those 2 were still lowish mainly due to great fast dispatches on both rides. I went over to ride Beast while my group smoked, but I found it broken down, so I went to ride Vortex. Surprisingly Vortex actually had a 25 minute wait, even though it too was doing well on the dispatches. I went and rode in 7-1, and got a great ride with good ejector airtime and decent smoothness. A old dude was riding behind me also got a great ride. Later on, my entire group rode and I had another great ride, also in 7-1. I also got a night ride that evening and while it was rougher and less fun (2-2 could not compete with 7-1) I did see a kid get off behind me who was overjoyed and had ridden 3 times in a row though which I found heartwarming. Also, while waiting for Beast's last ride of the night that day, I saw a train on Vortex go by with 1 person on it who seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Vortex was my first looping coaster, and I still thought it was a good ride in its final season of 2019. A bit rough, but it had what seemed to be the perfect layout for a old-school Arrow looping coaster and the airtime on the 1st drop was great, especially in the back cars. However I can understand why it was removed- it was 33 years old, and such a large and intense roller coaster would wear itself down quite a bit over 33 years (I still think metal fatigue has to be one of the main reasons the ride was removed) and its popularity was slowly dropping every year, as it had gone from 1.1 million riders around 2014 to only around 800k in 2019, thus the park probably didn't think it was worth spending a huge chunk of cash to have major sections/ of the coaster replaced when they could build something new and generate way more hype in the spot instead (but now that COVID has hit, this may be a while- the park was NOT banking on a pandemic).

Since I was unable to get to Kings Island in 2020, I still have yet to see The Vortex plot in its current state. I have seen photos, but sometimes photos don't do things justice. I imagine it is gonna sting at least a bit to see a big field with some trees and The Beast behind it where a huge Arrow once stood.

Oh, and from July 13th 2019, I give you the first picture of a roller coaster I took with my current phone- well at least focused on just 1 coaster (I had taken a few of the park skyline and Eiffel Tower before this). It is a picture of Vortex, taken as I walked past it to wait in that 25 minute line. The ride really was very photogenic.

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That day was a blast and probably one of my favorite days at the park! Saying goodbye to Vortex was bittersweet (I got emotional when I sat down for my last ride in row 11), but the rest of the day was jam-packed with awesomeness!

As for Vortex memories, there was that one midnight close a few years ago where I got some really cool foggy night rides on both Vortex and Beast. Also, there was a small window of time during the 2019 season where I would ride Vortex up to three times in a row (it was usually a one-and-done for me most days)- and that was before I knew it was closing.

Also, great pictures, Brad! And yes, that is me being my super excited-self in those two group pictures :lol:

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Where do I even start?!? Like with most coaster-related matters, I have multiple favorites, so here are my favorite Vortex moments:

September 30, 2007 - my first ever Kings Island visit. As soon as I laid eyes on Vortex I wouldn't stop watching it for a solid 15 minutes. It looked so cool, yet I was too scared to ride it. I promised myself I would eventually ride it with my saying, "Someday I'm going to ride this...just not today."

July 23, 2010 - after enjoying familiar favorites Diamondback and Troika, I felt just adventurous enough to take the first of many steps into Vortex's queue. Thanks to a nonexistent line and it being 15 minutes before park closing, I did not have time to second-guess before I stepped aboard in the front row. Going up the lift hill, I dared not look down at the inversions that lay below, but rather fixed my eyes on the chasing lights, mentioning, "At least the lights are going faster than me." The first drop was fun as were the following hills, but the next thing I saw was the loops getting closer and closer! I ended up looking at the train's floor in my first two inversions because of the forces. The corkscrews were what won me over, as their hang time felt just like Diamondback's airtime, and for a while they were my favorite part of Vortex for that reason. The batwing proved a fairly disorienting mix of the loops and corkscrews, plus the camera's strobe light. As soon as I got off, I told my mom, "I can't believe I just went upside down SIX TIMES!!!...Can I ride again?" I had just enough time to get a second ride on Vortex before the park closed for the night.

September 26, 2010 - my first rerides! Not only did they say I could stay on if I wanted, but I ended up being the only one who did. To eleven-year-old me, having my own train on my favorite ride was the coolest thing in the world. That and maybe even getting to operate it someday. My curiosity about Vortex's operation grew with each following season, until...

April 15, 2017 - my first day of my first job, at a place no more fitting. For the first time, I showed up to Vortex in uniform as a Vortex/WindSeeker ride op! I thought I knew what was to come, but I immensely underestimated the plethora of waiting opportunities, including...

July 4, 2017 - I dispatched my very first Vortex train! Between this day and July 29, I would slowly but surely learn how to drive Vortex in hour-long increments. A dream came true, as I not only wanted to work at Vortex in general, but also drive it!

June 19, 2018 - my Vortex ride count permanently gained a fraction when I got to enjoy an extended view from the crown of Vortex's lift in the front seat of a train I had all to myself before being evacuated by my own crew!

October 11 and 18, 2019 - my windiest and foggiest Vortex rides were enjoyed on those nights and will be fondly remembered. On the former, 40-mph wind gusts were coupled with drizzling rain and a low- to mid-30's wind chill, while on the latter, a thick blanket of fog covered the entire park and appeared otherworldly when viewed from above on Vortex's lift or any other tall ride. Diving in and out of the fog that night was magical!

October 26, 2019 - my last shift as a ride op. I ran startups one more time, sent my last test riders, and worked each position at least one more time before ending my shift with an extra few minutes of driving Vortex. It was a surreal feeling saying my last "All Clear" and pushing Vortex's dispatch button for my last time. Thanks to the washout that became of this day, the line stayed short. I made the most of the nonexistent line after my shift by riding Vortex 18 times between 7 and 11pm (the park closed early that night)!

October 27, 2019 - I had some family visit for the first time, and I met up with a few of my friends to ride Vortex at the beginning and end of the day. I shared a Vortex ride with my brother, who used to come all the time but stopped by the time I started going. I and my friends got into the massive line by 7:00 with no idea how our last public ride would work out, but that changed when we, 2019 Vortex crew members, met the six 1987 Vortex crew members who were present! They invited us to ride with them on the last public train, and we chatted about work and how different it was for them in 1987 versus us in 2019. I was so star-struck; as an Arrow nerd and a Vortex fan, it was an absolute dream come true to meet people from the original crew PLUS ride Vortex's last public train with them! From having no downtime all day to the attention it received from the many of us in attendance, Vortex had a best-case-scenario last day! This day was so fun and so bittersweet. Yes, it had its should-have/would-have/could-have-been moments, but I am so grateful for what did happen! I wrote a trip report about this day:

Of course I can't forget my milestone rides, which were celebrated on September 3, 2012; September 22, 2013; November 1, 2015; July 13, 2017; May 4, 2018; July 30, 2018; May 4, 2019; June 13, 2019; July 8, 2019; August 2, 2019; August 9, 2019; and October 26, 2019!

I immensely enjoyed having one of the best Arrow loopers just a 45-minute drive from home. I took great pride in Vortex and made sure it was loved. It was a huge blessing to me and played a huge role in who I have become, with all the friendships and memories made and lessons learned, and I will make sure to remember it every April 11 and October 27!

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1 hour ago, CoasterJack said:

The Big thing that sticks out to me is the upcoming news of more track slices being available for purchase online, which will be handy for those more long distance fans or those who couldn't make it to the park in time.

That is what I was referring to. Who plans to still get a piece when available online?

Quote

In a recent discussion with our fabricator for the track slices, we learned there may be enough track left to produce some additional slices that would be available online. 

https://www.visitkingsisland.com/blog/2020/october/one-year-ago-today-we-said-goodbye-to-the-vortex-roller-coaster

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I first rode Vortex at night in either 1995 or 1996 (followed by my first Beast night ride, the first ride I had on it where I liked it). It was kind of the gateway for me getting into bigger coasters, especially since my first CP visit was in 1999, and without getting the nerve riding Vortex, I probably wouldn't have ridden half of the coasters at CP at the time, and then finding my inner enthusiast a year later when I was introduced to Medusa at NJFTP.  It was great finally getting over that fear and I loved every ride on it thereafter.  I really enjoyed riding it either first thing in the morning on a clear day or at dusk.  Dusk rides in 1-1 were awesome on a hot day since the nose kind of pushes cooler air into you making it really enjoyable to me. 

I also went on a 6 ride marathon on a P&G day a few years after my first in 6-2 without leaving my seat (when that used to be a thing).  Rode it in the Ron Toomer seat (5-1) for my last ride.    

Really miss seeing it apart of the park's skyline, seeing it when riding Beast on the 2nd lift and sitting on the final brakes listening to that classic Arrow chain lift, the chasers on the lift, miss getting close to the batwing, the inversions, the swoop over Rivertown, and the air on one of the most amazing first drops anywhere.  

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11 hours ago, Vortex1987 said:

If they're Available online then will the ones already ordered arive early? Just curious 

No, current orders will not go out any quicker. Also, the blog post said maybe, not definite on the additional pieces. Lets keep our fingers crossed. 

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Not sure I can pick a favorite memory. On the one hand, my first ride was with my mother and it's a great memory that I have of us going together as a family. On the other hand, riding Vortex with my son his first time was really memorable as well. He had talked about how much he wanted to ride it and The Beast. Then, when we began riding, he decided he wasn't going to. Once I got him to ride The Beast, we weren't even out of the exit when he told me that he was thinking about The Vortex. I told him that we could walk over there and look at it and then decide if he wanted to ride. Without hesitation, we got in line and he fell in love with The Vortex. So, it's a close call with which memory is better. 

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