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What was the reaction when Son of Beast was announced?


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I remember watching the coverage of the announcement that day and following the coaster forums that were around then. 

Overall, most fans were absolutely thrilled at the size, scope, and theme.

It seemed like a perfect “Kings Island” addition, and one that would dominate  the park for the next few decades.

I do remember a few comments and concerns about the manufacturer, and about the long term maintenance of a wooden coaster that large. I saw their point, but figured that KI’s maintenance would work out any bugs eventually.

As for myself, I was pretty pumped, but a little underwhelmed by the post loop layout.  I rode SOB and Holiday World’s brand new Legend a few weeks apart, and realized that (in my opinion) Legend was better in almost every way.

Here is my small piece of Son of Beast, on my desk at work to remind me to dream big, but to be humble as well.
 


 

 

 

 

 

785FE5EC-A991-41D1-817F-88B7E9D05953.jpeg

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As far as the announcement day, I was there and the whole event was basically a mess from an organizational standpoint.  It was so bad that the (then) brand new GM (Tim Fisher) fired the park's Head of Public Relations following the announcement event.  There was a bit of "chatter" online about that because, quite frankly, she was very unkind to enthusiasts in her history at the park. 

As far as the reactions of SOB from enthusiasts...  It was pretty evenly mixed. 

Opinions online were not nearly as volatile as today's web-based "opinions," but there were definite hip-hoorayers and nay-sayers.  You have to remember that back then, there were basically 3 main "enthusiast" platforms online - URC, Coasterbuzz and Rec.Rollercoaster.  Rec.Rollercoaster was the "harshest" of the three... Coasterbuzz skewed more Cedar Point, URC more KI.

With Millennium Force being built the very same year, that drew immense comparisons between the two.  It seemed enthusiasts were team MForce or team SOB... at least the vocal ones. There were probably more champions for MForce overall.  There was also a bevvy of comparisons to the original Beast and its legacy.  There was a lot of speculation about the loop - and a debate about whether the steel support structure qualified it as a "wooden loop."

Side note: the loop - probably the most debated part of the ride - ended up being the most redeeming part of it.

At first, the reaction was kind of one of awe and excitement.  Most simply couldn't believe they were building something of that scale.  Also, people generally loved the theme.  The initial logo was a bit underwhelming, but then by January they changed it and people loved the much improved final version.  Later, the delays, very public construction issues, temperamental operations etc, prompted the tide to turn from excitement, to frustration.  Lots of things such as the initial media day, enthusiast events, ERTs etc all got cancelled or converted into "construction tours" only.  Its worth noting that, as far as I was told, the "designer" (Werner Stengel) never rode SOB or to my knowledge even stepped foot inside KI after it was built.  SOB became a PR nightmare and the park really had to save face - there was a LOT of chatter about that among enthusiasts.

I was very much camp SOB.  I loved the concept, was excited by it, and daunted by its sheer scale.  I personally felt it was a MUCH more ambitious project than MForce (or the bevvy of other coasters that were installed that year.)  I say that because steel coasters were growing in size and scale - and were a proven "safe" investment.  It was pretty much a given MF would succeed.  SOB was a much bigger gamble - and for taking that challenge I will always applaud them.  

The final thing I'll say, and I've said it MANY times before.  SOB never, ever, operated for the public as intended.  Those of us that were lucky enough to ride on Media Day, were the only ones that got to experience it as designed.  It was really something else - the height, speed, loop, overall scope.  Oh it had its flaws ("THE JOLT!!!) but it was quite the rush.  However, literally by the end of the media event, it was already tearing itself apart so the park shut the ride down and began the ongoing re-profiling and "neutering" of it.

Had SOB not had "the accident" in 2006, I have no doubt in my mind that today it would have been a steel-tracked RMC hybrid.  I truly wish it had made it that far.  Imagine what a ride that would have been.

 

 

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I was one of the lucky ones that was able to secure a ride on Son of Beast that Friday night during the pass holder preview day.  The passholder preview day was held on April 28th, I believe.  The media event was in the morning.  The ride didn`t open to pass holders until around 7 or 7:30 if I recall correctly (the park opened to pass holders at 5), due to what we later learned was a rough spot.  After that night, it was closed several more weeks before reopening. When it did reopen, it was down to one train operation until end of June/early July.  I was also in line for it in early June when a train was stuck on the lift and they had to evacuate the riders.  

The first drop on Son of Beast was an amazing experience.  That combined with the loop made the ride.  Once the loop was removed, I didn`t have much of a desire to ride the ride anymore.  It was certainly a bold choice.  One wonders what the ride would have been like had RMC been around back then and if we would have seen a RMC version of the ride instead of the one created by Werner Stengel and RCCA.  

Is Stengel still actively involved in the amusement industry?  I know his firm is often a consulting firm used by other manufacturers, such as Intamin.  Not unlike how Skyline Attractions works with Great Coasters for the layout/design on some of their rides.

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24 minutes ago, CoastersRZ said:

The media event was in the morning.  The ride didn`t open to pass holders until around 7 or 7:30 if I recall correctly (the park opened to pass holders at 5), due to what we later learned was a rough spot.  After that night, it was closed several more weeks before reopening. When it did reopen, it was down to one train operation until end of June/early July.  I was also in line for it in early June when a train was stuck on the lift and they had to evacuate the riders.  

Absolutely correct.  The rough spot was "THE JOLT" I mentioned.  It was actually the pitch of the turn on the top of hill #3 (the hill following the largest drop.)  The momentum of the trains was such that when the cars reached the top of the high speed turn, the cars "bucked" to the right.  This caused riders to experience an intense jerk to the right in the seats - car by car.  During the entire event - as our trains arrived back in the station each time we completed the circuit, we were literally asked by staff about "the jolt" - and it was pretty obvious it was worsening as the event continued... train by train.  Knowing they had the passholder event that night, the abruptly shut it down and began modifying that area of the ride to lessen the strain.

The park knew by the end of the media event that a major modification was unavoidable, but they had to save face and open it - at least briefly - that night for passholders.  I don't ever recall seeing so many maintenance, technicians and KI Management monitoring a ride on a passholder night.  BTW - when I attended the passholder night, I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and took a picture of the techs working on it - scrambling to get it open.

FYI - during both the media event, the passholder night and in those weeks that followed the reopening - a Wooden Coaster Maintenance member was staffed all day in the field to specifically monitor this area of concern.  If they saw an issue, they would call the station with a code "term" created specifically for SOB - that only they and the lead ride ops and area managers knew.  That "term" meant they had to shut it down immediately and indefinitely.  They used this secret "term" because, by then, it was such a story that outside news people were listening to KI's communications radio channels.

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18 minutes ago, CoastersRZ said:

I was one of the lucky ones that was able to secure a ride on Son of Beast that Friday night during the pass holder preview day.  The passholder preview day was held on April 28th, I believe.  The media event was in the morning.  The ride didn`t open to pass holders until around 7 or 7:30 if I recall correctly (the park opened to pass holders at 5), due to what we later learned was a rough spot.  After that night, it was closed several more weeks before reopening. When it did reopen, it was down to one train operation until end of June/early July.  I was also in line for it in early June when a train was stuck on the lift and they had to evacuate the riders.  

The first drop on Son of Beast was an amazing experience.  That combined with the loop made the ride.  Once the loop was removed, I didn`t have much of a desire to ride the ride anymore.  It was certainly a bold choice.  One wonders what the ride would have been like had RMC been around back then and if we would have seen a RMC version of the ride instead of the one created by Werner Stengel and RCCA.  

Is Stengel still actively involved in the amusement industry?  I know his firm is often a consulting firm used by other manufacturers, such as Intamin.  Not unlike how Skyline Attractions works with Great Coasters for the layout/design on some of their rides.

It's not Stengel's fault, Paramount went cheap.  Would have been the hit of 2000 if would would had been a certain companie's first pre-fab IMO.

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We live out of state, so I can't speak to what was going on in the local KI community. But I remember when we heard about it, we were pretty excited. It was a "sequel" to the park's biggest, baddest and most famous roller coaster. I was still in my teens, so I was all about wanting to try the biggest and most extreme thing. And it fit in with the Paramount mindset of making every ride an event. I waited for hours to ride it the year it opened and I remember looking at the giant structure hulking over the Action Zone midway thinking "that seems like a lot." 

The actual experience was mixed. It definitely had thrills. It was big and fast, and it was the speed and height more than the loop that made it so memorable (although the loop was fun). But it might also be the only roller coaster I've ridden where I thought the designers were trying to kill me (and I've ridden Mean Streak!). I had bruises on my arms, and the Rose Bowl section was excruciating. I regularly left the ride with a splitting headache; one year, it ruined my entire afternoon at the park. I started buying Tylenol before we rode it. 

By the time they finally closed it down and took out the loop, I was hitting my late 20s and had stopped going to the park for a few years. It wasn't until I hit 30 and started going with my now-wife that I saw it in SBNO mode, which might have been the saddest sight of all (I was so glad they took Vortex down quickly so we didn't have to endure that).  I miss it from a sheerly nostalgic perspective, in the sense that I can pull up video and tell my son "yeah, I rode that." But honestly, once you got past the novelty the ride was too painful to be fun. I don't miss it, but I do appreciate the big swing they took in building it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was quite excited which made my soon-to-be wife excited as well since we continuously talked about it after seeing "the box" near Beast in 1999.  This was to be the ride that put KI back on top of my list of favorite parks (Paramount really left a bad taste in my mouth).

We get both MF & SoB in the same year as our wedding as well as a 2 week honeymoon at Disney with side trips to BGT & Universal.  2000 was going to be EPIC.

After 6 frustrating trips from Erie to KI (similar to my young experience with The Bat), we finally made it on SoB.  Ride opened late morning & we waited in line for front seat.  The excitement of being on SoB quickly turned to "what in the heck is going on, my head has been jackhammered??"

The disappointment of the SoB ride experience was only rivaled by frustration of the impact Paramount had on KI.

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I just realized how awesome it was to be a park fan around here in the late 90s/early 2000s.  Coaster-wise, you had KI with Flight of Fear in 96, Action Zone in 99, SOB in 2000.  CP had Mantis and Millennium Force.  Holiday World had Raven and Legend pretty close together.  KK had Chang and Twisted Twins.  Geauga Lake had Serial Thriller, Batman: Knight Flight, Superman Ultimate Escape, Villain, and X-Flight.  

That's a hefty list for such a short span. 

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6 hours ago, Browntggrr said:

I was quite excited which made my soon-to-be wife excited as well since we continuously talked about it after seeing "the box" near Beast in 1999.

That box (I remember it being closer to Action Zone) used to scare me as a kid. I remember thinking that I didn't want to be in the park on that day that box opened up (and subsequently, when whatever was in said box got loose).

Also, as for the ride itself, it was one of my favorites when I first rode it (it was my first looping coaster and a very epic ride), but yeah, that Rose Bowl was painful a lot of the time. One time when riding as a teen, I got off and complained that my sternum hurt...

And yes, I agree @silver2005; the 90's/early 2000's coaster lineup seemed pretty epic. B) Most of those things you mentioned still exist today. but they are either at a different park or in a different form (Rougarou)

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14 hours ago, MDMC01 said:

That box (I remember it being closer to Action Zone) used to scare me as a kid. I remember thinking that I didn't want to be in the park on that day that box opened up (and subsequently, when whatever was in said box got loose).

Maybe it was in Action Zone & not near Beast.....it's been a long time! :lol:

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8 hours ago, silver2005 said:

I thought they moved it a few times.  I recall it being on the path behind Festhaus at one point, and then where the SOB entrance would eventually be. 

Yeah, IIRC, it was closer to the Kings Island (Paramount) Theater (on the way to Action Zone) at the time I saw it as a kid. Then I remember seeing it near the ride entrance, revealing the logo. I think if I was an adult back then, I'd think the box idea would be really cool.

I have a question, though: Was said box around before Son of Beast was announced, or after it had been announced to create more hype?

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