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Kings Dominion, Thursday June 30, 2020


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Finally made it to KD at age 48.

I’ve been oddly fascinated by this park ever since as a kid in the 80s I learned that there was “another Kings Island” in Virginia. 

Rather than a full day trip report, here are some thoughts and comparisons to KI.

International Street

 It’s such a weird feeling to see our identical Eiffel Tower standing at the end of a similar but different International Street. The trees here are big and full and really obscure the view. I liked it, but I also like the new cleaned up look at KI. The trees are a good preview of much of KD. The fountain was again similar, but different. It is darker and looks deeper, looking more like a natural lake. I really wanted to go up in the Eiffel Tower and compare views, but it was closed the 3 times I tried. 

Old Virginia 

I really like these themed areas. Very similar to Rivertown, and overall consistent and well done. The Shenandoah River log flume was solid. Every bit as fun at KIs. Props to KD for keeping theirs around since I miss the flume at CP and CW. White Water Canyon also fun. It has this interesting feature of dispatching 3 boats at a time, and at one point we all collected and bumped in a mid course brake area of sorts. Even a themed tunnel room at the end with some animatronic saw blades. 

Grizzly

Very quirky location as you enter (and exit) through the gift shop. Could be very easily missed. I admit that this is my absolute favorite genre of coaster: wooden coaster in the woods. My first ride during the day was in the front, and pretty horribly rough. I felt bad that we got The awesome Beast and KD folks got this piece of junk. However, come sunset, I got 4 consecutive rides (second to last seat), and it clicked for me. Sure, it still badly needs work. The mostly empty train and profanity from the other riders confirm that. And the first turnaround is awkwardly slow after a nice drop. But after that turnaround it really let’s loose. The crazy head chopper drop into the tunnel is a 5 star moment. The rest is not long, but I’m telling you it is still a solid wood coaster with just enough mayhem. I bet in the 80s with buzz bars the Grizzly was almost Holiday World level woodie fun. I’d love to see Gravity Group work their magic on this. They could even put a little swoop on that first turnaround and really make this ride roar all the way through. Grizzly deserves it. Even in its rickety condition, those sunset rides were my favorite coaster rides of the day. No need for RMC, just TLC. Please restore this coaster, KD! 

Ivy Tunnel

Kings Dominion earns 100 bonus points for still having their ivy tunnel, with rocking chairs even. It’s long and really dark. I really miss KIs.

To be continued…

 

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Racer 75

So this is an interesting experience. I love how KIs Racer towers over all of Coney Mall down its full length. It’s beautiful and defines the area nicely. The queue house is simple and short, leading right to the station. KDs is the opposite. The hill is barely visible from the Candy Apple Grove midway or anywhere else (unless I missed it?). And the line, what a needless Dr.Suess MCEscher maze of ridiculous proportions. Even the exit seemed like the work of a crazy person. Why was this designed like this when KIs was a perfect template? At KI I can reride Racer with the shortest of walks. At KD I’m walking a twisted pointless mile.

Anyway, KD also lose points for not racing the trains on my day (I thought they upgraded their system for optimal racing?). They also get penalized  for the paint on the coaster looking terrible. The ride however was decent. KI Racer has this split in the middle, where KD Racer stays adjacent all the way back. KD felt a little faster actually, since I feel that KI Racer struggles a bit with the transitions as it gets back to “parallel “.  The speed off the turnaround definitely felt faster and reminded me of KI Racer rides from the 80s. I was also delighted  to have the final dip (KI Racer’s was sadly removed for a path to FOF). It was as good as I remember and really gives a great little finale that I miss. 
 
So while KI Racer surpasses KD Racer in almost every way (especially after the recent TLC), KD Racer is still worth a ride. As with Grizzly, please give this some love. 
 

To be continued…

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