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The Interpreter

Son of Beast To Be Partly Rebuilt

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MASON – Part of the Son of Beast roller coaster at Paramount’s Kings Island must be taken apart and rebuilt under state supervision, a time-consuming process that raises questions about whether the ride will reopen this season.

“If they want to operate it again, that’s what they have to do,†said Melanie Wilt, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the state agency that regulates amusement park rides.

The Son of Beast has been closed since July 9 when 27 people were injured after a particularly rough ride. On Friday, Wilt said the problem has been narrowed down to three possible structural issues: wood strength, maintenance or design.

Inspectors found a cracked vertical support beam in the double helix part of the coaster the day after the accident. Inspectors say that might have contributed to the big jolt riders described.

Kings Island must now take apart a small section of the ride, including pieces surrounding that cracked beam. Those pieces must be turned over to the state for analysis. Meanwhile, the park would have to rebuild that section and test the new portion under the supervision of an independent engineer hired by the state.

The park closes for the season on Aug. 23, except for a re-opening during Labor Day weekend. Kings Island officials said it’s too early to tell whether the ride will reopen this season.

“We’re in the preliminary stages of what needs to be done,†said Maureen Kaiser, park spokeswoman. “We want to make sure we’re completely satisfied that the ride is safe.â€Â

The Son of Beast is the tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster in the world. It is comprised of 2.5 million feet of lumber.

In past years, some people have complained about the roughness of the ride, but the coaster has continued to be popular.

Kings Island inspectors walk the tracks of each roller coaster every morning prior to opening them to the public, Kaiser said.

The July 9 accident has so far prompted one lawsuit. A Maineville woman who fractured her sternum on the ride that day is suing for negligence.

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E-mail jlbrown@enquirer.com

Last Updated: 5:43 pm | Friday, August 4, 2006

Son of Beast to be partly rebuilt

BY JESSICA BROWN | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER

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I know everyone has been asking this question many of times but will they have to need new trains for this now that they have to rebuild part of the coaster? Was the rose bowl being the main concern now with this being rebuilt? Just wanted to know what you guys think about this now. dry.gif

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I must also say the article on the enquier's site is saying they are taking out a few sections of SOB and rebuilding it, didn't we already have this problem before and then boom we have an accident on it this year because of another certain section of the track agian. Geez its a lot of work sounds like to be done to me on it. I respect the state for getting there with the one engineer looking at this. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't open agian before the season is over in October.

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So I have to wait til Spring/Summer 2007 to ride my favortie coaster...It doesnt bother me at least its re-opening.

Why do you say that?

Because SoB and The Beast are my favorite coasters at KI ...eerrr Say What ??? DuH? huh.gif

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Why are you assuming the coaster will ever open to the public again?

Nothing in the article says it will...or that it won't.

As Maureen says, the park wants to be completely satisfied the coaster is safe before reopening it.

The rebuilding may or may not lead to reopening the ride. It's too early to know.

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agreed.. it has to be cheaper to jsut tear it down.. then keep pouring money into this thing.. but... I have to say.. I never got a chance to ride it and that makes me sad.. but then again.. I never really wanted to have my bones shattered by a coaster I'm supposd to have fun on either... I would rather see a coaster kept though then flat rides all the time..

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Wow this is big news. I will be anticipating what this will change for the ride. It looks like Cedar Fair has finally taken a large toll in keeping the coasters maintained.

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A little more detail here:

http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/15202677.htm

Investigators searching for cause of roller coaster accident

LISA CORNWELL

Associated Press

CINCINNATI - An independent engineer hired by the state will supervise tests of a roller coaster that malfunctioned last month, injuring 27 riders, as officials try to figure out what caused the problem.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, which regulates the state's amusement parks, ordered the Son of Beast ride at Paramount's Kings Island in suburban Mason shut down after passengers were injured in a rough ride July 9.

"The engineer had made some recommendations to us about how to proceed, and we have sent a letter to the park laying out the steps they need to take for the investigation to move forward," said Melanie Wilt, department spokeswoman.

Most of the passengers injured were treated for bruises, but one woman suffered a broken sternum and was hospitalized for four days. Melissa Eberle, and her husband John Eberle, of Maineville, have sued the park, claiming that a combination of improper maintenance, inspection and operation caused the roller coaster to jolt riders.

Investigators have narrowed the problem down to three possible causes - wood strength, maintenance or design - but no final determination has been made, Wilt said Friday.

"In order to move forward, we will allow Kings Island to take apart the ride where it was broken and reconstruct it under our engineer's supervision," she said. "That will allow us to maintain custody of any broken parts and timbers and test their strength."

The park will then run tests on the design itself, also under state supervision to assure that the tests follow commonly accepted engineering practices, said Wilt, who could not predict how long the process would take or when the investigation would be completed.

An initial inspection revealed a cracked timber on the track of the looping wooden roller coaster that the park's Web site says is more than 7,000 feet long and features a 118-foot tall loop. The ride, which can top speeds of 78 mph, was voluntarily closed by the park before the state issued its order.

Park spokeswoman Maureen Kaiser would not speculate on when the ride might reopen.

"We are in the preliminary stages and doing what the state has requested," she said Friday. "We want to make sure that it is safe."

Sandusky-based Cedar Fair LP paid CBS Corp. $1.24 billion for Paramount's Kings Island and four other theme parks in June.

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Everyone needs to remember that what was announced today is still part of the states investigation, parts must be re-built so they can take current parts for analyzing to continue the investigation, this does not mean the coaster will re-open! Please pay attention when you read. The articel says that they arent rebuilding parts to get it open but so that the state investigators can investigate current structure work for the continuation of investigation.

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#1: Why would they need new trains if the track is the problem? As far as I know, the park has released no information that the trains were even damaged, let alone needing to be replaced because they were the chief problems.

#2 Knowing what I know of current methods of taking down tall buildings while keeping collateral damage down to 0 is that common techniques could not be used to take SOB down. A wrecking ball would get wrapped up in the supports. Bulldozers could be used to take down the lower to the ground sections, however they wouldnt even dent the major hills. And burning it would ruin my marshmellows with toxic fumes.

My personal opinion is that the park will look into reconstruction costs of the ride compared to demolition costs. Whichever is cheaper (and remember, common demolition techniques would not work here) is the course CF will take.

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SOB_TOM, I do not believe that economics will be the only factor, or perhaps not even the major one. I would point out, for example, that I seriously doubt that upkeep on Hercules was becoming more expensive than removing the ride and installing the Cadillac of steel coasters, a B & M...in that case, a floorless.

There are numerous other issues to be considered, some of which have virtually nothing to do with the economic cost of rebuilding versus that of removing the ride. To name just a few:

* How popular was the ride before the incident?

* Does it fit what we (Cedar Fair) want to do with Kings Island?

* Will Kings Island patrons accept a renovated Son of Beast?

* Would it more benefit the park's image and future if there were no Son of Beast?

* What will future maintenance closures (if any) do to the marketing and operational plans for the park?

The most important factor, BY FAR, is the one Maureen has cited. Can the park be sure the ride is safe? If the answer to that question is, for any reason, no unless the ride is rebuilt or removed, then Cedar Fair will, quite simply, remove or rebuild the ride. Safety is paramount at Cedar Fair. Always has been, always will be.

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After they do get it going and they see how bad the rest of it is the state will not let them run it. My guess is they have the engineer there to supervise tests. These will be test on it before it can be tweaked to get it to pass inspection.

They do repairs in the off season to get it to pass inspection at start of the season if they came back without letting them know at the middle or end it wouldn't pass.

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It would be interesting to see what deconstruction methods are used on such a structure as Son of Beast. As said before, I imagine traditional methods such as bulldozer and wreking ball are not possible. Many wooden roller coasters have been removed piece by piece, but that would be quite an undertaking in SOB's case; if it is decided the ride no longer has a home at Kings Island.

The questions posted by The Interpreter do bring up several issues that need to be considered. I don't believe Son of Beast was popular before the accident, and I don't imagine its popularity will increase. This isn't some isolated incident like Top Gun's collision with a maintenance truck, when only the roller coaster enthusiast community has any clue as to what took place. Son of Beast's accident has become national news, and subject to sensationalism by the media and the imaginations of the general public. I can't believe how many people I've heard discussing this accident, many of them claiming to have been on the ride just before it took place. (I would imagine more people have said this than there were people at the park that day rolleyes.gif )

What Cedar Fair wants to do with PKI has yet to be seen in its entirety, and I don't think guests accepted Son of Beast as it was, let alone renovated. (Unless renovation means a complete overhaul making the ride completely unrecognizable to the general public, with no mention of SOB whatsoever)

There are just too many factors that we cannot account for, depsite what we would like to think. We can make our educated guesses, and they are certainly good ones, but the final decision will be made behind closed doors, and the ultimate factors will be known to only a select few.

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I'd expect a similar situation as happened with Flight Commander. Adter the Flight Commander incident that ride reopened to almost walk-on waits. The park did let it operate there for a few more years but when it became clear that it wasn't going to regain its popularity, it was yanked.

Thanks in part to how today's news media works, Son of Beast has been murdered in the news outlets (possibly with merit, perhaps not, too early to tell) and my small window into public opinion on the ride is not good.

I'm still on the fence in the demolish it/reopen it camp, I think though that if it does reopen it will never play to a large queue, then again I don't often recall seeing large queues for the ride before the incident. For myself, I have already passed judgement on the ride, I didn't really like the ride before the incident, so just speaking for myself, I have taken my last ride on it.

Oh, and you suggested giving the ride an overhaul and removing the SOB name before reopening it, legend has it that the late great famed Riverview park in Chicago did that when they had coaster incidents. Let the coaster sit SBNO a couple season, then give it a new paint scheme and a new name and reopen it as a new ride!

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"In order to move forward, we will allow Kings Island to take apart the ride where it was broken and reconstruct it under our engineer's supervision," she said. "That will allow us to maintain custody of any broken parts and timbers and test their strength."

The park will then run tests on the design itself, also under state supervision to assure that the tests follow commonly accepted engineering practices, said Wilt, who could not predict how long the process would take or when the investigation would be completed.

If SOB reopens I will be late spring or summer 2007. I am not sure if the design of the coaster is that good under engineering practices. Well I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Does anyone have SOB in No Limits?

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