Location: Coney Island (today known as Coney Mall), where Vortex was later located
Model: Suspended Coaster
Length: 2,456 feet
Height: 56 feet
Size: 2.9 acres
Capacity: 1,700 pph
Cost: $3.8 million
Vehicles: Six four-person cars per train (originally seven cars)
Description: The Bat was a suspended roller coaster located at the rear of Coney Island (today known as Coney Mall). Guests would board bat-themed trains and navigate a series of turns with the trains swinging outward. The ride included two lift hills.
History: Following the success of The Beast in 1979, construction on a new Kings Island roller coaster was teased during the 1980 season with a sign at the end of Coney Island (today known as Coney Mall) reading “COMING SPRING 1981; ANOTHER TERRIFYING CREATURE IS ABOUT TO.. ESCAPE”. The Bat was announced on October 29, 1980. The ride was marketed as the world’s first suspended roller coaster, though Alpen-Flug at 1975’s Oktoberfest in Germany and the even earlier Bisby’s Spiral Airship at Queens Park in Long Beach, California were both suspended roller coasters and predated Kings Island’s ride.
The Bat opened on April 26, 1981. Although earlier designs called for a pair of corkscrews on the roller coaster, these inversions had been replaced by additional helices by the time that the ride opened. It is heavily debated how far along the ride was in its development when the inversions were omitted.
The Bat was an ambitious prototype attraction and therefore prone to frequent downtime. One of the biggest issues was the lack of banking on the ride’s track, an issue which had ironically doomed the similar Alpen-Flug coaster six years earlier. The park and Arrow-Huss tried to mitigate this problem by installing additional shock absorbers on the trains. Another issue was the placement of the brakes below the track, versus on the track itself as all other roller coasters did.
The Bat’s frequent downtime included an indefinite closure in 1982. The ride also underwent modifications during its run, including reducing the length of the trains from seven cars to six. After the ride closed indefinitely in 1983, it never reopened to the public.
The Bat remained standing but not operating for the entirety of the 1984 season. Its removal was announced in late 1984 and the ride was removed early 1985. The station remained in place.
Following The Bat’s removal, the newly-named Arrow Dynamics built Vortex in its former space. The new steel roller coaster recycled The Bat’s ornate station. Many of The Bat’s concrete footings remained in place.
In late 2013, Kings Island announced plans to rename the former Flight Deck roller coaster as The Bat as an homage to the original roller coaster. The change was announced on October 29 – the same date that the original The Bat had been announced in 1980. Flight Deck’s track was repainted orange and its support columns a charcoal gray.