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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue)

Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue)

rossrich66 rossrich66 Profile

Posted:
7/24/12 at
2:42:50 AM

I haven’t posted here in a long while, and this trip report (in two parts) is long overdue, but I figured I get this one down so I can write about my trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain on Sunday, July 22 in the next few days. But first things first…

My partner Mike and I took a much needed vacation and ditched LA during the last week and a half of June to DC and Virginia. And while it was a well-rounded trip hanging out in DC and road-tripping through Virginia to see all the historic sights (I never knew what an amazingly brilliant man Thomas Jefferson was…please pardon my inexcusable ignorance on that!), I finally got in two first time visits to Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens - Williamsburg….long overdue to be sure.

Date: Sunday June 24, 2012 – Kings Dominion

It being summer season and anticipating a hot crowded weekend day, we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves plenty of time. We arrived at the park just before it opened at 10:30AM and was pleasantly surprised that there really was no one that had the same plan that we did. I can’t remember the last time I’d ever parked that close to the front gate. And just so you know, the crowds never materialized that day….we could not have had a better first time experience at Kings Dominion.

I had so much anticipation about KD…of course any enthusiast would have been excited just because of the mere fact that Intimidator 305 was looming. But even more so, KD was just one of those parks that was on the opposite side of the country that I knew so much about and had eluded me thus far in my coaster travels. I first became acquainted with the park as a wide-eyed/coaster enthusiast in-training, nine year old kid watching the movie Rollercoaster during its Sensurround premier in 1977.

So finally, here I was some 35 years later actually at the park. I’ve seen Rollercoaster countless times over the years and it definitely had contributed to my lifelong passion. So it’s cool to say that KD has a sentimental place for me even though I’ve never been there…kind of strange, but cool. Clearly the park has matured ten-fold since then. I was immediately struck at how tall and mature the trees were that surrounded the pond/fountain on International Street. I commented to Mike “wow, in the movie Rollercoaster, the fountains were out in the open and there was so much open space with no trees”…I know coaster geek kicking in…but whatever.

Now I have been to Kings Island several times over the years, and the comparisons are obvious. But I’ll have to say, I find Kings Dominion to be the better park aesthetically overall. It’s not exactly a fair comparison since the last time I was at KI was during the Paramount Days and it was looking pretty good then. But Mike and I both agreed that KD was about as nice a park as it could be given there was the obvious evidence and legacies of different management over the years.

However, not only did it look good, but the service and ride operations were definitely elevated beyond the notorious “Six Flags” experience. I’m thinking this is probably the result of Cedar Fair’s new management and vision under Matt Ouimet. (I’ve heard that CA Great America has improved so much this year now that it has Cedar Fair’s commitment under the new regime. Most would agree the park was in a sad state when Cedar Fair initially took it over. And I’m happy with the latest developments…soft spot as it was the park I grew up with in the Bay Area since the Marriott days, but I digress.)

So…the coasters…. Like I said this was absolutely the best possible day to be at Kings Dominion. Despite it being June, the crowds were like being at a park in the off season…amazing. We were able to ride every coaster in the park. Now despite this, we only rode each coaster once. I know coaster blasphemy….especially when we had our pick. But after 30+ years of coaster riding…marathoning isn’t so much of a priority anymore…just riding the rails in a “new” park was good enough. Besides, I have to say that the coaster selection and variety here is amazing…..coaster nirvana! So after a quick trip to the top of Eiffel Tower to check out the view of this amazing park…here’s the order we rode:

1. Rebel Yell (one side running and a walk on). Climbing the lift hill, I had a vision of George Segal sitting in the front car and everyone on both racing trains clapping in unison…”Hey Mister, I’ll bet ya a million dollars we beat ya!”
2. Ricochet (walk on) - Wild Mouse’s are always freaky…even the newer ones.
3. Hurler (walk on) - Pleasantly surprised…I’d heard this ride hadn’t aged well and could be rough.
4. Grizzly (walk on) – Highly anticipated since I’ve heard so much about this ride over the years. But even more so, wanted to compare it to its much maligned namesake in Santa Clara that I know so well. Pretty fast and furious…but pretty rough around the edges.
5. Dominator (about a 20 minute wait) – 3rd favorite floorless coaster for me…Kraken/Sea World and Medusa/SFDK beat this one out for me. However, this coaster is unique for me in that it’s the only coaster that I can say I’ve ridden in two locations…yes, I rode it when it was introduced at Six Flags Ohio in 2000 (or I think it was called Six Flags Worlds of Wonder back then?) in the ill-fated Geauga Lake. Regardless, it’s a great intense ride.
6. Avalanche (5 minute wait) – Cool unique bobsled ride….although for the life of me…can’t understand what alpine bobsleds have to do with being in the Congo!
7. Volcano – This ride was clearly popular. It had the longest line thus far. Clearly a unique and one of a kind coaster and I’d only been on its “distant” Intamin cousins V2 Vertical Velocity at SFDK and the other “Superman” one at Six Flags Ohio…But for anyone that has been on Volcano, clearly knows this ride is in a class all by itself. It was quite refreshing to encounter a new “inverted” coaster experience after the familiar and “worn out” experiences of B&M and Vekoma inverts. After waiting in line for almost an hour (ready to board and it breaks down…but we stuck it out until it got running again…which was absolutely the right decision), we board. I’m telling you, this ride knocked my socks off and was so much more than I expected…enough said.
8. Anaconda – (almost a walk on after trying to go to Flight of Fear and Intimidator 305 but both were down. I was a little worried about Intimidator being down. But it was still early in the day and I had hope) – What’s to say?…It’s an Arrow Coaster that I’d describe as sort of a cross between the Vortex at KI and the three Arrow mega-loppers of its time (Shockwave, GASM and Viper). I’d say it slants more towards the Arrow mega-loopers…but also has the one of a kind uniqueness of its cousin at KI. Fun ride…but not quite old enough to be called an Arrow classic in my mind….I would reserve that designation for that yellow serpentine down the road in Williamsburg.
9. Shockwave was up next after having a great fried chicken lunch at the Country Kitchen. Wow, it’s amazing how over-engineered these cars are from Togo. After a 15 minute wait, we got on and after the first drop…could not wait to get off. This ride is head banger city. It was just as bad as its stand up cousin Vortex at CA Great America. I’m convinced stand up coasters no matter who makes them do not age well. One thing to note…was that I had always thought this Togo model was identical to the defunct King Cobra at KI. But I discovered the 2nd halves of both rides are actually different.
10. Flight of Fear – We headed back over to Intimidator because we saw it was open. On the way we saw FOF was also open. About a 15 minute wait and completely worth it! Wow, another amazing coaster surprise (the other being Volcano). Loved it and was completely surprised at how smooth the ride was. I believe this ride had shoulder harnesses at one point? Yes? No?
11. And finally….Intimidator 305. We got off FOF and walked over to Intimidator. I was concerned because they were only running one train (before it broke down they were running two). But even with one train, the wait was only around 5 minutes. We opted for a back car ride. It was great you could choose your car, because in all the times I’d ever been on its “kinder and gentler” cousin MF at Cedar Point, I never got to choose my car. What can I say? Much has already been said about this ride. From my perspective, the ride is still incredibly intense despite the alterations. The first drop is definitely akin to MF. But clearly this ride is more about shear speed and intensity and most of the ride is taken at high speeds and stays close to the ground. I did gray out at the bottom of the first hill/turn. The direction changes were what struck me most about this ride and took me by surprise. In the end…a very different ride than MF…yet to be respected completely.
12. Backlot Stunt Coaster – We decided to wrap up here. Pretty much a walk-on. I think we enjoyed more than most do only because we didn’t have to wait. And you have to admit, it is unique despite being hokey.

So we were done by mid-afternoon. All in all Kings Dominion more than lived up to its expectations for me. We were truly impressed by the ride operations, cleanliness, employee friendliness and the attention to aesthetic detail that were apparent throughout the park. And its variety of coasters is top notch. But even more so, it was a chance for me to finally visit a park that contributed so much to my lifelong passion and had a profound effect on a wide-eyed nine year old kid back in 1977.

Part Two – Busch Gardens Williamsburg (up next)

* This post was modified at 7/24/12 7:45:57 PM *

Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 7/25/12 1:09:37 AM
That's cool you were there on a less crowded day. I honestly am surprised you would save volcano for later in the day. That's the one I would do 1st as the lines will only get longer as the day goes on.

I have to disagree about volcano being better than some B&M inverts. While I totally love the 2 launches on volcano (especially the launch up thru the mountain), the 3 heartline rolls surrounding the mountain just seemed 'meh' to me. I was hoping they could've done more with the surroundings and more elements than just 3 strait rolls surrounding the mountain. And then it just ends with a pretty forceful break when the train seemed to have enough energy to do a few more inversions. So it's got a great 1st half, but the 2nd half was disappointing imo. Again, that's just me.

I've never been to CP and didn't know MF had a seat assignment system. I305 didn't seem to have a long line in my few days there in 2010, so I am surprised about how both are so different in terms of ridership (then again it it CP, coaster mecca so that probably explains it).

Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/25/12 5:36:20 AM
Cyclone_Phil said:

I've never been to CP and didn't know MF had a seat assignment system.

I've certainly never seen a seat assignment system in my 5-6 visits since MF made its debut.

Mike

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 7/25/12 4:38:54 PM
beastmaster said:

Cyclone_Phil said:


I've never been to CP and didn't know MF had a seat assignment system.

I've certainly never seen a seat assignment system in my 5-6 visits since MF made its debut.

Mike

In 2000, there were assigned seats. In 2001, a que was built for the front seat and the the assigned seat policy was terminated.

Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/25/12 4:52:32 PM
frontrow said:

beastmaster said:

Cyclone_Phil said:


I've never been to CP and didn't know MF had a seat assignment system.

I've certainly never seen a seat assignment system in my 5-6 visits since MF made its debut.

Mike

In 2000, there were assigned seats. In 2001, a que was built for the front seat and the the assigned seat policy was terminated.

I rode in 2000. I certainly don't remember assigned seats. Then again, I barely remember what I had for breakfast today. Wasn't bacon, though...:(

Mike

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by rossrich66 rossrich66 Profile at 7/25/12 11:40:18 PM
frontrow said:

beastmaster said:

Cyclone_Phil said:


I've never been to CP and didn't know MF had a seat assignment system.

I've certainly never seen a seat assignment system in my 5-6 visits since MF made its debut.

Mike

In 2000, there were assigned seats. In 2001, a que was built for the front seat and the the assigned seat policy was terminated.

Yes, went when it first opened and I remember being bummed I didn't get to ride in the back car...nonetheless, it was still an awesome ride. Rode it again in 2003, I recall not being able to choose my seat again...but then again, I could be wrong.

Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by rossrich66 rossrich66 Profile at 7/26/12 1:08:03 AM
Cyclone_Phil said:

I have to disagree about volcano being better than some B&M inverts. While I totally love the 2 launches on volcano (especially the launch up thru the mountain), the 3 heartline rolls surrounding the mountain just seemed 'meh' to me. I was hoping they could've done more with the surroundings and more elements than just 3 strait rolls surrounding the mountain. And then it just ends with a pretty forceful break when the train seemed to have enough energy to do a few more inversions. So it's got a great 1st half, but the 2nd half was disappointing imo. Again, that's just me.


rossrich66 said:

I hear you and completely get what your saying...but for me Volcano stood out because I had absolutely no expectations at all. And between the two incredible launches, a first time ride, and overall B&M invert "fatigue", Volcano really stood out. And too your point, this concept could certainly be evolved to a whole new level if Intamin and some willing park would allow it to.

* This post was modified at 7/26/12 1:12:14 AM *

Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 7/26/12 2:02:45 AM
I agree. I like Volcano, but it's the 2nd half that just made me disappointed with it. If they had been more original with the layout and added more elements to that ride, I think volcano would easily be among the top of my favs list. All that energy by the time you enter back in the tunnel only to hit the magnetic break.... :sigh:
Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by frontrow frontrow Profile at 7/26/12 10:28:11 AM
Great TR. I love Kings Dominion. We drove past it Sunday and Monday. It was tough to pass it up. Intimadator 305 is my favorite steel coaster and I love Volcano. We spent 2 days there in 2010. Being that we were on budget, I just couldn't afford to stop there. We still need to get to Hershey this year. I also have been trying to get my kids to parks that they never been to. Too bad you couldn't have visited Six Flags America.
Re: Kings Dominion TR - VA Trip Part One (Long and Overdue) by rossrich66 rossrich66 Profile at 7/26/12 9:12:56 PM
Thanks...yeah Six Flags America will have to wait for now.