The park had asked us to arrive by 5:30am for filming work. I am not a morning person, and the requirement of an early start combined with the necessity of packing my suitcase before departure resulted in me misplacing my glasses strap. Not being able to wear any eye protection on a coaster as fast as Kingda Ka was irritating, but unavoidable, as nowhere in the park sold replacements. As I write this report I am about to place an order for a number of spare straps that will be left in various locations in my travel baggage.
TV directors are the same everywhere. The basic prerequisites are that you have a loud voice, colourful clothing, and most important, that you be no taller than 5'4". This one had two requests:
- Arms must be kept down. The speed achieved by Kingda Ka is such that raising ones arms could potentially cause injury. It is nice to see parks are finally realising this in their advertising; we were informed that footage could not be used if anyone had their arms up, and in that situation the culprit would be removed from the film shoot. It should be noted that every media report I have seen of the ride since has shown hands in the air, but it appears that Six Flags at least has taken the safe course for their advertising.
- Jackets and coats should be removed. It required significant determination to comply with this request. New Jersey is not a cold place, even in May, but high temperatures are not generally in evidence at 7:00am. Even after the sun came out the wind remained quite chilly, especially during the Kingda Ka launch sequence.
At any rate, with these conditions met, I managed to clock up sixteen consecutive rides, trying all the rows in the train from back to front. The back of the train was surprisingly rough, which for a brand new ride is more than a little worrying. The front, few rows, however, were much more like it, with smooth tracking and a surprising amount of airtime at the crest of the tower. The restraints are, as predicted, not as comfortable as those on the previous generation Intamin rides, but the over-the-shoulder portions are only really noticeable during the spiral descent. It took me a number of rides to figure out how to brace properly, but once I got the hang of it the experience was no different to that provided by lap bars.
During a scheduled break in filming, I slipped out to try the Parachute Drop ride as a possible location for a few photographs. I managed some moderately decent pictures, though there was not enough time at the top to allow me to focus properly.
Four more rides on Kingda Ka filled up the rest of the morning.
After a lunch break, we made our way back over to the ride. Unfortunately, due to problems with the weather, there wasn't time for another circuit before we had to leave for the airport. Not that I am complaining. It seems highly probable that three hour queues will be the norm on Kingda Ka this year and for the foreseeable future. It was wonderful to be able to get in twenty three rides while avoiding this completely.