This park was known as Paramount's Kings Island at the time this trip report was written. The ride names from that time have been left in place in this report.
Our late arrival back in Columbus yesterday evening made an early start an unreasonable expectation. Nevertheless, we were on the road a little after nine, arriving at the park two hours later. It is never ideal to arrive at a large park on a Saturday with only two hours available to spend there. Unless one is going only for the smaller attractions it is highly probable that there will only be time for one attraction, or two at most. Fortunately we had only one high priority ride, and it would not be a big problem if we got on nothing else. This was Italian Job Stunt Track, a credit needed by James and Andrew only as I had ridden it myself earlier in the week. The wait was about an hour, and in due course we were next to board. It looked like we might have time for another ride or two after all, but it was not to be; it was at this stage that the ride broke down. The delay was only twenty minutes, and we did get to ride, but there was time only to grab a quick bite to eat (in Bubba Gumps) before making our exit.
14th August 2005
I had wanted to visit Stricker's Grove ever since I first heard about it. The idea of a park that only opens to the public two days a year fascinated me greatly. For the rest of the year the park is hired out for company picnics et al. This gives a fair idea of the scale of the park; it is easily the smallest park I've ever been to in the United States. There are, however, two wooden coasters in it, making it well worth the visit.
Before trying either of them out, however, there was an ultra high priority task to attend to. I took out my mobile phone, and transmitted a text message to Martin; Top of the afternoon to you from Stricker's Grove; Hope you're having a fun day in work! On more than one occasion, I have been hard at work in the office (yes, it does happen occasionally) only to be bombarded by multiple near-simultaneous messages from assorted club members along similar lines. Most of the time these have precisely the effect the authors no doubt intended, as it is very rare that I would choose the office over a coaster (although there are someexceptions). It seems that all of us are really children at heart. Revenge never felt so good.
The two wooden coasters are located at the back of the park and are visible from the road. I made a spontaneous decision to try the smaller of the two, Teddy Bear (#549) first, finding it to be an average coaster for its size but not particularly memorable one way or another.
The same was not even remotely true however for the larger ride, Tornado (#550). The first half of the ride was good fun, with the train moving with ease over the layout. Half way through, however, came a surprise which none of us saw coming. An innocent looking hill turned out to feature what can only be described as the most intense drop on any wooden coaster I have ever ridden. Riders are slammed into the seat belt so violently that they might be launched into orbit were it not present. It is common enough for wooden coasters to be maintained badly resulting in limited rerideability, but it is highly unusual for overly intense air time to have the same result.
When visiting a park I always work on the basis that I can always return in the future if I want to. The limited calendar at this park, however, made me work on the basis that I will probably never be back except in the most unusual of circumstances. With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to try some of the spinning rides, and James and Andrew concurred with this assessment.
The Tilt-a-whirl proved to be far more intense than its diminutive size and antiquated appearance suggested. All three of us were able to fit into one car, and the resulting combined weight caused some powerful spinning with us pinned firmly into the back of the seat.
We also did the Flyers, the first time I've ever tried a ride like this. The ride cars had a metal plate that could be moved left and right to provide a semblance of control as the main unit rotated. It took me a while to get the technique, but by the time the ride started slowing down I was swinging in and out with ease. On the way home, Andrew complained later that he wasn't able to do the same, as James (sharing his car) was feeling slightly nauseous from the spinning. If he had done so at the time I would have suggested he ride again on his own, but there's always another day I suppose!
The park is home to an antique Ferris Wheel, and it was this that presented my only real gripe. The logical purpose of a ride like this is to provide scenic views, so why on earth did the owner decide to place it behind some trees? From the top riders can see the roof of the Carousel and basically nothing else. As such the whole thing seemed slightly pointless, something compounded by the snails pace loading (an inevitability on a ride of this age, but no less frustrating).
It was getting towards time to leave, but before doing so we decided to hit both Teddy Bear and Tornado a second time, the latter in the back car. I had somehow forgotten about the mid course drop mentioned above, and this time round it was actively uncomfortable. Part of the problem was that the clasp of the seat belt hit me hard in the groin, but even without that it was, if anything, too intense. If riding again, I'd be very much inclined to wear padded clothing, at least around the waist area.