Indianapolis Zoo

5th July 2009

The route from my overnight hotel to Cincinnati took me past the Indianapolis Zoo, and given that it was impossible not to stop in briefly for Kombo (#1379). It was no real surprise to be treated to a completely exclusive ride this early in the morning. There were only a handful of other guests in the ride area, and the attraction of choice appeared to be the infinitely more educational train ride.

A word of warning for future planners; the rides at the zoo officially do not open until an hour after the main gate, and that time was taken with a large pinch of salt this morning.

 

Kings Island

5th July 2009

Kings Island was a late addition to my trip this year, added only after extremely favourable reviews of its latest coaster began to appear on the Internet. Diamondback (#1380) is the ninth so-called mega coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard and the second to feature their novel new train design. They have replaced the four across seating found on all their other coasters with a more traditional two across layout, albeit with a space between the seats in the back of each car which allows an uninterrupted view for all riders. There is also an unparalleled sense of freedom in the outside seats.

The new ride does operate with assigned seating, presumably to keep the queue moving as fast as possible, and there is no facility to wait for specific seats. I'm all in favour of keeping capacity as high as possible, though it would have been nice if there were dedicated front and back seat queueing areas within the station. Be that as it may luck was on my side today in that I got to try both, with the back being my favourite on the whole. That being said, the ride quality is absolutely top notch no matter where one sits; Diamondback really is worth the trip to Cincinnati.

Firehawk

The demise of Geauga Lake sent a number of roller coasters to other parts of the world, and Kings Island has benefitted with the installation of Firehawk. As in its former home the loading speeds on this attraction border on the painful, with the active train generally back in the station even before its brother has been dispatched. Fortunately good things come to those who wait, and the flying sensations generated by this ride are a lot of fun. I'm a particular fan of the half inversion at the top of the lift hill and in particular the sound effects it generates from first time riders!

It's worth ranting briefly at this point about the various changes made to the park after its sale at the end of the 2006 season. The most visible alterations are to ride names, and some of the changes have been uninspired to say the least. Some particular, er, highlights are Drop Tower (really?) and Flight Deck (formerly Top Gun). Running a competition for guests to select ride names would surely have generated some better suggestions.

The famous Beast has been fitted with new magnetic trim brakes since my last visit, and they're not an improvement. Three separate sets of fins slowed the train between the first drop and second lift hill, and the speed changes ruined the overall pacing. I'd have been far happier if they'd been on the blue side of the Racer, which, to be polite, was in serious need of retracking. The red side was much better though, suggesting to this enthusiast that half the ride got retracked this year. Hopefully the other track will be restored to its former glory in the off season.