Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scott & Carol Present: Diamondback - Coiled And Ready To Sink Its Fangs Into You!

Friday April 17, 2009 was a public relations manager’s dream. Not only did he have a tremendously exciting new ride to debut, the weather was perfect. With temperatures in the 70s, and a sky bluer than blond-haired girl’s eyes, Don Helbig of Kings Island was on a roll. A line of special Cinci-metro buses were lined up in the parking lot. TV trucks were parked everywhere and lots of excited coaster enthusiasts who were clapping every time the train returned to the station. It was a perfect storm of positive things to come.

Shortly after 11:00, Mr. Helbig opened the festivities, introducing Greg Scheid, the Vice President and General Manager of Kings Island.

Mr. Scheid thanked all the companies involved in the project. Greg talked about how they had been looking forward to having a steel hyper coaster since the Cedar Fair purchase of the park back in 2006. And then it was time for a special presentation. Kings Island had offered the Inaugural Ride seats up for a charity auction with the beneficiary being the A Kid Again foundation. The two organizations have a long partnership history with the park hosting 3,800 kids in 2008 alone, providing free admission, $10.00 in spending money, and a fried chicken picnic.

Greg gave Jeffrey Vaughan, a member of the Cincinnati Advisory Board who runs the foundation a check for $102,000 from the proceeds of the auction. He also said that "Don kept calling, telling me that the auction was up to $50,000, then $75,000, $90,000, and then finally $100,000. I couldn’t believe it." Just to detail the significance of the event, that represents 35% of their cash operating budget for one year. If you would like to find out more about the foundation, here is a link to their website: If you choose to make a contribution, tell them it was NewsPlusNotes who sent you there.

Fast-forwarding to Saturday for a brief moment, below is the train full of happy "first riders" who were responsible for making this auction such a huge success!

After the presentation and thank you, it was time to officially open Diamondback, with Mr. Scheid and Walter Bolliger more than happy to do the honors.

When asked about his favorite key components of the ride, Walter Bolliger couldn’t restrain himself to just one. Walter said, "The setting of the coaster (station in the center of the Park, the wooded and hilly area, the interaction with other rides, and the pond for the water brakes) contributed to make Diamondback an extraordinary ride." One thing is for sure, if you ride the train, Crypt, Beast, or just stroll through Rivertown, you senses will be heightened by this ride. Weaving through the park above the midways and through the trees, there is something for everyone to like about Diamondback.

A relatively unknown fact is that the entire project came in under budget which allowed the Snake Pit observation area to be added, "plussing" the project. Guests who choose not to ride have an attractive area to watch their companions dodge the strike of Diamondback. In the middle of the plaza, both the entrance and exit of the ride are surrounded by tables, chairs, and shady umbrellas for the comfort of guests. They even have a refreshment island conveniently located in the center of the area. The hated blacktop has been replaced by pavers making Rivertown much more warm and inviting.

But enough about the area, how is the ride? Diamondback is an airtime monster. The ten drops deliver it with raucous abandon. From the first drop of 215 feet to the dramatic final drop into the splashdown, it seems that that after the lift hill you’re spending as much time floating above the seat as you are on it. The angle of the first drop increases as the train accelerates and pushes you forward into the restraint.

The 2 + 2 seating arrangement makes every seat feel like an outside seat as you roar through the heretofore untouched wilderness of western Beastwood. The supports in the woods are painted tan to blend in with the trees to make the burgundy track appear to float through the trees. As they rise above the midway, they are painted yellow to contrast with the sky.

The creative minds at Bolliger and Mabillard incorporated some new twists into their latest design. Due to the increased length of the train the profiles of the hill was modified to up the airtime potential. Lots of floater air in the front, and it gets more powerful the closer you sit towards the rear of the train.

The midcourse brake takes the edge off before you enter the twisty smaller helix but the negative G’s still are strong as the train sets up for the splashdown. You might feel a little mist in the backseat but you can stick your arm out and direct some of the splash towards you on a hot day.

Jess and Kathy Novak from Taylor, Michigan were fans. Both members of American Coaster Enthusiasts, Jess could almost be called a B & M groupie, since he has contacted the company and asked if it was okay to put their logo on shirts. "Go ahead", they told him back in 1997 or 98 and he proudly wore one to the Media Day. It seemed like he wore one every time we saw him at the park through the years and he mentioned how badly the parked need a coaster from this company to every park employee he met during his frequent visits. Living close to Detroit, he made surprisingly frequent visits to Kings Island. And now he expects them to increase. "This coaster has changed the skyline of Kings Island. The level of engineering that B & M put into a ride can deliver an instant classic. I anticipate lots of rides over the next few years."

Rich and Brenda Gardner from Indianapolis, Indiana belong to three different amusement related clubs. They are members of American Coaster Enthusiasts, Great Ohio Coaster Club, and the National Amusement Park Historical Association. According to Rich, "The most intense moment of airtime is the drop off the midcourse brake but the dive into the water is almost as good." Brenda says, "I look forward to riding it at night. Out through the trees on a moonless night will be fantastic." Interstate 74 between Indianapolis and Cincinnati will be full of these and other Hoosiers eager to experience Diamondback.

As you approach the park from the north on Interstate 71, you can see Diamondback rise above the trees from miles away. This ride has certainly enhance the skyline of the park as the trains are easily followed from Kings Island Drive as they rise and fall between the trees.

Parts of it are visible from everywhere in the park, drawing thrill seekers nearer from all directions. The Eiffel Tower will probably see a lot more guests this season. On opening day the auction winners began riding at 8:00, by which time the cars were lined up outside the parking toll booths onto the highway. And the parking lot had been open since 6:00 am.

The line for the season pass holders preview time reached halfway through the park, approaching the Eiffel Tower But looks can be deceiving. Diamondback has a healthy appetite, swallowing riders in thirty-two person gulps every 100 seconds. And this was on the first day of operations.

For Jess Novak and the tens of thousands of Kings Island fans, Diamondback was well worth the wait. It is a magnificent addition for the park and is sure to bring smiles, laughter and screams to guests for many years. Out thanks to the kind folks at Kings Island!

See you line!

Scott & Carol