Construction of giga coaster Orion a ‘huge jump’ for Kings Island

Construction on Kings Island’s new $30 million giga coaster is expected to be completed several months before the ride’s April 2020 debut.

Orion’s 300-foot first drop and ability to reach a maximum speed of 91 mph will make it the park’s tallest and fastest coaster, and one of the world’s fastest coasters, according to park spokesman Chad Showalter.

“You can’t get a coaster experience like that many places on the planet,” Showalter said. “To bring this to Kings Island guests in the spring of 2020 is going to be something special, not just for the people who live around here, but for coaster enthusiasts around the world. They’re adding Kings Island to their list next season.”

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Already in place are the $30 million coaster’s loading station and the first several its 181 ride columns and 148 pieces of track, including a portion of its lift hill and the bottom of its first drop.

Orion will be one of only seven giga coasters in the world. They are a class of roller coasters with a height or drop of 300 to 399 feet. It will replace Firehawk, a coaster that was demolished following the 2018 season.

The new ride will be “non-stop fun the whole way,” according to Jeff Gramke, manager of facilities, engineering and construction at Kings Island.

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All the steel for the ride should be in place by the end of January, and the park is expected to start running the ride for tests in February.

“It depends on weather,” he said. “In Cincinnati, that’s sometimes problematic, but that’s the goal, to have it ready to go by January.”

Gramke said most of Kings Island’s other coasters are 215 feet high and less, “so going up 300 (feet) is a huge, huge jump.” Orion is 287 feet high but uses the contours of the land to travel below the coaster’s base in the first drop.

The ride is scheduled to make its debut when the park opens for the 2020 season next April.

“It’s great,” said Gramke, who has overseen construction on all of Kings Island’s coasters except The Racer and Woodstock Express. “It’s the evolution of what this park has been”

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