The roller coaster landscape for one of the region’s biggest tourism draws will undergo a series of changes by the time the park re-opens in April for the 2020 season.
The most recent news announced by Kings Island is the closing of its Vortex roller coaster late next month.
Closing the roller coaster for good, the park said, was a matter of the ride’s age. While most coasters of this type typically last between 25 and 30 years, the Vortex is in its 33rd season.
“When the 2020 season begins, Kings Island will have added three world class coasters in the last six years — Banshee, Mystic Timbers and Orion,” said park spokesman Chad Showalter told this news outlet.
“Our guests know us for providing incredible coaster experiences, and while we continue to add top-of-the-line coasters with great ride experiences, it doesn’t make a decision like removing Vortex any easier for the park.”
The decision to remove the coaster from the Mason amusement park caused an outpouring of emotion on social media, with many saying the ride was their first coaster, their all-time favorite and sometimes both.
Many, including those who love the coaster, commented on how it had become a rougher ride over the years.
“Good memories but as I get older that ride hurts my head!!!” said Stephanie Huff, of Cincinnati, on this news outlet’s Facebook page.
Showalter said there are no plans to announce a replacement attraction for that area of the park in the foreseeable future.
When the $4 million coaster first opened on April 11, 1987, it was the tallest full-circuit roller coaster with the highest drop in the world, as well as the first coaster in the world with six inversions. Its debut helped Kings Island surpass 3 million guests for the first time in its history.
Vortex has provided 45 million rides over its 33 seasons, according to Kings Island. Only six attractions have seen more rides since the park open in 1972. Its record year was 1987, when 2.2 million rides were given. Only The Racer, with its 3.2 million rides in 1972, has given more rides in a debut season in Kings Island’s history.
Final rides started Friday. The last day of operation will be Oct 27, the final day of Kings Island’s fall season. Both 2019 and 2020 Gold and Platinum season passholders will get the opportunity for exclusive Vortex early ride time on Saturdays and Sundays before the park opens to the public.
Since acquiring Kings Island in 2006, Cedar Fair has constructed three roller coasters. Diamondback debuted in 2009, in place of the former Swan Lake. Inverted roller coaster Banshee opened in 2014, replacing go-kart attraction Thunder Alley and wooden coaster Son of Beast, which the park shut down in 2009. Mystic Timbers launched its first riders in 2017 in the park’s Rivertown area.
Cedar Fair relocated then-6-year old roller coaster Firehawk to the park in 2007, then demolished it following the 2018 season. This month, it started work on its replacement, Orion, which will be the 10th fastest roller coaster in the world when it makes it debut next April.
It also will be one of only seven giga coasters in the world, a class of roller coasters with a height or drop of 300 to 399 feet.
Riders on the new coaster will plunge down a 300-foot first drop, sending them on a high-speed journey over seven more hills and 5,321 feet of track at speeds up to 91 MPH.
Orion will become the tallest (287 feet) and fastest roller coaster with the longest first drop at Kings Island. It will be the park’s longest steel roller coaster and second-longest overall behind The Beast.
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