By Andy Guinigundo
Definition: The banshee: (in Irish legend) a female spirit whose wailing warns of an impending death, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.
I have seen countless attraction announcements over the years, but this one seemed special. Kings Island is the theme park of my youth. It is where I hung out during my summers and rode coasters endlessly. It is the internal barometer by which I judge all theme parks. And, as I experienced parks across this country, I have certainly seen greater and lesser attractions, but it has been five years, since Diamondback was announced, since this excitement level had been reached at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio.
As I walked into the park the night of Aug. 8, there was a palpable excitement in the air. The announcement for the new attraction, thought to be a coaster for months, was to occur at 10 p.m. – park closing time. I arrived around 8:30 p.m. and there were a modest amount of folks walking into the park at that time. Even with an hour and a half to go, all front-row public viewing of the announcement stage was occupied by coaster fans. About 100 people were waiting. Over the next hour, the crowd grew to hundreds. All major Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio news crews were represented. The smoke machines were pumping in earnest to set the entire mood. Well before any announcement was made, the crowd, on several occasions, spontaneously chanted, “Banshee, Banshee, BANSHEE!” At regular intervals, a god-awful shriek was heard preceding an announcement of how many minutes were left until the announcement. Each announcement was followed by more cries of “Banshee, Banshee!”
Finally, the time came for the announcement. Park Vice President and General Manager Greg Scheid were introduced to the stage. After a quick run-through of the park improvements during his tenure that extends back to 2006 when Cedar Fair acquired Kings Island from Paramount, the time for the announcement came. At that point, a video told the story:
Type: Invert (vehicle rides under the track)
Length: 4124 feet (longest inverted coaster)
Maximum height: 167 feet
Maximum elevation change: 208 feet (ride drops into a valley)
Speed: 68 mph
Ride time: 2 minutes, 40 seconds
Capacity: 1650 riders/hour
Trains: Three trains seat 32 passengers each.
Restraint: Lap bar and vest system
Area: Action Zone area of park replacing Son of Beast and Thunder Alley, 13 acres.
Design: Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), Switzerland.
Manufacture: R.E. Midleton, Ohio.
Ride Assembly: Adena Corporation, Ohio.
Investment: $24 million, most in park’s 41 year history.
Out of the Loop plans to be here in April of 2014 for the attraction’s opening. Stay tuned.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year. You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AttractionsOOTL.