In the 80’s Arrow Dynamics of Clearfield, Utah was the leader in innovative amusement ideas. In 1981, they unveiled their newest coaster creation. The new ride came in the form of The Bat at Kings Island. The ride suspended riders below the track, but mechanical problems plagued the ride and it was demolished soon after its opening. In 1984, Arrow took another swing at the Suspended coaster and opened two successful versions at Six Flags Astroworld as XLR-8 and at Busch Gardens Williamsburg as Big Bad Wolf. As the years went on, Arrow’s Suspended coaster saw several more successful installations in North America and Europe. Then in 1991 Canada’s Wonderland contacted Arrow to design a new coaster for their park. Some ideas were thrown around and the two settled on the popular Suspended coaster. Construction started soon after and Vortex opened to the public for the 1991 season. Vortex flies through 2,361-feet of red track and navigates around a fake mountain, which is the center point of the park. Sadly, the Arrow Suspended coaster lost its popularity and only one more of the innovative rides opened at Kings Island in 1993 as Top Gun (later Flight Deck),
Vortex proved very successful at Canada’s Wonderland, so sister park King’s Island decided to build a clone of Vortex. Flight Deck at King's Island opened two years after Vortex, and made a great choice for enthusiasts to travel to Canada to ride it.
Flight Deck, although, is a very different experience than Vortex. Vortex was built over the parks lake, with the lift traveling up Wonder Mountain. Flight Deck was built to travel the park’s ravines at the bottom left-hand corner of the park. In the queue for Vortex, soon-to-be riders travel up the stairs to Vortex’s station, but on Flight Deck, the riders travel down multiple flights of stairs, and up one at the end of the queue.
Vortex differs from previous suspended coasters by not featuring a second lift hill part way through the ride. On Big Bad Wolf and The Bat, the second lift hill was a section of track for riders to take a breather, and another block zone for a third train to be added. On Vortex, there is only one lift, which makes for a very fast-paced and intense ride.
Riders board the Arrow Suspended coaches sitting 2-abreat and lower the standard over the shoulder restraints. Once they are securely fastened in, the all clear signal is given, and the train drifts out of the station. The chain carries the train to a 91-foot summit in the center of a concrete mountain. The train crests the hill and makes a quick right-hand turn. Once through the curve, riders notice that the track drops off suddenly. Before they know it, they are plummeting down an 86-foot drop towards the ground. At the bottom of the hill, the train soars into a swift right hand turn sending the trains sideways. Once through the turn, the track ascends into the air and makes a turn above the station house. The train then dives toward the ground, but the track veers straight again just in time. After the sudden drop, it’s a series of sweeping turns that rock the cars back and forth. Once the train makes its way through these turns, it’s into a positive-g helix. The train spirals around the helix, sucking riders to the back of their seats. The train finally races out of the helix and whips through one final turn into the brakes. Riders get a chance for a breather as their car rocks back and forth in the final brake run. This small segment of track is also used to transfer un-needed trains to the storage track on lightly-crowded days. The brakes finally release and the train drifts back into the station to end the intense ride.