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August 15, 2019 at 10:00 PM Kings Island announced what we have all known was coming for months. The attraction had been teased, and leaked to death, it had been analyzed and over-analyzed. We now know this coaster will be called Orion and according to the park, this new attraction will be the 10th fastest coaster in the world. The park proudly presented the second “Giga” coaster in the state of Ohio. This all sounds great. After all who can be unhappy with another Giga coaster? However, the statistics paint another picture of this coaster all together. Orion has a length of 5,321 feet, a height of 287 feet, a drop of 300 feet and a speed of 91 MPH.
The definition of a Giga coaster appears to be somewhat of a moving target. Like many of the “records and statistics” parks have claimed in recent years, it seems the parks can and do modify definitions at will. Wikipedia (incidentally the park uses this also) defines a Giga coaster as any full circuit coaster with a 300 plus foot height or drop. Many other coaster sites and enthusiast define a Giga coaster as any full circuit coaster that is between 300 and 399 feet tall. For a reason that will become clear shortly I tend to dismiss the Wikipedia definition and subscribe more to the coaster site definitions. I do this for many reasons, but the biggest reason is simple. It makes sense to me that if you want to obtain good information about roller coasters, you would ask the people that know about coasters.
I know you are all starting to see where this is going, but before you lose your minds hear me out. Let’s compare Orion to Millennium Force. Orion has a 287-foot height with a drop of 300 feet. Millennium Force has a height of 310 feet and a drop of 300 feet. To me the drop does not a Giga make. This is my rationale. If we look at the 6 other Giga coasters on the planet, my argument begins to take shape. Let’s look at all 6 strictly from the perspective of height.
You now have my permission to lose your mind. Are you ready? The Kings Island Giga is no such thing. It is a Hyper!!! It falls significantly below the height of other Gigas, and if the coaster settles at all it won’t even make the cut based on height of drop. But what about the drop you ask? I would contend that the drop is irrelevant when classing a coaster as a giga. If you look at Millennium Force, What made it special? It was the first complete circuit coaster with a height greater than 300 feet. Using this logic all other coasters should be judged against the same criteria. With this said, Orion looks like it has the potential to be a great ride. I am sure the Kings Island faithful will get years of enjoyment out of riding it. We will have to wait and see if it becomes the headliner that Kings Island hopes it will, or if it will be the second-best Hyper coaster in the park. Will it make me beat feet across the country to ride it? NO. Then again, Steel Vengeance didn’t make me do that. I will get there when I get there. After all there are plenty of ACTUAL Giga’s that I still need to ride.