Dear Coaster Friends,
Now that Kings Dominion has opened for the season there has been images on the internet of Volcano: The Blast Coaster being dismantled. Then inevitably the mountain itself came tumbling down too. I am a big fan of Twisted Timbers, so I have no buyers remorse on that and neither should the park. It added a fantastic ride that is a big part of the reason I want to go back to there sooner rather than later.
After the Volcano fans finished the grieving process for their very unique ride the conversation immediately turned into speculation on what could be done at Kings Dominion next. Unfortunately I think we will need to be patient since the impression that I got was that the closure was not part of the park’s plan, and it was a decision that they were forced to make. That being said they are still probably trying to figure out both the when and what will be done to fill the void left by its absence. However I have heard a plethora of ideas from fans of the park ever since we have digested the info. People were reluctant to think of the area without the volcano, so many ideas focused on the idea of diving into the volcano. B&M dive coasters, Gerstlauer “dive” coasters, and even a Vekoma tilt coaster were the main thing I was hearing from friends. I know some people had the thought that maybe they would do a traditional invert from B&M to pay homage to the the former resident.
As inventive and exciting as those different ideas, they didn’t work with my future predictions. I don’t like to be a raincloud on people’s hopes for the future, but when they announced the ride closing I knew the volcano would have to go with it. The structure of the scenery and the roller coaster were too intertwined to remove one without destroying the other. I am a big fan of B&M inverts and dive coasters, but I don’t think that either are likely as there are fantastic examples of both just down the road at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. As much as I’d love to see them install another big Intamin launch coaster I feel like the chain doesn’t want to work with Intamin, and we might just be saying BGW has one next year too.
If Kings Dominion goes with a B&M I think the most likely choice is a wing coaster. It would add a unique to the region ride that offers inversions and the free flying action that the park lost when Volcano was demolished. Even though Volcano is in a fairly compact area the lift hill for a new ride could go over the Flight of Fear launch track and use the vacant land on the other side and even continue over to the plot of land next to I305 if they wanted to do a narrow out and back style ride. Another B&M that lends itself to an out and back layout is a hyper. I know I discounted the idea of a dive or an invert because BGW has one, but I think a hyper is always going to be a winner.
I think that as much as I like the idea of a B&M wing or hyper that it could be a very expensive choice. With the fact that the closure was unplanned and they just invested in the Candy Apple Grove area they may not be prepared to spend 25ish million dollars in one of the next upcoming seasons. So where might they find a bargain? They have just worked with Gerstlauer out at Knott's so they could be brought in and build an infinity coaster on the existing plot of land, they have already proved how compact their designs can be, and the vertical lift and drop are a great way to maximize space. Another bargain option could be Chance Rides, they have not been very busy the last few seasons and they could be looking for a way to prove themselves. The almost hyper that was built for Kentucky Kingdom was a bargain at 7 million. Could they use that same technology, track and chassis, to build a larger version that could undercut B&M’s hyper by half? I think the most fun option is to go with another new partner, Rocky Mountain Construction. They could plop the already designed single rail coaster down on that plot of land, as it has a very compact layout. There is also the possibility of a custom creation that could spread out over Flight of Fear into the adjacent property, as we don’t really know how big RMC will go with this new technology, and for what cost.
If I had to place a bet and be decisive I think that we are three years away from seeing a replacement for Kings Dominion, so 2022 is the early side of the development time frame. I think the chance hyper would probably make the most sense as a business decision, but it doesn’t make me as excited as some of the other options that could be vying for the spot. I know there is another possibility, that Volcano won’t be replaced with a roller coaster at all. If that is the case then don’t worry Busch Gardens Williamsburg is just down the road.