Alabama’s Splash Adventure Waterpark has a storied history that until recently had diminished greatly. Last week, the Koch family, noted for their ownership of Holiday World, acquired the waterpark and immediately began formulating ways to restore the park to its former glory. A five year plan was created that will eventually end up with two parks being created, Alabama Adventure and Splash Adventure. What this also means is a return of the Rampage roller coaster that many feel is one of the best wooden coasters in America. Rampage has stood dormant since the previous owners decided to focus exclusively on the waterpark and closed the amusement park section of the park. According to Dan Koch the new parks will be even better than they ever were saying, “We’re going to make this place hum. We’re going to make this the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state of Alabama.” One of the problems facing the new owners is the condition of the amusement park side stating, “The theme park side of it is in pretty bad shape. Getting the Rampage rebuilt and put back in shape is a priority, but we’re not sure when that will be complete.” However, they go on to say that there is a lot to work with at the newly acquired park and it the family is committed to improving it. Koch even joked, “We have a strategic plan that carries us through 2018. The real estate agent has helped me pick out a grave site here. That’s how long I plan on being here. I like it here.”
Before this grand plan can be fully implemented, next year’s improvements deal with another need, family and children’s rides. According to AL.com, the 2014 rides include the Wacky Worm Coaster, Rio Grande Train, Junior Bumper Boats, Mini Helicopter ride, Vintage Boats, and the Laser Maze Challenge. All of these attractions will be added to the Main Street area of the park and will serve as a bridge between the amusement and water parks. Koch also was purposeful in these choices of rides and attractions saying, “In the industry, one of the most under served markets is toddlers. We’re not a kiddie park, but when we started looking at the needs for 2014, that was one that we wanted to address.” Like its cousin Holiday World to the north, the park will offer free sunscreen, water tubes and parking. However, visitors will have to pay a bit more in admission.
After seventeen years, fourteen studio albums, three soundtracks, and a motion picture, Midnight Syndicate is proud to announce that they are teaming up this fall with world famous amusement park Cedar Point to launch their first live performances! Midnight Syndicate Live! Legacy of Shadows, a multimedia horror-themed concert blending live music, theatre, and film will run Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays from Sept. 12 through November 1 at Cedar Point's 18th annual HalloWeekends event.
Midnight Syndicate Live! Legacy of Shadows will mark the first live performances for Edward and Gavin as Midnight Syndicate. In November of last year, the band cancelled their Midnight Syndicate Live! Kickstarter campaign citing an "exciting possible opportunity" that they needed to explore that would result in a "win-win" for both the team and fans alike. "HalloWeekends is the perfect place to launch the first Midnight Syndicate Live! experience," said Douglas. "The venue is awesome and will allow us to fully realize the exciting, one-of-a-kind show we first envisioned. We're also really psyched to be working with a legendary amusement park that Gavin and I grew up with." Charles Bradshaw, Corporate V.P. of Entertainment for Cedar Fair, added, "Working with these industry leading music producers on a live show is an exciting prospect. The final product is going to amaze."
It is still growing and prowling, after all these years. A legend in its own time, it is the holy grail of wooden roller coasters.
The Beast at Kings Island celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2014 and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the ride remains as popular as ever with park visitors.
When The Beast opened to the public April 14, 1979, it was acclaimed America’s ultimate roller coaster. It broke all existing records as the longest and fastest ride in the world. It is still listed in the prestigious “Guinness Book of World Records” as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world at 7,359 feet.
“The Beast is a modern classic, an icon and a benchmark that other wooden roller coasters are judged,” David Lipnicky, public relations director of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, said. “It’s powerful, fast and relentless.”
The idea for building The Beast actually began as a dream of re-creating one of the Midwest’s most popular old coasters.
When Kings Island construction and engineering personnel began planning to build a new coaster, their aim was to reconstruct the old Shooting Star, an immensely popular ride at Cincinnati’s Coney Island before the park closed in 1971. Charles Dinn, director of construction, maintenance and engineering at Kings Island at the time, had surveyed the Shooting Star before it was torn down, and had recorded each measurement of the ride. Dinn and his crew had even chosen a site, right next to the Racer roller coaster.
But Kings Island officials decided that rebuilding an old coaster was not the answer. While agreeing that a new Shooting Star would be great for nostalgia buffs, they reasoned that a newer, better coaster would be even more popular, and have more of a universal appeal. But where would it be built, and what would it be like?
That’s when Kings Island’s management explored many options, and realized that a wooded area at the southeast corner of the park had terrain that could accommodate a very special coaster.
Everything began to fall into place. With 35 acres to work with, there were virtually no limitations on space or length of ride. And with the natural cliffs, ravines and gullies, a coaster could break all existing records for vertical drops, without having to build the complete structure from the ground up. In fact, it would be even more practical this way – instead of leveling a large plot of land, just take advantage of the uneven terrain and build the coaster to fit it. And think of the excitement of a roller coaster that would wind through a forest – sometimes above treetops, sometimes right through the middle of the trees. A ride that would hurtle its passengers to the very brink of a cliff, pull them back, then send them up and down the hills and gullies in the woods! Indeed, it would be a ride that no other park could duplicate.
With genuine excitement, Dinn and his associates began planning the roller coaster. They traveled the country, noting the best features of all of the major coasters. They surveyed the 35-acre Kings Island site, headed for the drawing board, and plotted out the ride on paper. Then it was back to the woods for another look, and more revisions that would make the rugged terrain a help, rather than a hindrance in planning.
But, alas, one final problem: With a ride that lasted more than four minutes, and traveled one-and-three-quarter miles, it was difficult to plan a coaster with enough capacity that was both profitable for the park, and accessible to the guests. If it took forever to get on this coaster, potential riders would give up before ever getting the chance to try it out. Enter John Allen of the
Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Allen came up with a special device for launching the coaster cars, so that more than 1,200 guests could enjoy the ride every hour.
And with that obstacle out of the way, the project began.
The Beast was constructed in less than a year, after two years of research and design – all by Kings Island personnel.
The record-breaking features of The Beast included:
A 7,359-foot long track (1.4 miles) and ride time of four minutes, 10 seconds
Vertical drops of 135 feet (at a 45-degree angle) and 141 feet (at an 18-degree angle)
A 125-foot long underground tunnel at the bottom of the 135-foot drop.
Eight banked turns, some to 45 degrees.
A massive, 540-degree helix tunnel near the end.
Speeds up to 64.77 miles per hour
By the time workmen had completed the massive Beast construction in March of 1979, they had used 650,000 board feet of southern pine lumber; 37,500 pounds of nails; 82,480 bolts and washers and 2,432 square yards of concrete.
The ride was officially, and quite appropriately, “unchained” in a steady downpour on Friday, April 13, in April, 1979, for hundreds of media representatives from around the U.S. and Great Britain. The following individuals climbed about the gleaming red coaster cars for the first official ride:
- Charles S. Meachem, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Taft Broadcasting Company
- Dudley S. Taft, President, Taft Broadcasting Company
- Gary S. Wachs, Executive V.P., Amusement Park Group, Taft Broadcasting Company
- Charles Flatt, V.P. Construction & Engineering, Amusement Park Group, Taft Broadcasting Company
- William C. Price, Vice President & General Manager, Kings Island
- Frank Thompson, Operations Director, Kings Island
- Walt Davis, Director of Park Services, Kings Island
- Charles Dinn, Director of Construction, Maintenance & Engineering, Kings Island
- Bill Reed, Director of Rides, Kings Island
- David Palmer, Director of Marketing, Kings Island
- Dick Fussner, Director of Loss Prevention, Kings Island
- Chris Schaffer, Controller, Kings Island
- Al Collins, Resident Engineer, Kings Island
- Jeff Gramke, Assistant Engineer, Kings Island
- Jimmie Nickell, Assistant Director of Construction, Maintenance & Engineering, Kings Island
- Charles Swing, Maintenance Manager, Kings Island
- Charles Wright, Carpenter Foreman, Kings Island
Members of the media then spent the next four and one-half hours taking turns aboard The Beast, many attaching cameras to special mounts on the front cars to try and capture the sights and sounds of the unique thrill ride.
The Beast has accumulated the following statistics since it opened in 1979:
Each of the trains has traveled a total of 865,133 miles. That’s the equivalent of 35 times around the world!
A grand total of 48,882,975 million rides have been taken by park visitors.
1980 was the record year for the most number of rides. There were 2,150,353!
July 17, 1981 was the record day, with 20,885 riders.
The record hour was 1,680 on June 15, 1980 (Normal capacity is 1,200).
In 2004, The Beast was given the Coaster Landmark Award by the American Coaster Enthusiasts club, an award designed to recognize coasters of historical significance.
“The Beast was the project that really put the wooden roller coaster on the map in the late 1970’s,” National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives board member Richard Munch said. “It was a greatly anticipated and daring venture for its time and when it opened garnered the kind of attention only possible today with the internet and social media.
“The ride delivers on length, height, speed and appeal. It is truly unique and one of the greatest roller coasters ever conceived.”
The Beast was the ultimate dream of every coaster designer and every park in the world. There has never been another one like it.