This park was known as Paramount's Kings Island at the time this trip report was written. The ride names from that time have been left in place in this report.
Our travel today started a little later than planned due to a late finish yesterday. It was almost eleven when we arrived at Kings Island, some two hours before our planned departure time, and we'd probably have aborted entirely but for the fact that we had season passes available. There was only one ride on our hit list, namely Italian Job Stunt Track, which James and Andrew wanted to ride. We'd have been on board in about an hour but for a frustrating twenty minute breakdown that struck just as we were about to board. By the time we disembarked there was only time to grab a quick bite to eat before heading to the exit.
14th August 2005
Stricker's Grove is a tiny amusement park that opens to the public for just two days each year. For the rest of the operating season (which stretches from mid-May to early October) it is available for private hire to groups of five hundred or more. I'd wanted to visit since I first heard about the place and its two wooden coasters, and as such I was quite excited when the entry sign came into view. Both coasters were clearly visible from the parking lot, and as I watched a fully loaded train crested the lift hill of the larger one.
Before I could ride, however, there was an ultra high priority task to attend to. I took out my mobile phone, and transmitted a text message to Martin: Top of the afternoon to you from Stricker's Grove; Hope you're having a fun day in work! Though exceptionally childish, it felt good to get revenge for occasion earlier in the year when the gentleman in question orchestrated a series of over twenty messages from members of the European Coaster Club that arrived while I was in the office earning my modest living. At the time I was mildly annoyed, but also flattered that so many people would consider annoying me to be worth the cost of an international text.
I decided to start my visit with the Teddy Bear (#551), the smaller of the two coasters with a height differential of around forty feet. The ride was pretty much as expected, being fun to ride once but not something worth going out of the way for. Tornado (#552) on the other hand was in a league of its own; the first section of the layout was fairly generic, but an innocent looking hill half way around the course turned out to be the most intense drop I've experienced in my travels, delivering at least -2G and possibly more. Riders were thrown into their seat belts with force, to the point that they would certainly be launched right out of the car without the restraint to hold them in place.
With the coasters complete my next stop was at the Sellner-built Tilt-a-whirl, a classic spin ride that proved far more intense than its diminutive size and antiquated appearance suggested. All three of us were able to fit into one car, and the resulting combined weight caused some powerful rotation with us pinned firmly into the back of the seat. We also did the Flyers, the first time I've tried one of these rides. For those unfamiliar, the cars feature a metal plate that can be moved left and right to provide a semblance of control as the main unit rotates. It took me a while to get the technique, but by the time the ride started slowing down I was swinging in and out with ease. On the way home, Andrew complained later that he wasn't able to do the same, as James (sharing his car) was feeling slightly nauseous from the spinning. If he had done so at the time I would have suggested he ride again on his own, but there's always another day I suppose!
The park is home to an antique Ferris Wheel, and it was this that presented my only real gripe. The logical purpose of a ride like this is to provide scenic views, so why on earth did the owner decide to place it behind some trees? From the top riders can see the roof of the Carousel and basically nothing else. As such the whole thing seemed slightly pointless, something compounded by extremely slow loading (an inevitability on a ride of this age, but no less frustrating). With that done, we decided to repeat both Teddy Bear and Tornado, the latter in the back car. I had somehow forgotten about the mid course drop, and this time round it was actively uncomfortable. Part of the problem was that the clasp of the seat belt hit me hard in the groin, but even without that it was, if anything, too intense. If I ever visit again I'll try to bring padded clothing for extra protection.
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