Kings Island: Still Fun 33 Years Later!

posted by Momo Fali on August 16, 2012

Back in 1979, when I was eight years old, my cousins and I piled into my aunt’s station wagon with a cooler full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a half-dozen flavors of Faygo. It wasn’t our first trip to Kings Island, also known as the largest amusement park in the Midwest, but it was the first time we were going to ride THE BEAST–the longest, and arguably to this day, one of the best wooden roller coasters in the world.

I remember the anticipation lasting for the entire drive and during our ride on the “warm-up” coaster called The Racer. By the time we were finally in line for The Beast, our excitement was almost unbearable. We were terrified, we were giddy, our emotions were up and down like…well, like a roller coaster. The mood of everyone in line was positively electric.

And, that ride lived up to every bit of our expectations.

For over four minutes, we were sent screeching along the wooden track, hurled into the woods, thrown around deep banks and into underground tunnels. The fact that we were moving at a speed of 65 miles per hour on the track you see in this picture, made the ride all the more exciting. That’s not steel, folks.

It was a thrill-ride like no other. And, thirty-three years later, it still is.

Now, I take my own kids to Kings Island and this year my son was finally tall enough to ride some of the bigger coasters, including The Beast. Kings Island has an amazing area for young kids (and I’m not just saying that; Camp Snoopy has been rated the “Best Kids Area in the World” for 11 consecutive years by Amusement Today), but my son is ten years old and has been mentally preparing to move on to the big rides for at least three years.

But that didn’t mean there wasn’t fear in the air when he finally got in line for The Beast.

Don’t let him fool you. He loved it.

Not only did my little 48-incher ride The Beast, but also Vortex, which contains two vertical loops, one corkscrew, one boomerang turn, and a 360-degree helix. He rode that one three times. We were extra grateful for the wristband which identified that he had been measured at Guest Services, so we didn’t have to wait for them to check his height on every ride.

Then there was Drop Tower .

That’s my daughter sitting in unlucky seat #13 and our friends, on either side, who were brave enough to ride 315 feet up, only to be dropped down the tower at 67 miles per hour. I took pictures. With my feet on the ground

Fortunately, Kings Island has a rating system in place to help any visitor choose their park adventure, grading rides on a scale from Low Thrills (1) to Aggressive Thrills (5), so if you think that rides like Drop Tower (5) seem too adventurous, you can ride Scrambler (3) or take a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower (2).

I love that Kings Island has been bringing me decade upon decade of fun and laughter. I love that my kids can experience and appreciate the same things I did when I was their age. I love that despite the generational gap, my teenage daughter and I both speak the same language when we’re on a roller coaster. But mostly, I just love The Beast.

And, I’m pretty sure I always will.

Are you a Aggressive Thrills rider or a Aggressive Thrills photographer when you go to amusement parks?


  • Jen Correa @ Mom's Gotta Run

    Umm, clearly the best wooden roller coaster is the Cyclone, said everyone from Brooklyn. 🙂

  • Sarah

    I want to go on the Beast! We love Valleyfair here in Minnesota, but I think Kings Island has been added to the list for a road trip!

  • Melisa

    That picture of your boy (was going to type his name but stopped myself because I can’t remember if you do that here! gah) has a Jerry Lewis feel to it. Love it! 🙂

  • Caroline

    OMG The Beast! KI is still awesome! Hubs and I went a few years ago pre-kids and it was so much fun. But why did I get a splitting headache an hour into it? Am OLD.

  • mrs4444

    I’m not much of a thrill-seeker, ride-wise; I stick to the movie theater for my thrills.

  • Sharon Graham

    Love his expression!! Me on the other hand…. I am perfectly fine with the Planet Snoopy and my kiddo is too. And … eight in 1979 makes you…. 29! You look awesome!


  • Lisa Daly

    I can do the roller coasters but anything that spins you around like crazy is not for me. Tilt a whirl, even the giant swings, no thanks. But the BEAST in the front row, YAY!

  • Arnebya

    I am a complete aggressive thrills rider and screamer. In fact, we’re headed to Kings Dominion this weekend because I can’t wait to share it with my girls: the memory of a 2 hour drive into deep Virginia with fried chicken and potato salad in a cooler in the back, and the Grizzly! That’s our rickety wooden coaster and as scary as it is when it goes through the woods knowing full well it’s been scarily shaking on that wood since the late 80s, it’s also fun as hell!).

  • Laura @Travelocafe

    Oh, it was such a ride to read your post. You had so much fun that it is intoxicating.

  • Dawndi

    Fun! Your boy is adorable.

    I remember ‘back in the day’ riding the Beast and having a headache afterward. We probably grew up going to the same parks, since I am from Northern WV. I’ve been to Cedar Point (owned by the same company as KI) many times and also Geauga Lake (remember that…near Kent, OH…across from the old Sea World?) My dad used to take his freshman class every year back when he was a junior high (7-9) principal and we would get to follow the bus in our station wagon.

    Anyhoo…I used to be a thrill ride person, but I’ve become a wimp over the years.

  • Jamie@southmainmuse

    I would love to ride the beast. And you probably could coax me on the Vortex with the promise of a funnel cake. But I do not like those drop straight down rides. No way. Looks like my idea of a great day.

  • Mairead

    King’s Island looks fantastic and the Beast must be an amazing thrill. It is not too far from me in Louisville, so I must make sure to take a trip with the kids. Next summer my triplets will be six, so they should be tall enough for most rides. Glad you had a fabulous day.

  • Lindsay

    You had me at Faygo! Do they still make it? I can’t find anyone in the south that knows what it is.

  • Vicki

    Love your photos Diane… you should definitely take more! 🙂

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