Saturday, April 29, 2000

'Son of Beast' gets thumbs-up

Coaster debuts to screams and stomach turns

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alex Valentine, 14, of Mason, shows his excitement after riding 'Son of Beast.'
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        MASON — Paramount's Kings Island's much-heralded Son of Beast coaster lived up to the legend of its namesake Friday, sending guests racing downhill at breakneck speed and turning stomachs.

        About 200 riders — including members of the American Coasters Enthusiasts (ACE) — previewed it before the park opened to the general public at 5 p.m. Many were there by invitation, some as early as 5:30 a.m.

        What they found in Son of Beast didn't disappoint.

        “I'd say dear old dad should be pretty proud,” said Don Helbig, an ACE member. Mr. Helbig holds the Guinness Book record for most rides on a roller coaster with 11,111 on the park's Racer.

Riders go through the 118-foot loop.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        “When I first heard about Son of Beast, I was a little hesitant because a lot of parks have tried to replicate The Beast and have come up short,” he said. “But this ride has exceeded all of my expectations.”

        While The Beast retains the title as longest wooden roller coaster in the world, Son of Beast sets records as the tallest and fastest and the only wooden coaster with a loop.

        Riders on Friday found the coaster's path fast and furious: Up a 218-foot hill for a downhill plunge at 78 mph into a series of banks and two 540-degree helixes before rocketing riders through a 118-foot loop. By the time it's over, riders have been on a 3-minute, knee-wobbling trip.

        “It's nothing but non-stop speed,” said Kaitlin Nordloh of Indian Hill. “It's the scariest ride I've ever been on in my entire life.”

Riders come out of a 540-degree helix before reaching the loop.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        As early as 2:30 p.m., coaster fanatics from the general public were storming the gates at Kings Island to get a taste of Son of Beast. A line stretching more than 280 yards had formed in front of the ride by 5 p.m.

        Fans, however, began to get a little antsy when some minor adjustments to the ride delayed its debut by more than two hours. But once the gates were opened, frenzied thrill-seekers poured in, cheering and screaming “SOB, SOB.”

        The ride finally opened about 7:15 p.m.

        “I waited five hours to get on this thing and it was worth every minute,” said Mike Heller, 15, of Mason. “This is the most awesome ride at Kings Island.”

        Theo Aivazian, 44, of Union Township, claims to have ridden just about every roller coaster in the country. He said, “Hands down this is the best ride that I've ever been on.”

Take a tour of 'Son of Beast'

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