Growing up in Mason, Ohio, summer breaks meant two things: Tucker’s Whippy Dip was finally open, and Kings Island was the place to be. Living quite literally in the shadows of KI’s coasters, my family, friends and I would spend summer night after summer night at the popular theme park, riding everything in sight before finally heading home under the glow of the park’s nightly firework shows. While I’ve watched with nostalgia as a handful of my favorite childhood roller coasters have closed and become re-branded over the years, I’ve also watched with excitement as new, wilder versions have been raised into the KI skyline. Today, the park’s record-breaking collection of rides is as amazing as ever. Here’s a longtime local’s look at all 12 coasters winding their way through the Warren County theme park.
Originally opened in 2009, Diamondback measures in as the park’s tallest coaster at 230 feet. Incredibly smooth, and boasting numerous heart-dropping hills, the serpent-themed thrill ride has established itself as a fan favorite from day one. One of it’s more underrated features–individual lap restraints are used in place of over-the-shoulder security measures, adding both a level of comfort and intensity to the already awesome coaster.
While it may not rank among the tallest, fastest or most extreme of Kings Island’s coasters, Adventure Express’ smooth ride and creepy, cryptic scenery make it a fan favorite–particularly among guests who aren’t as keen on some of the park’s more intense coasters. Famous for its dark, howling tunnels and climactic, movie-like ending, the wooden and steel coaster is among the park’s oldest remaining thrill rides, and has a particularly special place in my heart, as I once spent a high school summer working as an Adventure Express employee.
Once named “Top Gun” and decked out in the Tom Cruise movie’s memorabilia, The Bat is another oldie-but-goody in KI’s coaster collection. Reaching top speeds of 51 mph, the swinging, suspended coaster takes guests high into the sky on a chain lift, before sending them soaring through a maze of twists, turns and embankments to capture the illusion of flying. A smooth-sailing coaster, The Bat is intense enough for thrill seekers, yet gentle enough for those who aren’t quite as coaster-crazy.
Kings Island’s second newest coaster, Banshee is just as intense as its spooky name implies. The single longest inverted coaster in the entire world, Banshee sends its riders twisting and turning through a surprisingly smooth steel course of high-speed hills and loops, and ranks among the world’s most beloved new rides for more many coaster-crazed diehards. While it may be one of the park’s newer additions, Banshee has already established itself as one of the most popular thrill rides in KI history.
Perhaps no coaster at Kings Island is as deeply ingrained in the park’s identity as the iconic wooden monster — The Beast. The longest wooden roller coaster on Earth, The Beast has been a fan favorite since its debut in 1979. A long, winding course of high-speed hills and howling, pitch-black tunnels, The Beast is an absolute can’t-miss for coaster fans.
Backlot Stunt Coaster
Originally inspired by the 2003 film The Italian Job, Backlot Stunt Coaster puts riders in the driver’s seat of a Hollywood stunt car. Speeding smoothly along its steel track, the coaster treats guests to a dazzling display of Hollywood-style explosions, splash downs and more cinematic effects, as it shoots them through a dizzying helix, aggressive embankments and more high-thrill highlights. If it’s a smooth, yet speedy ride you’re after, look no further than the Stunt Coaster.
Ever wondered what it might be like to fly? Firehawk, KI’s face-down coaster, is one way to find out! One of the park’s most unique thrills, the 2 minute and 30 second ride sends guests soaring like Superman high into the sky, then speeding right back down into a series of flips, twists and turns sure to get your blood pumping. A word to the wise: take the boarding station’s signs about loose objects seriously. If any Kings Island ride’s going to send your cellphone flying, Firehawk’s the likely culprit.
Flight of Fear
Kings Island’s only indoor roller coaster, Flight of Fear fires riders off for a dark, disorienting trip through an alien-themed abyss. Complete with more loops, twists and corkscrews than you can count, it’s easily among the park’s best bets for thrill seekers. An expert tip: Be ready to ride! Flight of Fear launches riders right from the get-go, and the rapid start can be a bit jarring if you aren’t ready for it.
Visiting the park with a fearful friend? Don’t miss Invertigo, where you’ll have a chance to sit face-to-face with your fellow riders, taking in their every expression as you wind your way through corkscrews, loops and more gravity-defying madness. Another of the park’s steel coasters, it’s as smooth a ride as it is speedy.
Much like The Beast, The Racer is an absolute icon of Kings Island. Originally constructed in 1972, the wooden giant features two separate tracks, each of which feature their own cars. Once riders have boarded, both cars leave the station at the same time and the race is on! It’s a can’t-miss classic.
The newest addition to Kings Island’s killer collection of thrill rides, Mystic Timbers boasts a 109-foot lift hill, top speeds of 53 mph and 3,265 feet of wooden track–giving KI more wooden coaster track than any other theme park worldwide! The biggest buzz surrounding the cryptic new coaster? What’s in the shed? Ride it yourself to find out!
The Vortex may be one of the park’s oldest steel coasters, but it remains my absolute favorite in the park. From its first gravity-defying hill to its dramatic, gut-busting corkscrew, it’s as well-rounded and thrilling a coaster as you’ll find (at least in my opinion). Want to take home an action shot to remember your day at the park? The Vortex’s on-ride camera captures riders right in the midst of an exhilarating loop and is always good for some comical shots.
Ready to experience KI’s coasters for yourself? Plan your visit today at OhiosLargestPlayground.com!