MASON, Ohio -- Never before has a theme park sparked such national speculation over a coaster being torn down.
Whenever a park plans a major new coaster announcement, theme park blogs and forums light up with educated guesses as to what could be coming.
But the marketing folks at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, have just created a first: A frenzy over which of its 12 adult coasters will be coming down at the end of Halloween Haunt in October.
A mock funeral set up in the park -- paired with a tweet -- got the rumor machines working overtime.
— KI Food Blog (@KIFoodBlog) September 22, 2018
The air is eerily calm as we make final preparations for the ill-fated demise of one of our 16 roller coasters. The departing coaster will be revealed later this week. #RestInPiecesKI #ItsBigItsGone #RIP2018KI pic.twitter.com/AhriNUkBRt
— Kings Island (@KingsIslandPR) September 24, 2018
And there's a good reason for the buzz. Enthusiasts have been going crazy for the past 6 months over rumors of Kings Islands' first giga coaster in 2020 (a giant coaster over 300 feet tall), ever since the park began hinting about a return of Son of Beast. (The YouTube channel ThemePark Crazy lays out all those clues.)
The announcement of a new Antique Cars ride in August did nothing to dampen the speculation. Now, with the park saying one of its big coasters will be taken down, many fans believe that is to make way for a giga coaster in two years.
So which ride is going away? The big money is on two coasters, Vortex or Firehawk.
Since the teaser Tweet and photo said "big," that would appear to eliminate The Bat, Adventure Express, Backlot Stunt Coaster, or Flight of Fear. None of them fit the "big" category. The park won't touch the Racer or Beast, or new hits like Mystic Timers and Diamondback.
That leaves two. A majority of voters on Kings Island Central believe Firehawk is destined to have its wings clipped, but no one can be certain until 10 a.m. Thursday.
Why Vortex is coming down
Some coaster enthusiasts believe Vortex will have its last rides this fall. Why?
- Vortex is 31 years old, near the age when coasters need a major rehab. It has a reputations for being the park's shakiest coaster, next to the iconic wooden Racer.
- Vortex's manufacturer, Arrow coasters, is out of business, and replacement parts now need to be custom fabricated.
But wait, there's more. Two major clues can be seen in the photo tweeted by Kings Island.
- The R.I.P sign in the photo says "The air is eerily calm." A Vortex is a strong wind, which may now finally be going calm.
- The tombstone in the back of the photo says Czarnecki on it. Coaster enthusiast Curtis Moreland tells us that a deceased Polish scientist named Kazimierz Czarnecki studied vortex wind tunnels in the 1950's. Why else would the name Czarnecki appear on the stone in the mock funeral?
Why Firehawk is coming down
The runner up in the coaster community for ride most likely to be torn down is Firehawk. A YouTube channel called ParksBros is sure of it. Why?
- Firehawk is a complicated, high maintenance ride that is often down for maintenance. It is also very slow loading.
- Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville just announced a new ride coming next year called Kentucky Flyer. Firehawk is considered a flying coaster. Kentucky Kingdom could pay for teardown costs, and have Firehawk reassembled with a new name, by next April. Kentucky Kingdom also has a height limit of just 200 feet, due to Louisville airport proximity, and Firehawk conveniently fits under that limit.
- Removing Firehawk, and combining its footprint with the neighboring Dinosaurs Alive exhibit (now closed), would open up 20 acres or more for construction of a new giga coaster at Kings Island.
- Kings Island never loved Firehawk anyway, as it was a hand-me-down from the now defunct Geauga Lake in central Ohio.
So which coaster is coming down? Will this announcement be followed next season by official word of a giant giga-coaster replacing it? And could a giga even fit in the small space under Vortex?
We'll find out Thursday. Until then, don't waste your money.
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