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Trivia / Cedar Fair Entertainment

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  • Troubled Production:
    • In 2000, Kings Island in Ohio built a wooden roller coaster called the Son of Beast. The fourth wooden roller coaster to be built at the park, it was the world's first wooden hypercoaster (coaster with a height between 200 and 299 feet; Son of Beast stood 214 feet tall), the first to feature an inversion (a vertical loop), and the second longest wooden roller coaster in the world behind only its "father" coaster, The Beast, on the other side of the park. Son of Beast was plagued with problems from the start, compared to The Beast. Kevin Purjurer outlines its troubled history here:
      • Then-Kings Island owner Paramount Parks fired the Roller Coaster Corporation of America, the company hired to engineer and build the ride, before the construction was completed and had to make several design corrections in the ride’s initial year. Several lawsuits in the resulting court battle alleged that the ride was being built with subpar lumber, which would contribute to the accidents that led to the ride's closure.
      • On July 9, 2006 at 4:45 PM, a structural failure in the "Rose Bowl" section of the ride (one of the two massive helices) created a bump on the track that injured a full train of twenty-seven riders. Emergency workers were summoned to evacuate the riders from the other train, which stopped on the lift hill. Seventeen people were released from the hospital within five hours of the accident, and two were admitted to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. After an inspection the following day, the park stated that the accident was caused by a crack or split in the wood. The ride was closed for the remainder of the year.
      • The cause of the structural failure was determined to likely be the result of stress caused by the weight of the custom-designed trains built for the ride. Thus, during the 2006-2007 off-season, the ride was heavily renovated. The original trains were replaced with Gerstlauer-built trains from the demolished Hurricane: Category 5 at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion in South Carolina, which were lighter than the original trains and would reduce the overall load on the wooden structure. The loop was also removed during this time to assist the lighter trains in completing the circuit.note 
      • The ride ran with no problems from mid-2007 to early June 2009. On June 16, 2009, a woman claimed to have suffered a head injury from riding Son of Beast during her visit to the park on May 31. She did not report the incident to Kings Island officials prior to June 16. She claimed that, after riding Son of Beast, she had suffered from a burst blood vessel in her brain that required admission to an intensive care unit at a nearby hospital. While no irregularities were found with the ride, it was the nail in the coffin for the Son of Beast, especially when it came to light in lawsuits stemming from the 2006 accident that the park had significantly neglected to properly maintain the coaster. The ride sat standing but not operating for three years, and then was demolished in Summer 2012.
      • In 2014, Banshee was opened on the former Son of Beast site. A grave marker for Son of Beast can be found in the queue line for Banshee. Meanwhile, in 2019, for its 40th anniversary, The Beast saw its trains repainted into a retro red and yellow flame paint job that both resembles the trains as they were when the ride originally opened in 1979, but also somewhat resembles the paint job of the original Son of Beast trains.
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    • Kings Island also laid claim to being the location of the world's first suspended swinging coaster, The Bat, built by Arrow Dynamics and opened in 1981. However, the ride was plagued with mechanical difficulties that caused it to close only two years after opening. One of the problems was that the track was not banked, leading to premature wear on each train's shock absorbers as well as excessive steel stress on both the track and trains (some absorbers had to replaced after only a week of operation). Inspections attributed the flaws to the ride's lateral movement design and brake configuration. As a result, the ride was closed frequently while attempts were made to reconfigure support beams and patch cracks. The efforts proved costly and ineffective, and after assessing the cost of a complete overhaul, the park decided to permanently close the ride following the 1983 season. In 1987, Arrow Dynamics built Vortex on the former site of The Bat, which remained on the site until 2019.
      • One positive thing came out of the failures of The Bat: Arrow Dynamics learned from their mistakes. They went back to the drawing board and improved the suspended roller coaster design in future installations, like actually banking the turns. This was evident when they tried again to build a suspended roller coaster at Kings Island in 1993, known as Top Gun. which has operated ever since then. The ride was renamed Flight Deck in 2007 after Cedar Fair acquired the Paramount parks and lost the licensing. In 2014, to coincide with the opening of Banshee on the adjacent lot formerly used by Son of Beast, Flight Deck was repainted orange and renamed The Bat as a tribute to the original coaster.
      • A side effect of the failures from the original Bat was how it affected The Racer: The Racer began running its right side track backwards beginning in 1982, and it is thought that this move was to accommodate guests who were frustrated over the frequent closures of The Bat. Though only intended for the remainder of the 1982 operating season, the change lasted twenty-six years due to its popularity, only going back to being forwards running in 2008 when Cedar Fair took over the park. Such a "one side forwards/one side backwards" configuration was also used on Racer's sister coasters until the Cedar Fair takeover as well: Racer 75 at Kings Dominion, and the defunct Thunder Road at Carowinds.

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    • Kings Dominion had the misfortune of two roller coasters that had major problems to them, Hypersonic XLC and Volcano: The Blast Coaster:
      • These two coasters were built during the Paramount Parks era. Kings Dominion had two major roller coaster successes with Flight of Fear and Volcano: The Blast Coaster and wanted a launch coaster to surpass those two. Enter S&S Power, who designed their first compressed-air launch roller coaster with the Thrust Air 2000, based off of their drop tower designs. Paramount Parks bought the prototype straight from S&S and christened it Hypersonic XLC (short for "Extreme Launch Coaster")
      • Despite glowing reviews upon launch in 2001, the roller coaster suffered the same issues that Kings Island had with the original Bat due to buying a prototype, the biggest of which were its tires. S&S had designed the tires to use rubber aircraft-like tires instead of the polyurethane tires from their drop towers as it would cause less noise; however, this meant that the tires would go flat due to the strain caused by all of those forces. As well, the I-beams were designed too short, causing cracks to appear from the forces.
      • Despite making numerous modifications and upgrades, Paramount Parks decided it was not worth the hassle of constant downtimes and upgrades and, in 2007, the ride was ultimately shut down and disassembled.
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    • Volcano: The Blast Coaster, meanwhile, had a different history:
      • In 1979, a few years after Kings Dominion opened, a massive ride complex called "Lost World Mountain" opened up, which comprised of four rides: Mount Kilimanjaro, a flat ride; Journey to the Land of Dooz (later rethemed Smurf Mountain), a children's train ride; Journey to Atlantis (later rethemed Haunted River), a flume ride; and The Time Shaft, a rotor ride infamous for having numerous maintenance issues caused by vomit-induced corrosion. While initially popular, by 1993, Smurf Mountain would be shut down with the other rides two years later.
      • In 1996, bolstered by the popularity of Flight of Fear, Paramount Parks would recruit Swiss manufacturer Intamin to build their newest coaster, Volcano: The Blast Coaster. Like Hypersonic XLC, Volcano was also a prototype coaster referred to as a "suspended catapult coaster". Construction would begin in earnest in 1997, completely gutting Lost World Mountain. It was supposed to open in Spring 1998, but the coaster's inability to actually leave the mountain forced them to push back the opening until August, where they had done a stopgap by removing half the seats on the inverted coaster cars. They would be put back next year.
      • Despite its popularity, Volcano was a massive maintenance headache, especially since it was the only suspended catapult coaster ever built — everyone else bought Intamin's cheaper Impulse coaster. This meant getting parts was incredibly expensive and trying to get it fixed proved to be an adventure of its own. In 2006, the ride suffered its first and only major incident when a broken bolt broke and showered debris onto guests, injuring two.
      • By 2018, the ride's 20th anniversary, the writing was on the wall when the ride was shut down indefinitely, its crew sent to other areas and ominous holes appearing on the mountain and, in 2019, the decision was made that Volcano was to be removed. While no one knows exactly why the coaster shut down, many have suggested that the expenses made to keep the coaster running was too much and the possibility of the parts no longer being made meant that it was impossible for Kings Dominion to run it any longer.

    • Geauga Lake's downfall was not something Cedar Fair started, but a problem Cedar Fair inherited.
      • It started in 1995 when Geauga Lake, at the time a small, local amusement park in Aurora, Ohio, forty miles southeast of Cleveland, was bought out by Premier Parks, owners of a number of amusement parks across the US. Three years later, Premier Parks bought out Six Flags and rebranded itself in that company's image, and sought to redevelop many of its smaller parks into full-fledged Six Flags theme parks - and none would be more fully-fledged than Geauga Lake, which was renamed Six Flags Ohio and was envisioned, in its final form, as the largest theme park in the world. It went badly.
      • Things started promisingly. In an effort to compete against Kings Island's new Action Zone expansion (which created Son of Beast and several other thrill rides), Six Flags went on a spending spree at Six Flags Ohio, pouring $40 million into the park in 2000 alone, money that netted the park twenty new rides, including four roller coasters. Geauga Lake became a serious competitor in the theme park world virtually overnight, now competing alongside Hersheypark, Kennywood, Cedar Point, Kings Island, and other regional parks.
      • Nobody felt the effects of Six Flags Ohio's growth more than the park across the lake, SeaWorld Ohio, which had traditionally been the bigger of the two parks in the area and existed in a symbiotic relationship with its neighbor. However, for various reasons (local ordinances, a non-compete clause with the former Geauga Lake park, and simple spite for Six Flags), SeaWorld Ohio couldn't or wouldn't build the thrill rides that were now starting to pop up at its sister parks in San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio. Attendance began to suffer as a result, leading to SeaWorld Ohio getting sold to Six Flags in 2001. Under new management, the two parks were merged into Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, a 700-acre megapark with thrill rides, a waterpark, and all of SeaWorld's old marine zoo. To this day, it was the largest single theme park in history (if one counts the Walt Disney World Resort's multiple parks as separate rather than part of one complex), and on paper, it was perhaps the ultimate theme park, a serious rival to Cedar Point...
      • ...and it was doomed. Six Flags' overinvestment in this and other parks put them deep in debt (the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009), turning Worlds of Adventure into a financial liability despite its popularity. Furthermore, the two combined local parks simply did not have the infrastructure for the Cedar Point-sized crowds that showed up daily. By all accounts, Worlds of Adventure was hopelessly cramped, crowded, and filthy despite its massive size, and given that one of Six Flags' main selling points at the time was cheap ticket prices (at the time, season passes cost only $50), many of the guests were rowdy teenagers and Lower Class Louts who created a bad image in the minds of locals who remembered when Geauga Lake was a small family park. Finally, while Geauga Lake had previously been able to avoid direct competition with Cedar Point and Kings Island by virtue of its smaller size and different market, its mammoth expansion meant that it no longer had that luxury — and given the above problems, the comparisons were not flattering. Attendance crashed by 74% between 2001 and 2004. In spite of this, Geauga Lake was considered by some to have been even better than Cedar Point at its height.
      • The town of Aurora, Ohio, on top of that, was not built for such a massive park. So the city was suddenly rushed to convert two-lane roads into four-lane highways. The park had good attendance numbers, but a lack of hotels in the area (the park's "official" hotel was a local motel) deterred out of state guests, and the sheer amount of traffic and thrill seekers deterred families who thought of the place as a family park.
      • Six Flags attempted to market Worlds of Adventure to the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Detroit markets; Cleveland already had Cedar Point, while Pittsburgh had Kennywood, and it would be a tough sell to convince Detroit guests to go to Worlds of Adventure seeing as for them, that meant having to drive 90 minutes farther than they already had to drive to get to Cedar Point.
      • So in 2004, a financially-desperate Six Flags sold the park to Cedar Fair at a firesale price. Cedar Fair sought to return the park to being a smaller family destination, restoring the Geauga Lake name and removing all of the Six Flags theming and licensed properties. Most controversially, they also closed down the marine zoo that the park inherited from SeaWorld (Cedar Fair does not do animals, period), and for two years didn't bother to put up anything in its place, leaving a slew of abandoned buildings. Only in 2006 did they do something with the former SeaWorld site... namely, turn it into a second water park, Wildwater Kingdom. It's important to note that Geauga Lake already had a water park in the form of Hurricane Hannah's (formerly Hurricane Harbor in the Six Flags days). Many fans of Geauga Lake suspected that Cedar Fair deliberately sabotaged the park so as to remove competition for their flagship at Cedar Point.
      • In 2006, Cedar Fair also bought out Paramount Parks, meaning that they now also owned Kings Island, giving them a monopoly on all three of Ohio's major amusement parks. This spending spree (the Paramount purchase cost $1.24 billion) left them deep in debt, much like Six Flags before them, and to cut costs, they targeted the faltering Geauga Lake for ride shutdowns and relocations. Over the course of 2006 and 2007, Geauga Lake was ransacked for everything from roller coasters to gift shops to food vendors. Most of the rides found new homes at other Cedar Fair properties, and some were scrapped. Eventually, it was announced at the end of the 2007 season that Geauga Lake would be shutting down permanently after over a century of continuous seasonal operation. Wildwater Kingdom, the only part of the park that was still successful, remained open for another nine years before closing for good at the end of the 2016 season.
      • The final insult, as described by Evan V. Symon of Cracked, was the Oktoberfest celebration that Geauga Lake hosted as operations were winding down at the end of the 2007 season. Everybody knew they were about to lose their jobs, and as such, nobody cared about the work they were doing. The only beer served was Budweiser and Bud Lite. The "traditional German music" played at the festival was all ripped from LimeWire and picked simply because it sounded vaguely German, and as such, it included not only Rammstein and a song from Monty Python, but also "Horst-Wessel-Lied" and other Nazi-era songs, which they only found out after somebody who understood the lyrics pointed it out what they were playing over the park's loudspeakers.

  • What Could Have Been:
    • In 1996, Cedar Point built a Bolliger & Mabillard stand-up coaster called Mantis. Mantis was originally supposed to be called Banshee, after the mythical wailing ghost in Irish folklore. In the days following the initial announcement, however, there was some negative reaction from the public regarding the fact that the Banshee is a female spirit that warns of an impending family death. Thus the ride name was changed to Mantis. The original Banshee ride logo would instead end up being used on Steel Force, a hypercoaster at Dorney Park, while the Banshee name itself would be used on an inverted coaster that was built at Kings Island in 2014. Ironically, in 2015, Mantis was converted into a floorless coaster and renamed Rougarou, which itself is a creature in French folklore that draws comparisons to the mythical werewolf.
    • Maverick at Cedar Point is the park's Intamin blitz coaster. It originally had three inversions: two twisted horseshoe rolls in the first half, and then a heartline roll in the second half. The ride's opening in May 2007 had to be delayed two weeks because the track in the heartline roll element put excessive stress on the trains, which also might have caused discomfort to passengers due to high g-forces. Cedar Point thus had to quickly delay the opening by a few weeks so it could be replaced with a simple s-bend. In a touch of irony, Intamin had manufactured alternative track pieces for this segment on the off-chance that the roll needed replacement.
    • At one point in time, Maverick was originally proposed to be a B&M floorless coaster.
    • The Bat at Kings Island was originally going to have a different name from the Top Gun name it opened with in 1993. The name change happened midway through construction in October 1992 when Paramount bought Kings Island and its sister parks.
    • Paramount Parks was the original purchaser of the three Vekoma Flying Dutchmans, which were to be Stealth at California's Great America, plus modified variants at Kings Island and Kings Dominionnote . Due to numerous problems with Stealth, Paramount abandoned the Kings Island and Kings Dominion coasters. Six Flags bought those instead, and respectively installed them at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure / Geauga Lake as X-Flight, and Six Flags America as Batwing, respectively. Ironically, the Flying Dutchman meant for Kings Island did eventually get installed there, but not until 2007 after the Cedar Fair purchase.

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