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Should Kings Island put the SOB out of its misery?

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http://www.theotherpaper.com/substory2.html

 

Should Kings Island put the SOB out of its misery?

 

Experts: Son of Beast ‘just hasn’t worked out’

 

 

By Sara Smith / July 20, 2006

 

 

Movie sequels are never as good as the original. Lela Ali’s boxing style pales in comparison to her papa’s. The new Cleveland Browns have been an embarrassment.

 

And so it goes for Son of Beast, the roller coaster Kings Island touts as the tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster on the planet.

 

Son of Beast was unveiled six years ago as the rightful heir to the Beast, a coaster that has enjoyed a stellar reputation among enthusiasts and casual parkgoers alike since it opened in 1979.

 

But the SOB has proven itself a big, painful disappointment, a triumph of brute force and coarseness over artistry and air time.

 

Now—in the wake of a mid-ride jolt July 9 that sent 27 people to the hospital—industry insiders are asking a question that would have been unthinkable when the costly coaster opened in 2000:

 

Is it time, already, to kill it?

 

“Son of Beast had problems from the very beginning,” said a leading wooden-coaster preservation consultant who asked that his name not be used. “It never should have been built in the first place.”

 

“It’ll probably cost $1 million to tear it down. All you need is a wrecking ball and enough trucks to haul it to the dump.”

 

In addition to this month’s accident, the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Amusement Ride Safety Division reports that two Son of Beast riders sustained broken necks in July and August of 2001.

 

The inspector found that neither of those injuries was a result of ride malfunction. One rider reported a pre-existing condition.

 

But from the start, Son of Beast has had a reputation for unusual roughness and an uninspiring design.

 

The wooden-coaster consultant said that problematic rides such as SOB—tallest, fastest but far from best—can be a result of an overemphasis on marketing, at the expense of engineering.

 

“They made a mistake,” he said. “Marketing won out. You want to maintain that old-timey feel without people coming off with a headache or worse.”

 

For now, the ride is closed as a probe of the July 9 accident continues. Kings Island spokeswoman Maureen Kaiser said the park is more interested in concluding the investigation than deciding the ultimate fate of SOB.

 

But, she added, “It’s certainly not uncommon to see rides replaced. We have had rides come and go in Kings Island’s history.”

 

Over the park’s 34-year lifespan, three coasters have appeared and then disappeared. The Screamin’ Demon, a forward-and-back looping ride, lasted 10 years.

 

A trouble-plagued suspended coaster, the Bat, closed after just four years. And the King Cobra, a stand-up coaster, was dismantled after almost two decades in 2002.

 

Kaiser said that the park has made a variety of enhancements to Son of Beast. During the 2005-06 offseason, she said, the park added additional supports and removed one car from each train to limit wear on the track.

 

“We are constantly working on that ride,” she said. “The future of this ride is something we will look at.”

 

Because Cedar Fair, the amusement park conglomerate that owns Cedar Point, has just purchased Kings Island from CBS, the consultant said this is the perfect time to euthanize the SOB.

 

Tearing down a high-profile coaster is less of a PR embarrassment when you aren’t the one who built it, he said.

 

“Son of Beast was an expensive ride, but they can say, ‘It’s not our money.’”

 

But another leading industry consultant doubts the Son of Beast is in imminent danger.

 

“This ride was $21 million when it was built,” said Dennis Speigel, a consultant for International Theme Park Services Inc. “They are not going to take it down.”

 

He believes park officials are more likely to modify the coaster to make it smoother and more enjoyable.

 

Such an overhaul could be done for a fraction of the money Cedar Fair would invest in demolishing the SOB and replacing it with a new coaster.

 

“It’s a matter of economics, redesign and marketing,” Speigel said. “It will definitely see redesign. It’s too big an attraction, and it was too expensive to tear down.”

 

David Althoff Jr., a coaster enthusiast and member of the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials, remembers a successful coaster modification project at Kings Island in 2001.

 

“Flight of Fear was converted, with modifications, from the worst ride in the park to the best,” Althoff said.

 

He said the seats on Flight of Fear, a looping indoor coaster, went from flat to contoured to hold riders in place, and a switch from shoulder restraints to lap restraints kept people from cracking their heads when they went into a curve.

 

“Maybe it’s possible to do that with Son of Beast,” Althoff said. “If you can get it fixed, word will get out and it will become popular again.”

 

Robert Niles, former Disney World employee and webmaster of Theme Park Insider, disagrees with Althoff and Speigel. This is a chance, he said, to remove a coaster that does little for the park’s reputation.

 

“I think if they tore it down, not a whole lot of people would miss it,” Niles said. “So many people have complained about Son of Beast, on so many websites, for so many years.”

 

The wooden-coaster consultant said coaster enthusiasts have complained that SOB lacks the fundamentals that make a coaster worth riding. Air time—the weightlessness created by negative G-forces at the crest of a hill—is something the SOB has never delivered.

 

“It’s just big and fast and bumpy, and it has no air time,” he said. “Son of Beast has the trick of being rough and boring at the same time.”

 

Niles said Son of Beast is at the bottom of his to-ride list at Kings Island. Yes, wooden coasters are traditionally rougher than their steel counterparts, but there’s a line, and he thinks SOB has hurtled over it.

 

“Son of Beast was supposed to top the Beast,” Althoff said. “It just hasn’t worked out.”

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I wouldn't necessarily miss SoB if it was torn down - Papa is still the main draw to the park for me.

 

The only part that really needs reworked or even removed, structure wise, is the rose bowl. They could always just put in a twister type layout that eventually leads to the loop.

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Uninspiring Design!?! :angry: That is about the biggest load of crap I've read in a while. I have always thought that SoB has an awesome design to it. The coaster looks magnificent from the birds eye view. If it was modified to be more smooth it would be perfect. Personally I love the roughness. I just feel sorry for the people in seat 1 and 3 of my car.

Edited by AgentSoB

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But another leading industry consultant doubts the Son of Beast is in imminent danger.

 

“This ride was $21 million when it was built,” said Dennis Speigel, a consultant for International Theme Park Services Inc. “They are not going to take it down.”

 

He believes park officials are more likely to modify the coaster to make it smoother and more enjoyable.

 

Such an overhaul could be done for a fraction of the money Cedar Fair would invest in demolishing the SOB and replacing it with a new coaster.

 

“It’s a matter of economics, redesign and marketing,” Speigel said. “It will definitely see redesign. It’s too big an attraction, and it was too expensive to tear down.”

 

I heard Speigel's interview on News 5 - the redesign could mean slowing down... i.e. trim brakes.

 

Even when/if Son of Beast reopens, it'll never be the same again.

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But another leading industry consultant doubts the Son of Beast is in imminent danger.

 

“This ride was $21 million when it was built,” said Dennis Speigel, a consultant for International Theme Park Services Inc. “They are not going to take it down.”

 

He believes park officials are more likely to modify the coaster to make it smoother and more enjoyable.

 

Such an overhaul could be done for a fraction of the money Cedar Fair would invest in demolishing the SOB and replacing it with a new coaster.

 

“It’s a matter of economics, redesign and marketing,” Speigel said. “It will definitely see redesign. It’s too big an attraction, and it was too expensive to tear down.”

 

I heard Speigel's interview on News 5 - the redesign could mean slowing down... i.e. trim brakes.

 

Even when/if Son of Beast reopens, it'll never be the same again.

I agree, IF it does reopen, it will most likely go down the path Flight Commander did. So what they should do is sue the companies that built Son of Beast, and then have PTC build a new Son of Beast. AS it looks now, its going down the same path Bat did. I would also change Fairly Odd coaster back to Beastie.

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I believe the park already sued RCCA for Sonny's problems shortly after it opened.

 

Just wishful thinking but since Gravity Group is located in the area and they built that kick butt Voyage at Holiday World - just think of the possibilities.

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But another leading industry consultant doubts the Son of Beast is in imminent danger.

 

“This ride was $21 million when it was built,” said Dennis Speigel, a consultant for International Theme Park Services Inc. “They are not going to take it down.”

 

He believes park officials are more likely to modify the coaster to make it smoother and more enjoyable.

 

Such an overhaul could be done for a fraction of the money Cedar Fair would invest in demolishing the SOB and replacing it with a new coaster.

 

“It’s a matter of economics, redesign and marketing,” Speigel said. “It will definitely see redesign. It’s too big an attraction, and it was too expensive to tear down.”

 

I heard Speigel's interview on News 5 - the redesign could mean slowing down... i.e. trim brakes.

 

Even when/if Son of Beast reopens, it'll never be the same again.

I agree, IF it does reopen, it will most likely go down the path Flight Commander did. So what they should do is sue the companies that built Son of Beast, and then have PTC build a new Son of Beast. AS it looks now, its going down the same path Bat did. I would also change Fairly Odd coaster back to Beastie.

Wait I just come up with better idea, also tear Top Gun down, and make Son of Beast even biger, and better!

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I'd hate to see it torn down. It's always the first thing you see as your entering the park, then the last thing you see as you exit. Tearing down SOB would be like Cedar Point taking down Magnum, Millenium force, top thrill dragster, ect...

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I never been on SoB, but I think that the ride needs to be rebuilt by Gravity Group.

The helixes should be replaced with airtime hills.

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I agree, IF it does reopen, it will most likely go down the path Flight Commander did. So what they should do is sue the companies that built Son of Beast, and then have PTC build a new Son of Beast. AS it looks now, its going down the same path Bat did. I would also change Fairly Odd coaster back to Beastie.

I agree that it should be taken out. Also I didn't no PTC still built coasters, I thought they just made wooden coaster trains.

 

-Jake

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No, PTC, as Philadelphia Toboggan Company, once did build wooden coasters, with designers like Frank Hoover and John Allen (the latter designed The Racer and many others). The company later got out of the coaster building/designing business, but under owner Tom Rebbie, they became Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters and still make wooden coaster trains and fin brake systems. They even make a train for steel coasters - I beleve there is one in operation somewhere in the USA.

 

http://www.philadelphiatoboggancoastersinc.com/

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