Kings Island: What to See, What to Ride

Ohio is known for its theme parks, Cedar Point and Kings Island. We’re kind of the king of roller coasters around these parts, to be honest. So if you love coasters and various smaller, but still fun, rides, I would recommend going to Kings Island or Cedar Point, however I have never been to Cedar Point (a tragedy, really), but I can vouch for Kings Island, which is what this post is all about! So buckle up and get ready for an exciting ride (get it?)!

In my opinion, the key to riding roller coasters is to start out small, and work your way up to the big ones. So, upon entering the park, you should start with Adventure Express, or The Bat. Adventure Express has a sort of Indiana Jones theme to it, and has some awesome dark tunnel moments. However, it does not have any big drops, and certainly no loops. It does go pretty fast, though, so I think it’s the perfect way to start off the day of coaster-riding. Alternatively, you could try The Bat, which starts off with a medium sized drop. It’s one of those hanging ones, but still has carts, so your feet aren’t dangling. It doesn’t go upside down, but it goes severely sideways, so it really feels like you’re flying for a minute.

After your starter coaster, I recommend either the Backlot Stunt Coaster, or Mystic Timbers. The Backlot Stunt Coaster is another themed coaster. It’s based on The Italian Job, and the carts are little mini coopers. This one has some awesome elements, like cool props and actual fire, and has a mild drop in a dark tunnel. Mystic Timbers, on the other hand, is a little more intense. It’s their newest addition to the coaster family; a wooden coaster that goes over 50 mph, though it has no major drops or anything, it’s a great way to get some wind in your hair. Smooth ups and downs, nothing too crazy.

Alright, now we’re getting to the big ones! Next on your itinerary should be Flight of Fear. This is an indoor coaster that launches you from 0 to 55 mph in four seconds, sending you into pitch black chaos. It’s got loops, twists, turns, and a corkscrew, all fit into an awesome Area 51 style building with alien and spaceship props. CAUTION: this ride does have a strobe effect. It may trigger an epileptic attack.

If you want to take a break from a coaster but still want a thrill, try Delirium.

This spinning wheel goes 137 feet in the air, so be sure not to ride this bad boy after eating. No surprises here, what you see is what you get. If you’re feeling more of a coaster vibe, no worries, there’s plenty more to come.

Next, I’d go to the best ride in the whole park. The Diamondback. Fly through ten acres worth of coaster at 80 mph and plummet down the biggest drop of any coaster in the park. This thing is as smooth as butter. I cannot recommend this coaster enough, you will want to ride it again and again and again. Diamondback is the one in the photo at the top.

Right after that one, you should check out the Banshee. It is the world’s longest inverted steel coaster, with seven inversions. It also has an excellent drop and goes almost 70 mph. This one is one of the few hanging coasters, so if you don’t like your feet hanging, don’t ride this one.

Taking another break from coasters, the Drop Tower is an enthralling experience, worthy of any thrill seeker’s attention. It is the tallest Gyro drop in the world, making you fall 315 feet at over 60 mph. The view from the top is really amazing, and the fall is even better. DO NOT WEAR FLIP FLOPS, YOU WILL LOSE THEM.

Alright, so, you’ve had a fun day of coaster riding, maybe had some Dippin’ Dots, and you’re ready to go. But before you leave, you should go on Invertigo. This is a coaster that gets right down to business. This is the only coaster that goes forwards and backwards in the same ride (The Racer has one cart that goes forward and one that goes backwards, but not both at the same time). You drop, you do two loops, and you drop again, and do another two loops. It’s a pretty short ride but still a lot of fun. And right after you’re done, you can leave with ease, because it’s right next to the exit!

There are a couple coasters I would not recommend, those being The Vortex, The Racer, and The Beast. These are all extremely jerky and not at all worth it, you will end up with bruises for sure. As for the only one I have not mentioned, Firehawk, I have never ridden that one in all my years of coaster riding, so I cannot speak for it, though I have heard that that one is jerky, as well.

There you have it! My rundown/guide of coasters at Kings Island. If you have kids, they have so many cool kids’ rides that I didn’t mention here, and some pretty good food places, too. Do you have a favorite ride from Kings Island? Or a favorite theme park in general? Let me know, and have a great day!

34 Comments on “Kings Island: What to See, What to Ride”

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to kings island but my favorite coaster was the racer and then the Vortex. The Beast was always jerky and I would get a headache after.

  2. Oh, the Beast used to be one of the classic wooden roller coasters. It’s been a couple of decades since I did theme parks, but I’m a little surprised that smooth exist in the same sentence as wooden roller coaster. I will tell you, they stopped the Beast once on top of one of the big Hills so that we could watch the fireworks over the big forested area that used to be beneath it.
    For flight of fear, I’m a little surprised that they slowed it down. At least they’re indoor roller coaster used to be the fastest one in the park, and it ran like 0 to 70 in that four or five seconds.
    My favorite ride has been closed for about 25 years I believe it was called flight command, and it was a large multi-limbed spinning right with two person cars, Each of which had a joystick that you can use to raise and lower the car and move it back and forth all the way through inverting and doing barrel rolls. Sadly, the cars were not attached well, and over the years several fell off with predictable results

  3. Nice review! I agree with your call on Diamondback. Smoothest roller coaster I’ve ever been on. I do have to stand up for the Beast though! Adventure seekers and wooden coaster enthusiasts need to give it a try. More than 30 years old and still the longest wooden coaster, big hills, tunnels, speed and built into the natural terrain like no other. Yes, it is a rough ride. So make The Beast your last ride of the night. It’s even more scary in the dark, and you only have to suffer the headache for the ride home.

  4. Have to give a shout out to The Bat. Rode it once long ago, and if the line hadn’t been over an hour with rain threatening, i would have gone again. I like the hanging coasters.

  5. I grew up in southeastern Michigan, and trips to Cedar Point were always highlights of the summer for me. That was an amazing place, or at least my teenage self thought so all those decades ago. But I didn’t (and still don’t) ride roller-coasters or other thrill rides. I don’t enjoy being scared, for one thing, and being whirled around in a rattletrap thing that I can’t control sounds like a fate worse than death. To be very honest, by the time I got to the third paragraph of your post, I was just skimming instead of reading, because even just your description of the various coasters at King’s Island is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies.

    I am glad you enjoy it, though, and judging from the long lines at rides like that, you are clearly in good company. Thanks for the guided virtual tour!

  6. I haven’t been to Kings Island since the early ’90s, and back then, my favorites were the Beast, the Racer … pretty much everything except the original Bat. (We would even ride the Beastie if the other lines were too long.) We didn’t trust the Bat even before it had problems.

    But back then, wooden coasters were what you got. Nothing like what they have today – glad to hear that technology has improved substantially.

  7. I love The Beast, but I’m a wooden coaster fanatic, likely due to growing up near Kennywood.

  8. This is a neat column! I’m sending a link to my roller-coaster-enthusiast friend. We live in CA, but there’s no reason she couldn’t take the train to Ohio and treat herself.

  9. Great review Athena. It brought up good memories for me – for Kings Island and Kennywood. Thanks.

  10. A friend of mine (@davecobb) was involved in the design and construction of The Italian Job. He’ll be pleased to hear that you enjoyed it.

  11. Not much of a coaster guy. But when I was living in New Jersey in the 80s, we’d have the little fire-department-sized carnivals go through town in the summer. The roller-coaster there had to be truck-portable and fit into a random store parking lot, so it was a wooden-slat thing that got to about 8′ above ground and went around about 4 times, but was rickety enough to make it worth the ride.
    There’s be a couple of similar rides, maybe a small ferris wheel, lots of seafood and bbq.

    Drove by the downtown/wharfside parking lot one midweek evening, there were elephants parked there. Gone by morning, just passing through. Guess a bigger town rated them.

  12. The Racer and The Beast are both wooden coasters. Jerky is the nature of the beast (sic) and is part of the charm of a wooden coaster; the feeling of things not being quite under total control makes the ride more scary. I’m not sure what The Vortex got wrong to make the list; smoothness is usually a characteristic of steel coasters.

    The original Bat only lasted three seasons in the early 80s and was located where The Vortex is now. The new Bat opened in 1993 as Top Gun, was renamed Flight Deck in 2008 after Paramount sold the park, and finally became The Bat in 2014.

  13. I’d completely disagree about The Beast, it’s a classic record keeper that IMO is the best ride at KI. Yes it’s rough but Adventure Express and the Vortex are WAY rougher. Don’t pass on your chance to ride an amazing coaster… ride The Beast!

  14. I love Kings Island! I’ve never been to Cedar point so I can’t speak for them. My favorite roller coaster would have to be Vortex! I also love the Viking Fury and the Delirium :)… So much fun!

  15. My approach to riding coasters is the opposite: rip the Band-Aid off. Start by going directly to the biggest one you’re willing to ride, if you can. You’re probably never going to be more hyped-up to ride a roller coaster than when you first arrive at the park, and once you manage that you’ll feel invincible when it comes to riding the others. Also, often the lines aren’t as bad if you hit them early.

    Also, I’m not young any more and this stuff physically rattles more than it would a teenager, family stuff also gets in the way, and it’s likely that I’m just not going to be able to ride more than three or four really big thrill rides in a day, so I make sure to get in the key ones I want.

  16. I’ve never been to Kings Island, but its sister park Kings Dominion in Virginia was our go-to big theme park when I was a kid. I was too scared to ride most big rides back then, though, so I didn’t go much beyond sedate kiddie/family rides and shows when I was there. I loved their Eiffel Tower replica.

    I finally got somewhat into roller coasters when I was in college, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg was the local park. But of the coasters that were there at the time, the only one still standing is the classic Loch Ness Monster.

  17. Coaster Fanatic and Season Pass holder. You would do yourself a disservice by not riding the Beast. There are 3 rows per car. Choose the middle seat, it is the smoothest. Diamondback is fun, but nothing compared to the Beast. Ride the Beast at night. I am not saying it isn’t rough, cause it is. But it is by far the best rollercoaster there and designed completely in house by Kings Island and not by a well known coaster company. When you do ride Diamondback, go to the rear few cars, you get way more airtime.

  18. Cedar Point is definitely worth a trip. We’d get up at 4am to drive down from Grand Rapids. Sadly Mean Streak, the big wood coaster, is gone, rebuilt into steel. But Raptor is still amazing. It doesn’t look like much: not that big, not that fast, but brilliantly designed for constant sensory overload. Last time I was there they were trying for a one-day record number of riders, so they were unloading and loading as fast as possible and we went off the ride and back into line immediately, probably got in 5 rides in under an hour.

  19. No, thank you. I was getting nauseous just reading this. I have NEVER been a roller coaster person. One of my earliest memories is of being on one of the mini-coasters intended for kids, accompanied by one of my older sisters, and crying so hard that the operator had to stop the ride midstream and let us off. The relationship has been, er, downhill ever since.

  20. I grew up not that far from King’s Island and always got a Season Pass when I was a teenager. Strangely, though, I’m not really a rollercoaster gal anymore. Maybe I never was, and just went because that was what my friends wanted to do. I do remember getting beat to hell by the Racer though, and fighting off the panic that the rickety noises evoked. It did get my heart racing.

  21. Oh you *need* to go to Cedar Point! I grew up going to Cedar Point and found King’s Island to be relatively disappointing the one time I went, mostly because I favor the huge coasters which Cedar Point had way more of (it’s been…ahem…20 years or so, so things have undoubtedly changed in both parks though!). But do yourself a favor and go to Cedar Point at least once!!

  22. Hmmm I disagree on skipping beast, racer and vortex. I highly recommend riding all 3 and the beast at least 5 times and once in the dark. The beast may be the best coaster at Kings Island and one of the best in the world. I am a season pass holder and also have season fast lane, so take my advice on this. And firehawk is A MUST RIDE.

  23. Athena’s contributions here continue just killing it. But I join in the chorus and say you should go to Cedar Point. The world’s greatest them park. Treat it as an opportunity for journalism amd report back.

  24. Excellent column! Need more like it. Personally, I don’t do roller coasters. Yes, they scare the daylights out of me (but isn’t that the whole idea) because they give me a splitting headache. Must be the G-force or something. One or two coaster rides and i am hors d’combat for the rest of the day. However, Dropzone is a blast. It looks simple because all you do is sit in it and then it drops you 315 feet in freefall. What I found to be the scariest was sitting at the top waiting for it to drop without having something to rest my feet on! If I could place my feet on a platform it wouldn’t be so scary. But having my feet just dangling over thin air that high up is completely un-nerving to me.
    .I hope you do a few more posts on things around Ohio.

  25. I posted earlier, but after rereading this, I really believe your article is off. For one, vortex, racer and beast are great rides and should be rode! Beast is one of the best rides in the world.
    Racer doesn’t go backwards and hasn’t for years. Invertigo is the ROUGHEST ride at the park, so if you want bruised, ride it! I am a good pass member with season fastlane and have rode all these rides 100’s of times

  26. I have had a kings island pass for years and i have to agree that the diamondback is smooth as silk. It feels like your floating. All the other coasters,vortex,beast,adventure express,racers and firehawk are too rough a ride for a older person. I can’t bounce back like i could in my 20’s. I must say tho that mystic timbers is a close second.

  27. I have been going to kings island all my life since my family always gets gold or platinum passes and I agree with most of what you say, but I also have a thing to say about the beast. Yeah the beast is rough and all, but its a great thrill ride and you have to hive it credit, its decades old. I also disagree about diamondback being the smoothest ride in the park. The banshee is a little smoother but not by a lot. I still agree that it is the best ride in the park.

  28. The Beast was my first grownup rollercoaster so I have extremely fond memories of it. I loved the rattly old wooden coasters until I was in my late 20s and then it got to be a bit much.

  29. I miss East Coast/ Mid-West theme parks! The only good one I’ve been to on the West Coast (graded on roller coasters only) is Magic Mountain, outside of LA. It’s a Six Flags, so it’s got good rides, but one look at the structure of the one wooden coaster tells you why there’s not much out here: earthquakes. The wooden coaster has about twice as much wood in it as a comparable coaster back East.

    That said, the park that owns my heart is Hershey Park. Great coasters, good other rides, and, of course, chocolate. I miss that place.

  30. I love this article! As someone who has a fear of coasters somewhat still, I would recommend Flight of Fear BEFORE riding Mystic Timbers. Flight of Fear really gets the adrenaline pumping and then riding Mystic Timbers after, the way you get thrown over the first drop if you sit in the back makes it so much more fun and intense. Sit in the back of Mystic Timbers for the best airtime.

  31. Adventure Express is the one I always walk away from with multiple bruises to my kidneys, particularly as I get older. It might be a height thing–those side panels in the seats hit me in just the right/wrong spots on every one of those hard turns. I like your description of the smoothness of Diamondback, but I *must* take exception to your dismissal of The Beast. That is THE best ride on Earth, and the only thing better than a ride on it during the day is a ride on it after dark. I first rode that thing as a 13-year-old when it opened in 1979, and every time I ride it now I still laugh like a 13-year-old.

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