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East Coast USA - Park 1. Kings Dominion



Hi there, This is just a write up of a trip that I've wanted to do for what feels like my whole life but in reality is about twenty years. When I first really opened my world to theme parks beyond Chessington, Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, there was three rollercoasters that were announced and about to begin construction. Those were Silver Bullet at Knotts Berry Farm, Storm Runner at Hersheypark and Hydra at Dorney Park. Silver Bullet was ticked off neatly a decade ago but a series of events has meant I've been waiting to hit the East Coaster for far longer then I'd have wanted.


With 2022, the year of revenge travel kind of over, wedding done, honeymoon and 12 day cruise done it was time to think about where to go. And I straight away aimed for the East Coast, we got planning and this trip was very much designed around the idea of rest days and giving certain parks priority over others. At Six Flags Great America in 2018. we didn't give ourselves enough time so didn't get to really enjoy our day. A power cut scuppered several rides and it felt like a missed opportunity. Here I set up the trip so that big flagship parks got the time they deserved whilst the smaller ones got a day and less car travel to the next destinations. It went like this


Day 1 - Kings Dominion

Day 2 & 3 - Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Day 4 - Six Flags America

Day 5 & 6 - Hersheypark

Day 7 - Dorney Park

Day 8 & 9 - Six Flags Great Adventure

Day 10 - Nickelodeon Universe

Day 11, 12 & 13 - New York Tourism.




Soo one thing that became clear on this trip is that the weather was not on our side. Unseasonable rain storms were a frequent occurrence and the sky was often grey and rainy. Kings Dominion is very much known for Intimidator 305, the Intamin giga that tries to anhailiate you from the word go. I'd write up about it but we never even saw it move. It was down for the entire time we were there and it would not be the first intamin that didn't open for us. For this park we did actually have fast lane. We wanted a relaxing day and it turned out to be a good move.


We started the day by heading to Twisted Timbers, an RMC that opened in 2018. I really liked it. Chris did not like it. One thing this RMC does differently to the bigger ones is that at only 110 feet, it has a higher emphasis on lots of airtime and twisted track moments. This air time is pretty brutal. You are pushed each and every time into the restraint and you do this about 16 times throughout its layout. I prefer this smarter use of layout design to some of the others (Zadra) but I can understand that the variety is slightly lacking if all you feel like you're doing is being thrown up and down relentlessly. 




Our next ride was a classic, a racing wooden rollercoaster named Racer. As we got there fairly early on, only one side was running but later in the day, both sides were operating with one train a side. I really liked this and it rides well for its age. America has a lot of classic wooden rollercoasters and its nice to see they have retained these orders rides and kept them in such great condition.


To keep up the wooden rollercoaster momentum we went to ride Grizzly which had some rebuilt track work in the last six months. I've come to expect that the old parts of the track are bumpy and the newer parts are silly smooth and Grizzly did not disappoint. It was a peculiar ride, very big but not particularly memorable. Chris loved it. I don't remember much from it aside from the entrance being in a gift shop. 


So far, so good. I was getting good feelings from Kings Dominion. The park wasn't crazily busy and the rides were running nicely. To keep the positivity up, we headed to Dominator, an absolutely huge B&M Floorless rollercoaster that used to live in Geauga Lake and then moved to KD in 2008. iIve seen POV's of Dominator and it always came across as bit weak, like the train just went off meandering with no purpose. it's nothing of the sort and I think it is actually my favourite floorless out there. It is absolutey huge, the vertical loop is a monster but I also like how the layout isn't atypical B&M. The train goes through high speed banked corners, up and over the station, down again with little air time moments peppered in there to break up the pacing. The interlocking corkscrews are full of force. This is a ride that hasn't got restrictions and is unashamedly big and bold. 





We took a dive into some dark ride that used to be Scooby doo themed, now isn't and is just sad. it was walk on so that was fine. We went to ride Reptilian, a mack bobsled which is my last one to do and I've done them all. We were about to get on when a code red was called. All rides were closed because of a thunderstorm in the area. Yes even the indoor ones. So whilst we waited around in absolutely stunning sunshine, nothing moved, nothing could be done. This closure ended up lasting three hours and that long in a park with no rides does take its toll. There was a five minute rain storm in that three hours. We didn't see any lightening or thunder. The park was in no rush to get things open is how it felt. 


We were about to see if there was anything we could do for our fast lane, it's not like we could just come again another day with a weather back guarantee. We then saw Dominator testing so thought we'd head back to intimidator to get on that when it reopened. We saw Backlot Stunt Coaster was back in operation so went straight on with the fast lane. These rides are just odd and I think without the Italian Job theme, just don't work. 


More and more rides were springing back to life. We got on Reptilian which was about what you'd expect from a Mack bobsled, got on Anaconda, a classic Arrow coaster with a terrifying dive into the lake followed by some inversions that I don't even know how the train got through them. We rode Flight of Fear which I was okay with but Chris absolutely hated. Like despised, easily one of his least favourite rides from the trip. At this point I started to lose faith that Intimidator was going to open so we did one last lap of the park getting rides on Racer red, Twisted Timbers, Woodstock Express and Dominator. We called it a day around 7pm, the weather had taken its toll on our enthusiasm to stay and something else was bothering me. The operations at Kings Dominion are not good. Cedar Fair are particularly guilty of running rides at full capacity but have you sitting on break runs for five minutes a go. Cedar Point is about the only place where the staff have energy. Here at KD they were quite happy to leave us waiting whilst they faffed around with something. 


So would I visit again? Not unless they add something of real value. I like Twisted Timbers and Dominator, but they aren't the solid main attraction. Maybe that ride is Intimidator 305. But that being down all day was a frustration that lingered throughout the day unfortunately. 




Thank you for reading.




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