Cause This Is Thriller… Thriller Night

I’m excited to hang out with my best friend this Sunday and we’ve chosen to spend the hot summer day at Kings Dominion, a theme park in the heart of Virginia. I have been to Kings Dominion many times. My family enjoys the park so much my mother, sister and I purchased season passes for the place. Not only does it give free parking, but we get early admission to the two rides currently running AND we can leave at 1 PM if we wanted to and not feel like we wasted any money. These passes are the best investment. Kings Dominion has become a staple in our summer vacation plans, and on behalf of the season, I will rank the theme parks *16 thrill rides from snooze to ya-hoos!

The ranking is based on structure of the ride, speed and overall thrill.

16. White Water Canyon

The ride isn’t scary, but on a hot day the line of people waiting to get on sure is. Capable of holding six people, the raft washes through rapids as water splashes on the unsuspecting rider, but in the end everyone is soaked. My mom has blogged about this ride before and you can read about it here. There isn’t much left to say about the attraction, although it is one of the rides I will go on for multiple times in a row without getting a headache.

15. Ricochet

Ricochet is, for some reason, a big hit with kids. The line is short to medium on good days, but sometimes the line is just way too long and not worth it. The coaster car is small and green and fits four people. Kings Dominion highlights Ricochet’s “thrilling 50-foot-drop.” Just reading it makes me snicker. 50 feet isn’t much. It’s probably more aimed towards children or people with acrophobia. However, Ricochet has tight swerves enough to make my mom feel nauseous. Nonetheless, it’s a cute ride to go on with your friends when the line is ridiculously short, but if the line is past the stairs, don’t bother waiting.

14. Backlot Stunt Coaster

My family hadn’t started riding Backlot until a couple of years ago. The coaster’s ninth anniversary was recent – May 27th. Backlot is based on the car chase scene of the movie, “The Italian Job” and riders are transported through twists and curves in MINI Coopers. The ride is a bit rough/jolty, going 40 mph into a dark inside portion that pushes you against the restraint bar. This ride would be a bit higher on the list if not for the annoying theatrical break in the middle where sounds of rapid gun shot reign.

13. Rebel Yell

Although my mom and I personally love this wooden coaster and it was my sister’s first “big kid” roller coaster, Rebel Yell just isn’t as extreme as the other rides Kings Dominion offers. The two rival trains travel up to 54 mph as they race each other up and down the hills. Rebel Yell is more of a family favorite, a must ride coaster rather than a will for a thrill.

12. Shockwave 

Besides the coaster being painted my three favorite colors (orange, blue and green), Shockwave only has one thing going for it: it’s a stand-up coaster. Imagine plummeting face first on an 84 foot drop and then zooming into a vertical loop followed by a double helix. There are a couple of unattractive things about Shockwave: the seating is a bicycle seat where the safety bars are boxing your chest in and there is a weird crotch bar to keep your abdomen in place and not flopping around. To be honest, it’s an uncomfortable seating arrangement and it’s one of the scariest things about the ride, just making sure you’re as snug and safe as could possibly be.

Shockwave, and it’s predecessor, Galaxie, have each experienced an accident that has resulted in death (both were a result of the rider’s own actions.) Shockwave had two incidents in the late nineties involving the train’s restraint systems, where both patrons freed themselves, one surviving, one not.

Nonetheless, the only thing scarier than the restraint system is the unnecessarily long line the ride always seems to have.

11. Flight of Fear

Flight of Fear is a great ride, but similar to Shockwave, only when the line is short. Flight blasts out of the loading entrance into a dark tunnel and spits the train out in a dark room with faint lights. The coaster seems really compact inside the building lasting only 65 seconds and leaving me with a minor headache. Flight of Fear edged out Shockwave for it’s speed of 54 mph, vertical loops and inversions. Plus, it’s an indoor roller coaster which has an awesome extra terrestrial landing theme and the air conditioning is key on a hot day.

10. Hurler

Hurler would have been higher on the list if it didn’t hurt so much. The coaster got it’s name from the movie “Wayne’s World” when Paramount owned the park, however, Cedar Fair are the new owners since 2006 and kept the fitting name. Riders are thrown around bends and the hills of the coaster provide hair raising airtime, sure to scare anyone they’re about to fly out of the seat. My family has been to the park at least four times already and we haven’t gone on the wooden coaster since 2013 because the Hurler was under renovations in 2014.   Hurler is a pretty good ride and it scares me enough to put my glasses in the storage bins so they won’t fly off during the sharp turns.

9. Anaconda

~My Anaconda don’t, my Anaconda don’t, my Anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got GUTS hun!~

Anaconda is one of my favorite rides and was my first upside down coaster. Although the snake isn’t as fast as other roller coasters, it adds an intensity to the ride. Seeing the tracks in front of you and worrying if there is enough speed to get through the vertical loops and inversions is scary. Anaconda has an underwater tunnel, which was the first in the world to be featured in a looping roller coaster. The attraction replaced a previous reptilian ride, King Kobra, in 1991, and has a 144 foot drop. Don’t get me wrong, Anaconda is a great ride, but sometimes its a little bit too slow and there are other bigger and badder rides to get in line for first.

8. Grizzly

Grizzly is similar to the Hurler – it hurts, as riders are thrown against the sides of the car and are most likely to get a bruised elbow. Thank goodness for the restraint bar and the required two clicks, although I always try to get a third to have ultimate safety. Grizzly is the type of ride, if you put your hands in the air, you feel like you’re in flight (although I advise to not put your hands up because the tree branches hang so low.) The air time combined with the steep hills gives the Grizzly just enough to top the Hurler, because every time I ride the Grizzly I pray it’s not my last.

7. WindSeeker

I’ve only rode this a couple times and each time I kept my eyes straight ahead. You slowly spin at 30 mph as you rise to the top of the 300 ft tall structure. The thrill comes from the seats, the height and the speed of the ride. The seats wobble in the wind, the slow speed kills me because I just want to get down and I won’t even dare to look at the ground. This is one of the rides I know I would die from a heart attack before hitting the ground. Screw that. I’ll take an intense roller coaster over this slow death trap any day.

6. Dominator

Yes, the ride is smooth. Yes, it “holds the world record as the longest floorless roller coaster at 4,210 feet.” But the ride isn’t a staple like it used to be. Dominator is best at night in my opinion, especially when Kings Dominion does the 10 pm fireworks. I like this ride because it seats four riders along side each other, so you can sit with all of your friends. Each seat and section offers different experiences: You can sit on the wings and have your feet completely dangle on the edge of the coaster, you can sit in the back which is a little more bumpy of a ride, or wait for the precious front row and take a nose dive over the 148 foot drop. Dominator is great, but when the line starts wrapping around, I can pass.

5. Drop Tower

There is nothing like ascending 272 feet, seeing miles of forest and factories and being dropped at 72 mph with screams to be heard and feel the wind through your clothes. Drop Tower at Kings Dominion gives such a rush of adrenaline as you look to your pals on your left and right and hope it won’t be your last moment alive. Ok, so it’s not that dramatic, but the ride does perpetuate fear. It’s like you’re at the top of the world and then you’re plummeting to the ground, like you were shot out of the sky. The line for Drop Tower usually isn’t long and even though the ride is only 90 seconds, it is worth the wait.

4. Berserker

When I was little I always looked at this ride and thought: NOPE. But a couple summers ago, my best friends and I  agreed to ride every (free) thrill ride in the park and Berserker was our last destination. By that time I had rode every ride in the park at least once in my life time and I knew I had to take down this one too. Berserker is a swinging viking ship which makes several vertical loops, but takes such a long time to flip over. This is one of the rides where I have to close my eyes most of the time because I do not want to see the world flipping below me. Berserker has excellent safety restraints; I feel like I’m really wedged in there and I won’t slip out, which is great because the farther back on the ride you sit, the more air time you experience. Berserker itself lasts under three minutes, but the ride feels much longer as you are tilted almost 180° and feel the blood rush to your head. I would definitely go on the attraction again, but I might need to rest a bit afterwards.

3. The Crypt

I have only been on this ride once and do not plan on going on it again, unless I’m feeling crazy wild. When The Crypt opened in 2005, I remember being so scared of that monstrosity and the way it flipped all of the poor riders aboard. But one summer, I had just the right group of friends who were crazy thrill seekers and I had the same feeling I did for Berserker: Might as well get this one out of the way. The Crypt starts curving up ward and it suspends you in the air and then wham! Your seating cartridge spins and you’re doing barrel rolls in the air while the whole ride spins you. It’s hard to explain so here’s a video.

The Crypt made it past Berserker because of the spontaneity the ride has to offer. How many times will we roll over? How many times will we spin? The Crypt makes the Berserker look like the outdated viking ship it is.

2. Volcano: The Blast Coaster

Could one of you guys tell me a more awesome feeling than being shot out of a volcano? This ride makes me feel like I’m lava about to spurt out of the mouth of the earth. This is the ride people wait in line for. This is the ride whose queue means nothing until you can sit your butt in one of the train’s seats and think I made it, This was worth the wait. Volcano lasts only 70 seconds but nothing is more enjoyable than flying through the four inversions, the half corkscrew and the quarter loop.

My sister and I were once lucky enough to ride two times in a row without having to get back in line. It was awesome. Kings Dominion knows the line for the Volcano can be strenuous and lengthy so they added television monitors which show music videos, news and park trivia. Volcano opened in 1998 and is still a popular ride in the park. It even blasts fire after you have safely turned the bend, although I do always wonder if some freak accident were to happen where the fire ignites earlier than it is supposed to… But alas, Volcano rocks because this old dog has to be doing something right to attract such a long line of people. Volcano is one of the rides you can’t pass up, even if the line wait time is five times longer than the ride time.

1. Intimidator 305

The top thrill ride has to be Intimidator 305, inspired and themed by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, nicknamed The Intimidator.” The coaster’s first drop is a whopping 300 feet as you soar down an 85° angle at 90 mph. Then you zoom through sharp turns and twists and can barely keep your eyes open because the force is just too much for your eyelids. A number of riders were experiencing blackouts during the ride and I’m very happy to have never been a victim to it. The ride is very smooth, as it feels like you’re just gliding along the tracks. Although not my favorite, as it is a roller coaster I can skip now and then, Intimidator 305 is the number one thrill ride at Kings Dominion (in my opinion) for it’s gulp causing, spine tingling, heart wrenching drop (it’s the best part of the ride.) Plus, the line is rarely long (which gives the attraction major bonus points!)

And there we have it, all 16 thrill rides located at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia (excluding Grand Prix Raceway and Xtreme Skyflyer because both of those cost extra $$ and who has time for that?)

Note: all of the rankings were based on my opinion and personal experiences on the ride. NoteNote: None of the pictures are mine. I couldn’t find who was the owner of the pictures.

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