Kings Island in Ohio has been thrilling guests this summer with a new mega-coaster by Bolliger & Mabillard. Paul Ruben slithers on down to Cincinnati to sample Diamondback – a world class ride.
After building its reputation with the Beast and Son of Beast wooden coasters, there was a very sure brief for Kings Island vice-president and general manager Greg Scheid when it came to Diamondback: “It was time for a world class steel coaster to be add to the line-up – and we certainly delivered!”
Although the Beast remains a highlight for many visitors, Diamondback is challenging it as the park’s most popular ride, leading Scheid to declare, “we now have a pair of signature attractions that make our park unique.”
Located in the Rivertown area of the park, the $22 million (E15m) steel coaster has been a magnet for Kings Island guests. The queue line for Diamondback on opening day stretched through the park and the longest wait turned out to be two hours and 40 minutes.
Diamondback’s trains feature B&M’s unique, open-air stadium-style seating. “The first advantage is the line of sight that every rider receives when riding with no seating directly in front of you,” Scheid explains. “Secondly, you are sitting very high in the chair with the T-bar restraint lowering into your mid section and eliminating the need of seat belts. No seat belts enhances the riders’ sense of freedom and permits quicker loading and unloading times and thus higher capacities.”
Using three 32-passenger trains, the ride boasts hourly capacity of 1,620. Diamondback is also the tallest and fastest of the park’s 15 rollercoasters. The ride stands 230ft at its highest point with a first drop of 215ft at a 74-degree angle. Diamondback has 10 vertical drops, two helixes, a hammerhead turn and a spectacular splashdown ending. Riders snake their way around 5,282ft of track at speeds up to 80 miles per hour.
“I had the pleasure to be on the first ride back in March along with one of the ride engineers from Switzerland,” recalls Scheid. When we returned to the station we looked at each other and just laughed knowing what a winner we had here with Diamondback. I love the amount of air time this ride created along with the stadium seating which is a first in the United States.”
As you may have guessed, Scheid is a big fan of B&M. When asked about any problems during the construction process, he confirmed there were “zip, zero, none! I had worked previously with B&M on the Hydra project at Dorney Park. Working with Walter Bolliger and his team, I knew the high level of professionalism to expect. B&M was nothing but spectacular to work with on Diamondback and delivered everything either on time or ahead of schedule, including the final delivery.”
But what about that name? “The western diamondback is the king of all rattlesnakes with a fearsome reputation,” Scheid concludes. “They’re big, mean, aggressive and terrifying. The name Diamondback accurately conveys the image of the coaster. It really seems like a coiled snake ready to strike.”
And strike it does. At the end of their ride passengers leave feeling thrilled, excited, and yes, Snake bitten.
In a difficult economy, the addition of Diamondback has been a welcome addition at Kings Island, where it surpassed 1 million riders by mid-July.
“In these trying economic times, having Diamondback to offer has been a great counterbalance,” admits the park’s vice-president and general manager, Greg Scheid. “We have received great media coverage of Diamondback which in essence also promotes the park and all we have to offer here.”
The ride has also helped benefit a local charity. “One of the greatest success stories we have regarding this attraction is A Kid Again,” says Scheid. “We were able to help with a first rider auction and raised $107,000 for this organisation which benefits terminally ill children and their families.”