Kings Island had a hole to fill, and needed to do it in a big way. Ever since the demise of the wooden roller coaster thriller Son of Beast, the park was searching for a suitable replacement. During the summer of 2013, hints began appearing in the park at the former Son of Beast site. Scarecrows were placed around the perimeter, farm owls perched in the trees, and a faint but harrowing scream could be heard by guests touring the area. On August 8, 2013, Kings Island confirmed the rumors and officially announced Banshee, which would be the world’s longest inverted coaster. Opening date was set for April 18, 2014, and the coaster world couldn’t wait. Continue reading for more of our impressions of Kings Island’s newest coaster, Banshee, plus photos and a point-of-view video of the ride.
Post and Photos (except where noted) by Steve Fulkerson
We were lucky enough to attend the Media Day Opening for Banshee on April 17, 2014. Kings Island, owned by parent company Cedar Fair, gave members of the media and 1,500 coaster fans from 28 states the chance to preview this “beast” of a ride.
Legend describes a banshee as a female spirit who wails when someone is about to face violent death, and can be seen washing the bloodstained clothes of those about to perish. Pretty heavy stuff! The question was, could this coaster live up to its name?
Approaching the coaster from the park entrance, the steel structure looms ominously in the distance, towering over nearby attractions.
As the full coaster comes into view, the first thought that comes to mind is BIG. Loops intertwined and flowing, and a track that curves and turns before disappearing over the side of the large hill upon which the coaster is built.
The ride is perfectly themed, from the over-sized ride sign to the gravestones and an eerie Irish-inspired station house.
The ride queue wanders past more gravestones and contains a fitting tribute to the departed Son of Beast which occupied the land a few years prior.
When examining Banshee’s innovative ride vehicles, a brief overview of the coaster’s manufacturer is in order. Banshee was designed by Bolliger and Mabillard (more commonly known as B&M) of Monthey, Switzerland. Since 1990, B&M has designed a number of ground-breaking and critically acclaimed steel roller coasters (including last year’s GateKeeper at Cedar Point). In fact, 24 of the top 50 roller coasters on the Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards “Top 50 Steel Roller Coasters” list for 2013 were designed by B&M.
So it comes as no surprise that the ride vehicles and seats greatly enhance the rider experience. Each train is 8 rows long and seats 4 across. Each seat contains an over the shoulders harness, and this single mechanism locks the rider’s waist in place with a large padded cushion and provides a rubberized padded vest to secure the chest. The vest includes seat-belt-style tensioners above the shoulders to support a wider range of body types. This seat design solves the common problems of over-the-shoulder harnesses, which can cause a rider’s head to bang the sides of the harness and feel tightly constrained.
Once riders are securely locked into each seat, the ride begins by exiting the station and climbing the steep incline to a height of 168 ft. During the climb, the distinct and eerie sounds of a woman’s wail can be heard from the steel above and below. The view from the top is magnificent, showcasing glimpses of Kings Island’s Eiffel Tower, Diamondback, and Windseeker.
But the view is short-lived, because before it can be enjoyed, Banshee plummets through a 180 degree twist towards the earth, bringing you within 8 feet of the ground below.
At a speed of 68 mph, the ride then shoots into a dive loop, which begins as a twist upward and to the side, finally diving towards the ground again in a half loop.
After once again bringing riders way too close to the ground below, Banshee screams into one of the coolest features of the ride, a 126 foot vertical loop circling the first lift hill.
With no time to recover, riders are thrusts into a high zero-g roll right above the queue below, sending the train over the side of the large hill upon which the coaster is built. This is one of the many differentiators of the ride. As it is built to take advantage of the land contour, Banshee keeps building and building speed until it unleashes into the second half of the ride, hurling riders through several complex twists and turns.
Next up, a giant pretzel roll, where the coaster again hits speeds in the upper 60 mph range. The roll takes riders through two inversions, and by this point, up is down and down is sideways. Amazingly enough, it’s not stomach-churning for the vast majority of riders, as B&M has carefully considering twists and inversions to maximize thrills but minimize nausea.
Another quick loop and a turn, and Banshee takes her victims through one of the most heart-pounding features of the ride: the inline twist. At a speed almost too slow to imagine a roll, riders are twisted upside down through an inline complete twist of the track, the only portion of the ride that makes you acutely aware of the new restraining vests!
One final 360 turn, and riders are swooped back into the station, adrenaline still pumping and wondering what just happened!
At this point, some serious cheers ensue, and riders celebrate conquering all that Banshee has thrown at them.
So what did we think? Overall, it was amazing. B&M has truly surpassed all expectations and even gone above their stellar reputation with Banshee. The ride borders on “out of control” from the first drop. At a length of 4,124 feet and a time of 2 minutes, 30 seconds, Banshee feels long enough for some serious thrills, but stops perfectly short of being too much. It’s smooth, ultra smooth, the way an inverted coaster should be. The new ride restraints only add to the excitement and feeling of open, free space. The speed carries from release to finish, and the integration of the sloped site makes the second half of the ride just as intense as the first. Take a look for yourself in Kings Island’s POV video.
The challenge was to develop a thriller, a suitable replacement for the “beast” it would follow. Kings Island and B&M knocked it out of the park. Banshee is an excellent addition to the coaster arsenal that keeps growing at Kings Island.
So can you tame the violent wails of the Banshee? Try, and you won’t be disappointed. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.