September 25th had been circled on my calendar for quite some time. Not because of an exam or anything, but because this was the day that TPED was going to Kings Island.
TPED, or Theme Park Engineering and Design at Purdue, is a club of roller coaster riding, attraction designing, and fun loving folks. We had picked the 25th to travel from Purdue all the way to Mason, Ohio to ride roller coasters and have a fun time together.
Our group of 49 left Purdue a little after 8:00am. I hopped in my car with Ethan, Jonah, Sam, and Austin. The drive over was long but uneventful, except for the time when my car, Maddie’s car, and Ethan Perry’s car all managed to be back-to-back-to-back during a spot of traffic. We took advantage of the situation like all college students would; sticking our hands out the window and playing Charades.
TPED arrived at Kings Island just after the park opened, and after a group picture we hustled over to the roller coaster Orion. In only its second year of operation, Orion is already a fan favorite at Kings Island. Any self-respecting coaster enthusiast would be compelled to tell you that while Orion is only 287 feet tall, its drop is 301 feet qualifying it as a giga coaster. But I digress.
We arrived at the coaster and filled up an entire 32 person train. This was a notable ride because it was both Maddie’s and my first time on Orion. I was ecstatic as we rode up the lift hill. Maddie, with a fear of heights, was not. But after the ride dropped us into the valley below, soared over hills, and twisted around curves at speeds over 90 miles an hour, Maddie exclaimed “Why didn’t you tell me that this was fun?”.
Let that be an encouragement to all of you who second yourself on rides. Just try it.
After this ride, our group of almost 50 split and started wandering around the park. Kings Island has 11 major roller coasters, and I’m sure most of us in TPED had plans to ride them all. Notable Kings Island roller coasters are The Beast, a behemoth of a wooden roller coaster that stretches far into the Ohio countryside, Diamondback, a steel roller coaster with numerous dips and hills that ends with a splash down into a small lake, Banshee, an inverted steel roller coaster with multiple inversions, and the aforementioned Orion.
While waiting in line for the Backlot Stunt Coaster, Jessica met a young boy with a heart for roller coasters. He enthusiastically told her all about how he wanted to build roller coasters when he was older, or more accurately, be the boss of the people who build roller coasters. I suppose I should send him my resume. His dad mentioned that the moment he rode his first roller coaster he started eating as much healthy food as he could so he would get taller faster. I’m still weighing whether I should use this tactic on my future children.
Colin, enjoying another ride on Orion, sat next to a woman who said she had ridden Orion over 150 times. That number may seem small, but Orion opened summer 2020!
I had a similar experience waiting in line for The Beast. There was an older looking gentleman who was wearing a custom shirt saying he had ridden The Beast 30,700 times. I asked him about this, and he told me that the present number was 30801 times. Turns out, he had actually helped build The Beast, working on the station and parts of the lift hill. His goal is to make it to 50,000 rides on The Beast, which blew me away. I really respect his dedication to his goal, and I wish him good luck and good times riding.
The drive back from Kings Island was a lot quieter. Perhaps that was because it was 1:00 in the morning. I’m going to choose to believe that it was because we were all reminiscing about the great rides we experienced and the fun time with friends we enjoyed that day. I’m looking forward eagerly to my next visit to Kings Island.