In 2014, Kings Island (Mason, OH) finally installed their B&M Inverted Coaster. How they finally got theirs is a long story as their first hanging roller coaster was the Bat, previewing in October 1980 to the press and premiering to the public in 1981. The Bat was Arrow Development prototype “Suspended Coaster” where the train hung under the track and swung out in the turns and spirals due to the lateral forces. The ride was not particularly fast, only reaching 35 mph and was 2436 feet long with two lift hills along the way. The ride was extreme because none of the turns were banked and at least 2-3 curves produced enough forces to swing the cars to 90 degrees, having them hit the end of their shock dampers and jolting riders hard.
We discovered on Wikipedia the logo of the original Bat.
The unbanked curves combined with mounting the braking fins at the bottom of the cars doomed the ride unfortunately. After struggling for 3 seasons to keep up with the wear and tear as well as the constant issues, the park made the difficult decision to dismantle the ride in 1984. The station was preserved and recycled for the 1987 Vortex, a large Arrow Dynamics Custom Looping Coaster.
http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this great shot of the Vortex going through one of its Corkcrew inversion.
What about the Suspended Coaster then? After the Bat, Arrow refined the design and finally made it work. Curiously, KECO (Kings Entertainment Corporation) made the decision to install another Arrow Suspended Coaster at the park for the 1993 season. It was to be named Thunder Road and was to be a near clone of the Vortex at Canada’s Wonderland. Unfortunately, the only land that could accommodate the ride was a deep valley located quite deep in the Amazon Village and this meant that the ride was one that you had to seek out and not one where you could just walk in front of. In 1992, Paramount purchased KECO and immediately set to add their properties to their parks. Thus, Thunder Road became Top Gun and a custom B&M Inverted Coaster at Great America (Santa Clara, CA) also became Top Gun. Both received extensive theming to make the queue line and station appear to be set in a naval base.
http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture of the 1993 Suspended Coaster during its Flight Deck period.
After the 2006 season, Cedar Fair who had taken over the park renamed the ride to Flight Deck. In the meantime, Paramount had installed three other hanging roller coasters… but none of them from B&M. One was a Caripro Batflyer in 1998, followed by a Vekoma Invertigo Inverted Boomerang in 1999 and then a Vekoma Family Inverted Coaster in 2001.
http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture of the Flight Deck logo.
Cedar Fair eyed the park layout and ride arsenal carefully and after the success of Diamondback, the park’s first B&M roller coaster, they decided to finally do something about the troubled Son of Beast. Son of Beast opened in 2000 and never performed to specs. Even though it shattered speed and height records for wooden roller coasters, the ride poor construction and design were too much to overcome and Cedar Fair decided to cut their losses. The ride was demolished in October 2012 and when the park reopened in April 2013, mysterious new footers started appearing in the area.
This impressive wooden structure was the lift hill of the Son of Beast. The roller coaster at the bottom is the 1993 Suspended Coaster. http://www.negative-g.com/
The park started teasing a new ride and when the construction extended to the Go-Kart track, things such as scarecrows and Farm Owls appeared in the area. Speculation among roller coaster fans were at a fever pitch and a few days before the official announcement on August 8th 2013, there was an “accidental website leak” on the park official website that talked about the return of the Bat. The Bat (along with a great new logo) was to be a huge B&M Wing Coaster taking over the Son of Beast site and would be the world’s tallest and fastest Wing Coaster in the world…
On August 8th 2013, Kings Island revealed that the whole Bat website leak was a giant red herring! Turns out the Banshee would haunt the former Action Zone and it would be a record breaking… B&M Inverted Coaster. The ride would stand 167 feet tall and start with a 150 feet drop. Interestingly, the ride would use the terrain to reach 68 mph, at the bottom of the Pretzel Knot.
What about the beautiful “The Bat” logo then? Kings Island renamed Flight Deck to The Bat, repainted the ride orange and then installed this logo at the entrance. http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture.
The ride theme was the Banshee, a haunting female ghost that appeared to people who would soon pass away in Irish mythology. Cedar Fair had attempted to use the name in 1996 for the B&M Stand-Up Coaster at Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), but local backlash made them change it to the Mantis. The Banshee logo was recycled for Steel Force at Dorney Park (Allentown, PA).
We shot this picture of the Steel Force sign at the entrance of the ride. They kept the font and ghost and changed the name from “Banshee” to “Steel Force”.
The ride waiting line is set along a graveyard and guests pass by a memorial for the Son of Beast with an ever burning flame. The ride station look like a memorial building you’d find at a cemetery and it is quite beautiful.
One of the gravestone in the cemetary. http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture.
This is the memorial marker for Son of Beast in the waiting. Thanks to Flex for this picture.
The new Banshee logo at the entrance, covered in fog. http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture.
A train leaving the station and you can see the elaborate details on it. http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture.
At night, beautiful lighting illuminate the station and it is quite gorgeous. http://www.negative-g.com/ provided us with this picture.
The ride starts with a left hand turn out of the station and the train quickly climbs up the 167 feet lift hill. It is angled at 45 degrees and like OzIris, has no pre drop at the top. Train quickly dive down to the right in a 150 feet tall banked drop and race toward the first element, a huge Dive Loop. The train then race toward the first Vertical Loop, which is threaded by the lift hill. The train then navigates the world’s tallest Zero G Roll.
Coaster Chit Chat provided us with this great shot of the train climbing the steep lift hill. http://coasterchitchat.com/
You can see the first drop along with most of the layout in this picture. Flex took this picture.
Flex shot this great picture of the Dive Loop.
The ride initial sequence with the lift hill, steep drop, Dive Loop and first Vertical Loop. This picture was shot by Flex.
We then hit what was previously the rarest roller coaster element on Earth, attempted only once before: the Pretzel Knot. The Pretzel Knot look like an edible Pretzel, where the track crosses each other in and out of the element which consists of a stretched out loop with twisted exits. The only other roller coaster to attempt it was the legendary Moonsault Scramble, the first roller coaster to break the 200 feet barrier.
Moonsault Scramble was built by Japanese ride manufacturer Meisho Amusement Machines in 1983 at Fuji-Q Highland (Fujiyoshida, Japan) and stood 230 feet tall. It consisted of the two giant spikes, the station and the Pretzel Knot in the middle. How the ride worked was the train was pulled up forward on the spike behind the station by a catch car. The slow cable lift took nearly a minute to reach the top and then the train was released. It raced backward at 56 mph through the station and finally reached the ride single element: the Pretzel Knot. Standing only 67 feet tall and supported by a unique structure, riders experienced a crushing 6.3 positive G’s at the bottom. After that, the train went up the second spike and then it went forward through the Pretzel Knot again. The tires that served as brakes took two passes through the station to finally stop the train.
On the Sanoyas Leisure website, we discovered this small picture showing the Pretzel Knot on Moonsault Scramble. Counting the huge support collumns, this incredible element was 296 feet wide and the support collumns over 150 feet. The Pretzel Knot and layout is shown on this picture from Meisho. http://www.sanoyas-leisure.com/
The ride was simply too intense and due to growing concerns with rider’s comfort, the ride was retired in 2000.
B&M revisited that element and solved the G force issues by making the element wider and taller. This helped control the forces and due to the terrain, the bottom of the Pretzel Knot is the lowest point of the ride. The train reach 68 mph at that point and is an incredible 208 feet below the top of the lift hill. The train then goes through another Vertical Loop and then around a rising right turn. That turn immediately feed the train for the last inversion, a long barrel roll, the first on a B&M Inverted Coaster. The ride concludes with a spiral and we are smoothly stopped by the Eddy-Current magnetic brakes.
Flex shot this picture of the train in the middle of the Zero G Roll and about to enter the Pretzel Knot on Banshee.
You can see the train diving below grade as it race toward the Pretzel Knot on the right. The ride final brakes are on the left. This picture appears courtesy of Coaster Chit Chat. http://coasterchitchat.com/
The train represented a huge innovation for B&M; they are wider than the classic trains and use the overhead lap bar/soft vest restraints first seen on the Wing Coaster. Even though there are no mid-course brakes, the ride can run three 32 passenger trains thanks to the lift hill. It is programmed to have variable speeds and when the circuit is occupied, it will slow down to a crawl and once the previous train has cleared the final brakes, it will speed up to its optimal launch speed. The ride is the longest Inverted Coaster in the world with 4124 feet of track.
Flex took this picture of the new train with flexible vests.