The Beast Roller Coaster Kings Island
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The Beast roller coaster is a wooden roller coaster located at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. Built in-house by the park, it opened in 1979 as the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden roller coaster in the world. Decades later, The Beast is still the longest at 7,359 feet (2,243 m), spanning more than 35 acres (14 ha) and utilizing the surrounding terrain for many of its elements. Two lift hills contribute to the ride’s duration of more than four minutes, which also ranks as one of the longest among roller coasters.
The Beast roller coaster has been rated in the industry as one of the top roller coasters in the world, having earned a solid reputation among roller coaster enthusiasts. It has consistently placed in the top ten overall in annual rankings released by Amusement Today since the publication’s debut in 1998. After nearly 40 years, it also remains one of the most popular rides at Kings Island, having accommodated over 53 million riders.
Ruth Voss, public relations manager for Kings Island, issued a press release on July 10, 1978, announcing plans for a new roller coaster. The statement read, “Kings Island Family Entertainment Center will open America’s champion roller coaster in the spring of 1979.” It was the first official announcement from the park, who had been secretly planning the new ride for three years. Looking to replicate the national exposure the park received from popular rides such as The Racer and record-breaking events such as Evel Knievel’s bus jump in 1975, Kings Island knew it needed to introduce another record-breaking attraction to keep the momentum going.
Original plans focused on building a replica of the iconic Shooting Star, a roller coaster which once stood at Coney Island in Cincinnati. Charles Dinn – director of the Kings Island’s construction, maintenance and engineering division – recorded measurements of the Shooting Star’s layout and dimensions prior to its demolition in 1971. A site near The Racer at Kings Island was also chosen as the location where the replica would be built. Park management later determined that it was in their best interest to shelve the idea and push forward with a bigger design, although it would be resurrected several years later in the construction of Mighty Canadian Minebuster at Canada’s Wonderland. For the 1979 coaster, Kings Island set its sights on a record-breaking ride that would transcend nostalgia and appeal to a wider audience.
The site selected for the new project was a wooded area in the southeast corner of the park, which spanned more than 35 acres (14 ha). The area’s naturally-occurring, rugged terrain consisted of cliffs, hills and ravines. Utilizing the landscape as opposed to leveling it allowed for more investment in the layout itself. Beginning in 1976, Dinn and his team, including chief engineer and surveyor Al Collins and his assistant Jeff Gramke, spent two years researching and designing the new roller coaster.
They would progress through the tens of thousands of formulas needed to produce record-breaking results without the assistance of scientific calculators or computers. “Everything had to be calculated by hand”, recalled Gramke in 2014. John C. Allen, the world-renowned coaster designer behind The Racer, was originally approached twice to lead the design but declined each time. He shared design formulas, however, and acted as a consultant throughout development. Among his important contributions were the design of several components, including a tire-driven launch system that increased capacity to 1,000 riders per hour.
Primary design and construction was handled internally by Kings Island. Part of the design and engineering work was subcontracted to Curtis D. Summers Engineering, a structural engineering and architecture firm located in Cincinnati. Summers was tasked with designing the roller coaster footings – underground, steel-reinforced concrete pillars that support the weight of the structure – as well as a cable system for the helix. The collaboration between Dinn and Summers would later lead to the pair teaming up in the formation of the Dinn Corporation, a construction firm that went on to design and build eleven more coasters.
The Beast roller coaster opened on April 14, 1979, as the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden roller coaster in the world. It is often credited as the first modern-day wooden roller coaster to generate a marketing campaign. From elaborate animated commercials to numerous television spots, the ride gained worldwide notoriety. The Beast roller coaster originally featured three underground tunnels, but the second and third were joined together by its second season of operation. Two enclosed tunnels were added to the double helix finale in the second season as well.
In 2000, the park introduced The Beast roller coaster successor, Son of Beast, which became the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world, as well as the first modern-day wooden coaster to feature an inversion. Although Son of Beast set several new records, The Beast retained its wooden coaster records for length and ride duration. Son of Beast was later demolished in 2012.
The Beast roller coaster is located at the back of the park, near Vortex
The ride begins with the train making a 180-degree turn out of the station, traveling near Vortex’s first drop and through a switch track, which provides the option of diverting trains to a covered storage area. Riders take a slight left turn into the first lift hill and slowly climb 110 feet (34 m). At the crest, the train travels down a 135-foot drop (41 m) into an underground tunnel, passing an on-ride camera. The train comes out of the first drop still underground until it exits the tunnel, where the train makes a hard left-hand turn and enters an airtime hill, going under the second lift. The train then climbs upward, makes a right turn, and speeds into a covered brake shed. Once through the magnetic trim brakes, the track turns to the right and continues through a heavily-wooded area. Veering left, the track enters the second tunnel. A quarter of this tunnel is underground, while the exit is above ground in relation to the topography of the land.
As it exits the tunnel, the train gains speed veering right, then takes another hard turn to the right on a slight incline. The track goes downhill, rises uphill, and then passes over a set of trim brakes before climbing the second lift hill. At the top of this lift, the train turns left and begins a gradual, 18-degree drop. During the descent, the track tilts to the left in preparation for the upcoming double helix that features a highly-banked turn to the left. The drop itself measures 141 feet (43 m) from the crest of the lift hill to the lowest point of the helix. The signature double helix features two long tunnels and turns riders counterclockwise twice at very high speeds while ascending. After exiting this element, the train dips through another small hill into the final magnetic brake run and returns back to the station.
When it opened in 1979, The Beast roller coaster set several world records among roller coasters including height, speed, track length, and ride duration. It still retains the latter two among wooden coasters, and its length of 7,359 feet (2,243 m) continues to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Beast has held world records for the following:
Tallest wooden roller coaster at 110 feet (34 m), tied with Screamin’ Eagle at Six Flags St. Louis when it opened
Longest drop on a wooden roller coaster at 141 feet (43 m)
Fastest wooden roller coaster at 64.8 mph (104.3 km/h)
Longest track length on a wooden roller coaster at 7,359 feet (2,243 m)
Longest ride duration on a wooden roller coaster at 4:10
Awards and rankings
In October 2004, The Beast roller coaster was given the Coaster Landmark Award by the American Coaster Enthusiasts club. There is a plaque commemorating the achievement located near the main entrance to the ride. As of 2018, The Beast ranks third among other Kings Island attractions in the number of rides given, which is over 53 million.
Banshee – The Bat – Delirium – Drop Tower: Scream Zone – Invertigo – Xtreme Skyflyer – Backlot Stunt Coaster – The Racer – Vortex – WindSeeker – Firehawk – Flight of Fear – Boo Blasters on Boo Hill – Eiffel Tower – Adventure Express – SlingShot – Flying Ace Aerial Chase – Woodstock Express – Diamondback – Kings Island & Miami Valley Railroad – Mystic Timbers – The Beast
Record Video on The Beast Roller Coaster
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