Skip to Main Content

Screamin' Demon

Skip to Next Section

Thrown for a loop

John Keeter

Kings Island Blog Contributor

Can you imagine Kings Island without its huge collection of world-class coasters? Can you imagine going to the park and there not being any “upside-down” rides? Well, for the first five seasons of operation from 1972-1976, that was the case. 

Originally, Kings Island was limited to two smaller coasters (the “Scooby Doo” junior woodie and the “Bavarian Beetle” metal Galaxi coaster) and one “big” coaster (The “Racer”).  By the mid-1970’s, new tubular-rail track technology was advancing roller coaster design so that possibilities were endless, including “looping” riders. Kings Island knew that parks were increasing their “scream ratio” so they sought to up-the-ante and expand the park’s coaster options. 

Guided by legendary coaster designer Ron Toomer, prolific amusement manufacturing firm “Arrow Development” had recently introduced its first steel looping coaster in 1975 to tremendous success. Kings Island executives had previously worked with Arrow. For example, the park’s two flumes and Enchanted Voyage boat conveyance etc. were built by Arrow. So, in 1976, Kings Island signed the deal to have the firm install the park’s first modern steel roller coaster.

The park chose one of Arrow’s “launched shuttle loop” coasters, and its price tag was part of a $5 million park expansion program for 1977. It was one of the first three that Arrow built and the first of those to open to the public (that same year, the original prototype was installed in Florida, and another identical model in Massachusetts). The ride used an electric winch launch that propelled a five-car train filled with 20 passengers down a 50-foot drop, into a 52-foot high, 360-degree loop, up an identical 50-foot incline before pausing and repeating the entire process in reverse. The entire ride lasted one-minute, six-seconds and reached a speed up to 45 miles per hour. 

Kings Island actually purchased the ride before they even knew where they were going to install it. Three years prior in 1974, the park had added the “Lion Country Safari” themed area to the park. Although the Safari Monorail was immensely popular, they found the lack of rides in the area left nothing for thrill-seekers to do. So they ultimately decided it would be the home of the new attraction. The problem was the park was concerned the ride would not “fit in” esthetically. The solution was to place it above the area’s lagoon which featured islands of exotic monkeys and birds. They then painted the ride brown with a gold faded tint on the track rails at the base of the drops and through the loop. It was then surrounded with color-matching tropical landscaping in an attempt to blend the steel with the surroundings.

The coaster which Kings Island named “The Screamin’ Demon”, opened April 16, 1977 and was an instant hit. The park heavily promoted it as their first “scary” coaster. Kings Island’s first venture into modern coaster technology was such a success that during its first seasons, the ride often had a wait time up to two hours! One of the drawbacks to the ride was that the loading platform was actually 50 feet in the air. So guests had to climb over 100 steps to reach it. The lines would stretch down the metal stairs and spill onto the midway. There was no elevator, so it meant for a slow, arduous climb on busy days.

The Screamin’ Demon (sometimes simply called “Demon”) operated at Kings Island for 10 years. In seasons following, high capacity looping coasters “King Cobra” and “Vortex” were installed at the park. So by 1987, the park felt it was no longer a viable attraction at the park. The decision was made to replace the ride with a brand-new attraction, and it was dismantled and sold. The pond on which its drops and loops existed became home to “Congo Falls” in 1988, a spill-water shoot-the-chutes flume that is still in operation today.

In its life after Kings Island, the “Screamin’ Demon” was sold to Camden Park in West Virginia where it operated for another 10 years with the name “Thunderbolt Express.” In 1999, Camden Park closed the ride for maintenance reasons and it sat idle for five years before being dismantled.

From 1977 until 1980, Arrow Development manufactured and installed a grand total of eight identical launched shuttle loop coasters. Sevenof those were eventually relocated and operated at more than one park and only three remain in operation today. Due to the success of “The Screamin’ Demon”, Kings Island would continue to work with Arrow to install bigger and badder steel coasters. These include the original ground-breaking “Bat”, record-breaking “Vortex” and the park’s current suspended coaster “The Bat” (originally called “Top Gun” and later, “Flight Deck”).

Share This

John Keeter

Kings Island Blog Contributor

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

Take a virtual ride on The Beast at Kings Island 

The Beast is an iconic Kings Island and industry attraction that has brought thrills to literally millions of guests since its debut in 1979. Read more to take a virtual ride on the world's longest wooden roller coaster.
Read More

Enchanted Voyage was a dream creation

It started out as a dream in 1969 when plans for Kings Island were being developed between the park and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon studios in Hollywood and came to life as one of the signature attractions when the park opened in 1972 in the form of an animated dark ride known as The Enchanted Voyage.
Read More

Watch Kings Island live shows performer Michael Williams tonight in the four-way knockout round match on The Voice on NBC 

Tonight will feature a first on The Voice on NBC (8 p.m. ET): A four-way knockout round match. The four artists saved during the battles include one of Kings Island's live shows performers, Michael Williams of Team Nick Jonas.
Read More

This date in 2009: Diamondback roller coaster opens at Kings Island

Happy Birthday, Diamondback! The 5,282-foot long steel roller coaster opened on this date in 2009. In honor of Diamondback’s birthday, read on to learn more about the history and development of this attraction.
Read More

This date in 2014: Banshee roller coaster debuts at Kings Island 

One of the most anticipated opening days in Kings Island’s history took place on April 18, 2014, when the world’s longest steel inverted roller coaster, Banshee, made its debut.
Read More

Download the Kings Island Coloring Book

If you’re looking for an activity to share that you can do with your kids while you’re spending that extra family time at home, download our Kings Island Coloring Book!
Read More

Try out this recipe from Chef Major's Kitchen: Miami River Brewhouse's "That's One Big Pretzel" with Bacon Jam and Beer Cheese

If you’ve never had the experience of eating at Kings Island’s new (in 2019) restaurant, Miami River Brewhouse, you need to stop by this season and try out one of the many unique food offerings. There's something for everyone.
Read More

7 things you may not know about The Beast roller coaster

The Beast remained Kings Island’s signature attraction since its debut in 1979, despite competition from other world-class roller coasters at the park like Banshee, Diamondback and Mystic Timbers. Here are seven things you may not know about the world’s longest wooden roller coaster.
Read More

Happy Birthday White Water Canyon

Since opening 35 years ago on April 13, 1985, White Water Canyon has made a “splash” on Kings Island guests.
Read More

This date in 1979: The Beast was unchained 

After three years of design and construction work, The Beast roller coaster at Kings Island was officially, and quite appropriately, “unchained” in a steady downpour 41 years ago on Friday, April 13, 1979.
Read More