Skip to Main Content

Screamin' Demon

Kings Island announces important updates regarding the rest of the 2020 Season. Learn More.

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

Floral Clock an iconic Kings Island attraction

The most iconic and most photographed landscape feature at Kings Island is the floral clock. When it was built in 1972, it was the world’s largest and heaviest clock mechanism.
Read More

Take a virtual ride on Kings Island's Orion roller coaster

Designed exclusively for Kings Island by Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, Orion has opened to rave reviews. It is one of only seven giga coasters in the world, a class of coasters having a height or drop of 300-399 feet. Riders traverse on a high-speed journey over eight hills and 5,321 feet of track at speeds up to 91 mph on the tallest and fastest roller coaster at Kings Island.
Read More

Celebrate National Carousel Day this Saturday

If you’re looking for things to do in Cincinnati this weekend, round up the family and head to Kings Island July 25 for National Carousel Day, also known as National Merry-Go-Round Day.
Read More

Popular Kings Island attractions celebrating anniversary seasons in 2020

One thing we love to do here at Kings Island is celebrate! With the 2020 season underway, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of our favorite attractions that are celebrating anniversary seasons this year.
Read More

The Voice on NBC contestant Michael Williams stars in new Kings Island show

This past spring, Michael Williams was singing on national live television as a contestant on the hit show The Voice on NBC. This summer, he's performing in his own show at Kings Island, Center Stage Live!
Read More

The Beast, Racer part of an elite group of legendary roller coasters 

Two of Kings Island’s most iconic roller coasters, The Beast and The Racer, are part of an elite group on the American Coaster Enthusiasts Landmark list of storied attractions that include Coney Island’s 1927 Cyclone, Disneyland’s 1950 Matterhorn Bobsleds and the 1902 Leap-the-Dips in Pennsylvania, the world’s oldest operating roller coaster.
Read More

Kings Island releases new pins for 2020

Pin trading/collecting could be traced back to the mid nineteenth-century with the origin of the sport curling, as some of the oldest trading pins came from curling clubs. While Kings Island may not offer curling, we certainly do offer an array of collector’s pins that are a must-have for park experts and Cincinnati natives.
Read More

Summer Flash Sale! 

It’s time to reach for the stars! Kings Island is now open, the new Orion giga coaster is drawing rave reviews, and it’s time for you to come play.
Read More

Kings Island's Orion reactions are in. Here's what people are saying

Kings Island’s new Orion roller coaster opened earlier this month. As one of the most highly anticipated new attractions for 2020, does it live up to expectations? Orion reactions are in, and here’s what people are saying.
Read More

Kings Island's Orion roller coaster a story-driven attraction

Kings Island's Orion roller coaster is a story-driven attraction. Themed to the park's new Area 72, the ride features the latest prototype vehicle developed by the Project X initiative. Scientists are in a race against time to develop technology capable of weaving transport vehicles through a coming meteor storm and traveling to a new planet within the Orion constellation. For the program to be successful, it needs volunteers to help with testing.
Read More