When Jess Novak was driving through his home of Detroit in 1980, he saw a billboard for a new roller coaster opening in a theme park North of Cincinnati.
“I’ll never, ever forget it. A big, black billboard that said, ‘The Beast. Running rampant 20 miles North of Cincinnati. The biggest, tallest, fastest wooden roller coaster in the world,’” Jess said. “I had to get here. I just had to come down here and ride that.”
When Jess rode The Beast, he said it was extremely memorable and like nothing he had ever experienced.
“Beast was incredible. It was wilder than anything I had ever been on. Out in the woods it was just an experience like no other park offered.”
That first thrilling visit made Jess want to come back…every year for four decades.
“This was such an out-of-the-park hit that we came down multiple times a year,” Jess said. “We just kept coming over and over and over to experience it.”
As The Beast celebrates its 40th anniversary next year, thousands like Jess will travel from across the country and the world to experience the legendary ride just as they do every year. Although there are a lot of wooden roller coasters out there, Jess says the setting of The Beast makes him want to drive from Detroit every year to ride it.
“Wooden coasters, they all are somewhat alive as far as your experience because weather changes, humidity, you name it. This one seems to be a bit more alive because [of] I think its setting. In the woods, the Cincinnati humidity. Every ride is a new experience, every seat. It just rages. The coaster just runs so well.”
When it first premiered, The Beast stood out because of its design, and a lot of tenacity went into that design. Park personnel, who created The Beast all in house, took on the challenge of designing and building 7,359 feet of track around the landscape. Rather than eliminating the beautiful Ohio scenery, The Beast traveled through it.
“It’s amazing that The Beast was designed and built all in house,” Jess said. “It shows that a park cares about their guests, cares about the experience, and they took the time to do it themselves, and they did something that no one else had ever done. They used the typography of the land, and they made an incredible coaster that has become a legend.”
Jess has ridden hundreds of coasters in his lifetime, but he keeps riding The Beast because to him it will always be “The Beast.” There are new, record-breaking coasters all the time, and Jess loves those, but The Beast has stood the test of time and remained relevant.
“The Beast has stayed its course.” Jess said. “There’s a lot of coasters out there that were super coasters, you know, tall, fast, record breakers, and a lot of them have gone the way of either being a hybrid [or] torn down. The Beast has stayed its course. The Beast will always be The Beast. The park keeps it running incredibly well, and this is a true, wooden coaster experience.”
Apart from the experience of the ride itself, Jess says The Beast brings people together, and it has helped him make lifetime friends.
“I live in the Detroit area, and a lot of people come down to Kings Island. Everybody knows The Beast,” Jess said. “I frequent a lot of parks across the nation, and you have your favorite coasters. The Beast is particularly enduring, one for its setting, and a lot of the people I’ve met on it…this just seems to tie people together. It seems like a focal point. No matter what, it might not be everybody’s number one, but it’s always on their list. Everybody loves The Beast. It’s just one of those rides, one of those attractions that is universal. It draws people here.”
To learn more about the history of The Beast and the wild journey that went into creating it, read our The Story Behind The Beast blog. .
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