Skip to Main Content

On this day 40 years ago, The Bat let out of the bag

Skip to Next Section

On this day 40 years ago, The Bat let out of the bag

Kyle Kruthoffer

Video Content Producer 

On this day 40 years ago on Oct. 29, 1980, a revolutionary, groundbreaking Kings Island attraction gained national attention. The original Bat roller coaster was announced to members of the news media. Since the opening of the season that year in April, guests were puzzled about the upside-down coaster-like structure being built at the back of the park in Coney Mall, with park officials being tight-lipped.

The media were gathered inside the ride’s pre-built station – a Victorian-era style mansion – to get their first glimpse at some of the strikingly sharp trains, complete with sculpted bat heads produced by Kings Island’s art department attached to the front of the cars. They were also greeted by creepy characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Bat himself celebrated the important day, as Halloween neared.

The Bat was noted as the world’s first true and permanent suspended roller coaster, taking riders who dared to fly underneath the track, soaring side-to-side. The prototype roller coaster designed by Arrow Development (later renamed Arrow HUSS/Dynamics) took 18 months to design and 24 more months of construction. While it only had a top speed of 34 mph, its uniqueness, unpredictability and uncontrolled swinging was what would the ride thrilling. The cars were able to swing out up to 90 degrees, truly making it an innovative thrill ride.

Kings Island’s then General Manager and Vice President F.R. Bush said, “Riders in a suspended roller coaster will not have the psychological security of the steel tracks or wooden support beams below them. All the structural work is above the riders, so it will be difficult to see the next turn. It will be an experience unlike anyone has ever had before. The ride will be similar to a bat in flight. Bats soar through the air gracefully, swooping and circling and diving unexpectedly. That’s exactly what the rider will experience. It will be an aerobatic sensation.”

The Bat made its initial test cycles April 4, 1981, followed by Kings Island issuing a press release stating the ride had begun operational testing and would open to the public April 26, the first day of the 1981 operating season.

The Bat’s much-anticipated opening drew rave reviews from thrill seekers who came from all over the world to experience the new one-of-a-kind sensation. Unfortunately, since The Bat was a prototype, design flaws kept the ride from operating to its true potential and it proved to be mechanically difficult to operate consistently. As such, The Bat gave its final rides just two years after its opening in 1983 and sat standing but not operating until early 1985 when it was demolished. 

However, thanks to Arrow Dynamics, they were once again able to partner with Kings Island to design and construct Vortex, a multi-looping steel roller coaster, that boasted six stomach-churning inversions – a world’s first at the time. The ride would take up the same plot of land where The Bat once stood and even reused the station and some of the concrete footers.

Without this legendary, ambitious coaster, many other suspended coasters would not have been built, such as Iron Dragon at Cedar Point, or Top Gun (now known as The Bat as a tribute) at Kings Island. As F.R. Bush once said, “The Bat re-affirms Kings Island as the leader in innovative thrill ride concepts," a statement that remains true to this day.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Bat being announced, we’ve included restored, never-before-seen POV of the first-ever test run on April 4, 1981, along with reverse POV with riders and off-ride views mixed in. Enjoy!

To learn more about the sporadic flight of The Bat, check out this Kings Island Blog.

Were you among those able to take flight on the original Bat? If so, let me know what you thought of the ride in the comments section below.

 

Related Topics:

Share This

Kyle Kruthoffer

Video Content Producer 

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

Tropical Plunge features water slides you've gotta ride

Don’t underestimate the possibility of high-adrenaline thrills at Kings Island’s Soak City Water Park. One attraction in particular has something the adrenaline-seeker in the family won’t be able to get enough of. Debuting last summer and towering nearly seven stories, Topical Plunge features six different water slide experiences.
Read More

Here's the story

Not to be outdone by “The Partridge Family” (who had filmed an episode at Kings Island in 1972), television’s “The Brady Bunch” paid a visit to the park during the second season of operation. Although filmed a year later, the “Brady” episode is the more popular and well known of the two.
Read More

What Kings Island meant growing up for me

I grew up on the Westside of Cincinnati and like most in the tristate area; Kings Island was a part of my life. Kings Island was that magical getaway from everyday life. It actually still is. My family would make the trip maybe one or two times a year when I was very young, but once I got a little older my grandmother bought me a season pass and I visited more frequently.
Read More

It has become an annual summer tradition: Cincinnati Reds Day at Kings Island

If you could ask the Cincinnati Reds any question you wanted, what would it be? Kings Island guests will have their chance Friday when the annual Reds Day event is held at the 364-acre amusement and water park. Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, outfielder Scott Schebler and third baseman Eugenio Suarez are scheduled to appear and field questions from guests during a question-and-answer show at 11 a.m. in the Festhaus.
Read More

A Partridge in a ginkgo tree

Four months after Kings Island opened in 1972, "The Partridge Family" cast came to film their ABC show at the park a full year ahead of "The Brady Bunch." The TV family of pop musicians -- stars Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough and Brian Forster – were shown enjoying rides like the Racer, Grand Carousel, Antique Cars and Log Flume when not performing in front of the Royal Fountains on International Street.
Read More

A Kings Island Life: James Moreland

Like many of the full-time staff at Kings Island, James Moreland applied for a seasonal position never imagining a summer job would lead to a career opportunity at the 364-acre and amusement park. Upon being hired as a seasonal associate 14 years ago, James was placed in the merchandise department. After quickly falling in love with his job, he knew he wanted to stay in resale and had his sights set on becoming a full-time member of the team.
Read More

6 tips for keeping cool at Kings Island

Mid-July through August have historically been the hottest months of the year in the Tristate region. When temperatures climb into the 90's, it can feel hotter than it actually is – dangerously hotter.
Read More

Whatchamacallit?

Kings Island is well known for its high thrill, over-the-top attractions. Why, the park has been responsible for introducing millions of people to their first-ever coaster ride. But not all thrill seekers can tackle the biggest and baddest coasters first. Chances are, if you rode your first coaster at Kings Island as a child, it was probably on the “Scooby Doo”… I mean, “The Beastie”… I mean, “Fairly Odd Coaster”… Oooops, make that “Woodstock Express.”
Read More

Body board surfing popular Soak City attraction

Pipeline Paradise offers both straight and curled waves for those who can stay afloat to master the thrills of body board surfing on Pipeline Paradise in Soak City Water Park. The ride is never the same twice. Each guest's ride is a unique experience.
Read More

Your guide to the Family Care Center by Fischer Homes

The Family Care Center by Fischer Homes, located on International Street near the Eiffel Tower, is the perfect place for young families looking for a safe, private, and comfortable child care space within the park. With storage areas for personal items, waiting areas for accompanying family members, and everything necessary to assist in the care for little ones on their Best Day Ever, our Family Care Center goes above and beyond to ensure our park parents can make memories with their children all day long.
Read More