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40 things you may not know about The Beast roller coaster, which turned 40 this year

Don Helbig

Area Manager, Digital Marketing - Kings Island

Twitter: @DonHelbig

There are seven natural wonders of the world and if there were a list of the top man-made wonders of the world, The Beast at Kings Island would be on it. Celebrating its 40th anniversary season celebration, here are 40 things you may not know about the world's longest wooden roller coaster. 

1. The Beast is celebrating its 40th anniversary season this year. Only the Racer and Woodstock Express have been in operation longer among Kings Island’s 15 roller coasters.

2. Many do not realize that The Beast has an entire backstory based on an abandoned mining company. The tale was presented on signage outside the ride’s entrance. 

3. The Beast’s iconic logo was created by Lawler Ballard Little – a national advertising firm – and would later win the top prize from the prestigious New York Advertising Club in 1979.

4. The debut of The Beast in 1979 shook the roller coaster world to its very foundations, breaking all existing records as the highest, longest and fastest roller coaster in the world. In roller coasters, there had been nothing else like it.

5. In designing and building The Beast, the site’s topography presented a challenge. Because of the roughness of the terrain, there were often times the park surveyors couldn’t get a measurement of more than six feet.

6. By the time workmen had completed the massive Beast construction in March of 1979, they had used 650,000 board feet of southern pine lumber; 37,500 pounds of nails; 82,480 bolts and washers and 2,432 square yards of concrete.

7. The Beast has given 54 million rides since its debut in 1979 – third most in park history behind The Racer and K.I. & Miami Valley Railroad.

8. 1980 was the record year for the most number of rides given. There were 2,150,353!

9. July 17, 1981 was the record day for most rides given, with 20,885 riders.

10. The record hour for the most rides given was 1,680 on June 15, 1980.

11. The Beast was constructed in less than a year, after two years of research and design – all by Kings Island personnel.

12. An Ohio man, Carl Eichelman, holds the record for the most documented rides on The Beast with 4,400.

 13. Each of the three trains on The Beast has traveled more than 900,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of 35 times around the world!

14. The Beast was designed with an elevation change of 201 feet. However, the structure never rides more than 110 feet above the ground.

15. The drop on the first hill is 135 feet, descending at a 45-degree angle; the second hill is 63 feet at a 32-degree angle; the drop on the second lift hill is 141.5 feet at an 18-degree angle.

16. Members of the Kings Island maintenance team walk every inch of The Beast track each morning before the park opens. It’s a nearly four-hour trip they start at 5 a.m.

17. The Beast has three tunnels: The first is 125 feet; the second is 269 feet and the third is 628 feet, for a total of 1,022 feet of darkness.

18. The tunnels were kind of an afterthought; they were designed by Jim Koski, an independent engineer. But because of the way the topography was, it was better to go underground or dig trenches out and not have to build the whole ride 20 feet taller.

19. How fast is The Beast? 64.7 mph at its fastest point.

20. It cost $3.8 million to build The Beast from 1977 to 1979. It would cost over $22 million to re-create it today.

21. The Beast’s debut at Kings Island was followed the next year by its debut in the Guinness Book of World Records. It set the record and still holds it today for the world’s longest wooden roller coaster at 7,359 feet – making it a more than four-minute trip.

22. The original design was modified multiple times, so many times in fact that the finished product looked nothing like the one envisioned when the project began in 1976.

23. The Beast is classified as a “terrain coaster.” That refers to the way it follows the contours of the lands, using the hills and gulleys to add height to the ride.

24. The Beast is ranked among the top wooden roller coasters in the world in annual industry and enthusiast polls.

25. Kings Island announced it was building a record-breaking roller coaster on July 10, 1978, but it wasn’t until February 6, 1979 that it was named The Beast.

26. Original plans focused on building a replica of the iconic Shooting Star, a roller coaster which once stood at Coney Island in Cincinnati. A site near The Racer was also chosen as the location where the replica would be built before park management determined it was in their best interest to move forward with a bigger design.

27. Designing The Beast was very labor-intensive on the calculating side for designers Al Collins and Jeff Gramke. They didn’t have computers; there weren’t even scientific calculators back then. They had slide rules and logarithm books to work with, and had to write everything down.

28. John C. Allen, the world-renowned coaster designer behind The Racer, was originally approached twice to lead the design of The Beast but declined each time. He shared design formulas, telling park management they could build the ride themselves. 

29. In October 2004, The Beast was given the Coaster Landmark Award by the American Coaster Enthusiasts club.

30. The Beast’s signature became its setting, and the way it interacted with nature itself.

31. When you’re on The Beast you’re not in the park, you’re out in the woods, away from all the other rides.

32. It takes a crew of more than 10 associates to operate The Beast.

33. The Beast accommodates more than 1,000 riders per hour on an average day.

34. Veteran Beast riders claim the Beast time to ride (meaning the shortest lines) is firs thing in the morning or during the traditional lunch hour, between 12-2 p.m.

35. The first curve coming out of the tunnel was re-banked overnight prior to the The Beast’s opening in 1979. The ride had been built and tested, but it was felt there needed to be more bank coming out of the tunnel.

36. The Beast was recognized by The State of Ohio was a resolution by Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor John Husted on its 40th birthday which read, in part, “Whereas, The Beast since its opening in 1979 has had more than 53 million riders take its twists and turns, and still holds the record for world’s longest wooden roller coaster in both length and time. The Beast has 7,359 feet of track and takes a total of four minutes and 10 seconds to ride, and whereas, gut-churning roller coasters like The Beast make Ohio the premier destination in the world for amusement parks.”

37. Every winter, each of the three trains on The Beast are completed dismantled, stripped down to every last nut and bolt and then rebuilt.

38. Lewis Johnson, who served as a rides associate and supervisor on The Beast from 1981-1987, has worked 10 Olympic Games for NBC as a reporter covering Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton.

39. Among the many celebrities who have visited Kings Island to ride The Beast is Lou Ferrigno, the muscle-bound actor famous for playing “The Incredible Hulk” on television. When the ride ended, it appeared he had actually turned green and he said, “I’ll never do that again!” Beast 1, Hulk 0.

40. For its 40th anniversary, The Beast trains have been painted with the original “flame” color scheme of red, orange and yellow.

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Don Helbig

Area Manager, Digital Marketing - Kings Island

Twitter: @DonHelbig

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