Kings Island Mailbag: Orion, pickles and turtles

Park: Closed Water Park: Closed View Hours

Kings Island Mailbag: Orion, pickles and turtles 

Don Helbig |
February 11, 2021

A new year, and the return of the Kings Island Mailbag on the blog. We hope you’re staying safe and healthy as we prepare for a new season of fun and thrills. This week, you had questions about a Winter Chill Out type event at the park, Orion, pickles, and turtles.

Kings Island has had so many wonderful attractions since the park opened and some are no longer are no longer around. My favorite indoor ride was Phantom Theater with the devilish Maestro and his bizarre case of characters. Does Kings Island still have ownership of any of the animatronics and props used for the ride? P.S. My dad knew all the Maestro’s lines and would recite them every time we rode it. – Ivah S., Galion, OH

The characters and some of the props are still on property. Some of them have been used since the attraction was retired as décor for Halloween Haunt.

What time do the chefs start smoking the food at Coney Bar Q? It always smells so good in Coney Mall when I head to Orion in the morning. – Jeff W., Batavia, OH

Because some menu items can take up to 14 hours, the smoker really doesn’t stop going outside of time for cleaning and maintenance.

I’ll be attending Cedar Point for the first time ever for their 2021 Winter Chill Out event. Any possibility of Kings Island or other Cedar Fair parks hosting a similar event? – Dusty J., Monroe, OH

Hosting a winter event like Cedar Point’s Winter Chill Out is something we have looked at, discussed, and have interest in doing but the challenge is finding a time that doesn’t conflict with other events like the American Coaster Enthusiast’s annual No Coaster Con and East Coaster events and things that might be going on at the park with job fairs and galas. 

Why don’t they serve dill pickles instead of the bread butter pickles? – Thomas B., Middletown, IN

Great question, Thomas. We found there is a better balance to the items we serve using the bread and butter pickles. They are a much more versatile condiment than the dill. 

Any plans for the Adventure Express 30th anniversary this year? Are there any major changes to the coaster? I rode it 30 years ago when I brought my classmates, staff from the Ohio School for the Deaf along with international students and staff from Italy and France. We were treated to a special day at Kings Island and enjoyed riding Adventure Express in the rain. – David E., Cincinnati, OH

It's hard to believe Adventure Express is turning 30. I remember attending the Media Day event for the ride’s launch in 1991. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. The 30th anniversary for Adventure Express and the other rides celebrating anniversaries this year will be acknowledged with features here on the Kings Island blog and are part of the content plan on our social media channels. As far as major changes with the ride, other than annual offseason maintenance no changes are in the works.

Don, I know that you ride The Racer, like a ton. Ever think about a world record attempt? – William F., Centerville, OH

Been-there, done-that, got the t-shirts, William! I was the first person in the world to ride the same roller coaster 4,000, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, 9,000 and 10,000 times, reaching those milestones between 1983 and 1990 on The Racer. The records I set were for the most non-consecutive rides on the same roller coaster. 

Out of all the roller coasters at the park which cost the most to maintain year to year? – Malachi M., Somerdale, NY

The Beast. A lot of work goes into the ride every day the park is open to have it ready in the morning for another day of prowling and growling along 7,359 feet of track, and then there's all the offseason work, replacing bents, ledgers, sections of track. It is literally a beast of a project for our maintenance team.

I know there aren't any immediate plans for the Vortex plot of land now, do you think a roller coaster will eventually fill that land or will you do something else with it? – Caleb R., Mainville, OH

I get asked this question a lot. I don’t know what might one day go there, if anything. When you think about the space where the Vortex once stood, it’s an empty canvas and you paint whatever you’re thinking about. It’s fun to think about the possibilities with any open space in the park, isn’t it?

Hey Don, glad to see the mailbag is back. What were your thoughts on Orion after you rode it? – Doug W., Batavia, OH

I think Orion is special – it’s one of the best steel roller coasters I’ve ridden. I like that it’s a story-driven attraction. You become immersed in the backstory as you go through the queue while waiting to ride. It’s everything a modern-day steel roller coaster should be, and more!

I have really enjoyed the nostalgia you have brought to Kings Island fans over the past few years with the addition of Kings Mills Antique Autos, the new Festhaus glockenspiel, the return of The Beast’s footprints, and bringing back the charm to International Street with a renovation. Will Kings Island continue to focus on its past and bring back nostalgia for its guests, and will Kings Island do anything to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022? – Patrick S., Mason, OH

I think you’ll continue to see parts of our past woven into our future with the little touches, like The Beast footprints. The 50th anniversary season next year will be celebrated but right now our focus is on preparing for the 2021 season. It's going to be here before we know it! 

I like turtles – Tony S., Morrow, OH

I do too, Tony. I used to have one as a pet when I was growing up on the east side of Cincinnati. I named him Gulliver because he moved slow and steady like the boats in the old Gulliver’s Rub-a-Dub ride at Kings Island. But I’m concerned about the future of turtles. They’ve been roaming the Earth for millions of years but appear to be on the path toward extinction.

To submit a question for the next Kings Island Mailbag, click here.