The Enquirer’s Paul McKibben reports that Son of Beast, the only looping wooden coaster anywhere, will be closed this summer.
The Internet is full of commentary about Son of Beast. There’s even a Facebook group called “Save Son Of Beast!” with frequent posts.
But Kings Island has little to say about the coaster or its future, McKibben reports.
“No decision has been made concerning the ride’s future,” spokesman Don Helbig said. “It would be inappropriate to speculate on when a decision might be made.
“There’s nothing else to talk about.”
Accidents, closings, repairs, five lawsuits, settlements and one trial have beset the ride. The roller coaster hasn’t operated since June 2009, after a Mason woman complained about getting hurt about 2½ weeks earlier while on it.
All those who settled did so for undisclosed sums.
“I think they’re still wading through issues that have troubled the ride and I think they have a lot of planning to look at to see what it would take to remove that ride and then what they could do with all of that,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc. in Walnut Hills, an amusement park consulting firm. Speigel said he based his opinion on conversations with officials in the industry.
“It’s not going to be a cheap effort to take that down,” he said.
Kings Island announced it would build the now-troubled coaster in May 199 to much fanfare. The coaster was said to be the world’s tallest, fastest and only looping wooden coaster, costing more than $10 million.
“We wanted to have the project of the millennium and I think we got it,” a Kings Island official said at the time.
The coaster has suffered a series of setbacks since, including a July 2006 accident that hospitalized about 30 people and lawsuits arising from that incident.
Now the ride’s future is uncertain.
Kings Island didn’t include the roller coaster on a park map of attractions last year or this year. And the coaster isn’t included on a list of rides for this season filed with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Erica Pitchford, a spokeswoman with the department, said that means Kings Island has not applied for a permit for this season and can’t legally operate it.
Other experts have suggested Kings Island drastically remodel the ride to remove certain features and slow it down or tear it down if it cannot be repaired.
Kings Island does not release attendance figures, but experts doubt Son of Beast has had any negative impact on the bottom line. The park has numerous other attractions, including 14 other roller coasters. Windseeker, a large swing ride, and a walk-through dinosaur park with 56 animatronic models are new features this season.