What a predicament: Kings Island is taking apart its Son of Beast roller coaster – and will need to figure out what to do with 53 concrete pilings, about 6,000 feet of steel track, 50,000 pounds of nails, 225,000 bolts and 2.25 million board feet of wood.
Those were the components that made up Son of Beast, which was heralded as the world’s tallest, fastest and only looping wooden roller coaster when it opened in 2000.
But now, after safety and operational concerns mothballed the ride in 2009, the coaster is slated for demolition later this summer.
- Photos: Son of Beast
Son of Beast will be taken down “the same way it went up” – in sections, Don Helbig, spokesman for the amusement park said Friday.
In news releases and a Facebook posting, Park officials announced their decision to dismantle the ride.
Helbig was unsure what would happen to its parts. “That’s something we’ll have to take a look at,” he said.
Workmen will spend months taking apart the roller coaster; no date for the work to begin was revealed.
And if officials know what they intend to do with the 12 acres that Son of Beast will vacate in the park’s north end, they’re not saying.
Helbig said some coaster fanatics are sure to mourn Son of Beast’s demise, considering its place in the annals of coaster history; it set five records. While some riders loved it for its speed, others thought the ride was too rough and just plain wasn’t enjoyable.
The track climbs to a 218-foot peak, followed by a 214-foot drop; its trains would reach speeds of 78 mph. But its history was troubled from the start. While the ride was under construction in January 2000, high winds collapsed part of it, and construction troubles delayed its opening.
In 2006-07, Son of Beast remained closed for nearly a year after at least 27 people were injured in an accident. Lawsuits followed. The ride was reconfigured; its signature loop was removed, shortening its track, which was originally 7,032 feet long.
Then, in 2009, the park voluntarily closed the ride after a woman reported she was injured on it. At that time, state inspectors said they had been called to check the coaster six times in its history – more than any other ride in Ohio during the same period. But park officials kept the coaster closed even after a state investigation of the woman’s complaint found no irregularities with the ride.
No train has traveled on the coaster’s tracks since 2009, Helbig said, not even for testing purposes.
Officials from Kings Island’s parent company, Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., conferred with park management and ultimately decided to raze Son of Beast “to make room for future park expansion,” a statement said, without further elaboration.
It took officials three years to weigh all possible alternatives, Helbig said, but they were unable to find a solution to the coaster’s issues.
“We weren’t satisfied with the ride’s performance,” he said.
Patrons’ questions about Son of Beast’s future seemed to have faded in recent months, but “our guests were looking for a decision,” Helbig said.
On cincinnati.com, Russ Toelke posted: “Bummer to see it go…Of course, it always had problems after it opened, and I always wondered whether they should have just started all over.”
Another commenter, Terry Wilson, wrote: “Only (rode) it once and had a season pass for a long time, it was just too rough and it wasn’t fun at all. Great idea, poor results.”