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Apr 7, 2014
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Now that I have been to both BGW and KD, I can now give by opinions on both and compare their different aspects. If you are looking for a completely unbiased comparison, this is not the thread to look in, as BGW is my home park, but I will try to be as fair as possible. I will start by comparing the coasters of KD to the coasters of BGW (well, the ones I've ridden, at least), comparing the coasters most similar to each other.

Backlot vs. V-Bolt
V-Bolt has Backlot beat by a longshot. Backlot's effects were just dumb. All there was was loud noise and a helicopter that turned a bit. Also, the helix was quite painful. I am not the kind of person who can just feel Gs and recognize them, but there were too many lateral Gs in that helix for my liking. The zigzag section was even worse. I was just thinking, "What is the point of this?" The tunnel section was cool, but that's about it. I don't understand why people think this ride is so smooth. That is probably the last word I would use to describe it. I was quite disappointed in this ride. V-Bolt, on the other hand, is just a plain fun ride. It's smooth, exiting, and has some pretty cool (not the greatest ever) effects. The helix is meant to deliver lateral Gs, but not so many that you're thinking, "What the heck? Who built this? This is dangerous!" (exaggeration). The freefall drop is also an awesome element (which Backlot seems to have few of). The launches on V-Bolt are faster (it seemed that way to me) and more dramatic. V-Bolt also has a classic nosedive drop, which Backlot does not have. I throroughly enjoy myself on V-Bolt. It is an awesome ride. Backlot? Not so much.

Flight of Fear vs. V-Bolt
This is a tough one. Flight of Fear has only one launch, but that launch scares me every time. On the other hand, V-Bolt's freefall drop scares me every time as well. Flight of Fear does not have any theming inside the actual ride area like V-Bolt, and I like the themed show building better than just a few lights scattered around. The queue for Flight of Fear has some pretty cool theming, but the ride itself is pretty much total blackness.  However, V-Bolt has no inversions, while Flight of Fear has numerous inversions, which is pretty cool because you never really know whether you're upside down or not. I still think that I may favor V-Bolt because of its great theming throughout the queue and the ride itself, its two drops, and its dual launches.

Volcano vs. Alpie
Another tough one. Volcano was my favorite ride at KD (I'm not sure which BGW coaster is my favorite). The first launch was insane. The ride was incredibly short, though. We had Fast Lane passes so we could get on in a matter of minutes, but if I had to wait in that hour-long line for a 20 second (estimate) ride, I probably wouldn't have ridden it. Despite its short duration, the ride was a lot of fun. Alpie, on the other hand, is a quite long ride and has more elements and inversions than Volcano. I did love Volcano's first launch, but Alpie's first drop is just as amazing. Volcano's first turn was a little rough, but so is Alppie's cobra roll. If I had to pick one to ride, I would probably pick Alpie.

Intimidator vs. Griffon
Let me start off by saying that Intimidator was crazy. No, that's not the word. Insane is more like it. It took about two years to get from the top of the hill to the bottom (exaggeration). We sat in the front row and I did black out at the bottom. The transitions were a bit too quick. I kept hitting my head on the harness and had a headache after getting off the ride. The lift hill is pretty cool. Its fast pace gets your heart pumping and your mind racing to prepare itself for the 305 foot drop, but when I got off, I was not thinking, "That was fun." I was thinking, "That was insane." I'm not whining. I'm not saying Intimidator was too much for me. Heck, I got back on it again (after I recovered from my headache from the head-banging and G-forces). It was crazy. It was awesome. But it wasn't exactly fun. I might not be making any sense. Some people even go so far as to say that I'm a bit mad :evilgrin:. Anyway, Griffon is crazy, awesome, and fun. As accustomed to coasters as I have become, Griffon's first drop still gets me every time. Griffon is intense (though not nearly as intense as Intimidator), and also has two inversions. Your opinion really depends on your preference as far as ride intensity  goes. For me, Griffon is just right, but I know that some of you would prefer a ride more like Intimidator. Obviously, my choice here is Griffon.

Intimidator vs. Apollo
This is pretty much the same story as Intimidator vs. Griffon, though, in my opinion, Apollo is not quite as intense as Griffon. I love the air time on Apollo. Intimidator has some crazy G-forces, but the G-forces Apollo delivers are much more enjoyable and less painful. Apollo wins this one.

Overall Park Experience
I think its obvious which park is going to win this one. The architecture and music of BGW transport you out of Williamsburg, and far, far away. I am the kind of person that would rather see a theatrical production than a rock concert. I like a theme park that has a theme. Kings Dominion is just sort of a place with coasters. BGW is a themed amusement park that, through architecture, landscaping, shows, music, and themed attractions, showcases European countries and cultures (and stereotypes). How I love the smell of horse dung in the morning! Someone wrote somewhere (not on this site) that KD offers more than BGW. KD definitely offers more coasters and thrills, but BGW offers shows, dining experiences, and living animals.  If you are just a coaster lover, KD is for you. But I am not just a coaster lover. I am a ParkFan.
 

Zachary

Administrator
Sep 23, 2009
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I'm not going to tell you you're wrong, but, personally, I don't see how the side-by-side, in-depth comparison of radically different attractions is really helpful. Comparing each park's lineup as a whole and going through the strengths and weaknesses of each collection makes far more sense to me.

The only two coasters that I'd consider comparable are Loch Ness and Anaconda as they're both Arrow Loopers.
 
Apr 7, 2014
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I haven't been to KD enough times for that. I just wanted to give my opinions of the different coasters of KD vs those of BGW. The coasters, as you said, are radically different, I know, but this was the best way I could think of to compare them. I'm open to suggestions, of course.
 

Nicole

Administrator
Jul 22, 2013
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I'm not sure I see why it is necessary to compare them? I've never really seen the value in comparing the two parks at all for that matter. I think they have different strengths and weaknesses, and I enjoy them for different reasons.
 

Mushroom

Getting aHEAD of myself
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Feb 12, 2011
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Mad Ludwig said:
I like a theme park that has a theme. Kings Dominion is just sort of a place with coasters.

You are just begging to be jumped on with that comment, aren't you? :p

BGW is a themed amusement park that, through architecture, landscaping, shows, music, and themed attractions, showcases European countries and cultures (and stereotypes).

It's not as prevalent as BGW, but at least to me the five themed areas of the park are pretty clear, and they are becoming more distinct each season. For me at least, it's pretty hard to miss the distinct European architecture of International Street which in my opinion is just as well-done as BGW's most authentic-looking hamlets. Then you have the heavily country-themed Old Virginia and Safari Village with a predominate African safari theme. Planet Snoopy is themed to a walk through Peanuts comics (in a quite immersive fashion, I might add). Candy Apple Grove is certainly the least-themed area of the park, but keep in mind its "theme" has always bee a hybrid between an old fashioned Coney-style midway and a whimsical orchard. With the 40th celebration, some of that theming is actually prevalent again. You should have seen it when it was just the Grove last year with basically zero theme at all! The five themed areas don't actually have a common multiple, but that is by design. KD was designed as a park with "five big worlds of fantasy all rolled into one" (the park's Golden Years slogan), and much like many Disney parks, takes its specialty in being a showcase of seemingly unrelated worlds and ideas.

Other than most of Candy Apple Grove (booo pop music in theme parks!), I'd say the park plays music fitting to the themed area you're in. International Street plays immensely powerful classical music (check out the I-Street thread to hear some of the songs they play) which is honestly some of my favorite music ever, Old Virginia has old-fashioned country music, Safari Village has a mix of ominous, sinister music and bongo drums, and Planet Snoopy plays Peanuts music. Candy Apple Grove does at least play classic organ carousel music in the center of the hamlet, which is 100 times better than the pop music which I agree really tears away at the area's theme.

Also, landscaping. Granted, the park isn't built on such rolling topography like BGW is, but this year to me takes an enormous leap in shrubbery. I think, personally, that many areas of the park are just as well landscaped as BGW! Especially recalling how drab the park has been historically, this year it is truly brimming with landscaping. One thing in particular that I like about KD is that because of its absence of a large body of water (Lake Charles shrunk drastically in the 90's to make way for the waterpark), there is an abundance of smaller water features (streams, fountains, waterfalls) that spring up along the way that enhance the experience.

Shows... there are lots of 'em. Maybe you didn't catch any, but KD does have twice as many shows as BGW. Granted, many of them are smaller and are not BGW-caliber. But, the talent level is almost the same in all of the shows as BGW's shows. The singers, musicians, dancers, etc. are very talented. I have a personal distaste for basic music revues, so I stay away from those at KD. But, there is the roaming Clown Band street entertainment with three former BGW musicians, KD40 On Stage, which is a show sort of like London Rocks which celebrates the park's villages, Rockin' COuntry, a country music show with a live band, and a BMX stunt show in Planet Snoopy. There are also three Peanuts-themed shows. I would say KD does have a strong focus on entertainment lately.

As far as themed rides, most of KD's rides are themed to the area they're in. This excludes Backlot, Flight of Fear, and Intimidator, all located in Safari Village. The first two are thanks to bad taste on Paramount's part, although individually they are well themed. The rest all fits into the area... Volcano has more theming than Alpengeist, Apollo, and Griffon combined. The Crypt is basically an outdoor dark ride. Some rides are themed "in name only," but most still fit. There's a lot of subtle theming here, in many cases even more so than what BGW has. I don't know if you tried it, but Boo Blasters on Boo Hill (dark ride) is one of my favorites at the park because of the awesome theming.

Basically, the way I view KD and the way you view KD are very different... and there's nothing wrong with that. It didn't really happen for me until last year, but honestly I think it's all a matter of perspective. It's like that optical illusion where some people see an ugly woman, and others see a princess; if that makes any sense. Once you take a moment to realize what is offered at KD beyond the obvious (i.e. rides), you may notice that it's more of an adventure park than you'd think. I may be biased because I remember just how bad KD used to be. You can read my thread "An Examination of the History and Current Standing of Kings Dominion" in KD's "Everything Else" board for an idea, but basically through the 2000's the park was nothing more than a parking lot with rides. With that image still fresh in my mind, what the park is today doesn't even feel like the same place. The park is on an upward trajectory of enhancing the overall park experience, and if it continues it could easily be on the same level as BGW in a few years.

Someone wrote somewhere (not on this site) that KD offers more than BGW. KD definitely offers more coasters, but BGW offers shows, dining experiences, and living animals.  If you are just a coaster lover, KD is for you. But I am not just a coaster lover. I am a ParkFan.

I don't think it's fair to say that KD offers more than BGW, but totaling everything up together, I think the parks are somewhat equal. They are things BGW has that KD doesn't (namely the live animals, I'll agree with you there), and things KD has that BGW doesn't (ride-related, and non-ride-related, like extra experiences such as the mushrooms). As I said above, KD also offers an abundance of live shows, and while most of KD's food isn't as good as BGW (with the exception of Border Cafe, Country Kitchen, and Outer Hanks with exceptional food), one edge they have is that most of their restaurants have lots of indoor seating, unlike BGW which only offers the Festhaus and a bit of Grogan's for indoor seating. Also, KD does have a large koi pond in Old Virginia where they sell fish food to feed them, if that counts as an "animal encounter." :p If not, the closest KD has is Dinosaurs Alive, but yeah... Unless they somehow revived the animal safari, the live animal encounter is a huge plus for BGW.

I think what I'm getting at is that our perspectives of Kings Dominion vary. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I see KD as more than a "coaster park" personally. I see it as a beautiful theme park brimming with different things to experience. Like I said, KD is on a serious upward trajectory. I'd say in the past four years, their level of improvement from year to year has been exponential. I see KD as a park that is very close to BGW level. If they continue their improvements, I can see KD being on the same level as BGW in the next few years. One thing that KD really has over BGW, that can't be measured, is how much they care about their guests. I always find the staff at KD to be SO friendly and welcoming, and it's clear that the park is proud of the memories it's created over the years, whereas BGW seems to be like, "Screw you sentimental folks! On with a park that Rocks!"

Like I said in the previous post, BGW and KD are both Virginia theme parks. It may be apples and oranges, but apples and oranges are both fruit after all. I personally like apples more than oranges. Whether you like it or not, things are going to be compared. If you have to make a choice between each park, you have to compare them and decide which you think is better. On a recent visit to BGW, I realized something that I should have realized a long time ago: why should I want one park to do well? Really, isn't having two great parks within driving distance better than having one? If parks keep looking at each other, and trying to be better than the other, then they are only going to get better and better. And isn't that really what we want from the parks in the end?

This is just my little add-on to your review of the park. Maybe it's something you have to learn to love, but like I said, I see it as a wonderful place to visit. Hopefully in years to come, more people will think the same. :)
 
May 3, 2011
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I'm going to say exactly what you just compared and how much they shouldn't be compared...

  • Premier LIM family launch coaster vs. Zerier family launch coaster
    Backlot was built in Paramounts time and believe it or not, but it had a great theme (not for the area it was in, but the ride actually showed the theme. Just bad placement and a bad choice for this particular park).


 
Feb 9, 2013
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Joe said:
On a recent visit to BGW, I realized something that I should have realized a long time ago: why should I want one park to do well? Really, isn't having two great parks within driving distance better than having one? If parks keep looking at each other, and trying to be better than the other, then they are only going to get better and better. And isn't that really what we want from the parks in the end?

This.

I want both parks to do great things. Smiling and Nodding at what one park does, then blindly criticizing another doesn't help. Cheering on good changes, and controlling the bad ones are the reason why KD is changing to please everyone now. It's going to be a long process, but if we all be patient, the day will come where KD is on a level we couldn't imagine it being on in the past. When KD gets to the level of BGW(it's going to happen), BGW is going to experience competition it hasn't experienced in over 20 or so years. It's going to be a screaming match between the two, each of them are going to improve beyond our belief(at least I hope they will).

Hopefully BGW doesn't continue on the path they are on right now, because it is just making it easier for KD to catch up. Hopefully BGW will realize it doesn't have room for error anymore, hopefully BGW won't become what KD was. Hopefully one day we'll have our own little, regional version of Universal V. Walt Disney. Hopefully what one park does, makes the other park strive to do better on the next change. One day I hope these hopes come true.
 

MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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KD's coasters are not for people that are used to the smooth mild mannered coasters of BGW. They are more for thrill/speed junkies like myself and anybody else who likes to see stars after the ride. (head banging on I305? what is there to bang your head on? Comparing V-bolt to a nearly 20 year old inverting 54 mph coaster is not really a good idea either.)
 
Apr 7, 2014
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Matthew said:
How is V-bolt super smooth? Only the very front and back are somewhat smooth. If I ride anywhere else I come off with a headache.
Well, I always ride in the front

Also, thanks to everyone for all these great points. I definitely need to experience some of these other aspects of KD that I seemed to have missed, Joe. I did see the Clown Band, which was awesome. I wish BGW had a marching band like that. I know some of the Mix it Up cast could pull it off. International street is beautiful, I must admit. I'm not saying that KD is blank and ugly, but there is not a theme for the entire park. Like I said, this is not an unbiased comparison. BGW is my home park, so that is what I have come to expect. I had no idea their shows were so good. I'll admit when I'm wrong, and I was quite wrong in quite a few areas.
 
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Zimmy

Nessie is lonely.
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Mad Ludwig said:
Well, I always ride in the front

That is a mistake. I often hear people complain about this or that ride hurting their heads and I personally have not had this problem. I then discover they ride in the front only instead of the vastly superior back seats, where the fun is.

For example I recently performed an experiment on Nessie. (may her reign last a millennium) I tried, for the first time in probably 20 years, to ride of front. It was simply boring and banged my head around. Then I rode where I belong, in the back, and all was well. She was swift, exciting, and fairly smooth. (not that I care particularly about smooth, I love woodies after all)

In short, the front is for lame, the back is for winners.

All hail her majesty Nessie.
 
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I always ride Nessie in the back for that same reason. Griffon and V-Bolt are the only rides I wait for the front seat on for two reasons, their lines move relatively quickly and because of the front-row views on both. Riding in any row except the front on Griffon is just lame.
 

MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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Mad Ludwig said:
Riding in any row except the front on Griffon is just lame.

I must disagree with this. The back has the added 20-30 feet of airtime on the first and second hill. (I like the airtime more than the view.)
 
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Feb 9, 2013
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It's not the view for me, it's just the hanging feeling. And 20-30 feet is barely one second more than any other row.
 
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