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May 19, 2015
Wright Patt AFB, OH
Asked to submit a trip report for Kings Dominion, sorry this won't have any good pictures, video or anything, and be a tad more brief. This park honestly could be the most disappointing park along my trip, and was quite a bummer to end on this park for the trip I took (CWinds, BGW, and then this) for a week.

We went to the park and got there right at opening considering this park doesn't do ERT like the some others in the chain (Kings Island, CP, etc.). I will say in a 2015 Ford Taurus though, don't listen to the GPS though as it has you turn off on the road prior to the park that has a few small hotels next to it, not the actual admissions road.

Once inside, one of our friends purchased the all day dining deal for $30. This allowed us to get main meals when we needed them and snacks along the way. The other two and myself included had passes with the meal plan on them for the season, great deals.

First up was Dominator. I haven't ridden this since the Geauga Lake days. Being a Northeast Ohio native, that park was my stomping ground for many years. That park hosted my father's corporate picnics many a time, and many small vacations were there. Then when I was a bit older and ventured there with friends, it served it's purpose there. Hell Dominator even got me my first kiss, imagine that! It's about as good as I remember. The vertical loop is as great as ever and the foot chopper elements are still the best in class. Even after the MCBR it holds up and does everything right. It does ride a bit rougher now a days though, which is an absolute shame, but it's getting up there in age. I will say the worst is seeing that ride and layout and not seeing it halfway into the lake and Raging Wolf Bobs just a bit up the way. I really do miss that park.

Then over to Volcano as it usually has a horrendeous line through the day and a really poorly setup queue. Thankfully we only had to go through the first queue house, the line wasn't long enough to force us to go through all of it. Once we waited our time in line, it was time to ride a neat little Intamin invert. The two sets of launches are fantastic, it really makes for a hyped up ride. However, it has very long drawn out inversions and after the launches to me it loses much of it's luster. It's a downright shame that everything great is in the first half of the ride and afterwards it's just, mediocre.

Once we finished that, we went over to Avalanche nextdoor. This is a neat little coaster for what it is meant to do. Not many bobsled style coasters exist, it's a dying breed, but unfortunately if it doesn't stick around I won't be offended. It is neat seeing one not enclosed (I'm looking at you Disaster Transport) for once in my life. One note though, do not choose the same car if you're in line with another male friend. It makes for an...interesting ride..

One thing here worth noting too is The Crypt here is becoming a joke. After the Paramount days ended, this Crypt was the best of the Tomb Raiders built. The theming was intact as I know it for many years and if memory serves correct even last year. I could be wrong, but regardless this season, music, flames, etc. it's all off. It's just quiet minus the ride brakes and riders squealing. No theming, nothing. I think it may possibly be next to go, unless all the spare parts from the one cut from KI will keep it running for quite some time.

Afterwards it was over to FoF (Flight of Fear..not sure if you guys are as acronym crazy as us Ohio coaster fans). I chose to sit out, being close to KI, I don't care to ride clones. The only other "clone" of this type I care to ride is Poltergeist at SFFT as it's not enclosed and contains no MCBR. Half of the group went while I sat on a bench enjoying a drink and the sun. What I did find funny though is seeing half of the queue cut away for a haunt. The indoor section of this ride is now butchered IMO. For those wanting the real deal see KI. They recently got new TV's and an updated video, and the theming still looks halfway decent. KD seems to not care anymore in this department.

After that, onto I-305. This ride now that it's running good is so superb. It may be one of the coolest coasters built. Fury takes the cake for me, but wow does this come as a very close second. Those restraints, those positive g's, the airtime. It's Millie at CP combined with Maverick. It's such a great combination. I really don't care for it's NASCAR theme. offense to you guys over there..but apparently it's a big deal to y'all. Why naming a coaster after a race car driver makes little to no sense to me, especially the guy it's named after. Again, no offense, but...doesn't do anything for me, or make me respect or care for it anymore. If anything at least it does provide some new park merch though instead of seeing ride logos and KD 40 plastered everywhere.

We decided to stop by Anaconda next. I have and always will love Arrow coasters. This one is quite good, especially in the very last car. Great pull, great layout, and the interaction on the water is really enjoyable. Not my favorite arrow looper, but it is a great one.

From there we ventured all the way over to Grizzly. And wow was I impressed. Even if this is a Wildcat clone (I thought it was a Shooting Star clone at first) it's really really good. I rode it in the very last car front row and had a blast. It was a tad jerky but nothing too terrible. The head chopper effect in the tunnel actually got me quite good, and those usually never do anything for me. I'm 5'5 I'm not tall, I know I'm not ganna get hit. Great, great wooden coaster. I love that out of control, rampaging, we're ganna die kind of feeling on old coasters, it's what makes them way better than many new coasters sometimes.

Next up, the terrible Hurler. Oh boy...I think I need to call the park, I left my back somewhere out there amongst the ride. It's such a shame after riding the one at Carowinds that's been retracked and is amazingly comfortable that this one isn't even close to on par. It just hurt, it absolutely hurt. The drop was fantastic, everything after..ouch. Thunder Run at Kentucky Kingdom is still the best out of the three similar rides, but...I won't be riding Hurler at KD again (if I go back).

Rebel Yell was next. I didn't care to ride this, I have Racer one hour from me, and for what I hear, it's way better than this one at KD in terms of being able to enjoy the ride. I think after getting almost destroyed by Hurler, this was the nail in the coffin for me deciding not to ride. I regret it a bit, but at the time I didn't. Maybe next time, ride the other way around.

Next was Ricochet. It's a sweet Wild Mouse, I love these things. So many enthusiasts I hear knock these rides or disregard them, but why? They're a load of fun. Hairpin turns, and quick spurts of air, it works, and it does it's job. I will give the KD one points, for some reason somehow the CWinds version decided I no longer needed testicles and slammed them together on a small hill, KD's didn't do that, thank you KD.

From there the group wanted to do Shockwave. I sat out, I know better. My chest doesn't needed crushed. They came back to let me know it was a regrettable decision. TOGO standups need...wait for it..TO GO...everyone laugh with me. Riding the defunct one at KI was enough. While sitting out though, I realized the MOST FATAL AMUSEMENT PARK FLAW EVER. This seriously irked me beyond belief. See that Carousel on Candy Apple Grove? It's pretty, and it looks like it's in pretty good shape. WHY though does the park feel it's ok to put a bunch of fake rock speakers 15-20 feet away from the ride and play Band Organ style music that I doubt was ever on the original organs that came with the carousel? I was just shocked, and just outright offended someone in the park felt that was ok. Whoever you are, seriously, you're wrong, just know that. I hope your influence doesn't go far in that park, because this is dreadful.

Then onto the Antique Cars (Blue Ridge). For some reason these are so fun. I can never explain why, they just are. I think also being with other 22+ year olds like myself, we just screwed around the whole time. Plus I think it made it more enjoyable that my friend who can pull off an Elmo voice decided to drive one of the cars going off to everyone while driving that "Elmo had a few too many to drink" and "Elmo likes Jagerbombs" while driving erratically. I'm surprised I didn't die myself from laughing so hard. I'm sure the ride ops thought we were out of our minds, ah well.

Next, giant flaw number two, Flying Eagles. This set of Eagles is fantastic. They ride well, they look well, and being in the middle of Old Virginia they look really good actually! However, why is KD the only park I know that snapping isn't allowed? I say I probably would have been able to go to town snapping them too. It was windy as hell that day, I mean we even got told we couldn't snap them and were fighting to try and not snap them to give a good ride. About 10 seconds into the cycle mine inevitably snapped and the ride ended, and everyone has to get off, the cycle is done. It's such a bullshit rule and robs a whole cycle worth of riders their fun, and seriously does no harm. KI lets it happen, CWinds lets it happen and PROMOTES IT, CP lets it happen...KD...why? Did the same person with the carousel speakers let this happen too?

From there it was a few rerides at night and then we decided to take the trip back to our comfy hotel. Good ish day, but having two world class parks, most notably BGW the day before, I was quite underwhelmed. Here's some final thoughts aside from the ride list for the day.

Food here just sucks. The rest of the CF chain is getting really good in this area finally. KD still feels like Kinzel era food, which is surprising given the KD 40 deal going on in the park. The Country Kitchen deal sounds great, but the food is far from anything edible. Seriously, their Fried Chicken was close to just getting thrown away. The fish at Outer Hanks was a joke, the hush puppies were alright, but whoever cooks the a fish fast food chain outdoes you, we have a problem. We used the all day dining to get a few other snacks, and again, all underwhelmed. Next time I go to KD, I'll pack food or eat outside. Take note KD..CP has Quaker Steak & Lube, Chickies & Petes, Pinks Hotdogs...Carowinds has Harmony Hall...Chickies & Petes..Wings..Common guys step up the game

The park layout is confusing and annoying. I thought old Geauga Lake being as big as it was took the cake for badly laid out, but the mini pathways, only one way to the ride, and weird layout really made it quite difficult to get around and find what we needed. I mean hell even the Soak City layout is so bad they have to point out where it is on the park map with a huge blue star.

Last problem I have, and it's really kind of null & void except for people like me, is I have Kings Island nextdoor. Sure this park has a beautiful forest around the tower, and some nice areas, and a pretty good ride selection. However, when I see clones everywhere, it loses it's identity to me. It has a FoF, a Backlot, a Drop Tower, etc. It feels like a KI little brother, not it's own park. When I got off the Eiffel Tower I even had to take a double take because it seemed so different. I know they're seperate, but in my mind they aren't. It reminds me of the cookie cutter suburbs. They're all different houses, but drive by them and check them out, and guess what they're all practically the same, and it seems boring.

I will say one one last note though, KD does currently have a better International Street than KI. I will give praise where due. Once past the ridiculously bad chokepoint that is the turnstiles, the street is fantastic. I thought for awhile the black bottomed pool looked great but never really got a chance to see the KD one in person until this year. It looks great, and feels and looks so much more natural. Then at night the "Bellagio" style fountain show with the music looks great. I've wanted a fountain upgrade at KI for years, and this reaffirms it as long as we keep the center pedestals for our fountains. However, I want the lights, black bottom, and dancing fountains for our park. Another good thing on I Street is it still has a bit more international flair. Not much, but it's there, which to me is a plus. The last good thing is themed music. Why oh why oh why did KI decide pop music on I Street was a must? I enjoyed hearing classical almost BGW Hamlet style music around the fountains, it felt perfectly right. Hearing Katy Perry at KI next to a Starbucks..not so much.

So with all that in order, I leave it at a close. It was a good park trip, but I will say I left underwhelmed and unimpressed. I'll go again, but I won't go out of my way to do it, if it happens great, if it doesn't, I won't be upset, which is a shame in my book I have to say that about a CF amusement park.

So that's my consencus
Jul 22, 2014
Virginia Tech
Very interesting perspective. While I won't comment on everything, I'd like to comment on some items you pointed out.

1.) Must've been on an off day, because the Crypt's sound, water, and fire normally works
2.) FOF at KD might not have the indoor queue, but on most days it doesn't need it. Also, FOF at KD is smoother than at KI - should've taken a ride.
3.) Yes, Intimidator 305 is better than anything in the state of Ohio.
4.) You must've gotten a lucky seat on Hurler at Carowinds and a bad seat on Hurler at KD... even with the re-tracking on Carowinds' Hurler it is just as bad as Kings Dominion's. The trains ruin these rides and lack of maintenance for 10 or so years doomed these attractions.
5.) You shouldn't of skipped out on Rebel Yell. The ride is quite smoother than Racer, especially in a middle seat. However, they need to redo its queue, give it a queue house again, and finish painting it to look as nice as Racer at KI.
6.) I've never been told not to snap on Flying Eagles, ever.
7.) With the new executive Chef, the food is slowly, but surely going in a wonderful direction. I'd suggest returning in 2-3 years for some of the best food in the chain.
8.) I'm an annual visitor to both KI and KD, however, I find KI to be the 'dirty' version of KD. It just doesn't feel like it is as spruced up (similar to how KD was at the end of the Paramount days until around 2010ish). Also, KI tends to attract a rougher crowd than most parks from my experiences, but it has never been bad enough to make me not want to return. I tend to like Kings Island's layout better, especially with Soak City being an area of its own practically like its own park. At the end of the day though, I think KD is definitely a better overall park currently.

Finally, thanks for the report. You raised some interesting points and its always great to hear an outsiders perspective. I hope you return in a few years once there is a new coaster, better food, and an even better atmosphere.
Jul 16, 2013
Blacksburg, VA
In all honesty you can't visit KD with the highest of hopes. Yes we talk about all the improvements in the park, but as an "outsider" you haven't seen the park in its previous state. (i.e Paramount phase) Like Hokie said, visit in a few more years and (hopefully) you'll see some more improvements compared to your most recent visit!
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May 19, 2015
Wright Patt AFB, OH
#3 Lets just agree to disagree :)

#4 I'll ask my friend where we rode, I enjoyed it though at CWinds, not sure why, but it was great

#5 If it's smoother that's impressive, Racer the past two years has run like a champ, not the smoothest wood I've been on but not anywhere near as bad as it was years ago

#6 I wish that was the case, I would have had so much fun on their set, but kid you not, ~10 second cycle, it was windy as hell, they were evn swaying a bit on the ground naturally if you moved the rudder

#8 I felt like KD had a rougher crowd, I mean it had metal detectors bogging down the queue. I've only seen those a very few select days at KI.


Jan 30, 2014
With the understanding that this is a very opinionated subject, I recently visited Carowinds and found it to be WAY behind KD as far as park beauty/experience goes. Except for the entrance, all of the planters were filled with pine tags that give of a foul musty smell. Sure, Harmony Hall had a fresh new feel to it, but their food was nothing short of cardboard. I'll take a KD Border Cafe taco meal over this any day. The shrimp and fries from Dockside were just awful. Again, Boardwalk fries smell and taste much better. I think Caro gave me the same 'inferior' feeling that KD gave you. Yes they have a sweet trio of world class rides with Int, Fury, and Afterburn, but the rest of my trip there was absolutely blah. I guess my point is, being a regular at a park gives you the advantage of knowing what is good and where it is. You know just where everything good is at KI, but you mentioned nothing about what I consider to be the best culinary choices at KD. Same with Caro, I'm sure there are better treats there that were not in my trip choices. But the choices I made gave a negative vibe to add to my already disappointed visual experience with the park. Lastly, Flying Eagles/Parrot Troopers has never shut down on me for snapping. I've been riding them since 1979.
Nov 27, 2009
thedevarious said:
The park layout is confusing and annoying. I thought old Geauga Lake being as big as it was took the cake for badly laid out, but the mini pathways, only one way to the ride, and weird layout really made it quite difficult to get around and find what we needed. I mean hell even the Soak City layout is so bad they have to point out where it is on the park map with a huge blue star.

I find this surprising because I think KD is one of the easiest parks to get around at, especially compared to other parks like SFA. I went with some family members who visited for the first time last year and they mentioned how great it was that everything was easy to find, with the exception of Grizzly.

Great review overall. Good to know I'm not the only one who has a heart for Arrow loopers!


Team Instinct
Jan 12, 2012
in the rear
Volcano/FOF should be your first stop on any KD trip. Volcano has terrible capacity and FOF has slow ops so they get the worst lines. FOF is definitely worth a trip though even if you've ridden KI's version. The ride runs really well. The queue line still has some set pieces and the walk up into the UFO is still pretty cool.

Crypt had its effects fully running (sound, fire, water) last year for Haunt.

Skipping Rebel Yell was also a mistake. Its easily one of the better coasters in the park. Far better than Hurler could ever be. Its basically Apollo airtime on a wooden coaster. Who doesn't like that?

KI has plenty of clones to go around just like KD does. Outside of maybe 4 rides, most everything there can be found at at least one other park.

- I keep getting Carowinds mixed with Canada's Wonderland. CF needs a new abbreviation system lol.
May 19, 2015
Wright Patt AFB, OH
I label Carowinds CWinds for that reason netdvn ;)

Like I said, I'll give Rebel Yell a shot, but not Hurler, that was just awful. I'd like to see what was better food wise at some point, everything I had was a disappointment that day. I even went back to the hotel for a Pizza and Whiskey Sour and was much happier with that selection.

Carowinds def. doesn't have the ground asthetics yet like KD or BGW, I'll agree wholheartedly there. I loved the way KD looked, from the tower being surrounded by all the trees and seeing the land twist and move, it's sweet to look at. Carowinds really doesn't have that feel, not yet. I think starting at the front they're working on it. If they turn into the CP of the south, I'm sure we'll see more effort in that category. The main midway flower beds at CP especially viewed from Sky Ride still haven't been beaten IMO. As much as BGW is just stunning visually, that midway does have a charm for me in that one regard. If something like that hits CWinds, I'm in.

The issue with Navigation for me is one entrance only, or walking all the way around to get to it. Think Dominator. You either go by I Street's entrance or you go up by Planet Snoopy and all the way around and up. Take Banshee at KI, each way coming from the right side of the park moving left, theres a few different paths and all equidistant. I also think the issue stems from each area kind of being off on it's own (say like Safari Village). Wheras most parks, it's a simple path to follow. (Gemini Midway turns into Frontier Town, which goes to Frontier Trail, and over to Millie)

Like I said, some good stuff, hell great stuff. I-305 is a great coaster, Grizzly is easily in my top 5 wooden coasters now. and layout really got to me. But again I think the issue stems from me seeing KI in that park everywhere I go, and following KD after a full tour and jam packed day at BGW really set me up to not like it from the start. Maybe next time a different order is in hand.


Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
First, thanks for the exhaustive review. It is great to have new perspectives.

That said, I think you made a few mistakes that probably affected your KD experience.

1. KD has ERT and it is listed on their site. I always hit Volcano and i305 before the park opens and avoid the lines.

2. KD's new executive chef is doing amazing things. In fact this year, I prefer eating at KD to BGW. I wish you had asked or looked around our site first. Bistro 75 serves fantastic New American cuisine. The barbeque at Wayside Grill is great (I speak as a Southerner). The new chicken pizzas at the Chicken Shack are tasty fusion. Honestly, I find the food at CP and Caro to be nearly inedible compared to both Virginia parks. The "new" restaurants at Caro in particular were a joke compared to what Chef Paul is doing. For context, I live in DC, so I have access to really good restaurants; I am not happy with crappy amusement park food, like chicken nuggets and pizza.

3. Rebel Yell is far and away a better ride than Hurler, and they have been re-tracking it. I rarely bother with Hurler, but like Nessie, I would never miss Rebel Yell.

4. Not sure what you are taking about "you guys over there" liking the NASCAR theming at i305. I personally don't know anyone who likes it. We endure it for the pleasure of riding the second best coaster in the state.

Overall, the impression among local enthusiasts is that KD has really been getting their act together over the past couple of years and cleaning up the park and dramatically improving the food. I think if you tried KD again with a local's expertise you'd find that the experience was much improved.
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May 19, 2015
Wright Patt AFB, OH
Huh..we looked for ERT on the mobile site the night before and didn't find it. Good job Accesso mobile :) Noted..shame nothing else is ERT. I will say CP really does ERT the best out of every park I've been to. Full park access, many rides open spaced out through the park, but can still wait for the 1000 opens. Noted though, that'll get rid of my V:TBC line.

The Chicken Shack we avoided, we went in and then turned around. Maybe on a future go we'll try. The chicken tenders at KI are hand battered and come with Raising Caines esque sides, and are actually pretty close to their inspiration.

I'll give Rebel Yell a try, it looked great. It may have to fight my Racer is the original and best bias, but good wooden coasters are good wooden coasters. No more Hurler though, just..anyone find my back yet?

The I-305 and Intimidator theming drew in HUGE crowds. People were wearing NASCAR shirts, and taking selfies, and going all around the cars and shops like they made a holy mecca. I just had to press through people to get to the queues :p I'd love to understand it. I'm an F1 and Indy guy, but I really don't see the point of making roller coasters about it (Looking at you Ferrari Land)

I'm down to go with anyone, we all would love a second stab at the park at some point. Hell I'll go for I-305 and be done, that ride is so easy to marathon.
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ParkFans Founder
Silver Donor
Jun 2, 2011
Raleigh, NC

netdvn said:
- I keep getting Carowinds mixed with Canada's Wonderland. CF needs a new abbreviation system lol.
The official ParkFans abbreviation for Carowinds is Caro and the abbreviation for Canada's Wonderland is CW. Check out each of the parks icons on the forum if you don't know the parks abbreviation. I think we have an official thread somewhere too.
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Aug 1, 2010
Seven Pines, Virginia
At the request and recommendations of my co-workers, I returned to KD after 17 years. On Friday (May 22) I was pleasantly surprised at how much better and nicer the park is than from what I remember. It was a fairly light crowd with minimal waits. I expected to be beat to death by Hurler and Grizzly, but both were much smoother than expected. Flight of Fear's harness system is absolutely awful and uncomfortable. The remaining coasters were fun rides and will be ridden again. While I was only there for about four hours I got a real good feeling and will be going back again.
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