Welcome back to my blog! So much has been happening in my life:
- Mermaids and Pirates at Newport Aquarium is in full gear
- Nauti Nite, WAVE Foundation’s annual fundraiser was this past Friday
- Vortex, a staple of Kings Island, is being removed
So let’s get started.
2 weeks ago was Mermaids and Pirates preview/media week, as I had the privilege of creating a video for a campaign called #ACleanerWorld in order to help promote conservation efforts (see the video here). It was the most difficult short film I had to ever put together because I was my own director, videographer, producer, and editor. It was the first shoot I ever had to do on a set time schedule, which I admit had me nervous and a bit of anxiety kicked in, but I always welcome a challenge as I know I will learn and better myself in the process. My photography skills have also been put to the test as getting pictures of mermaids can be quite difficult, especially when they’re swimming!
I also had the rare opportunity to film a news segment for ABC 36 News out of Lexington to promote Mermaids and Pirates because they did not have a spare videographer to film it. Luckily I had my camera equipment with me as well as a handheld omnidirectional reporter microphone!
So far Mermaids and Pirates has been a huge success, bringing smiles and wonder to so many children, as well as some adults! I mean, #MermaidsAreReal after all, right?
This past Friday was Nauti Nite, WAVE Foundation’s annual fundraiser where all the proceeds benefit their conservation efforts and youth education outreach. I love being a volunteer/intern for WAVE because many kids do not get the opportunity to ever see these beautiful animals, let alone an ocean. It is through this amazing organization that I can help not only youth, but the animals as well. I remember being a kid and always using my hands to shield all the worms crawling around during the hot summer days to keep them from being getting burnt. I forgot how much I love animals through this wonderful experience. Even though have always owned pets, its amazing how much your viewpoint changes when you get to interact with all these amazing creatures on a daily basis.
Nauti Nite was tons of fun, as there are over 40 different drink and food vendors, as well as live entertainment and a massive silent auction! Eat, play, and enjoy – all for a good cause! I’d like to give a shout out to the amazing sales team, Jenny Greber and Scott Wingate, who help put this amazing event on every year. Be sure to mark your calendars for October 4th, 2020.
In more somber news, Kings Island recently announce the demise of Vortex, the 33-year old Arrow Dynamics multi-looper. In honor of it, I’d like to give the history behind it and what made it so special.
(C: BrianLamm Media)
In 1981, Kings Island debuted the world’s first modern suspended coaster – The Bat (not to be confused with the 1993 one at the front of the park today, formerly named Top Gun: The Jet Coaster). The Bat was a prototype coaster by Arrow Development, a swinging suspended coaster where the rails would ride above the cars – something relatively new for riders as there was nothing else like it at the time. Unfortunately, due to many maintenance issues and it being a prototype, the park had to remove it. By opening day in 1984, the ride was completely removed – all except for the station and some footers.
3 years went by, and in Winter of 1986, Kings Island announced the first roller coaster to ever go upside down six different times, a new world record.
(A Vortex car on display during WinterFest 1986)
Vortex was set to debut in the spring of 1987 in the former spot of The Bat, and it would reuse the same station. Many of the footers from The Bat can still be seen today throughout Vortex’s layout. Arrow Development (then named Dynamics) gave the coaster to them at a discounted rate – $4 million – since the demise of The Bat was essentially their fault (but it was a prototype and KI knew this, so they never pursued legal action, of course). It opened on April 11, 1987 as the tallest roller coaster in the world (148 ft) and held that record until June of 1988. It also had the highest drop on a roller coaster at the time, at 138 ft at 55-degree angle. The ride features 2 vertical loops, 1 corkscrew, a boomerang turn, AND A 360-degree helix finale, with a maximum speed of 55 mph. The ride is a 2 and a half minute experience on 3,800 ft of track – 750 tons of steel. Over the past 33 years, over 45 million riders have felt the grip of Vortex, and have been flipped upside down a total of around 275,000,000 times. Vortex also holds a significant place in the heart of Kings Island because it helped Kings Island exceed 3 million visitors for the first time.
On September 27, 2019, Kings Island announced in a blog post that Vortex’s time had come. Over time, as guests had mixed reactions with it, and ridership declined. Plus, a coaster like this is only designed to run about 25-30 years, park spokesperson Chad Showalter had mentioned in an interview with WCPO Channel 9. I was shocked to see this, as Vortex was the first coaster to get me over my fears. I had never been upside down on a ride prior to that, and was tricked to get on when I was 8 years old. I was obsessed with The Beast at the time, and my cousin begged me to ride Vortex with her, but I was too scared. She tricked me by saying it was shorter and slower than The Beast, but once I was on that lift hill and glanced towards the left, I knew that was not the case. But when I got off, it was amazing! What a rush!
It will be hard to try and imagine what the park will be without this beautiful coaster lining the skyline of the park. After all, besides Banshee and the Eiffel Tower, I think this is the most picturesque object/background at the entire park. There are currently no plans as to what will replace it. Be sure to join me and the Kings Island: 50 Years of Memories Movie team on October 27th to say our goodbyes and feel the grip one last time.