Kings Island officials announced Friday that they were removing the Son of Beast, the problematic wooden roller coaster that hasn’t been operated in three years.
“We have thoroughly explored all the options and variables for the ride and determined this to be the best course of action,” said park spokesman Don Helbig. The ride was being removed to make room for future park expansion, Helbig said.
When the Son of Beast opened it 2000, it was promoted as a “sequel” to the park’s most famous ride — the Beast. When it opened, the ride set world records as the tallest wooden roller coaster at 218 feet and fastest wooden coaster with top speeds of 78 miles per hour. The ride, which cost $10 million to build, was 7,032 feet long, according to Helbig. The roller coaster also contained a mammoth 118-foot loop, a rarity for a wooden roller coaster.
The ride was beset with problems from the start. Then-Kings Island owner Paramount fired Roller Coaster Company of Ohio — the firm hired to engineer and build the ride — before the construction was completed and had to make several design corrections in the ride’s initial year.
In total, people reported being injured in six different incidences on the ride, although only one — in 2006 — was deemed to be due to design flaws by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees roller coasters and thrill rides.
In 2006, 27 people reported being injured when a wooden beam cracked from the weight of the roller coaster riders. One woman sued the park and was awarded an undisclosed sum in damages due to hip and back injuries sustained in the ride. During the trial, forensic engineer Rick Schmizze testified that in his opinion, Kings Island owners were “negligent” and had “put passengers at risk” by ignoring flaws in the ride and trying to correct them with “band-aid fixes.”
The ride was shuttered for the remainder of 2006, but reopened in 2007 minus the loop. Park officials said the loop’s removal had nothing to do with the 2006 incident but was done so different trains could be used on the ride.
The ride was closed again — for the final time — on June 16, 2009 when a 39-year-old Mason woman reported she had been hospitalized after sustaining a burst blood vessel in her brain as a result of riding the roller coaster. The Department of Agriculture found no design flaw to have caused the injury, but the ride never reopened.
It was estimated more than 7 million people rode the Son of Beast in its nine-plus seasons of operation.
The ride will be dismantled later this summer, but Helbig did not have a definitive date for when that would occur.
Helbig said it was uncertain what would be built in the Son of Beast’s place.
“We have a lot of room to work with, so it will be exciting to look to the future,” Helbig said.