Can You Stand It?
On April 22, 1984 when Kings Island opened for the season, they opened with a $3 million investment in a prototype TOGO Stand-Up Coaster, named King Cobra. Kings Island still dealing with the issues of the prototype suspended coaster, The Bat, decided to install this coaster. This new coaster was a special one due to the fact that it was the worlds first coaster designed to be a stand-up roller coaster. King Cobra was designed my the Japanese company, TOGO. King Cobra was located in the Lion Country Safari area of the park.
The coaster featured trains that used Arrow Dynamics car chassis. The chassis was simliar to the cars on the trains for Corkscrew coasters, however the prototype on King Cobra didn't have seats, it had riders standing in an upright position with a new type of over the shoulder restraints, a picture of the restrains is below. There were 2 trains with 6 cars per train. Riders would stand 2 across in two rows on each car, for the total of 24 guests per train. This would make the hourly capacity 1250 for the 2 minute, 50 mile per hour ride. The length of the track for King Cobra was 2,219 feet at the top height of 95 feet with 1 inversion in the form of a loop. Once on the train passengers would ascend the 95 foot lift hill, before turning 180 degrees to the right to be dropped as soon as the turn was completed. The first thing after the drop was the vertical loop. The riders then would experience a camel back hill allowing them some airtime, which many craved. As soon as they crested the hill they were dropped into a 540 degree helix, in which some riders said they felt like they were standing sideways. After the helix, riders were thrown over a second camel back hill and then they experience a trick track. The trick track on King Cobra was straight, but banked to the left and then immediately turned right. The riders hit two smaller hills that gave minimum airtime before arriving in the brake run. Once the train was in the break run, the train turned to the right and was brought into the station.
In 1993, the Lion County Safari area including the former monorail (to be discussed later), the animals and other rides were removed without an explanation. However, King Cobra would continue to dominate and operate in that area for 17 years. In 2001, TOGO closed their American offices. This poised a problem for Kings Island and the operation of King Cobra. The problems were the fact that it became harder for the park to get replacement parts for the ride, like wheels and other parts. The decision came to remove King Cobra shortly after the 2001 season due to low ridership and the problematic issue of getting more parts. As the 2002 season opened up for Kings Island, crews arrived to remove King Cobra. However, the ride wasn't in any immediate danger of being wiped off of the planet. The ride went up for sale on several websites that sell used rides, for around 1 million dollars. The ride unfortunately never sold. Most of the steel for the ride ended up in the Kings Island ride "graveyard," as seen by the following picture. It's my belief that the steel was placed in the graveyard by Son of Beast, as I did my looking on Google Earth. The cars were stored in various places around the park. They were stored in one of the animal feed houses for the Lion County Safari attraction, they were stored (and most enthusiasts can vouch for this) in the Flight of Fear "spaghetti" bowl around the perimeter. At the end of the 2008 season, the remaining cars were sent to Kings Dominion to be used for parts on their coaster, Shockwave. To this day, you can see some remnants of the footings for King Cobra. I'm not completely sure where they are all located, however I know when I'm in the queue for Adventure Express, I can see the footers as I look to the left before walking into the sheltered queue.
While I never got a chance to ride this coaster. I've heard great things. For a prototype coaster, I'm extremely happy that Kings Island received one that was successful and that it didn't have the same fate as the previous prototype, The Bat. The only stand up coaster that I have ridden is Mantis at Cedar Point. That one hurt a bit for me since I'm a guy, not sure if King Cobra had the same "feature" but I hope not! The whole lay out looks fun to me, I know I would enjoy the feeling of standing sideways while on a coaster. I do find it sad that TOGO did close the American offices. Think of the coasters that could have been if they would have stayed in the states. One of my favorite things about this history of this coaster is the fact that when I go to ride Adventure Express with someone who has been to the park way more than me or for a longer time than I, ala prior to 1993, hearing the stories of their first ride on King Cobra, hearing their take on the layout and what "that footing" is for, or for the fact that these people continue to find the enthusiasm they had back when King Cobra was operational and bringing it to other rides. I do find it interesting that the park has had a couple of rides with snake names in them, then King Cobra and now Diamondback. I am a bit upset that I never got to ride King Cobra, however I'm happy that Kings Island was graced with this coaster.
Don't forget to leave us comments! If you don't know how, check the "Contact Us Page" for instructions! We look forward to hearing from you and any ideas you may have!