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The Beast Celebrates 35 Years at Kings Island
MASON -- When The Beast opened to the public April 14, 1979, it was acclaimed Americas ultimate roller coaster. It broke all existing records as the longest and fastest ride in the world. It is still listed in the prestigious Guinness Book of World Records as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world at 7,359 feet.
The Beast is a modern classic, an icon and a benchmark that other wooden roller coasters are judged, said David Lipnicky, public relations director of the American Coaster Enthusiasts. Its powerful, fast and relentless.
According to Kings Island officials, the idea for building The Beast began as a dream of re-creating one of the Midwests most popular old coasters.
When Kings Island construction and engineering personnel began planning to build a new coaster, their aim was to reconstruct the old Shooting Star, an immensely popular ride at Cincinnatis Coney Island before the park closed in 1971. Charles Dinn, director of construction, maintenance and engineering at Kings Island at the time, had surveyed the Shooting Star before it was torn down, and had recorded each measurement of the ride. Dinn and his crew had even chosen a site, right next to the Racer roller coaster.
But Kings Island officials decided that rebuilding an old coaster was not the answer. While agreeing that a new Shooting Star would be great for nostalgia buffs, they reasoned that a newer, better coaster would be even more popular, and have more of a universal appeal. But where would it be built, and what would it be like?
Thats when Kings Islands management explored many options, and realized that a wooded area at the southeast corner of the park had terrain that could accommodate a very special coaster.
Everything began to fall into place. With 35 acres to work with, there were virtually no limitations on space or length of ride. And with the natural cliffs, ravines and gullies, a coaster could break all existing records for vertical drops, without having to build the complete structure from the ground up. In fact, it would be even more practical this way instead of leveling a large plot of land, just take advantage of the uneven terrain and build the coaster to fit it. And think of the excitement of a roller coaster that would wind through a forest sometimes above treetops, sometimes right through the middle of the trees. A ride that would hurtle its passengers to the very brink of a cliff, pull them back, then send them up and down the hills and gullies in the woods! Indeed, it would be a ride that no other park could duplicate.
With genuine excitement, Dinn and his associates began planning the roller coaster. They traveled the country, noting the best features of all of the major coasters. They surveyed the 35-acre Kings Island site, headed for the drawing board, and plotted out the ride on paper. Then it was back to the woods for another look, and more revisions that would make the rugged terrain a help, rather than a hindrance in planning.
But, alas, one final problem: With a ride that lasted more than four minutes, and traveled one-and-three-quarter miles, it was difficult to plan a coaster with enough capacity that was both profitable for the park, and accessible to the guests. If it took forever to get on this coaster, potential riders would give up before ever getting the chance to try it out.
Enter John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Allen came up with a special device for launching the coaster cars, so that more than 1,200 guests could enjoy the ride every hour.
And with that obstacle out of the way, the project began.
The Beast was constructed in less than a year, after two years of research and design all by Kings Island personnel.
The record-breaking features of The Beast included:
A 7,359-foot long track (1.4 miles) and ride time of four minutes, 10 seconds
Vertical drops of 135 feet (at a 45-degree angle) and 141 feet (at an 18-degree angle)
A 125-foot long underground tunnel at the bottom of the 135-foot drop.
Eight banked turns, some to 45 degrees.
A massive, 540-degree helix tunnel near the end.
Speeds up to 64.77 mph
By the time workmen had completed the massive Beast construction in March 1979, they had used 650,000 board feet of southern pine lumber; 37,500 pounds of nails; 82,480 bolts and washers and 2,432 square yards of concrete.
The ride was officially unchained Friday, April 13, 1979.
The Beast has accumulated the following statistics since it opened in 1979:
Each of the trains has traveled a total of 865,133 miles. Thats the equivalent of 35 times around the world!
A grand total of 48,882,975 million rides have been taken by park visitors.
1980 was the record year for the most number of rides: 2,150,353.
July 17, 1981, was the record day, with 20,885 riders.
The record hour was 1,680 on June 15, 1980 (Normal capacity is 1,200).
In 2004, The Beast was given the Coaster Landmark Award by the American Coaster Enthusiasts club, an award designed to recognize coasters of historical significance.
The Beast was the project that really put the wooden roller coaster on the map in the late 1970s, National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives board member Richard Munch said. It was a greatly anticipated and daring venture for its time and when it opened garnered the kind of attention only possible today with the Internet and social media.
Source: Kings Island
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