Like art, music and fashion, roller coasters speed through trends in a never-ending pursuit of the latest and greatest record-setting feat.
Over the years, theme parks have introduced all sorts of "world’s first" coaster designs billed as the fastest, tallest or longest -- only to be overtaken in subsequent summers by faster, taller and longer behemoths.
So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that Ohio’s Kings Island will introduce the world’s longest inverted coaster in April with an under-the-track design that last reigned supreme in the 1990s.
When it debuts on April 18, the 4,124-foot-long Banshee will break a record that has stood for more than 16 years -- in part because no U.S. park has built a new inverted coaster in nearly a decade. With seven inversions, the new Kings Island ride will also tie another inverted coaster record set when Bill Clinton was reelected president.
With trains that hang beneath the track, the terrain-hugging Banshee will join a number of renowned inverted coasters built by Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, including Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa (1996), Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (1997) and Silver Bullet at Knott's Berry Farm (2004).
The $24-million Banshee will be the first new coaster at Kings Island since Diamondback debuted in 2009, the park's only other B&M.
After ascending a 167-foot-tall lift hill, Banshee will plunge into a dive loop before tackling a vertical loop encircling the lift hill, a weightless zero-gravity roll, two batwing inversions, another vertical loop and a 170-foot long heartline roll. Unlike most coasters, Banshee won't reach its peak speed of 68 mph until halfway through the ride.
Banshee will be built on the former location of the Son of Beast, the first wooden coaster with a vertical loop. Kings Island removed the loop from the problematic coaster after an accident in 2006, permanently closed Son of Beast after a rider was injured in 2009 and demolished the ride in 2012.
Themed after a mythological messenger from the underworld, Banshee will race past gravestones of past Kings Island coasters, including Son of Beast, Screamin' Demon, King Cobra and The Bat. The back story for the ride tells of a wailing woman with flowing white hair and gleaming eyes that flies around the amusement park at night.
As part of Banshee's unveiling, Kings Island will rechristen the nearby Flight Deck suspended coaster with a new name and look that pays tribute to a long-retired ride at the park. Flight Deck, which originally debuted in 1993 as Top Gun, will be renamed The Bat and get a black and orange paint job in honor of a suspended coaster that operated at Kings Island from 1981 to 1983.
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