A new Kings Island ride debuting Saturday that rambles through wooded terrain at 50 mph will also carry the Ohio amusement park into the record books with the self-proclaimed title of "wooden roller coaster capital of the world."
The new 3,265-foot-long Mystic Timbers wooden coaster traverses 16 airtime hills and ends with a tantalizing mystery: What's in the shed? Built by Pennsylvania-based Great Coasters International, the 109-foot-tall coaster will be themed as an abandoned lumber mill, with the ride ending in a mystical vine-covered shed expected to feature a special effects finale.
The previously unclaimed wooden coaster title is the latest boast in an industry always out to break world records with rides that are taller, longer and faster than the competition. Kings Island makes the claim based on the collective footage of its four wooden coasters: Racer, Beast, Woodstock Express and Mystic Timbers. Kings Island has considerably more wooden track — 18,804 feet — than any other amusement park in the world, according to Roller Coaster Database.
Kings Island comes by the total with the help of the twin-tracked 1972 Racer coaster. Designed by renowned ride builder John Allen, the racing coaster features a pair of identical 3,415-foot-long dueling tracks.
But Kings Island owes the title to one ride: The Beast. With a running time of more than four minutes, the 7,359-foot-long terrain-hugging ride is the longest wooden coaster in the world. Built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, the 1979 ride features two lift hills and three tunnels.
The 1972 Woodstock Express kiddie coaster adds a 1,350-foot cushion to Kings Island's track total.
Kings Island's wooden coaster title would be even more daunting if the 7,032-foot-long Son of Beast had not been demolished in 2012. The park removed a 118-foot-tall vertical loop from the ride after an accident in 2006. It permanently closed the problematic coaster after a rider was injured in 2009.
Other parks could lay partial or outright claim to the title based on different criteria that Kings Island cleverly ignores: the number of wooden coasters.
Britain's Blackpool Pleasure Beach waterfront park has a classic collection of five wooden coasters dating from 1923 to 1958 — one more than Kings Island. But Blackpool's collective track footage only measures a meager 11,260 feet — barely 60% of Kings Island's total. Blackpool also could lay claim to the coaster title from a historical standpoint: The park has retired four wooden coasters that were built between 1891 and 1922, making it home to nine coasters throughout its history.
Wisconsin's Mt. Olympus theme park is also home to four coasters, but only 11,146 feet of collective track. The park's total includes the 4,746-foot-long Hades 360, the 10th longest wooden coaster in the world. Ohio-based Gravity Group added a corkscrew inversion to the ride in 2013.
Other contenders capable of knocking Kings Island off its wooden coaster perch: Pennsylvania's Hersheypark, with 13,329 feet of track; and Holiday World, with 13,284 feet. The Santa Claus, Ind., theme park is home to the 6,442-foot-long Voyage, the second longest wooden coaster in the world.
Kings Island is making the wooden coaster claim in part because it can't touch the coveted title of roller coaster capital of the world, currently held by Valencia's Six Flags Magic Mountain, with a combined total of 19 coasters, wood and steel.
Ohio's Cedar Point, which continues to falsely lay claim to the coaster capital title, is tied for second with Canada's Wonderland near Toronto, which has 16 coasters. With the addition of Mystic Timbers, Kings Island will have a total of 15 coasters, according to Roller Coaster Database. The new Ankapark set to open this year in Turkey is expected to have 17 coasters.