- Type of coaster: Steel inverted
- Height: 167 feet
- First drop: 150 feet
- Top speed: 68 mph
- Track length: 4124 feet
- Ride time: 2:40
- Ride manufacturer: Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M)
- Cost: $24 million
See the Ride
Riders will Fall Head Over Heels for the CoasterFor the uninitiated, an inverted coaster features trains that hang beneath the tracks. Riders' legs dangle from the floorless cars (think of a ski lift gone bonkers) and get tossed to and fro as the train navigates inversions. There will be a lot of tossing to and fro with Banshee's seven -- count 'em, seven -- upside-down elements.
The inversions will include a dive loop, a teardrop-shaped vertical loop that will wrap around the lift hill, and two "batwing" inversions. The loops and inversions will be massive, with the three tallest catapulting riders 139 feet, 126 feet, and 110 feet. Six out of the seven inverting elements climb 100 feet or higher. The second vertical loop in the latter half of the ride will be almost as tall as the initial one.
That could be due to the topography of the land on which Banshee will sit. While the lift hill rises 167 feet, Kings Island says that there will be a relative total elevation change of 208 feet from the coaster's highest point to its lowest point near the middle of the track. The extra boost made possible by the valley combined with the track layout will also allow the ride to reach its top speed of 68 mph not at the bottom of the 150-foot first drop, as would be expected, but at the middle point of the ride.
For all of its bragging points and unique features, there is something a tad underwhelming, at least in preview mode, about the new coaster. The "world's longest inverted coaster" tag, as the park is screaming in its promotional materials, is one of those dubious records that doesn't really amount to much. Sure, Banshee will legitimately lay claim to the stat, but it won't be all that much longer than other inverted coasters such as Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa (which gets my nod for being one of the best steel coasters, let alone best inverted coasters). And the new ride's 4124-foot track length won't come close to placing it among the top ten for the world's longest coasters (which includes all types, not just inverted models).
Reserve Judgment Until the Screaming BeginsBanshee's inversions do look impressive, particularly the second loop that will fly over the lift hill. I wonder whether -- and hope that -- the ride ops will be able to time the dispatches of the trains (the coaster will have a total of three trains) so that one will be circling the lift hill, just as one will be rising on it. For park fans who enjoy going upside down and experiencing the crushing positive g-forces typically associated with inversions, the ride should deliver the goods. For coaster dweebs (like me) who prefer plenty of airtime, negative g-forces aren't typically a strong suit for inverted coasters. (Coaster dweebs, however, can always get their airtime fixes on the superb Diamondback at Kings Island.)
Sure Banshee will be relatively tall, fast, long, and loaded with inversions. But in this era of really tall and fast coasters, along with marquee features such as wing trains with keyhole towers, magnetic and hydraulic launches, and hybrid steel and wood tracks, it feels a bit been-there, done-that. Inverted coasters aren't all that novel these days. Kings Island already has two inverted rides: the boomerang shuttle coaster, Invertigo, and the low-profile family ride, Flying ACE Aerial Chase.
The ride that Banshee replaces, Son of Beast, had incredible marquee status. It was the world's tallest and fastest wooden coaster when it debuted in 2000 -- and it included a vertical loop, which was unheard of for a woodie at the time. It was also one of the world's longest coasters of any kind (just behind its "father," The Beast). It generated tons of buzz. Then it opened, and its excruciating ride experience generated the wrong kind of buzz for Kings Island. The park shut it down for good in 2009.
So yes, months before it opens, Banshee looks somewhat lackluster in theory. But look what novel features and huge anticipation did for Son of Beast. Here's the thing about the new coaster: Its manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard, is known for creating superb thrill machines including Montu and the Ohio park's own Diamondback. In fairness, judgment should be reserved until passengers actually start riding its rails. My hunch is that the park and its fans will truly have something about which to scream.