Stop Your Hating Folks
Yesterday evening Kings Island officially announced their new Giga Coaster. Titled Orion, this Giga will feature a 300 ft. drop, a length of 5,321 ft, a max speed of 91 mph, and various banked and regular airtime hills throughout the ride. The coaster will also have a somewhat strong theme going for it, as it is supposed to be a simulator for going into space to find a new planet in the Orion constellation because a comet is heading straight for Earth. It doesn’t seem like the theme will carry onto the actual ride too much, but it’s still nice of them to give it some sort of backstory.
I was originally going to do a sort of ride analysis post for Orion, but then I noticed a certain attitude brewing in the coaster community that I thought was far more important to touch on. Since the announcement, a lot of enthusiasts seem to be under the impression that Orion is either a waste of money or just a weak ride. I don’t quite understand this opinion. After all, it’s still a Giga Coaster and the longest, tallest and fastest steel coaster at Kings Island. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser and one of the best rides in the park for that reason alone.
Comparing Orion to Other Gigas
One of the biggest reasons I think people are choosing to dismiss Orion is because of how it stacks up against other Giga coasters out there, specifically other B&M Gigas. However, this doesn’t make much sense either. Let’s do some comparisons:
Fury 325 at Carowinds is often considered the best Giga Coaster in the world. It’s actually my personal favorite coaster at the moment. While I don’t think Orion will be quite as amazing as Fury, I don’t think it’ll be as far off as people think. Fury is 6,602 ft. long, which is only a bit more than 1,000 ft. longer than Orion. That really isn’t that great of a difference if you think about it, as people seem to be considering it only like half of Fury’s size. Also, after watching the POV of Orion compared to Fury, the break runs are practically the same exact size. Anyone who is saying the break run takes up a majority of the ride on Orion clearly hasn’t ridden a Giga Coaster before. Finally, although Orion’s layout is pretty short compared to Fury, I do think it looks more compact which could possibly lead to a more intense ride than the Carolina coaster. That’s just a guess, but personally I think the airtime hill after the turnaround on Orion might be a better element than anything on Fury.
Fury might still be too great of a comparison, so let’s look at its younger brother, Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland. Leviathan is 5,486 ft. long, which is only about 100 ft. longer than Orion. It is also only 1 mph faster than Orion. As for the layout, I honestly think Orion is looking to have far better pacing and elements than Leviathan. The Canadian Giga was a prototype after all, and I think B&M has a far better idea in what they’re doing in 2020 for Orion than what they did in 2012. Leviathan is very sluggish towards the end of the coaster, whereas Orion doesn’t seem to suffer from any pacing issues (as long as we trust the POV).
The Best Coaster at King’s Island?
Well, I think we obviously have to wait until it opens to truly answer that question. But that’s the thing: so many enthusiasts are so quick to critique Orion even though it is so far from opening. Of course, a certain amount of joking around and memes inspired by Orion are healthy and fun to look at, but anyone who is serious about hating the new attraction this early in its lifespan is just wasting their energy. Do I think it Orion will be the best B&M Giga out there? No. Is it possible though? I suppose so. Let’s say for whatever reason Fury becomes sluggish in 2020 and Orion is praised for having fantastic pacing and intense elements. That could honestly make Orion the best B&M Giga. At the end of the day, I’m keeping an open mind until I actually ride it. I hope over time more enthusiasts do the same.
Orion will open at Kings Island in Spring 2020.