I Lied About My Age!
Social Media Team
Well thought and mirrors my exact sentiment.Alright, I've digested Orion enough where I can sufficiently convey my thoughts on the ride.
As of now, I'm pretty lukewarm on the ride and much of my disappointment stems from how the ride was presented. As was mentioned last night, the park forgot to turn on their live stream of the announcement and took almost 30 minutes to launch the microsite. As I dug into the details, I actually couldn't believe some of the claims they listed. Eight hills? Yeah...counting the lift, every turn, AND the brake run. They included some other strange metrics as well, like arc length of the entire drop...why? And the presentation itself was underwhelming. I recall back to Banshee's announcement when everything just hit perfectly - the mood, the intro spiels, the reveal, and then a hefty amount of follow up material covering numerous details of the ride. Banshee's announcement was a benchmark that very few rides in general have lived up to since, and the park certainly didn't live up to providing the same perfect experience for both Mystic Timbers and Orion as they did for Banshee. But that's just Kings Island being up to shenanigans.
As for the coaster itself...287 feet tall, 300 feet tall, or 325 feet tall, it doesn't matter all that much - Orion is still enormous. That 300 foot drop will be fantastic like its sisters' drops and it should showcase its speed nicely...but it still just doesn't feel right. I shouldn't judge on renderings, but it just seems sluggish. The transitions lack the snappiness and power exhibited on Leviathan, and especially on Fury. Everyone seems to be excited for the first 90 degree banked hill because they think it's a wave turn and it isn't. I think everyone is expecting the ride to kick them out of their seats in RMC fashion and the element simply isn't profiled that way. I'm not even convinced that the element will exhibit true weightlessness since it curves slightly to the left and will force riders into their seats more than anything. The turnaround also exhibits uninspired, conservative dynamics. It rises, banks, turns, and dives with zero spice whatsoever - it is purely vanilla. They could have made the run out much more exciting by simply tightening up the transitions to make the train snap into and out of each element. They could have cooked up some strange lead-in to the turnaround - maybe something where they roll the train overbanked, then maybe unbank a bit for some strange airtime, and then bank into the turn again, just to give the element some semblance of life. And the jury is out on the hills - the animation makes the return run look fairly drawn out, but the hills will likely be fine though.
The whole package from initial presentation to the ride itself just looks uninspired, conservative, and generic...especially the final helix and final turn. There doesn't appear to be any inspiration or innovation whatsoever - just completely textbook and totally standard as they could possibly get with an absence of the subtlties that will actually throw your body about your seat. I honestly wasn't expecting the park to announce a 9,000 foot Fury beater - just something with more vigor. The entire thing feels like Kings Island sort of phoned it in to appease the hordes of fanboys screaming for a giga coaster...and if that's the case, then that's really sad.
On a positive note, y'all can probably guess that I adore the color scheme. The renderings show that this corner of the park is going to look gorgeous with Racer's white hills in the foreground and Orion's striking blue splines making up the skyline. The aesthetic is going to be fantastic.
Also worth noting is that Kings Island has not figured out how to take care of their B&Ms. While Canada's Wonderland and Carowinds have figured something out and have actually improved their Beemers over the years, Banshee and Diamondback are sadly shadows of their former selves. Banshee's rattle gets worse every season on all three trains and Diamondback yields the same rattle with the addition of pacing issues. I certainly hope the park figures something out such that Orion does not head down that same path, because I can't imagine the B&M rattle is pleasant at 91mph.
So if you actually read through all of that...yes, it is some pretty heavy, but (in my opinion) valid criticism. Despite it, I TRULY hope to be delightfully surprised when I get to ride it next spring. I hope testing footage shows the ride absolutely tearing through the layout with a fantastic pace, and I honestly hope there's some hidden physics trickery sprinkled throughout the layout, but there doesn't appear to be any indication of that. I really want to like this ride and I really want it to be good...but I don't want to get my hopes up either.
The night of the announcement, @Antinos and I sat on a voice chat for nearly 2 hours afterwards trying to break down the coaster and put it in perspective. And, despite however many POVs we watched, ways we sliced what was on the table for Kings Island, and considered each and every layout photo to deduce actual ride experience/airtime, we continued to circle back to the same conclusion: Orion is as aggressively mediocre a roller coaster as they come. No frills, no tricks, nothing that makes this uniquely qualified on paper. It is a Giga coaster no more, no less.
My personal rub, as @Antinos alluded to, was the way this was announced. We got the blue prints from city hall, we got wind of possible names, we spotted the track already being fabricated. And I hoped there would be something, anything, we hadn't sniffed out already on this ride. Yet there wasn't, not in the slightest. Candymonium, a roller coaster half announced last year during Hersheypark's entry revamp announcement, somehow managed to have more mystery around it than this did. It's just disappointing, going into an announcement and having 98% of information already in hand. I'm a coaster enthusiast - I love these kinds of unveils and announcements!