In 1983, while the troubles with The Bat were still in full bloom, Kings Island, along with TOGO Corporation of Japan, were working on yet another new ride concept. A few years before, Arrow Dynamics of Utah, who were the designers of The Bat, had installed experimental trains on a non-looping roller coaster. The trains used a standard Arrow chassis, just like the normal Corkscrew coaster trains. The only difference was, there were NO SEATS! Instead, riders rode in a standing position, restrained by a new type of over-the-shoulder restraints.
The stand-up trains were installed on a couple of existing steel roller coasters. However, they did not feature any inversions. TOGO was about to change that. The new stand-up model at Kings Island would be the prototype: The first stand-up, looping roller coaster. And it would be called.... KING COBRA.
Design and Construction
In the fall of 1983, TOGO construction crews began construction of King Cobra. The ride would feature a 90-foot-tall lift hill, followed by a raised turn at the peak. Immediately after the turn, the ride would plummet 90 feet down at an extremly steep angle.
After the drop, King Cobra would roar up into a large vertical loop, the first of its kind on a stand-up ride. The loop was followed with a large, steeply banked helix that would have riders nearly standing on their sides. Following the helix, the train would encounter a section of "Trick-Track" which had never been used before on a steel coaster. The Trick-Track featured a straight section of track that banked sharply to the left, and then sharply to the right, and entered into a raised right turn.
The banked turn dropped down with a right banking drop, and sent the train into a series of short camelbacks, before vaulting up into the brakes.
The Cobra spings into action
In April of 1984, King Cobra sprang to life. Unlike the park's previous coaster, which was still experiencing problems on King Cobra's opening year, the ride quickly bacme popular. For a new ride, downtime is normal, and King Cobra experienced some of it during its first season, just like any new ride. However, it became quickly clear that it would NOT have the problems of The Bat.
As the years passed, King Cobra remained a very popular ride. It was built near the Lion Country Safari monorail station, in the area that is now known as the Paramount Action Zone.
The Lion Country Safari, including the monorail and all of the animals, was removed after the 1993 season, for reasons that are still not clear. But King Cobra remained, towering over that section of the park. Even as rides around it were removed and others built, Cobra held its place for many years, until problems began. King Cobra would operate successfully for 17 years.
King Cobra comes down
In 2001, King Cobra's manufacturer, TOGO of Japan, closed their US offices. This posed a problem for Paramount's Kings Island officials, as getting replacement parts for the ride's systems immediately became difficult.
Faced with mounting bills for parts, and the fact that King Cobra's popularity had greatly dropped over the last couple years, the park made the decision to remove the coaster.
In April of 2002, at about the same time Paramount's Kings Island opened for the season, crews arrived and began to dismantle the ride. However, King Cobra was not neccesarily doomed, as the park placed the ride for sale, and the ride would be taken apart, piece by piece, and stored at the park until a buyer could be found.
Unfortunately, as this report is being written in July of 2004, King Cobra remains on the selling block. It was removed for a short time, and then placed back for sale a few months ago. The trains are located inside Flight of Fear's main ride building, and a lot of the track and supports are stored back behind Racer and Flight of Fear, next to the fireworks launching strip. Additional track and supports are stored in the prairie land behind Son of Beast, which once housed animals for Lion Country Safari.
Written by Donald Flint. Photos used with permission from Jason Knutson of Coasterphotos.com.