Our hotel was just barely away from Kings Island, and we could see the evening fireworks going off as we approached it. But Kings Island would be open another two hours, and we had season passes to all the Cedar Fair parks and why not drop in for a couple hours and maybe ride the roller coasters we'd missed two days earlier? How could we resist? We drove up to the parking lot gate and had a season pass ready (for free admission) to find there wasn't any gate attendant. Apparently Kings Island at least does give up on charging parking lot admission late enough in the day.
Our giddiness at walking into the park against the flood of people exiting was spoiled a bit when we couldn't actually get in. There was some problem at the gate and we had to go to Guest Relations to straighten it out. I'm still not sure what the issue was, but apparently since our ``Home Park'' is Michigan's Adventure their system treated entry to Kings Island as a special once-per-season admission and we confused their computer when we came back a second time? That sounds wrong, but that's as best as we understood it. They printed out gate passes and we got in, wondering at it all and trying to figure out what could be going on with the database that this would make actual sense.
We went to one of the roller coasters we'd missed, Flight of Fear, an indoor roller coaster, which was working today, and giggled at the wonder of not just entering a park at 10 pm but having our first ride sometime like 10:30. Well, maybe a little later, if the line didn't get to moving. Oh, there, the line moved, it's getting better. Why has it stopped? Is it going at all? We moved up a little bit, is that ... maybe it was just people shuffling around and compacting the line a little? Oh, all right, it's moving again. Well, it's stopped, but at least we've gotten into the building. Well, we're getting closer to something, and we finally reached the room where we could see the flying saucer setup and the monitor doing an endless loop of a Presidential Publicity Aide talking about how the Area 51-in-Cincinnati rumors were utter nonsense and he was letting the public in to see how absurd it was, and then the horror of something being unleashed on the unsuspecting. The line kept creaking on ever so slowly, for no obvious reason, but we did finally get through the flying saucer that dominates the indoors of the ride queue (and which had, for some reason, a door marked with a wheelchair-accessible bathroom sign; why would you even need a bathroom at all there, much less a wheelchair-accessible one?) and even peek at the glowing lights and the figures in cryogenic tubes that make the lift platform.
And finally one of the ride operators came out and explained. There was some kind of problem with the mechanism, and they were going to keep working on it, and everyone was welcome to continue waiting and if it got working they'd let us on, but, it might be a better use of the half-hour left to go to some other attraction.
Well, that stank. Ninety minutes in the park, and two-thirds of it wasted on the queue to a ride that wasn't working and might not work at all. And we had gotten up to the launch platform: if it had held out another five minutes we probably could have gotten the ride which, bunny_hugger says, I'd probably have quite liked. I wouldn't have it. This was enough sunken cost, and I lead us out, fuming, and going over to the Racer, which hadn't had much line before and had nothing now. This was a moment of just riding anything so we would have done something besides come in, wait pointlessly in a line, and leave.
Where to next? Well, the nearest roller coaster we hadn't been on was the Backlot Stunt Coaster. It's a launch coaster, accelerating by magnetic induction rather than by a lift hill, so it starts off with a sudden burst of speeding up and then it wanders around some settings of Vaguely Movie Hollywood and some scenes that might well come from movies, like, a helicopter shooting lasers at some barrels. (bunny_hugger says the barrels used to burst into flame at that point, but ride props always decay, don't they?) When that was done we ran around to ride again and --- were they playing ``Anna Sun'' on the speaker system? Yes, they were --- rode again until the midnight hour came and the ride queue closed for the night.
This may have been a silly night's visit to a park, just a long wait for a roller coaster we didn't ride, then one walk-on and one run-around-reriding thing; but, you know, for an essentially free bonus trip why not?
On our earlier visit bunny_hugger had seen some nice-looking souvenir pins in the Banshee roller coaster gift shop, and we figured that would still be open because surely they'd be handling the people who were still in line when the park closed. They were, although they didn't have many left, and this is how we learned how gorgeous the Banshee area looks at night. It also gave us a chance to be approached by a security guard and asked what we were coming back there for; he allowed us on after we explained we hoped to buy some pins in the gift shop. I suppose he wanted to warn people off diving deeper into the park at this hour.
So we got our last souvenirs and walked out the slow way to get back to our hotel and rest up. There had been what seemed to be some kind of high school sports group in the hotel, and we passed in the breakfast nook what we took to be teachers and chaperones sharing Jell-o shots, but it wasn't as noisy or distracting as we feared.
(Something I forgot to mention and now there's no logical place to put it, so what the heck: Kings Island has a water park, and they had a series of ``swim in'' movies this summer. For the Fourth of July the film was Jaws. I admire the sickness of that joke, but after all, what other great Fourth of July movies can you name?)
Trivia: In 1930, John D Rockefeller Junior (builder of Rockefeller Center) was adamantly opposed to installing a radio in the home at 10 West 54th Street. He allowed it when promised it would be only played quietly and never in the main parlor. Source: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Daniel Okrent.
Currently Reading: The Life Of Elizabeth I, Allison Weir.