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Son of Beast back in action

The Cincinnati Post

Original Article »

July 09, 2007

The chains that barred Kings Island's Son of Beast from its willing victims were finally lifted Wednesday and, despite losing some of its teeth, park officials said it's still thrilling patrons.

"It's really good," said park spokesman Craig Ross. "We even had some people clapping and cheering at the station."

The park locked up the Son of Beast July 9, 2006, after one of the wooden supports cracked and 27 people were injured. It had remained closed while inspectors examined, repaired and modified the coaster, according to Ross.

The major change, he said, was the removal of the wooden coaster's renowned loop. Although the loop was safe, Ross said Son of Beast's passenger trains could be made one-third lighter and riders more comfortable by removing it.

Most changes, however, involved increasing the support of the frame by adding more buttresses and bolts to Son of Beast's wooden skeleton.

But the Son of Beast wasn't the only ride expected to be unleashed. Drop Zone, where passengers are taken up 264 feet - about 26 stories - and then released into a free fall that can reach speeds up to 64 mph, is set to open within the next week.

It had been shut down after a 13-year-old's feet were severed while riding a similar attraction at Six Flags in Louisville June 21. A loose cable was responsible for that accident.

Ross acknowledged that Drop Zone had been made by the same company as the Six Flags' ride, but said Kings Island is awaiting a part to upgrade the ride before its reopening, which should happen within the next week.

He also said Drop Zone doesn't pose any danger to riders.

"Four and a half million people have ridden it - and zero incidents," Ross said.

Every ride is inspected daily before the park opens, and all rides must - and do - meet state guidelines for safety, Ross said.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority," he said. "We work on safety every single minute of every single day."

Ross advised patrons that the best way to reduce the risk of injury was to make sure to read, understand and follow the safety rules posted for each ride.

"Riding in an amusement park is one of the safest things you can do," Ross said.

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