Home » Could This be 2017’s Most Exciting New Theme Park Ride?

Could This be 2017’s Most Exciting New Theme Park Ride?

For most of its 45-year life, Kings Island has been a park in transition, passing from owner to owner along with its sister parks: Kings Dominion, Carowinds, Great America, and Canada’s Wonderland. Every owner who’s touched Kings Island had left their mark – the Coney Island classics and Hanna-Barbera history left by Taft Broadcasting, the modern thrills of the Kings Entertainment Company, the cinematic stories and themes from Paramount Pictures, the cheap and cheerful movie tie-ins from CBS, and now the towering steel thrill rides so evident of Cedar Fair.

Finally, in 2017, Kings Island will become home to a stunning new roller coaster that will serve to bridge the gaps. In 2017, a new wooden coaster will take the cumulative lessons learned from Kings Island’s past to create a ride that should be perfect for thrill-seekers, storytellers, families, and everyone in between.

Mystic Timbers is poised to be Kings Island’s best new ride in years. The mysterious new wooden roller coaster will race through the dense forests prowled by the Beast with as much atmosphere and storytelling as the park’s ever offered. Mystic Timbers will stand among the park’s legendary line-up, and we’ve got the details to prove it.

A Brave Legacy 

Image: Cedar Fair

It’s worth noting that Kings Island is a park renowned the world over for its wooden coaster collection. The park’s opening day Racer is credited within the coaster community as a legend, credited with kicking off the Second Golden Age of the Roller Coaster after decades of idling interest and waning innovation. The two racing rides dart side-by-side along mirrored out-and-back layouts down the length of the park’s historic Coney Mall.

The next legendary wooden coaster at the park has to be The Beast. Opened in 1979, the Beast is a custom-terrain following roller coaster that literally roars through nearly 40-acres of untamed forest. A mile and a half long with a ride time topping four minutes, The Beast is still the longest wooden roller coaster on Earth more than 35 years later, and is known the world over for its night rides when the coaster rockets through the dense woods of Ohio without a single lightbulb in sight.

To be fair, Paramount’s ill-fated sequel – 2000’s Son of Beast – fared substantially worse. The $30+ million ride – the tallest, fastest, second-longest, and only looping wooden roller coaster in the world – crashed and burned in a tragic but blazing tale that we chronicled in its own in-depth Lost Legends: Son of Beast feature.

So when construction walls appeared on the edge of the park’s forests this spring and signed warned, “CAUTION: Falling Trees,” rumors of a new wooden roller coaster spread like wildfire. The return of a wooden roller coaster to Kings Island is a brave choice, with two world-famous (and one world-infamous) sisters to contend with. So how will Kings Island make Mystic Timbers stand out among a legendary lineup?

Simple: by not trying to compete.

Nature is taking over

Image: Cedar Fair

Imagine it… as you step through the park’s Rivertown – themed to an early Ohio settlement along the forested Ohio River – you’ll see a set of barns looming ahead. This, according to a new overarching story applied to the land, is the Miami River Lumber Company, an early arrival in the still-new railroad town.

But as you grow closer and closer to this lumber operation, you’ll begin to notice something is afoot.

Deep, bramble vines are growing across the face of the Miami River Lumber Company’s barns. These sinister vines seem to be crawling across the landscape as if they’re consuming Rivertown. These serpant-like vines are slowly reclaiming the town, and it’s up to you to figure out the source of their unnatural growth.

The wooden roller coaster – manufactured by fan-favorite Great Coasters International (GCI) – will crest a 109-foot-tall lift hill and course through 3,265 feet of wooden track at a maximum speed of 53 miles per hour. Like so many of GCI’s coasters, Mystic Timbers will weave and slalom through the forest, racing along ravines, leaping over the park’s deeply-wooded White Water Canyon raft ride, and twice soar over a waterway before barreling back into the woods. Altogether, the ride will feature 16 airtime hills as it curves and jumps, never burning off its speed until the very finale.

Click and expand for larger view. Image: Cedar Fair

Image: Cedar Fair

The low-to-the-ground thrill ride will be a wonder as it takes the lessons learned from both the Racer and the Beast, adds of dash of cinematic storytelling, and turns this otherwise simple roller coaster into a true adventure. It’ll borrow from the Beast in another way, too: it promises out-of-this-world night rides as it races through the uncharted forest, its track tucked down below the treeline.

Image: Cedar Fair

But while the Beast surges through pitch-black darkness, we’re actually hoping for something different here: we hope that Kings Island looks closely at the artwork they’ve teased (see “Nature is Taking Over,” above) and mimics the “enchanted forest” feel. This supernaturally-charged ride ought to be barreling through mist with glowing, mysterious orbs of dust suspended throughout the trees. It should feel ethereal, perhaps with these “magical” elements growing increasingly stronger and more visible as you near the “source” of the vines.

Simple details like that would make for a wonderful, enchanting, seriously cool night ride that no other park on Earth has – a dizzying forest alight with supernatural glow. (They’re also what was missing from 2014’s inverted Banshee, which should’ve been diving through tunnels, racing through the forest, and tempting near-misses with gravestones through its course instead of simply flipping in an open field as it does.) 

Image: Cedar Fair

The ride is also expected to feature GCI’s well-known Millennium Flyer trains, modeled here after rusted-out trucks. But what has fans bursting at the seams about this new coaster, though, is more than just its impressive stats, its enviable trains, or its return to storytelling.

It’s the shed.

The point-of-view video that Kings Island has released doesn’t tell the whole story. Instead, it stops just short of a menacing barn at the end of the ride’s course. With the sinister vines creeping out of its black entry, this shed contains something that’s got fans stirred into a frenzy.

Image: Cedar Fair

The hashtag #WhatsInTheShed is tracking speculation, but one thing’s for sure: Kings Island has made it clear that we won’t know until our first rides next spring. And just like that, a simple wooden roller coaster becomes more. With a little story and a simple cliffhanger, we’re clamoring to find out more and Mystic Timbers becomes a must-ride for 2017.

Our Predictions

What do we think is inside the shed?

Well, we don’t have any better guesses than you do.

We know that the shed is the end of the ride (the train enters it, turn to the right, and arrives back at the station) so it couldn’t be a launch or an inversion. Some have signaled that the ride’s theme and story put it in the “dark forest” genre that’s developed with Alton Towers’ TH13TEEN and Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Verbolten, both of which are centered around… well… you’ll have to find out by reading our Behind The Ride: Verbolten special feature. But do we suspect that Mystic Timbers’ secret is the same as Verbolten’s? Not necessarily. It would take quite an apparatus to make it work on a wooden roller coaster, not to mention that the provided layout makes it appear unlikely…

Maybe there’s a piece of trick track inside…

It could very well be that the ride’s finale just gives us a dark ride scene providing a glimpse at the origin of the enchanted vines, perhaps emanating from a gnarled tree as signified in the ride’s logo.

Whatever the case, you can bet we’ll be on hand for the ride’s 2017 debut to find out, and that’s the sort of difference that a little theme can have.


Image: Cedar Fair

Before you go suspecting, as some have, that Mystic Timbers won’t stand out among Kings Island’s storied lineup, remember Cedar Point.

Just a few hours north, Cedar Point is known as the Roller Coaster Capitol of the World, and for good reason. Magnum XL-200 was the first roller coaster to cross the unthinkable 200-foot height barrier. Then, Millennium Force did it with 300-feet. A few years later, Top Thrill Dragster broke the unimaginable 400-foot height barrier.  Naturally, fans agonized over what record-breaking thrills Cedar Point would craft next. Instead, Maverick was announced.

Barely 100 feet tall and with two inconsequential inversions, Maverick read on paper as a let-down – nothing that could come close to standing out amongst Cedar Point’s lineup of record-breakers. How would Maverick compete with the park’s record breakers?

Image: Cedar Fair

Long story short: it wouldn’t. Once people actually, y’know, rode it, they understood. Turns out, Maverick is among the best coasters in the world, ranked among and even above Millennium Force on many enthusiasts’ lists. It’s not always about height and speed and drops and inversions. Maverick succeeds not because it breaks records, but because it’s a really good roller coaster.

So no, Mystic Timbers won’t topple The Beast or the Racer for their legendary and historic statuses.

And no, Mystic Timbers won’t become the go-to white-knuckle thrill ride at the park, dethroning Diamondback and Banshee.

It’s not supposed to!

Mystic Timbers is exactly what Kings Island needs. In fact, it’s exactly what lots of thrill parks need: a well-balanced family thrill ride that’s got airtime and story and speed and details and thrills and heart.

Image: Cedar Fair

Kings Island’s already billing it as an adventure, and that says it all. Mystic Timbers will not be just a ride, but an adventure! We’re going to step into a lumber company that’s being ensnared by sinister vines growing from a vengeful enchanted forest, race into the woods to find the dark source of the magic, and be thrilled on an incredible GCI coaster in the meantime.

So sure, some people have doubts that this ride is worth it. But when riders disembark next spring, hopefully they’ll realize that this is exactly what Kings Island needed – a return to form and a wonderful roller coaster. That’s a win-win.

Enjoy the point-of-view video below, and imagine what it will be like to ride this wild terrain-hugging wooden roller coaster through a mystical, mysterious dark forest in search of the source behind the sinister vines.