There are conflicting reports over the future of the Son of Beast rollercoaster at Kings Island, with the latest suggesting that it could reopen later this summer.
Son of Beast has been closed since June 2009, after a woman claimed the ride caused a blood vessel in her brain to burst. Earlier this week, the park's General Manager Greg Scheid said that the park will not re-open the coaster until it is "100% sure that [park guests] will enjoy their time on the ride". He failed to give a timeline for Son of Beast's reopening, but many reports took Scheid's comments to mean that the ride would remain closed throughout 2010.
However, a new report on WHIOTV.com claims that "park officials" have said that the ride will return "sometime during the summer". According to the report, Kings Island is in discussions with engineering firms over potential changes to the coaster. Options under consideration are believed to include replacing the ride's entire wooden support system with a steel structure, or removing the two giant helixes which have caused many of its previous problems.
Any major updates to Son of Beast are likely to be very expensive, and would add to the $30 million that Kings Island has already invested on the coaster. It seems likely that any decisions on the ride's future will take place after a shareholder vote on the planned takeover of owners Cedar Fair by Apollo Global Management on April 8.
Kings Island has suffered from issues with Son of Beast ever since it opened in May 2000. The most serious incident occurred in 2006, when a broken support beam caused the ride train to come to a juddering halt in the station. 26 people were injured in the incident, and previous owners Paramount have since been accused of "negligence" in failing to address problems with the ride's structure earlier.
The park invested significantly in repairs and upgrades before the ride eventually reopened after the 2006 incident, including removing a loop and replacing the coaster cars with lighter ones. Nevertheless Son of Beast continues to divide opinion, with some enjoying the "extreme" ride that it gives, while others claim that it is too physically painful to be enjoyable.