Riders are still reporting experiencing "blackouts" on Kings Dominion's Intimidator 305 rollercoaster, despite the addition of trim brakes to slow down the ride.
A number of Kings Dominion guests complained of the blackout sensation following Intimidator 305's opening on April 3, leading to the installation of the brakes on the coaster's 300-feet, 92mph first drop. However, many riders have since claimed that the extreme forces exerted on them during the ride's first turn are still enough to cause blackouts.
Theme Park Tourist reader Jenny commented following her trip to the park on June 21, saying: "I was expecting a slight pause at the top, but we just went straight down. I blacked out for a couple seconds. But it was fun."
This reflects comments from those who rode prior to the installation of the trim brakes, such as this one from an anonymous visitor: "I rode it twice, sitting front row and middle. The first time i rode it, no problems, great rush, wanted to do it again! The second time towards the end of the day, sat in the middle, went down the drop, went on that turn, things started going purple and black!! It only lasted roughly 5 seconds, but long enough to freak me out!!! If they can make some adjustment to that one turn, it would attract me to get on again."
The addition of the brakes has proven controversial among coaster enthusiasts, and calls into question Kings Dominion's original claim that the ride is "the fastest gravity-driven rollercoaster in North America". Intimidator 305 had initially drawn rave reviews, with favorable comparisons being drawn to Cedar Point's Millenium Force, the only other Intamin Giga Coaster in the US.
Forum members on Kings Dominion fansite KDFansite.com have led the complaints about the artificial slowing of the ride. In a post on June 9, "keopera91" said: "The brakes on the first drop somewhat killed the ride for me. It goes too slow over the second hill now and the drop doesn't seem as intense unless your sitting in the back...it's still a good ride though."
Another TPT commenter bemoaned the changes, having enjoyed Intimidator 305 despite the extreme forces: "I was there on opening weekend and rode it twice. Although I did experience a slight grey out period, I thought the ride was amazing and I am saddened to see that so many people have freaked out about it enough for them to slow down one of the best coasters in the states! It definitely had something on Millenium Force, but not so sure now."
Not all fans are unhappy with the current configuration of the ride. KDFansite member "cygnusx1" offers a balanced view, summarising: "If KD decided to leave I305 this way (assuming that they run both trains on Saturdays to improve capacity), then that would be fine with me. I hope they will continue to diligently tweak the ride so that it performs with an optimal balance between speed/airtime, safety, and maintainability."
The addition of brakes after a rollercoaster opens is a common occurence, as parks experiment with different configurations to provide an optimal ride experience and to manage stresses placed on the ride's structure. It is possible that Kings Dominion may make further adjustments to Intimidator 305 as it continues to monitor rider feedback.
The high speed and intense twists and turns of Intimidator 305 are designed to mimic the experience of NASCAR driving, with the coaster's name being a tribute to 7-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt. It was the second NASCAR-themed coaster to open at a Cedar Fair park in 2010, with Carowinds opening its B&M-designed sister coaster, Intimidator, in March.
Have you experienced Intimidator 305 before or after the addition of trim brakes? Do you think the changes are for the better, or for the worse? Let us know through the comments section below.