Kings Sominion theme park near Richmond has opened a triple set of new rides, and it's a doozy.
That's what the public-relations people at the park hoped the reviews of the "Lost World" section would say, because the symbol they invented to personalize the attraction is a little elf/troll character called the Doozy.
Claimed to be "the largest ride complex ever built at a seasonal theme park" - take that, Busch Gardens) - the rides are elaborations of the flume, the fantasy tour and the old fun-house centrifuge.
The conceit behind"Journey to the Land of Dooz" is that beneath the surface of the earth is a tribe of little creatures who make the world work. They crank the gears that make it turn, push up the growing plants, dye the Red Sea and so forth. The concept is appealing and the figures are well executed and animated, but the thing goes twice as fast as the eye can take it in, so that the rider is left confused and feeling a little cheated. Unless the park managment recognizes this and slows the thing down, young children in particular will sorely disappointed.
"voyage to Atlantis," the flume ride, also goes too fast, doing a disservice to the first-rate creation of the park staff. But the speed at which one passes from on scare to another in Davy Jones' Locker probebly heightens the effect for adults (and the brevity of the ride may earn the gratitude of very young children).
"the Time Shaft," on the other hand, is too much, at least for anyone subject ot claustrophobia and/or motion sickness. The entrance winds through a long, narrow passage into the bowels of the man-made mountain that houses the complex. Then the patron get to watch the whirling centrifuge, enhanced by a sound-and-light show, so that one is fairly dizzy even before taking a turn in the huge spinning drum, where riders are plastered to the carpeted wall as the floor drops away. Daredevils who tilt their heads forward will feel as though the plane of rotation suddenly switches 90 degrees, and will get what daredevils deserve.
Patrons may elect, even at the last moment, to pass it up, as heart patients and expectant mothers are urged to do. Even thought the drum was run at about one-third of the 100 rpm for which it was designed, this reviewer came within five seconds of getting vomit in his ears, and did not fully recover for about 24 hours.
If you must take the shaft, try to do it before lunch; and drivers who ride it may find themselves expericing mild vertigo on the trip home. That is no fun on i-95.
All in all, "Lost World" is a fine addition to Kings Dominion, and raises it more nearly to the class of Busch Gardens, especially considering that Kings Dominion is well within a one-tank round trip from anywhere in the metropolitan area. KINGS DOMINION
On i-95 about 75 miles south of Washington. Admission $9.25 ( the monorail through the animal park is $1.50 extra). Open at10 daily through September 8.