A willful young woman of my acquaintance rode Kings Dominion's new roller coaster 15 times the other day. When she got through bobbing and weaving and hiccoughing, she pronounced it the best ride in the park and almostas good as the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens.
"The Grizzly," as the new stomach- churner is styled, is a traditional wood- frame rattler roller coaster modeled after the late and (by some) lamented "Wildcat" at Cincinnati'sConey Island, which was torn down in 1964. It is a double figure-8 with enough gut-sucking drops, wrenching curves and claustrophobia-inducing crossovers to satisfy any sort of fool. Non-riding parents and other sane persons can while away the waiting time feasting their eyes on the framework, which was masterfully assembled of pressure-treated pine under the direction of foreman Jimmy Willis, who spent press preview day answering all the wrong questions. It's built the way they used to build 'em, and it's some job of work.
Coaster nuts will want to know that the initial drop starts at 87 feet and goes at a 45o angle for longer than a normal person would like, reaching 60 mph. After that it goes up and down and around for 2 minutes 20 seconds while running 3,150 feet of track, but my notes are unclear as to details and I could extract nothing coherent from the willful young woman. You shouldn't wear your glasses because in the first place they will help you see better and there is a 180o unbanked speed turn that will wrench them off and fling them into Lake Anna.
Anyway, the thing will accommodate 1,260 idiots per hour in two seven-car trains -- except, of course, when they have to stop and mop. The Grizzly winds through thick woods that, when they reach full leaf, should keep riders cool as well as clammy.
The new attraction moves Kings Dominion solidly into second place among the regional theme parks. Throughout the grounds there are signs that the new managment, in command for 18 months, is determined to gain even more on Busch Gardens. The somewhat sleazy air is all but gone, partly because of the maturing of the early landscaping but mainly from replacement of shoddy structures and abandonment of the old nickel-and-dime approach.
KINGS DOMINION -- On I-95, 75 miles south of Washington. Weekends only through June 3. One-day tickets $12.95 (three years old and up); special rates available.