Kings Island is a regional amusement park owned by Cedar Fair. Known for its environment and mix of rides, KI is a favorite among both coaster enthusiasts and casual parkgoers. As a lifelong fan of the park, I spent a segment of my second-year portfolio course creating a concept for a new KI coaster.
Kings Island removed Vortex, its Arrow Dynamics looping coaster, in late 2019, and its lot has remained empty ever since. What coaster model and theming could take its place?
I spent weeks researching different coaster models and testing out potential themes. My proposed coaster concept is Ace of Spades, a custom RMC Raptor single-rail roller coaster, visually designed to match the ‘50s theming of the surrounding area in the park.
RMC has worked with Cedar Fair, Kings Island’s parent company, on several prior rides. The company already purchased an RMC Raptor single-rail model for its California’s Great America park. However, the model has yet to appear at any park in the Midwest. Adding one to Kings Island could provide a competitive advantage and incentivize visits from out-of-state customers.
The RMC Raptor is affordable without sacrificing quality. It offers intense inversions reminiscent of Vortex’s in a space-efficient format. With some capacity customization, the model would appeal to dedicated enthusiasts without scaring away family riders. Ace of Spades would be the world’s tallest, fastest, and longest single-rail roller coaster.
The ground formerly occupied by Vortex is surrounded by 1950s theming, from Juke Box Diner to the boardwalk-inspired Shake, Rattle & Roll. Why not expand on this theme? I pulled inspiration from ‘50s subcultures to develop Ace of Spades: Rockabilly Hot Rods. There is a strong connection between the rockabilly genre and hot rod culture; bringing the two concepts together would allow for a one-of-a-kind coaster experience.
The ride name serves a dual purpose: playing card imagery is common among hot rodders, and Ace of Spades is a song often covered by modern rockabilly bands. I brought this theme to life with signage, merchandise, ride queue decorations, and ride vehicle concept sketches.
The ride queue would be primarily brick, with ceramic tile and other mid-century accents. To immerse visitors in the theme, the queue would feature antique-style signage typical of a hot rodder’s garage. The designs would pull from rockabilly posters, automotive ads, and Kings Island history, giving riders something to focus on as they wait for their ride.
The ride vehicles are modeled after typical ‘50s hot rods, with all the accents and details to match. I referenced Cedar Fair’s RailBlazer concept sketches, which gave me a feel for the necessary level of detail.
This project allowed me to explore a more conceptual side of design alongside finalized pieces. While graphic designers aren’t likely to be creating technical drafts of a ride vehicle, they can provide creative insight to develop solutions that are both functional and on-theme.
I also learned more about how research and brainstorming can be integrated. Throughout the project, research insights sparked new ideas, which in turn required more research. New information constantly redirected my thought process and pushed me to come up with a ride concept that would actually stand out from the crowd.