I don’t know if RVAers know how lucky they are to have Kings Dominion nearby. When I try to imagine a world without The Grizzly located just 30 minutes away, I get very upset. When I was a kid, I used to BEG my parents to let me go to KD un-chaperoned, so I could be as efficient as possible without being slowed down by people who wanted to go see shows or “take breaks.” When I finally got to go, my friend and I rode the Rebel Yell 25 times in one day.
In other words, I like forward motion.
But I also like well-planned, thoughtfully-executed attractions that are inclusive of everyone. If you can pay, your inner child can play at KD, even if your inner child wears jorts and hats with mud flaps. What I also like about KD is the attention it pays to smaller rides. In every area, from Old Virginia to the Congo, the option to ride a swing, an antique car or a log flume exists. And now, the good folks at Cedar Fair have introduced two new rides, which are neither roller coasters nor small rides. In fact, I don’t know how to classify them! Maybe you can help.
Windseeker, which is located where that Cadillac ride used to be (and before that the Hypersonic XLC) over in 1950s America, is like someone fed the original swings ride some 21st century steroids. Sitting two abreast in what could double as a seat on the Dominator, riders on Windseeker begin to rotate around the ride’s massive, LED-lit center column while being raised 301 feet into the air to what sounds like Steven Spielberg’s iPod playlist. At the top, everyone tilts on their side and careens around at 30 mph, legs dangling in the wind. It’s like parasailing in circles, and the view of the park and surrounding area is pretty spectacular.
For the danger lovers among us, Windseeker climbs as high as the Drop Tower and is almost level with the peak of that killer Intimidator 305 hill. So, you’re up there with the big boys essentially, although you’re being more adult about it.
The second new attraction is Dinosaurs Alive!, an impressive interactive exhibit located in the woods just behind the Grizzly. Although I was initially bummed that the once thick woods surrounding my beloved Grizzly are now a bit thinner, those woods are now filled with really cool dinosaurs that move and make spooky noises. (You can preview their noises on the website, which I highly recommend playing during your next budget meeting.) Now, Grizzly riders will blow past a massive Ruyangosaurus, and worlds will collide!
You’ll pay $5 to see the dinosaurs, and for that you are treated to a handsome wooden walkway that winds past 36 life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs hanging out in a makeshift Jurassic habitat. According to KD press materials, each is hand-carved and covered with a skin-like material. Sensors prompt the dinos to move and growl when you walk past, and some are interactive, where you can manipulate their movements using a console. For the budding paleontologist, there’s a dig site promising fossils and other prehistoric paraphernalia. Plus, Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia 3D is playing at the KD Theater all summer. (Narrated by Donald Sutherland!)
And so, Kings Dominion has opened its gates for yet another season. As you make your spring and summer plans, always keep in mind that there are people out there who don’t have such easy access to parks like ours. They have to drive for hours, perhaps even fly, to find what we have right in our backyard. Why they choose to live so far away from fun, I will never know, but I’m glad we’re not them. See you at the park!
Lesley Bruno grew up in Richmond, moved away for seven years and came back because, well, who wouldn’t want to live here? By day, she directs the marketing activities at the Greater Richmond Chamber. At night and on weekends, she patches up her old Museum District house, watches too much television and dreams of the day when her husband finally figures out that all she wants for Valentine’s Day is a KD Season’s Pass.