After three long months of waiting to visit my home park, Kings Dominion, over this past weekend I finally had the opportunity to visit the park and ride their newest roller coaster, Twisted Timbers. Despite living within driving distance of several theme parks and visiting multiple cities with parks over the last few months, I somehow have not visited a theme park since August of 2017, when I last visited Kings Dominion for the announcement of this new ride. This meant that as I arrived at Kings Dominion on Sunday, I was highly anticipating my first ride on a roller coaster in a long time!
Additionally, as a loyal Kings Dominion visitor and roller coaster fan for the last ten years or so, I was looking forward to experiencing the park’s first new roller coaster since 2010, when the park installed what is one of my favorite roller coasters, Intimidator 305. Not only was I looking forward to a new coaster at Kings Dominion, but I have also wanted to see Hurler transformed into a Rocky Mountain Construction hybrid coaster for a long time. In fact, I apparently called for a RMC conversion of Hurler in this article from March 2015 where I discussed the top best and worst cloned rides (that article is definitely not my best work but I did call for a Hurler RMC makeover). Essentially, this was one of my top wishes for Kings Dominion as I was going in.
Due to the fact that the park was converting an older roller coaster into a hybrid rather than constructing a new RMC coaster, I was not going in expecting this to become my favorite ride, but I still definitely had high expectations for the coaster. The one Rocky Mountain Construction roller coaster that I have experienced, Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain, easily became one of my favorite roller coasters largely because of its extreme airtime and likely would rank even higher on my top roller coasters list if I had been lucky enough to ride it dueling.
As I believe I have made clear by now, when I arrived at Kings Dominion on Sunday, I had high expectations for Twisted Timbers for several reasons. Immediately after our arrival at the park, we made our way directly to the back right corner of the park and hopped on the ride.
After strapping in and climbing up the lift hill, we quickly went around the first turn and went right into a ride full of wild inversions, over-banked turns, and intense airtime. As the train returned to the station, I certainly had a smile on my face as did nearly everyone else who got off. The roller coaster had already become one of my favorites in a park with several great offerings, however it would take a couple more rides to determine just how much I liked it.
While my second ride, which occurred immediately after the first, was as good an experience as the first, it was on my third ride of Twisted Timbers that I realized exactly how much I liked the ride. By the time I returned to Twisted Timbers for a third ride, I had made my way around the park and gone on some of the park’s best coasters, such as Intimidator 305, Flight of Fear, and Dominator.
By far, the difference maker for the third ride on Twisted Timbers was my choice in rows. While on the first two rides, I was towards the middle of the train, on this third ride I was in the back car in the second to last row. On the first two rides, the airtime had been great and there had also been some good moments of hang-time on the inversions where we remained upside-down for sustained periods of time, the airtime from the back car was absolutely incredible. All throughout the ride, on every hill and on every inversion, I was being thrown out of my seat.
As someone who appreciates a ride with significant airtime, this third ride experience was extraordinary. Not only was it the best ride on Twisted Timbers for the day, but it might actually have been better than Intimidator 305, which has long been my favorite coaster in the park. While the airtime on I-305 is always extremely fun and intense, the airtime from the back car on Twisted Timbers might’ve been better. Not only was the airtime comparable (if not better) on Twisted Timbers, but there also were no uncomfortable moments on the ride like the first turn on I-305, where most riders (including myself) grey out.
At this time, I am still not completely sure if that third ride on Twisted Timbers tops I-305 in my coaster rankings, but I can say without a doubt that the roller coaster exceeded my expectations and is definitely in the top two best rides at Kings Dominion.
Now that I’ve expressed my overall opinion of the ride, I would like to go into the details about what exactly made the ride great and also go over a few ways I think that it could be improved:
To start, as I think I have already made clear, it was truly this ride’s airtime that made it great. I was consistently being thrown out of my seat on basically every element of the ride, especially when sitting in the back car. While obviously there was great airtime on all of the ride’s hills, I particularly enjoyed the more unique airtime producing elements such as the outward-banked turn or the final few banked hills as the track turned around one last time before returning to the station.
Additionally, I found the ride’s barrel roll drop to be another outstanding element. It’s a unique inversion that has only really been seen on other RMC coasters and it was a pretty exciting way to start off the ride.
Besides the ride itself, one other enjoyable element of Twisted Timbers was the ride’s theming. While the coaster obviously is not themed to the extent of a ride at parks like Disney or Universal, it was nice to see a well-decorated station, entrance area, and unique cars themed to the “Hanover Hill Apple Orchard.” It was a nice touch that made the ride more unique and enjoyable.
Perhaps the best part of Twisted Timbers is that it brought new life to what had become a dead part of the park at Kings Dominion. For the most part, Kings Dominion’s most thrilling rides are distributed towards the left side of the park. Particularly, the back left corner of the park features Intimidator 305, Volcano, and Flight of Fear all relatively close together. Meanwhile, before the addition of Twisted Timbers, the back right side of the park consisted of Hurler and Grizzly, which were two aging and somewhat rough wooden coasters, and Ricochet, which was the name of the park’s Wild Mouse Coaster (it has now been re-themed to become the “Apple Zapple”). This meant that this part of the park was usually pretty empty and was often overlooked during my visits, especially during the season when Hurler was closed to the public. However, now there is new life in this corner of the park as people flock to ride Twisted Timbers and spend time exploring this section of the park.
While almost everything I have to say about Twisted Timbers is positive, there are a couple of ways I think the ride could be improved. For example, I am not a fan of the ride’s restraints. The lap bar is fine, but I personally don’t like the leg restraints found on Rocky Mountain Construction coaster cars. Although these restraints aren’t perfect, they are a relatively minor imperfection of the ride. Additionally, the only other criticism I have is the new locker system installed on most of Kings Dominion’s coasters, including Twisted Timbers. By charging a fee for locker use and eliminating bins on most rides, Kings Dominion now has a problem where several people are leaving their bags in front of rides rather than paying for lockers. In my opinion, parks should either offer free lockers or use bins. It’s annoying to force guests to spend money on a place to briefly store their bag as they enjoy the ride. Once again, this is still a somewhat minor criticism of the ride, and is definitely not a critique of the overall ride experience, but is a way that general guest experience could be improved.
So, to summarize, Twisted Timbers is definitely a great replacement for Hurler, which was one of the roughest roller coasters at Kings Dominion by the time it closed, and is definitely one of the best rides currently at the park. While there are a few ways in which the overall guest experience could be improved, the new addition was overwhelmingly enjoyable!
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