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Intimidator 305

At Long Last, Another Giga.

Note: just about all photos in this ride review were taken during the 2010 Theme Park Review East Coast Bash Intimidator 305 walk-back. Which was epically epic.

I don't know much about NASCAR. But this I have learned: NASCAR vehicles are built to scream down the straightaways above of 200 miles per hour. And yet on some tracks, for safety and other reasons, top speeds are limited by engine add-ons called "restrictor plates" or "air restrictors," keeping maximum velocities a bit lower. "Only" 192 MPH or so.

Would I like to drive one of those automotive monsters at its "restricted" top speed? You can bet your bottom dollar I would. And I'd be giddy as a schoolboy to do so. Keep this in mind for later.

It's been a full decade since the premier of Cedar Point's Millennium Force, the first of Intamin's mighty 300-plus-foot-tall giga-coasters, and only a handful of steel beasties that large or larger have been developed worldwide in those ten years. Sign of the times, people. What with the post-9/11 tourism industry hurt and the Great Recession we're still struggling through...

It is a momentous thing indeed, then, that Kings Dominion has introduced Intimidator 305 for 2010, the second of Inty's triple-Benjamins on US soil. Even better, it is as far from a clone of the Force as you can imagine.

Now, I'm sure you've heard some disparaging remarks about the modifications this ride has undergone since first opening. "In-trim-idator" is pretty cruel; funny, but cruel. I've only greyed-out a few of times on coasters: once after too many consecutive rides on Millennium Force without food in my gut; once on Magic Mountain's Goliath (the "centrifuge," baby); and once on the turnaround helix on Worlds of Fun's Mamba (first ride of the morning, again not enough food or coffee). Is it a pleasurable sensation? Not exactly. High Gs are fun. Unconsciousness, not so much. And no park really wants to be known as the "Burst Aneurysm Capital of America."

So with the Dominion getting regular reports of full-on rider black-outs, it is no wonder that they chose to install those trim brakes on the first drop. Yes, this rollercoaster is not running at its fully-achievable top speed. Does that really matter? I don't think it does. Because even reigned in a bit, this bad boy is plenty ferocious. And believe it or eat it, I actually kind of dig the effect those trims create. No joke and I'll explain further along.

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Side note: you'll find Intimidator 305 in the Congo section of the park. There are no NASCAR tracks in the Congo that I know of, but here's how it was explained during the lively Q&A with park management at Theme Park Review's awesome East Coast Bash: the Congo is near South Africa. Dale Earnhardt Sr. is from the South. There, see?

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You're not even into the park before you lay eyes on the first clue that this is a relative of Millennium Force, but not a close one: Look at what is holding up the first gargantuan hill. Very damned little. Very damned cool.

As you pound the pavement back towards Timmy, you'll likely be tempted by two of the park's other high-powered coasters, Volcano and Flight of Fear, both right near by. (Gotta say, with this new fellow and the Master Blaster, King's Dominion has a killer pair of cavity-producing Intamin sweetness.) But let the dulcet melodies of Lynyrd Skynyrd draw you in. Fans of Southern Rock (you know who you are) will be extra-pleased by the jukebox selection of tunes played over the loudspeakers throughout the queue. Made me wish I could still grow a mullet...

But once you're in the station, all that Molly Hatchet will just fade away into white noise when you hear "Gentlemen, start your engines!" and watch as the trains begin plowing up the cable-driven lift. And here's where you'll see the other significant mod the ride features: the new restraints.

From just about all reports, these are clearly an improvement over the original equipment (and what the park had always expected). The shoulder pads are super-comfortable, and there is no longer any "neck chopping" through the aggressive direction changes that were apparently commonplace. Call me a wuss; I'll trade massive air-time with a side of bruising for a pain-free ride any day of the week, thank you very much.

Gettin' behind the wheel (figurately speaking), pulling the harness down, buckling in, looking forward at the cornea-warping red track, ready to slam it into high gear...

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your freaking engines.

Out and up. The speed of the lift is, what, 16 miles per hour? I think that's what I've heard. Feels way quicker than that. It's like you want to jump in the pool, but you know that water is cold and then your "friends" start hustling you towards the edge...

There are a precious few moments to look around; do so. $25 million buys you some sick altitude, amigos. And before you know it, we're about to "Thelma and Louise" right off the cliff.

Up and over. Unless you're made of stronger stuff than I, this split-second at the pinnacle is enough to make your nards run for cover, no matter how many ginormous coasters you've ridden before. A 300-foot drop, essentially straight down, right into that infamous ground-pounding turn... Suck it up.

The plunge is righteous, so righteous, even if you sense that we're not quite pedal to the metal. What's our speed? Who cares? It's over the highway limit and it's blowing our zits off. But then something delicious happens. As we clear the trims, there's a little burst of acceleration that I wasn't expecting at all - the beast is let loose to run free. And does it ever.

The train whips to the right and we head into Flavor Country.

Banking like a dogfighting F-16, thundering around this nearly three-quarter circle of butt-flattening positive Gs, we are being fully intimidated, as promised. About halfway through, just for a tiny bit, I did start to see spots. That's all the badass I need.

Cutting perpendicularly beneath the lift, we jam up the second major hill, and it's good for some float.

Enjoy this last bit of major upward movement because the rest of the trip is almost entirely wild turns and maneuvers that are the Timster's biggest surprises. From Wikipedia: "Torque, also called moment or moment of force..., is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist." Intimidator wants to torque us up, real good.

The train hurtles back down and glides to the left, nice and smooth. We rise a tad and level off for less than a hearbeat, then whip to the left again. That's some tasty torque right there, but it's just a gentle dance move compared to what's down this race course. We burn through another horizontal revolution, elevate a bit, and - WHAM! If your toupée has survived thus far, that sucker is now gone. One second, we're grinding hard to the left, then next, we are completely flipped to the right. This "moment of force" can be more properly expressed as a "moment of Holy $#@%!"

Another blazing turn just a few feet above the turf, whipping through some supports, and here it comes again - WHAM! Blood splashes from one side of your skull to the other as we torque like a rocket with a missing stabilizer fin.

Into the far sweep, the train leaves a wake of shredded air as we throttle hard towards the last couple of hills, a little airtime whoopie that provides a straight-line breather from the torqular insanity.

But at the top of that last peak, we're already starting to bank again. And rippin' down into another brain-hammering track twist.

There's a final dash around another turn and - WHAM! - we're slapped fully upright for the slide down the brake run.

To echo what many have already said, Millennium Force is a fantastic ride. But Intimidator 305 just chews it up and spits it out.

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To top off an already perfect day, East Coast Bash featured after-dark ERT on Timmy and we rode far more we deserved. My last run was in the front seat. And I'm still picking the bugs out of my teeth. The love may be punch-drunk, but it is real. I love this thing.

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  • Track Length: 5,100 feet
  • Maximum Height: 305 feet
  • Lift Hill Angle: 45 degrees
  • Length of First Drop: 300 feet
  • Angle of First Drop: 85 degrees
  • Length of Other Drops: 150 feet
  • Airtime Humps: 6 including S-curve transitions
  • High Speed Turns: 3 at ground level
  • Fastest Speed: Less than 90 MPH, but pretty damned fast
  • Ride Time: 3 minutes
  • Hourly Capacity: 1,350 riders
  • Number of Trains: Two
  • Vehicles: Four passenger open design trains with overhead lap bar with shoulder straps

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