Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? - Ride Guide & Review

Wading in Big Shoes - Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? (Ride Guide & Review)
What's your thrill threshold? // Above: Riders fly up a twisting ascent on the Banshee roller coaster at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio

[Disclosure: This visit was hosted by Kings Island and the Warren County CVB.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I love amusement parks. I love the way life feels when you’re surrounded by bright colors, happy music, and snacks you wouldn’t normally let yourself eat (but hey, it's vacation so YOU DO YOU, BOO). You’ve got permission to act like a child for hours on end, and quite frankly, it’s really easy to pretend—at least for a little while—that nothing else exists outside those park walls.

And then, in the midst of happy reflection, I remember: ROLLER COASTERS.

Roller coasters and I have a complicated relationship. On one hand, they’re tons of fun and an integral component of a great amusement park. On the other hand . . . nothing says anxiety like climbing up a steep hill in a creaky car and plummeting over the other side. My husband, however, loves to run toward danger. The phrase “I wanna go fast” might’ve been coined by Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, but Brad from my actual life keeps this concept alive and well in the real world.

It's no secret that tolerance thresholds for thrill rides are in the eye of the beholder. In the case of Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, there's a handy rating system available on each ride to give you an idea of how intense it'll be, but even those guidelines can fluctuate depending on what makes you nervous. As someone who understands the importance of mentally preparing for intense rides, I've put together the guide below to help explain exactly what makes each Kings Island roller coaster thrilling (steep drops, speed, darkness, etc.) so you can decide for yourself which of these coasters you want to prioritize (or save for when you're feeling braver) when you’re in the park.

*NOTE: Kings Island follows a 1-5 rating system for its rides, with 1 being tame and 5 being the most thrilling. During our visit, I was a little nervous to see that a majority of the coasters were rated at a 5, but as I began riding each of them, I started to see the differences and similarities in what affected the intensity level of each roller coaster. Below each section, I'll include the Kings Island "Thrill Level" rating along with ratings from both Brad and myself for comparison.


Wading in Big Shoes - Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? - Ride Guide & Review
So, whenever we go to amusement parks, Brad has this habit of making me ride one of the scariest rides FIRST THING. I’d be lying if I said Invertigo didn’t cause me some pre-ride anxiety (really, waiting in line is a great time to psych yourself out), but this coaster set the bar for a day of thrilling excitement and made me feel better equipped to handle some of the scarier roller coasters later on. Invertigo’s most nerve-wracking trait? To me, it’s that your weight rests on the safety of your over-the-shoulder harness (something that I know is safe, but on forward-facing plummets, it’s a terrifying feeling). There are also some very fast drops (backward and forward depending on which part of the ride you’re on) and disorienting loops that evoke (in my case) some very impressive screaming.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 5 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 7,058. Just kidding . . . let's go with a 5 on this one.

The Racer

If you’re a 70’s sitcom fan, you might be familiar with The Racer and its cameo in a 1973 episode of The Brady Bunch! This wooden roller coaster has been around since Kings Island opened in 1972 and at the time, was one of the largest coasters ever built. The ride is designed to mimic side-by-side racecars, making you feel like you’re flying down steep, rolling hills. When we rode, only the red racer was running, but I’d love to see a side-by-side perspective with both coasters next time!

Kings Island Thrill Level: 4 // Brad's Thrill Level: 3 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4

Adventure Express

Truth be told, I thought I had somehow missed this ride when I was in the park, but after looking up a point-of-view video online, I realize I did ride it after all! No shade whatsoever to the Adventure Express, as it’s a fast and fun journey that relies on quick turns more than steep drops (Brad and I both agreed that this coaster felt similar to riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney's Magic Kingdom). The ending, however, features a slow build-up that makes you think something else might be coming . . . only to reveal that you’ve actually reached the end. It’s definitely worth a go, but if you’re looking for a thrill, there are other similarly-themed coasters at Kings Island that will make a more memorable impact.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 3 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4

Flight of Fear

Because we visited Kings Island in the middle of a heatwave (we’re talking a "real-feel" of 108°), I’ll admit that one of the main draws to Flight of Fear was that it was indoors and air-conditioned. I think everyone else in the park realized that, too, as the line was pretty long, but I was excited once we got inside to see that this ride would’ve been well worth our wait even if we’d visited during the most ideal weather conditions. Flight of Fear is an immersive experience that’s themed around UFOs and paranormal activity, and this ride-in-the-dark coaster is fast. I found it very similar to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios: Quick take-off and fast momentum on a dimly-lit track with lots of twists and turns.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 4 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4.5

Flying Ace Aerial Chase

Wading in Big Shoes - Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? - Ride Guide & Review
Its theming might be kid-friendly, but Flying Ace Aerial Chase is actually a pretty fun ride for all ages! This Snoopy-inspired, inverted steel roller coaster is a quick ride and perfect for keeping your heart rate more manageable (but I'm not a doctor, so take this advice with a grain of salt) between more intense coasters. I will say that the harness on this one felt snugger on my legs compared to the other coasters (possibly because it's designed with kids in mind), but the ride features plenty of twists and turns that keep things entertaining.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 4 // Brad's Thrill Level: 2 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 3

Mystic Timbers

Mystic Timbers is one of the newer attractions at Kings Island, so of course I'd heard lots about it leading up to our visit. At speeds up to 53 mph, this 3,265-foot wooden roller coaster has some get-up-and-go as it winds you around turns faster than you can react. Brad was also super-surprised by this one and its mighty power, and it was a contender for the top of our list . . . until we met The Beast.

**Note: If you find yourself getting nervous about “What’s in the Shed,” don’t be. I won’t spoil it here, but any potential nerves about the end of this ride should not dissuade you from experiencing this coaster.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 4 // Brad's Thrill Level: 4 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4.5

The Beast

Of all the roller coasters at Kings Island, The Beast was—dare I say it—my favorite! This four-plus-minute ride (basically twice as long as the other coasters at Kings Island) was built in the late 70s and at 7,359 feet, is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest wooden roller coaster in the world. The Beast is WICKED FAST, has two steep climbs and drops that make it feel like two back-to-back rides, and is even more fun if you ride during different times of the day. Hopping on after the sun goes down? The covered tunnels you'll fly through will be even more disorienting and fantastically-intense.

**P.S. - The Beast is incredibly fun, but will shake you around quite a bit. I recommend spacing out multiple rides throughout the day (once during daylight and once after dark like we did if you can!) to avoid long-lasting head and neck aches.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 5 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 5

The Bat

Because it’s located down a quiet path from the other rides, The Bat was a little difficult for us to find. Once we got there, however, this “secret” coaster didn’t have much of a wait, so we were able to hop right on. The gondola-style seating might look a little intimidating at first, but mid-flight, you’ll figure out that the cars can’t flip over. It’s also a shorter ride and there aren’t any crazy drops, so I’d rate this one a little lower than some of the others in terms of speed and thrill level.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 3 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4


Wading in Big Shoes - Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? - Ride Guide & Review
Hello, elevated heart rate! The Banshee was one I had to work my way up to, so we didn’t ride this one until mid-evening. While most of the roller coasters at Kings Island provide storage bins for your stuff, The Banshee is one of two rides you’ll need to rent a locker for (Mystic Timbers is the other). That’s because this inverted steel roller coaster (the world’s longest) will whip you around in all known (and some unknown) directions and send you screaming the whole way. As I type this, I’m actually watching a POV video of the ride and can feel anxieties I’d completely forgotten about creep back up. Definitely one of the scariest rides in the park, but worth the ride even if you’re a little nervous.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 5 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 5


This is one of those rides where you just hope and pray to the good Lord above that everything goes okay (all right, so I pray on every roller coaster—but this one felt like a very special case). Diamondback loomed over me the ENTIRE. DAY. because it basically took up half of the park (at 230 feet high with 5,282 feet of track and speeds up to 80 mph, it’s Kings Island’s tallest and fastest roller coaster)! I don’t know how I talked myself into it, but I think I realized that once I got over that first 74-degree angle drop, the worst would be behind me. I was right! The first drop is a different kind of scary: Intimidating, but smooooooth (an advantage of steel coasters) . . . so you feel kind of weightless as you curve over the loop. I was so stiff with fear, I don’t recall actually screaming during this one (it was more an open-mouthed silence), but I’m glad I tried it (and also glad I was at liberty to not try it a second time ;) ).

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 5 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 5


We rode Vortex after dark, so at this point in the day, I was pretty tired and thought the thrills wouldn’t stand up after so many other great coasters. I was wrong! Man, Kings Island . . . how do you make everything so FAST? There’s a steep drop near the beginning of this one that kind of surprised me, and the spirals made me a littttle nervous when we were turned on our sides. But it’s all about the loops! Vortex will turn you upside-down six times in two and a half minutes, something I was definitely not able to keep track of in the dark.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: "Probably a 5. I'm not doing half points." // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4.5 (I AM doing half points.)

Backlot Stunt Coaster

Wading in Big Shoes - Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? - Ride Guide & Review
The Backlot Stunt Coaster was one we’d walked by all day and kept putting off because from afar, the theming reminded me of one I’d ridden a long time ago (in a different park) that was fiiiiine . . . but not at the top of my thrill list. Later in the evening, however, I asked an attendant on the Kings Island Eiffel Tower what her favorite ride was, and she answered without pause: “Backlot Stunt Coaster, because it’s just the right amount of thrilling to be not scary, but also really fun.” That sold us, and we headed straight for the ride to discover that her recommendation was spot-on. Very quick, fun effects, and perhaps even more exciting because we rode it late at night in the dark. It was so smile-inducing, we hopped right back in line and rode it twice.

Kings Island Thrill Level: 5 // Brad's Thrill Level: 3 // Jennifer's Thrill Level: 4

Kings Island Roller Coasters - Takeaway

Before this summer, it'd been a hot minute since I'd visited a park with so many exciting rides—and this visit to Kings Island was an absolute blast! I don't consider myself a daredevil by any means, but I do enjoy switching things up with rides that are fast and slightly out of my comfort zone (it keeps life from getting boring). While roller coasters are (to us) the biggest draw of Kings Island, there are plenty of other opportunities—from shows and carnival-style rides to Planet Snoopy— to have a great time no matter what pace you choose. And if you're on the fence about one of the attractions, give it a try. You might find that something you were once afraid of is actually incredibly fun!

For more information on Kings Island, visit the official website here.

Have you been to Kings Island? What's your favorite ride or experience (and what do you find most intimidating)?

Wading in Big Shoes - Just How Scary Are The Roller Coasters at Kings Island? (Ride Guide & Review)