Category Archives: vacation

Kings Island: Fast Lane Pass, Roller Coasters, and Arthritis

Kings Island Fast Lane Pass
Kings Island Fast Lane Pass

My wife and I visited Kings Island on Sunday, August 31st, 2014. The cost of our visit was approximately $270 because we purchased Fast Lane Passes, paid for parking, and bought food while at the park. Our Fast Lane Passes made our visit $140 more expensive than a normal visit. So did our $270 trip seem worth it when compared to the normal $130 visit? Yes… because we splurged on what is most likely a one-time experience.

First, the Fast Lane Pass is an expensive band that allows park visitors to essentially cut to the front of the line of most rides. While others waited in line for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and sometimes longer on Sunday… we generally waited in line 3 to 10 minutes. The Banshee (a roller coaster) and a few other rides are not included with the Fast Lane Pass. But with the Fast Lane Plus, you can get to the Banshee Fast Lane and a few other rides. We did not feel as though the extra $15 was worth it for the Banshee Fast Lane Plus.

My wife and I wanted to do this trip because it is probably the last time we can do something really fun on our own. We’ll most likely have kids in tow the next time we go to an amusement park… and may not be able to do the big roller coasters with kids for several years. So paying the extra money felt reasonable to us because THIS was most likely a one-time experience.

We sometimes heard people make comments about us cutting in front of them, and sometimes a kid would whine about it not being fair to his/her parent. But in general we had few comments (that we heard).

The comments that bothered me the most were the comments made about the disabled riders. People with a disability were allowed to “cut” in line, even ahead of people with a Fast Pass. This happened to my wife and I couple times. We didn’t care. But people behind us often made unpleasant comments about the disabled people being allowed to cut and how it was unfair. With everything in the world that is against people with a physical handicap, I did not care that they had a benefit of getting to the front of a line at Kings Island.

Sometimes the mother or another person with the disabled rider heard the comments. The mothers seemed to shrink in their seats because they were upset by the comments. My wife and I expected rude comments to sometimes be made about us. We’d researched the Fast Lane Pass before we purchased them. But I was surprised by the comments made toward disabled riders.

**after I originally posted this, one of the commenters explained how this system actually works. If a disabled rider wants to ride a ride, and the wait is two-hours, that disabled rider is allowed to come back two hours later instead of standing in line**


My wife and I arrived at Kings Island and got through the front gate around 10:06 a.m., and we left around 10:30 p.m. It poured rain from 9 a.m. to around 10 a.m., but then the rest of the day was nice. In fact, after around 11 a.m., I think the sun was out most of the day.

During our 12.5 hours at Kings Island we rode the following rides:

  • The Stunt Coaster: We rode this roller coaster once. It was a really fun ride, until the end, when it broke down due to electrical failure. We were stuck on the track around 10 minutes until the park crew were able to fix it. They brought us water, and someone kept talking to us while we were stuck in the sun. They fixed it quickly, so this was an interesting story instead of a terrible experience.
  • The Kings Island Eiffel Tower: This is a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower that allows you to see the entire park. We did this once. Technically not a ride, but our Fast Lane worked on it.
  • The Drop Zone: A ride that takes you up incredibly high, and then drops you. On the way up, I kept saying (sometimes out loud): Bad Idea, Bad Idea… bad idea… this is a bad idea. Um, not doing that one again ever. It was never on my bucket list, but my stomach says never again. So, we did that one once.
  • The Delirium: It’s like a giant swinging frisbee that around 70 or 80 people can ride. It was pretty good. We would like to do that one again, but we only did it once on Sunday.
  • The Monster: A small, scrambler type ride. We did that one once.
  • The Racer: Two roller coasters that mirror each other, built from wood. They used to have one go backwards, but now both go forward. We rode that one once. We would do that one again.
  • The Vortex: This was the worst roller coaster (for me) at the park. When I was in high school (23 years ago) I was 5-7. Sunday, at the age of 39, I was nearly 5-10. For every jolt the coaster made, my knees smacked into the plastic directly in front of my legs. Very painful and I had to walk off the discomfort. I will never ride the Vortex again. So, we did that once.
  • The Bat: It was a metal roller coaster. It was fine for a ride, but we rode it only once.
  • The Invertigo: This is a roller coaster that goes forward part of the time, and switches to backward for part of the time. This one nearly caused my wife to lose her lunch because we were not expecting it to change direction. So, we rode that one once and will never ride it again.
  • The Banshee: This is apparently Kings Island’s banner roller coaster (as if anything can top the Beast). The Banshee is a smooth riding metal roller coaster that reminds me of the King Cobra, except superior in every way. Best roller coaster in the park? Debatable. We had Fast Lane, not Fast Lane Plus, so we waited in line approximately 30 minutes to ride this one. Would we ride it again? Sure. But on Sunday we only went once. But this coaster is smooth, fast, and really really fun.
  • Flight of Fear: Our Fast Lane did not work on this one, so we waited approximately 30 to 40 minutes. It was amazing. We rode it only once, but would ride it again.
  • The Carousel: My wife grew up loving Carousels, and has had her father make several small wooden carousels that spin with a small motor. The largest is the size of a bread box. So, we rode this once… and will ride it again because my wife loves carousels. The paint on the horses was very attractive.
  • Adventure Express (I think): I cannot remember the name, and the coaster itself was also forgettable. Its fine if you want something mild. We rode it only once.
  • The Diamondback: A smooth riding metal coaster that goes up to 80 mph according to the staff running the ride. We loved this one. Our Fast Lane Pass worked on it. So throughout the day we rode this one 8 times. Our average wait time was five minutes. Once we waited longer because 7 people threw up on the coaster, and the crew had to spray off the cars. There was a guy who was trying to set a record. One of the times we stood behind him, his shirt said that he had ridden Diamondback 11,400 times! We rode Diamondback twice after dark. The Diamondback was my favorite roller coaster.
  • The Beast: A wooden roller coaster that is super fast, this one was my wife’s favorite. It caused bruises on my right shoulder from the way it shook us around, but we did ride it 8 times. In addition, we rode it three times at night. We were delayed on our last ride. We were in line at 9:50 (the park closes at 10), but they shut the Beast down because of the 10 p.m. fireworks. When they restarted the ride after the fireworks, we sat in the front… and left the park soon after at 10:30 p.m. The Beast is tied with the Diamondback in my opinion for best coaster. The Banshee is third. To be fair, during the day, the Beast and Banshee are tied for second (with Diamondback first in my opinion). But there is nothing like riding the Beast in the dark. If you must wait in line for an hour or longer at Kings Island… I suggest you wait for the front seat of the Beast… after dark.

So if you count the Eiffel Tower… and if I counted correctly, we had 29 rides in 12.5 hours with our Fast Lane Pass.  The cost of parking, food, and the tickets/Fast Lane Passes made our trip approximately $270. We averaged 2.3 rides an hour, or one ride approximately every 26 minutes for the entire day. That’s pretty good considering we had restroom breaks and also ate a few times.


This type of all day Kings Island experience is probably not for someone with a 39-year-old body (or older). At the end of the day my body felt like I’d barely won a fight with former UFC and WWE champion Brock Lesnar. My shoulder was sore from being thrown around by the Beast, and my entire body in general was beat up from the constant jerking on the rides.

The arthritis in my right pinky finger bothered me the most at the beginning of the day when I was holding on tight during rides. But by the end of the day I was riding coasters with my hands in the air… so the pain in my right pinky (arthritis) mostly went away. My back and legs were sore, but the day after the soreness was mostly gone. If you have arthritis, the Fast Lane Pass may not be for you.

In the end I had some Tylenol and Kings Island was a lot of fun!

*The Diamondback did not hurt my body because it was a smooth ride

What about you? Have you ever splurged on a vacation/amusement park? What did you do?

Why did we stay in this terrible hotel?

This past weekend my wife and I stayed in one of the worst hotel rooms. It is actually ranked third on my list of worst hotel rooms ever. For a few reasons it was not number one on my list of worst hotels.

First, it was quiet, which allowed my wife and I to at least get a good night’s sleep. Second, my wife said the sheets were clean and the bathroom was clean. Third, the hotel has a deal with a local pizza place which allowed us to get a great discount on great tasting pizza!

Angilo's Pizza 2 Angilo's Pizza

So, not a total loss. For me, the quiet night’s sleep was the most important thing. Plus, it was the cheapest hotel in the area.

However, here were the problems with our particular room at the Day’s Inn in Sharonville, Ohio:


hotel safe broken
The hotel safe says to use the key in the lock. But, there was no key left in the lock. Not a big deal because we weren’t planning on using the hotel safe.
hotel room picture
Overview of the room
water damaged ceiling
Crack in the wall paint and water damaged ceiling
night stand
Dried Red Sauce on the night stand
the damaged table legs
the damaged table legs
The Broken Dresser
The Broken Hotel Dresser, and we could only open three of the four drawers
Paint stuck to a loose shower head
The paint stuck to the loose shower head
Paint flaking off the bathroom wall
Paint flaking off the bathroom wall
the bathroom door would not close, so it kept swinging open
The bathroom door would not close, so it kept swinging open.
The toilet seat had several chips broken off
The toilet seat had several chips broken off
The hotel chair was broken
The broken chair

I have stayed in worse hotels. But this one was quiet (very important). In addition, my wife and I did not see any roaches or other nasty bugs. With the state of disrepair within this hotel I checked for signs of roaches. But after a thorough search I did not find roaches or any other nasty bugs (very important).

When we took our shoes off to walk across the carpet in just our white socks, our socks DID NOT change another color. That actually surprised us because the room looked terrible. We stayed in a hotel last year in which the bottoms of our white socks turned a dark shade of grayish- brown.

My wife and I felt like it was pointless to complain to the management of the Day’s Inn. The room quality is a reflection of management quality.

Would my wife and I stay in this hotel again? No.

Would my wife and I recommend this hotel to others? No.

So what is the worst hotel you have ever stayed in? What made it terrible? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Changing Locations to Finish My Thesis (a writing mini-retreat)

Happy Coffee

My goal is to finish (or darn near finish) my master’s paper: TODAY!

But I am taking a short break from writing my master’s thesis to blog because blogging relieves stress and unleashes some creative awesomeness. As part of today’s thesis writing marathon, I decided to change locations from where I normally write/study. I chose a coffee shop instead of my desk at home, and instead of my campus office.

According to a post by the Thesis Whisperer, there has been ample research to suggest that taking a thesis writing retreat will benefit the writing process. The change of location can be invigorating. So here I am at a coffee shop for a mini-retreat. However, for my dissertation… I might take a month somewhere. I have already floated the idea to my wife and she seems interested. For her the “no” factor is always money… which makes sense. But the “yes” factor for her is travel because travel is fun.

I am thinking Seattle, Portland, New York City or Chicago could all be great places for a month long retreat. Almost anywhere in Colorado could work.

Have you ever taken a retreat (or mini-retreat) to finish a major project? How did it work out for you?

The Oregon Coast Near Florence

Went to the Oregon Coast on Saturday. Our goal was to see the sunset and get amazing photos of pink, orange, purple and red on the ocean… the forecast the day before said clear skies on the website we checked…

When we first arrived, the sun was out and the clouds were fluffy white in the blue sky.
Oregon Coast near Florence, sun and clouds, beach,

And then the clouds started to get dark and roll in …


Below is our last glimpse of the sun before the clouds totally invaded…


Rays of sunshine poking through the clouds over the ocean…


So we did not get to see the sunset… but we still got some good photos.

Photos: Reflecting On Seattle

At Seattle’s Pike Place Market, we found a photographer who uses simple (yet genius) camera angles to take amazing photographs. Scott Cahill Rude, owner of Reflecting on Seattle, was very nice to talk to… and if you are in the Seattle area I encourage you to stop by his shop.

Here are samples of his work:

Reflecting on Seattle, Scott Cahill Rude
Reflecting on Seattle, Scott Cahill Rude