At first, when I heard KI was putting up a ride called Windseeker, and I learned what it was, I thought it was completely ridiculous and thought, "someone just wants a Zephyr on crack, they're running out of ideas." I maintained this rather narrow way of thinking..
until I saw the construction photos. One day, I decided for the hell of it to check out what was going on because my news feed was buzzing with Windseeker construction updates. I took one look at one of the photos and it was from the top pointing straight down. My stomach twisted itself into a knot. I could not believe how high it was already, and it was only 1/3 of the way up. That is when my dismissive attitude suddenly turned curious and quite apprehensive about riding.
(Little known fact about me.. I might as well say it: I never 100% got over my fear of heights that I've had since I was little. I had dreams when I was young that I was falling from a very high place and would hit the ground hard and get hurt. I am not sure if that's what traumatized me, and this is the first time I've ever said anything about it. I will also fully admit to having dramatic paranoid thoughts about a bolt suddenly coming loose and me tumbling to the ground to my death. Or that an observation tower will suddenly crack at the base and topple over, killing everyone. I know that is completely unrealistic, but my brain thinks what it wants to when I'm up at a crazy height on some ride with only one support. I'm sorry.
I am fine as long as I have something below me or my feet. That is why I love Dragster, I305, Millie, etc.. but that's also why I'm terrified on drop towers and sky coasters. I'm fine on inverted coasters, but there's just something about drop towers and sky coasters that really freak me out, so I was really nervous about riding Windseeker. Swings 301 feet up at 30 mph??!!! GAAAAAHH!!)
I went to Cedar Point a week ago, and Windseeker was closed for the entire day and a half that I was there. I was annoyed at the time, but I understand park operations' reasoning for not opening it. The weather was terrible and operations in the park were on and off during my entire visit. I really would have like to have ridden it and seen the lake, the coasters, and maybe more. So there I was staring at a dead Windseeker at CP while everyone else was at KI, and texting me and telling me how amazing their Windseeker ride experience was. You have no idea how badly I just wanted to throw my phone off the left side of Millennium Force's lift hill.
Yesterday, I went to Kings Island. Never mind that Windseeker wasn't open for ERT. Fast forward to around 3pm when I was exiting Boomerang Bay and saw.. was it?.. it's going up and spinning!.. WITH PEOPLE ON IT! OMG WINDSEEKER IS RUNNING WITH PEOPLE ON IT! I literally RAN from over by Diamondback all the way back to Windseeker and got in line!
While I was in line, I was getting more and more nervous as my ride cycle approached. By the time it was time for me to ride, my palms were sweating and my heart rate was up. The people around me in line were asking if I was OK. I fully admitted to being scared shitless, and one girl about my age took pity on me and said she'd ride with me because she was nervous too. I apologized to her in advance for anything I might say, and she laughed.
It scared the hell out of me being up that high with nothing below my feet and the fact that it has had so many issues with getting it running properly, but the view was spectacular and it's such a cool ride experience that it kind of evens things out. That and I KNOW that Kings Island would never in a million years open a ride to park guests if they knew it was going to put them in danger, so I tried to think about that when we were 2/3 of the way up and it started angling outward and making that whirring noise where it started going faster. That part really freaked me out, but I was able to somewhat calm myself.
If you want to hear something really strange: I got back in line and rode it 2 more times. I wasn't as panicky as the first time, but God DAMN THAT THING IS SO FUCKING HIGH. I cannot help but be a little nervous. I have not been this terrified of a ride since my first ride on Millennium Force in August of 2007 when I literally had a panic attack on the lift hill.
When you are faced with your fear of heights, it grips your every nerve like a vice and continues to tighten until you are completely and utterly feeling nothing but terror, and it's not easy to pull back from that once you've hit the point of no return where you're just flat out fucking scared shitless. It's not something I take lightly. I hope that some of you are able to understand where I'm coming from.
Fast forward to when Tom arrived at the park later that day, and he asked where I'd ridden on my three rides. I said on the inside. He asked if I wanted to sit on the inside again, and I decided that I was going to put on my big girl panties and brave the outside seat. We got up to that 2/3 point where it started angling outward and making that whirring noise where it started going faster.. and I started mentally freaking out. Tom asked if I was OK and rubbed my shoulder, and it was at this point I realized we were all the way up. I looked down and saw my knuckles were white. I forced myself to let go and enjoy the view.. and before you know it we were coming back down again. I felt a little sad about coming back down. I felt a little of my fear fading.
On our last ride of the night, our group went for Windseeker. I put on even bigger girl panties and went for the outside seat on the night ride with Tom. I did freak out a little, but when we got to the top I must have said "WOW!" about 10 or 12 times. The view at night from way up there is IN-FUCKING-CREDIBLE. Honestly, it's the prettiest night view of an amusement park I've seen since Indiana Beach, and that's really saying something.
It's changed the way I see Kings Island especially since I was able to see things I have never seen before, like parts of Beast, the entire Starlight experience and Eiffel tower all lit up, looking straight down and seeing Vortex, and the coaster graveyard, I even saw distant city lights. I love the ominous music track too, and the incredible light program that makes it look so cool at night that you cannot take your eyes away from it.
The only parks I have ever been that high up on a ride has been Cedar Point and Kings Dominion. Seeing my home park from that high up in the air for the first time in my life was a completely new experience that reignited the love I feel for Kings Island. You don't even know how much I want to go and ride Windseeker again.
Thank you for Windseeker, Kings Island. I'm sorry I ever doubted you.