I had been looking forward to riding this Intamin giga coaster and refused to be intimidated by the size and speed. You can see Intimidator 305 in the background as you enter the Kings Dominion parking lot and it strikes a mighty pose. It also delivers one hell of a punch. The 300-foot first drop was, as I had anticipated, awesome. Although there are no sizeable drops after this one – there IS one good airtime hill – there are other elements which make this ride noteworthy. The most remarkable aspect of the ride – other than the first drop, of course – is the number of twists in the track. The sharp twists in an otherwise flat track were amazing, like nothing I had ever experienced. Guy in the seat behind me yelled “Holy shit!” and that pretty much sums it up. It’s quite a ride.
Comparisons between Initimidator 305 and Millennium Force are inevitable, as they’re the only 2 coasters in the USA (a third is in Canada) with a 300-foot drop at the time that I am writing this, both were built by Intamin and both use cable lifts. Both coasters have outstanding features and I can’t say that one is better than the other although I am leaning slightly in favor of Millennium Force because of the scenery (breathtaking view of Lake Erie from the lift hill) and diversity (e.g., overbanked turns and tunnels). I did think that the first drop on Intimidator was a little more intense, possibly because of the slightly steeper angle of descent (85 degrees as opposed to 80 degrees). The ride duration, however, is shorter – just over a minute, but it’s about as action-packed a minute as you’re going to get on any coaster.
There are two things I didn’t much like about Intimidator: 1) the time from loading to dispatch struck me as inordinately long; and 2) the harnesses struck me as cumbersome and probably unnecessary on a coaster with no inversions. When I rode, there was a definite lag before we heard the recorded “Gentlemen, start your engines!” and off we went. As for the harnesses, although they’re soft – unlike those on many coasters – these contraptions were a pain in the neck to get in and out of with little room for sliding the head out at the end of the ride.
Despite the drawbacks mentioned above, I liked Intimidator 305 enough to ride it 7 times and think that it deserves to be on a list of the top ten steel coasters. It’s a gem. 5 out of 5 stars. For more information about rides at Kings Dominion, go to http://www.kingsdominion.com