Farewell Firehawk, We Hardly Knew Ya’

September 28, 2018 4 Comments

Firehawk Kings Island

Firehawk is joining the original Bat, King Cobra, Son of Beast, and other former Kings Island rides in that great amusement park in the sky. As part of the park’s annual Haunt event, a mysterious funeral was set up, clueing visitors in that a major attraction would be leaving. There was much speculation among the Kings Island faithful, with many guessing it was the 31-year-old Vortex that would meet its demise at season’s end.

Several informal polls conducted by local media outlets showed strong support for Vortex’s removal. However, it was Firehawk that was ultimately targeted for demolition-- or dismantlement. According to park officials, the ride’s exact fate isn’t known.

It’s possible it could go to another park. Indeed, Kings Island received it from former sibling park Geauga Lake in 2007. Opening there in 2001, it was known as X-Flight. It closed after the 2006 season and taken apart. That move led Geagua Lake fans to surmise that new owners Cedar Fair (owners of Cedar Point, Kings Island, and other parks), was planning to close the Cleveland-area park. Whether that had anything to do with it or not, the 2007 season was, in fact, Geagua Lake’s last.

Firehawk when it was X-Flight at Geauga Lake near Cleveland

Meanwhile, in the spring of 2007, the former X-Flight was rebuilt, painted, and christened Firehawk at Kings Island. Designed by Vekoma, who also built Invertigo, Firehawk never seemed to capture the imagination of park goers. “I rode Firehawk once,” says Cincy Shirts head designer Rob Meyer, “and that was enough.”

Tucked away behind Flight of Fear, you wouldn’t know it was there unless you went under The Racer to that nook of the park. That area, incidentally, was part of the former Wild Animal Safari which opened in 1974 as Lion Country Safari, and featured the famous Safari Monorail.

The Safari closed after the 1993 season with monorail going to Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield where it operates today connecting the store with the event center. Another train, one that’s not operational, adorns the entrance to the Eastgate Jungle Jim’s.

Firehawk has nearly identical siblings at other parks. There’s Nighthawk at Cedar Fair’s Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina (also known as The Queen City) and Batwing at Six Flags America near the nation’s capital.

Again, Firehawk could end up at one of those parks as a cheap source for parts, sold and rebuilt at another park, or scrapped altogether. It is widely believed that the area vacated by Firehawk will be used for a new attraction. Kings Island owns 712 acres of land (it originally owned 1,600 straddling I-71) with 365 currently developed. So there’s still plenty of room to grow.

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Nicholaus Ritter
Nicholaus Ritter

January 19, 2019

I live in Charlotte now, unfortunately. It is not the Queen City. Only real Queen City is Cincinnati.

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