- Ride Review
Tomb Raider: Firefall
July 30, 2005
A few years ago, when Paramount's Kings Island unveiled Tomb Raider: The Ride, I was impressed that they were attempting to take a normal flat ride and turn it into a highly-themed cinematic attraction.
I read reports about how an enormous HUSS Top Spin was being built inside of a gigantic soundstage. I liked the idea that they were going to attempt to enhance the ride with live-action special effects and possibly even a live actor portraying Lara Croft.
Let me stop the review for one second to make a confession. I never played the Tomb Raider video games, but I did watch both of the Tomb Raider movies. About 10 minutes into the first movie, I realized that I am totally in love with Angelina Jolie. Sure, she's a little crazy, but that doesn't bother me. Seriously, if she married that Billy Bob Thorton dude, she'd easily go for me too, right?
Anyway, back to the review.
The ride at Kings Island eventually opened to fairly positive reviews. So, when they announced that a Tomb Raider ride would be opening at Paramount's Kings Dominion, I was curious. I was interested to see if Kings Dominion would receive a carbon copy of the Kings Island attraction or if would they go for something different.
The announcement was made that Tomb Raider: Firefall would be built in the Congo section of the park and that it would be placed outdoors.
When I heard that news, I was disappointed. I was hoping that they would follow in the footsteps of their sister park and create some type of "dark" thrill ride experience that would be housed indoors. The disappointment about this ride remained with me until I finally saw it in person.
Then, I was instantly a fan.
This ride is so visually spectacular, there is no way that it should be hidden away inside of a building
In the past two years, Kings Dominion has built two extremely well-themed rides. Last year's Scooby Doo and the Haunted Mansion featured an elaborately themed queue and a haunted house full of interactive fun. With Tomb Raider: Firefall, they raised the bar even higher.
Pictures on the internet don't do this ride justice. The themeing is incredible. Many of the props located throughout Firefall's queue line and on the ride itself, come directly from the set of the two Tomb Raider films. (Ahhhh, Angelina.)
The way I see it, there are two unique ways to experience Tomb Raider: Firefall. The first, of course, is to ride it yourself.
It's hard for me to describe this ride because once it starts, it's almost impossible to tell where you're going. One minute you're right side up and the next, all you can see is a blur of dangling feet, water, fire and sky. Occasionally you think you are going flip right into one of the nearby rails, but just before you crash, the ride yanks you back up 60 feet in the air.
The second, and maybe most popular way to experience Tomb Raider: Firefall, is as a spectator.
The designers at Kings Dominion wisely created a multi-level viewing area so that people can sit and watch the ride in action. It's amazing to watch riders do these intense acrobatics while fire and water come unbelievably close to their bodies.
An original music score set to the action of the ride makes it as exciting as watching a stunt show. The good news is, Kings Dominion doesn't have to pay expensive stuntmen to entertain the crowds. They have hundreds of volunteers an hour!
When I visited this ride on a busy Saturday in July, the line was long! But, each ride cycle takes 38 riders. So, you never have to wait for an obscene amount of time. Also, this ride offers a totally different experience when the sun goes down. The fire and water effects are really spectacular at night.
I'm a fan of roller coasters, but this is an excellent addition to Paramount's Kings Dominion's flat ride collection. Tomb Raider: Firefall will be a ride that people come back to (and watch) again and again
If you're an adult and want to chill out at the park, here's a hint. Head over to Bubba Gump's Shrimp Shack, buy a frozen margarita and sit out on their newly expanded patio. You'll have a great view of the action on Tomb Raider: Firefall and, if you're like me, you can dream about Angelina Jolie.
© 2006 CoasterRadio.com
- All Pictures © Paramount's Kings Dominion