90s, Amusement Parks, Blog, Books — September 20, 2013 11:00 am

R.L. Stine’s Landmark Roller Coaster Tales

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Halloween is near and Kings Island amusement park is kicking off the season with their annual Haunt festivities.  Monsters will be lurking in the darkness, werewolves will hide in the fog, and eerie music will play in the distance.  All the while, The Beast roller coaster will give up to 1,200 people per hour an intense ride through the dark woods behind the park’s main walkway.

The ride first opened in 1979 and has been a major staple of the park ever since.  So legendary are night rides on The Beast, that Goosebumps author R.L. Stine wrote two books inspired by the ride – appropriately titled The Beast and The Beast 2.  In the books, two youngsters befriend a ghost and sneak a midnight ride that sends them traveling through time.  The first book invents a story about a park that existed on the same grounds decades before Kings Island.  In The Beast 2, the same kids climb aboard for another after-hours ride the following season and encounter someone in the past who forces them into a sideshow act as visitors from the future.


I first read the books in the mid-90s, long before riding The Beast.  After becoming acquainted with the ride a few years back, I decided to track down copies of each book.  Unlike other works of fiction that describe a character’s surroundings and leave much to the reader’s imagination, The Beast books have an added sense of realism since they’re based on a real amusement park and roller coaster.  Having been on the ride, I can visualize the station and trains as they actually appear.

A VHS-sourced video about The Beast to help set the mood before reading the books.
In fact, Stine crafts such a detailed description that I can even envision myself walking up through the queue to the station.  The air is pitch black and, somehow, no one else is waiting to hop aboard the ride.  I immediately head to the front row of the blazing red train and brace myself for a few minutes of fun.  Suddenly, a ghost appears at the control board and presses a few buttons to send me off toward total darkness.  It’s the best ride of my life until I step off the platform and realize I’ve actually stepped into the past.  All I can do is hope that no one forces me into one of the sideshow acts.


In reality, though, my typical Beast experience is only highlighted by picking up an order of fries to eat while waiting in line.  That may not be nearly as exciting as riding with a ghost, but it gets the job done just the same.

Kings Island is generally open later during Haunt season, allowing visitors an opportunity to enjoy The Beast at midnight.  Every time I tighten my seat belt and pull the lap bar down for a late night ride, I can’t help but consider the remote possibility that I could be the next time traveler.

Have you ever ridden The Beast at midnight?  Do you remember these books from the school book club?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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