In the off season we learned that Flight Deck, the suspended coaster formally known as Top Gun, would be renamed to The Bat. First, a little history…
In 1981, Arrow Development built a prototype roller coaster called The Bat which was promoted as the “first suspended roller coaster.” Whether or not that claim was true, The Bat certainly turned heads and immediately secured a reputation among theme park enthusiasts. Unfortunately, much of the hype surrounding The Bat was negative. From the get go, The Bat experienced all kinds of technical difficulties creating a situation where the ride was closed as much as it was open. After an extended time of standing but not operating (much like Son Of Beast), it was announced in 1984 that the ride would be dismantled.
Testimonies from those who had the privilege of riding The Bat depict an experience that seems unparalleled among suspended coaster. This could, in part, be to the mystique surrounding the ride’s short and infamous existence. Only a small number of folks were able to enjoy the ride, but when it was operating, it was apparently an absolute rush. From what I have read, subsequent suspended coasters, such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s The Big Bad Wolf, did not come close to the ride experience of The Bat.
Fast forward to 1993 when another suspended coaster was added to the park – Top Gun. Reviews for this attraction were, not surprisingly, quite weak compared to its predecessor. In 2008 the ride was renamed Flight Deck. Then, as mentioned above, the ride was renamed to The Bat in the spring of this year.
Apparently, the rename was due to the Son of Beast’s replacement called Banshee which also opened this year. The two rides are in close proximity to one another as you can see from the King’s Island park map below. This particular area in King’s Island is called the “Action Zone” which has to be one of the most forgettable themed names in theme park history. I was hopeful that with the addition of Banshee and the renaming of Flight Deck to The Bat, we might see a complete re-themeing of this area to somewhat of a haunted theme. So far, it appears that isn’t happening.
Here are my feelings on the issue – I am completely in favor of renaming Flight Deck to a more suitable name to stay in line with Banshee, but I am against renaming it The Bat. In my opinion, the legacy of The Bat needs to be respected and not attached to a sub-par coaster that has already undergone two name changes. I love the nostalgia and history of King’s Island and believe it to be one of the more special parks out there, especially from a family memories perspective, but this attempt to give a nice little nod to a previous legend is actually a smack in the face.
Thus, I would love to see the whole area themed and renamed to something of a haunted nature, but I would also have preferred to see The Bat receive a different name.